September 13, 2013

Queen's Gambit Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway

Welcome to my stop on the Queen's Gambit virtual book tour! Today I have my review of the book and don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post to enter my giveaway! To follow the rest of the tour, click HERE.

Queen's Gambit
Author: Elizabeth Fremantle
Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: August 6, 2013
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardcover; 432 pages
ISBN-10: 147670306X



Widowed for the second time at age thirty-one Katherine Parr falls deeply for the dashing courtier Thomas Seymour and hopes at last to marry for love. However, obliged to return to court, she attracts the attentions of the ailing, egotistical, and dangerously powerful Henry VIII, who dispatches his love rival, Seymour, to the Continent. No one is in a position to refuse a royal proposal so, haunted by the fates of his previous wives—two executions, two annulments, one death in childbirth—Katherine must wed Henry and become his sixth queen.

Katherine has to employ all her instincts to navigate the treachery of the court, drawing a tight circle of women around her, including her stepdaughter, Meg, traumatized by events from their past that are shrouded in secrecy, and their loyal servant Dot, who knows and sees more than she understands. With the Catholic faction on the rise once more, reformers being burned for heresy, and those close to the king vying for position, Katherine’s survival seems unlikely. Yet as she treads the razor’s edge of court intrigue, she never quite gives up on love.

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Praise for Queen’s Gambit:

"This is a superbly written novel... Fremantle is surely a major new voice in historical fiction and this book is the answer to the question about what Hilary Mantel fans should read while waiting for the final part of her trilogy." - The Bookseller

“Wildly entertaining…lively, gamey, gripped with tension…one of the best historical novels I’ve read.” - Liz Smith

"Elizabeth Fremantle's rich narrative breathes vibrant life into Henry VIII's most intriguing, intelligent and least known wife, Katherine Parr." - Anne Easter Smith author of A Rose for the Crown and Royal Mistress

"Queen's Gambit is an earthy, vivid portrait of Tudor England seen through the eyes of Henry VIII's last wife Katherine Parr and her loyal maid servant. Elizabeth Fremantle has added a richly written and engrossing novel to the endlessly fascinating story of the Tudors." - Stephanie Cowell author of Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet

"Queen's Gambit is a lovely, sensual, subtle read, telling the story of Katherine Parr with both rich imagination and scrupulous attention to factual detail. After reading this historical novel, you truly comprehend what it would mean to be the sixth wife of a dangerous man wielding absolute power. Katherine is no selfless nurse here, nor religious fanatic, but a complex and compelling person who both men and women were drawn to. This is a very impressive novel." - Nancy Bilyeau author of The Crown

"Beautifully written and finely observed, this suspenseful tale of Henry the Eighth's last wife expertly conveys all the dangerous intensity and passion of the Tudor court." - Rachel Hore, author of A Place of Secrets

"With a painter’s eye for detail, Fremantle brings the dazzling, dangerous Tudor court to life and sheds an intriguing new light on Katherine Parr, one of history’s great survivors. An enthralling tale of power and passion, loyalty and betrayal." - Elizabeth Wilhide, author of Ashenden

"Fremantle...navigates Tudor terrain with aplomb." - Publishers Weekly

"Sins, secrets and guilt dominate the landscape of British writer Fremantle’s debut...[her] emphasis is on intrigue, character portraits and the texture of mid-16th-century life. Solid and sympathetic." - Kirkus Reviews

“Intrigue, romance, and treachery abound in Fremantle’s debut novel . . . . This compulsively readable fictional biography of the ultimate survivor is infused with the type of meticulous attention to historical detailing that discerning fans of Alison Weir and Philippa Gregory have come to expect in the Tudor canon.” - Booklist

Queen's Gambit is an enchanting and thrilling historical novel that tells the story of Katherine Parr, King Henry VIII's sixth wife, as she deals with the treachery and deceit of court life and attempts to rid her of the throne. In order to survive life at the palace, Katherine gathers a tight knit circle of women around her including her step-daughter, Meg, and Dot, a loyal servant. Although Katherine was forced to marry King Henry while her true love, Thomas Seymour, is sent to the Continent - she refuses to give up hope, life, or the idea of love.

I'm not normally a big fan of historical fiction, but the description of this book drew me in. The reign of King Henry VIII is quite infamous and I thought that an inside look at what was happening inside the court - especially from a woman's perspective - would be fascinating. Any expectations I had before reading this novel were left far behind as the author plunged me into Tudor England and the little known life of Katherine Parr. The plot was intriguing and I loved learning all that I could about Katherine - as a person, her history, her beliefs and dreams. She was a fantastic lead character for the book. She's devoted, strong, intelligent, and kind, but she stands for what she believes in and won't give in to social pressures. The setting of the story was beautifully written. It felt like I was right alongside Katherine in Tudor England. The vivid descriptions and detailed imagery brought the characters and the setting to life before my eyes. The story was compelling, with fine attention to detail and the intricate ways of the English court of that time. The author wrote with such a natural pace that the book flowed effortlessly and I found myself engrossed from the first pages. This is a remarkable work of historical fiction that sheds much needed light on the person, the life, and the struggles of Katherine Parr - Henry VIII's last wife - who often gets looked over in history. Highly recommended for fans of Tudor England and historical fiction.
Elizabeth Fremantle holds a first class degree in English and an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck College London. She has contributed as a fashion editor to various publications including Vogue, Elle and The Sunday Times. QUEEN'S GAMBIT is her debut novel and is the first in a Tudor trilogy. The second novel, SISTERS OF TREASON, will be released in 2014. She lives in London.

For more about Elizabeth and her future projects see  You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

 Giveaway: (2) Print copies of Queen's Gambit - Open to US only!

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