I chose this book to spotlight for Historical Tapestry because I think that readers who come across the title 'Murder in The Tower' immediately assume it is another Anne Boleyn type fictional piece; in reality it is an intriguing novel set against the height of the Stuart era, and perhaps is lesser known but a very worthy read of a wicked countess.
Book Review: "The Murder in the Tower" by Jean Plaidy
"The Murder in The Tower" by Jean Plaidy (pseudonym used by Eleanor Hibbert, aka Victoria Holt)
(The first book in the Stuart Saga series)(1964)
"The drama is played out against the background of the Court of James I."
After finishing this first installment of Plaidy's Stuart Saga by Jean Plaidy, I would still love to delve more into the characters that Plaidy described. When you think of a Tudor or Stuart novel, with this title of Murder, one tends to think of Anne Boleyn, or maybe Mary Queen of Scots. This novel is actually concerning the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, who is not the main protagonist of this intriguing novel.
The book is based on the life of Frances Howard, and her loves and her wicked ways to attain all that she desires. She starts out as a passionate young woman and we think we like her, but as she grows and becomes more and more of a selfish evil woman, there is no sympathy for her. I did find sympathy for Robert Carr, the man she fell in love with when she was a married woman.
Robert Carr caught the King James' eye when he fell from his horse as a young man, and quickly shot up in the ranks with titles and favoritism from James. He is portrayed as a pretty boy who really didn't deserve the posts he had since he had to have another man, Thomas Overbury, secretly do most of the work for Robert Carr. They called Thomas a scribe. One thing led to another and once Thomas realizes that Robert wants to marry Frances Howard, he is incensed. He has no respect for Frances and happens to know she had visits with unworthy people who dealt with witchcraft. Since Thomas would not back down, Frances and her witchcraft friends decided to take matters into their own hands. Supposedly Robert Carr has no idea what is going on.
Even though this book has James I in it, it is not a typical Stuart Saga, as it was only set within the time period of James I and his family. There was a small storyline with Frances and the King's son, Henry, and a bit on the royal family and the royal children but not an incredible amount. I don't know what the rest of the Stuart Saga books are about so maybe they are just based in the time period like this one, or maybe they are more having to deal with the actual Stuarts.
This was a quick read, and I definitely loved the deliciously entertaining Frances Howards and her intense need to fulfill her every whim. Although not an influential person by herself in the era, she caused quite a scandal and led a very interesting life which was a joy to read about. Plaidy fans do not want to miss this one, this was a quick read that stays with you.