Saint Thomas’s Eve

Written by Jean Plaidy
Review by Fiona Lowe

Plaidy’s sixth novel in her Tudor series is a compelling reconstruction of the life of Sir Thomas More. The novel commences with More’s decision to marry; at the time of which he is renowned for his scholarship and intellectual prowess. Alas, as a lawyer and London burgess he has caught the eye, unfavourably, of King Henry VII. More is soon contemplating fleeing the country to save his life; then fate intervenes and the old king dies. Happily, the new King, Henry VIII, looks with great pleasure upon Thomas, delighting in More’s charm, wit and literary talent. Honours are heaped on More, and soon he is working for Cardinal Wolsey; upon Wolsey’s downfall, More becomes Chancellor. Plaidy is very effective in bringing to life the internecine workings of Tudor politics and court life.

The great strength of this novel lies in its profound insight into Sir Thomas’s close relationship with his family, especially with Margaret, his beloved daughter. Margaret’s voice adds focus and depth throughout the narrative. Plaidy makes much of Margaret’s scholarship and learning; she is to face a terrible dilemma when her father is threatened with death. Margaret More’s plight is moving and her bravery immense. Worth reading.