9780425258026I saved Venus in Winter for this journey ***because of its subject and because I’ve been looking forward to Gillian Bagwell’s newest, having much admired both The September Queen and The Darling Strumpet.

Sad to say that, except for the first-rate title (Bagwell has a real knack for them.), this tale of Bess Hardwick doesn’t rise to the level of the other two. Bess is a good subject for a novel, being a woman who managed to sail past gargantuan hazards in the times of both Henry VIII and his sickly son, Edward, and come ashore in the royal court of Elizabeth I with both her integrity and her body intact. Despite three marriages (a forth is pending as the book ends.) and the deaths of three of her children, she keeps positive and open to love and human striving. However, Bagwell’s account is a images-6bit pat. We feel we’re stepping from one stone or event to the next across the stream of her life without getting our feet wet. And there is such a tangled web of intrigue with a list of names and alliances that reaches nearly biblical proportions that I found it difficult to keep the players straight. Worse, I had to work to do it which pulled me out of the narrative.

Thus, well-disposed as I was toward the work at the beginning, I felt at the end that I wanted more depth and feeling and less cataloguing of characters and events. Surely there will be a sequel, and surely it will have all the richness of the first two.

Sitting up



***These are books I read here and there on planes and trains while on a recent vacation in Ireland and the UK, so if the reviews seem a bit hurried and shallow, chalk it up to haste.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *