The Queen’s Captive

Written by Barbara Kyle
Review by Margaret Barr

The third installment of the Thornleigh Saga depicts the many conflicts of Mary Tudor’s reign, illustrated by family ambition as well as individual and collective loyalties. Honor Thornleigh, who came of age in Sir Thomas More’s household, is wife to the exiled Richard Thornleigh and mother to two grown children. Summoned from Antwerp back to England by Sir William Cecil, they reclaim their country property. In so doing they confront their near neighbors, the Catholic Grenvilles. Posing as a humble servant, Honor gains entrance to the captive Princess Elizabeth’s household to advise the willful heiress presumptive to the throne, and must also frequent Queen Mary’s court. The threats of rebellion, Her Majesty’s reprisals against suspected Protestant conspirators — imprisonments, burnings at the stake — destroy the Thornleighs’ friends and threaten their own survival.

Son Adam, enamored of the captive princess, stirs the passions of the predatory Frances Grenville, who does not share her brother’s determination to exact harsh vengeance against Richard and Honor. Facing the choice of a loveless marriage and his parents’ lives, he makes the only possible decision — but he cannot stave off the disaster that ultimately descends upon their household. The brutality of the era, the intricate plots, secret treachery and constant fears, are well depicted, as are the political and religious divisions. A lively pace and interesting, conflicted characters result in a worthwhile read for devotees of Tudor period historical fiction.