The Queen’s Lady
The Queen’s Lady—a reprint of Barbara Kyle’s 1994 novel, A Dangerous Temptation—strides boldly into Philippa Gregory territory, as it chronicles the adventures of a strong-minded lady-in-waiting to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife.
Honor Larke is a young orphaned heiress who becomes, after great difficulty, a ward in the house of Sir Thomas More. This powerful man teaches her to read and write and obtains for her a plum position as a lady-in-waiting to the queen. But much political and religious strife is brewing in England and abroad, and the king grows restless for a son. Honor finds herself in the heart of the troubles. She helps her Catholic queen send dispatches to Spain; at the same time, horrified by the burning of Lutheran heretics, she sets out to save them with the help of a handsome wool trader. Her loyalties waver, at times to the point of betrayal, and she soon finds herself involved in intrigues far above her abilities. Forced to flee England, she looks for safety in the German states, only to find herself threatened by more religious violence and chaos.
The Queen’s Lady is a marvelously researched story. Barbara Kyle portrays in clear detail the complexity of the political and religious situation in England and Europe during this period, mostly by peopling her book with well-developed characters that come in all shades of gray. Some readers of faith may wince at the main character’s ultimate resolutions about religion, and the love story has a few rough patches, but overall this is a classic historical novel in the lovely old style—sweeping, gritty and realistic.