Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Book Review: Raven Queen by Pauline Francis

When I was searching my shelves full of books for a good book I have already read to review here, I suddenly came across Raven Queen by Pauline Francis and flicking through the pages, remembered how much I enjoyed it before. I hope that you like the sound of it!

Publisher description:

This is a powerful historical novel that brings to life an unforgettable story of love, hope and royal duty, from a hugely talented new author. The life of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen, is all too often remembered as just a line in a history book, but this stunning debut novel reveals the full fascinating and tragic story - a tale of treachery, power struggles, and religious turmoil in the Tudor court. Intricately woven and passionately written, "The Raven Queen" is also a sensitive story of love against all odds that will enchant readers.

The Blurb:

I have lived the life of a princess since the day I was born. But it did not bring me what I wanted. I a still trapped.

My beloved Ned speaks of love, freedom, a future. A walk with him in the forest, our raven soaring above us, is my only joy. But my father plans that I will be betrothed to the King and I am afraid. Queens of England have a habit of dying. I have no desire to take the throne., no wish to find myself in the Tower of London.
Wife, Queen- I fear it will bring me to my knees.

Raven Queen weaves a mesmerising tale of love and tragedy based on the life of Lady Jane Grey, all too often remembered as a line in a history book.

I think that the description sums up the book in one paragraph very well and I especially love the part about Lady Jane Grey being 'all too often  remembered as just a line in a history book.' Although, I knew quite a bit about Jane from mentions in other Tudor historical fiction books that I have read, this book really brought her character and the way she felt to life and made you sympathise more with her tragic story because she is like a real person rather than a long dead historical figure. I think that the sample of her writing from in the book on the blurb shows is very strong and makes you want to read more about what happened to her and discover more than just facts about her life.

The book is told from two points of view: Ned (Jane's secret lover) and Jane. This was a very interesting way of portraying the story and gave it more depth. 
Ned is a young man who is condemned to be hung when he steals a loaf of bread and an apple after escaping from prison (he was imprisoned with his father after they were caught attending a Catholic mass.) He and Jane meet when she saves him from being hanged when she rides past the gallows with her maidservant Ellie and bribes the hangmen with money. Despite the danger of the anger of her father who is in London at that point and Ellie's protestations, Jane offers Ned work on her father's estate as a woodsmen. They secretly meet up and find comfort in their forbidden romance together that risks all, not only because of social classes but because Jane is a Protestant and Ned is a Catholic. Ned also shows Jane a glimpse of the freedom from her family, religious argument and the arrangements that she is forced into.
The way that the book was written was very powerful and conveyed the strong emotions of the characters in a way that was almost poetic.  Jane's writing was very eloquent and full of 'heart' that made you think about if felt to be beaten by your parents and forced into a loveless marriage to the King of England.

I also thought that Francis did a very good job of the ending by viewing it in a different  and heart wrenching way that still leaves readers very emotional even when they knew the inevitable ending of the story before they started it. She also included a fascinating author's book explaining why she was inspired to write the story of Lady Jane Grey and how you can find more about her.

Becky Stradwick, Borders said that 'This stunning and lyrical tale will hold readers captive and haunt them long after the last page has been turned.' I agree with this as this was the way that I felt when I had finished the book. It was almost beautifully simple but effective, however not as detailed or as in depth as the similarly themed adult novel Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir (as a reviewer on Amazon said.)

Definitely a must read with an interesting slant on the story of the unlucky  Nine Day Queen.


  1. Sounds very interesting. I don't know enough about this time period.
    Have you read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel? It's a great book.

  2. I love the Tudor time period and by readiing so many books set in that era I know lots about it now. No, I haven't heard of Wolf's Hall but will look it up now :)

  3. Your reviews are so detailed- its great!

  4. Ahaha,I have so much to say about books I love! I try to include lots of detail without giving too much away or including any spoilers :)


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