Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Poesy Quill
Pub date: 15 January 2020
Winter, 1539: María de Salinas is dying. Too ill to travel, she writes a letter to her daughter Katherine, the young duchess of Suffolk. A letter telling of her life: a life intertwined with her friend and cousin Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. It is a letter to help her daughter understand the choices she has made in her life, beginning from the time she keeps her vow to Catalina to share her life of exile in England.
Friendship, betrayal, hatred, forgiveness: love wins out in the end.
I was aware of Maria de Salinas before reading this but had little knowledge of her own story. Maria spent her childhood in Spain with Catalina (Katherine) and made a promise to always serve her. This meant leaving her home and family in Spain to travel to England with Katherine of Aragon for her wedding to Prince Arthur and where Maria would eventually find love, marry and become Baroness Willoughby.
Dunn has written such a beautiful portrayal of the extraordinary tale of love and friendship between Katherine of Aragon and her lady in waiting Maria de Salinas, from the viewpoint of Maria as she recalls her life in a letter to her daughter Katherine Willoughby, Duchess of Suffolk in an attempt to explain things as she nears death. Through Maria the reader experiences Katherine’s story as well as Maria’s. Both lived exceptional lives and their bond of friendship is beautiful to read about.
This book really brings Katherine’s story to life, from leaving her family, marrying Arthur, many heartbreaking miscarriages and her marriage to Henry. Maria is by her side through it all whilst also facing her own disappointments and heartbreaks and battling her dislike for Henry.
It’s a tale of two sides, there are some extremely happy moments and some really sad, I almost had tears in my eyes towards the end.
If you have a love of the Tudor court then this is definitely one you should read, the gowns, jewels and court are all described so vividly.
I thoroughly enjoyed how the narrative switched between the letter Maria is writing, to the time of the memory, it was a great way of transporting the reader back in time.
I think this book will actually stay with me for a while and I was pleased to note this is actually the second in the series so will be reading the first shortly!
Although this isn’t due for publication until January it is available for pre-order in hardback, paperback and ebook.
Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy.