The Fatal Fashione

Written by Karen Harper
Review by Mary K. Bird-Guilliams

The continued popularity of Elizabethan England as a topic of interest and an attractive setting for novels is thoroughly substantiated with this series. The Fatal Fashione is the eighth adventure for Harper’s Queen Elizabeth. Events take place in the year 1566, when Elizabeth is fending off the efforts of Parliament to force her to wed and produce an heir. Still consolidating her power, she is a young, vigorous woman who daily proves her devotion to England and her fitness to be the monarch.

Having not read the earlier books, this reader guesses that the fictional orbiting characters had previous escapades, but this did not interfere with my enjoyment of the action. The actual historical figures are quite meticulously woven into the plot with believable dialogue and behavior that agrees with the written records of the period. Laundry starch, the necessary ingredient to deliver those unbelievable ruffs, was the object of envy on the part of those who wanted the lucrative business, and of censure by the rising Puritans for its immorality. It is the “fatal fashione” of the title, as is clear when a young, female entrepreneur is murdered in a vat of the stuff. Since Elizabeth had taken a personal interest in this newly emerging venture, she becomes involved. Even as well written as this is, I had just a little difficulty seeing Elizabeth plunging into risky acts to save some of the lowest of her subjects, but this small quibble hardly interfered with my overall enjoyment of the story.