I seem to be going through a Tudor phase that is lasting several years and figured something "light and frothy" would be a nice change. Whilst this is certainly that I'm not too sure how nice a change it was.
Let me start by saying that one of the three stars given to this book is solely for the descriptions of the fashion of the time - from the wonderfully named Farthingale through to the undergown and exceedingly opulent overgown. The clothing descriptions were sumptuous and never felt extraneous to the tale, they even managed to give a fairly realistic interpretation of the perils of dressing in Tudor times if you were of the nobility and had certain Courtly Standards to meet.
Unfortunately, this means that the story itself only gets two stars. Here's why:
The modern day instance of our heroine (whose name I cannot remember but seeing as I finished the book 7 weeks ago it's to be expected) just had nothing going for her. I really couldn't get my head around who she was supposed to be - yes, I get she was a History Professor but her polymath husband got in the way at every turn. The ludicrous conceit of her doing the presentation in her academic gown with nothing underneath almost made me stop reading right then and there. I was already becoming infuriated by every "close relative" being named after a Tudor and startlingly sharing their broadest personality traits as passed to us through historical documents (not entirely to be trusted but all we have).
Oh, was she called Kat? I want to say she was called Kat - I could be wrong and I can't honestly be bothered checking the blurb to find out.
My second sticking point came with the Shakesperian stuff.
When the first revelation comes that some of Shakespeare's plays were written by this person of the Tudor Nobility I sort of went with it (I think the first one was Lady Jane Grey). However, as the book progresses and more and more of the women take responsibility for writing some of the plays it began to really niggle with me. Especially as in the timeline of the book some of these plays were gifted to Shakespeare to pass as his own after the death of Elizabeth I and yet they were reputedly played at court in front of her. It also became extremely repetitive and boring with only the name of the play and the chosen quotes altering - virtually every interaction between our heroine and a new Tudor Noble Woman went the same way with "Oh, I wrote X of the Shakespeare Plays", "No, really. Well I suppose that makes sense knowing what happened in your life" and then proceeding to use cherry picked quotes to prove the relevance of those plays to that persons life.
Honestly drove me round the twist and I was so glad when morning came and she had to return to real life - as unrealistic as her life actually is.
In fact, looking back on the 9th April when I completed this book I think 3 Stars is overly generous. The distaste I can feel as I recall the events in the book makes me think 2 Stars would be much fairer - and that includes the 1 Star for the clothing!