The Queen’s Lady: Book 2 (Queens of the Tower)

Written by Joanna Hickson
Review by Sally Zigmond

This novel follows on from The Lady of the Ravens, although it reads well as a stand-alone novel. It opens in 1502 and portrays the end of the reign of King Henry VII and the beginnings of that of King Henry VIII, as seen through the eyes of Joan Guildford. She recounts major royal events, starting with the marriage of Prince Arthur to Catherine of Aragon, and his tragic death. After another death, the King is grief-stricken and becomes over-suspicious and miserly. The dowager Princess Catherine is sidelined and the King despairs of Prince Henry, his heir, for his frivolity.

The King accuses Joan’s husband, Sir Richard Guilford, of embezzling royal funds for his own use; Richard is imprisoned. Lady Joan is still loved by the princes and princesses who still call her ‘Mother Guildford’, but she also suffers. What follows is the death and funeral of the King and her growing friendship with the lonely, poor and neglected Catherine of Aragon. Joan is shown playing a major part in Catherine’s early, happy marriage to Henry VIII. Her life also takes a turn for the better. This is a sumptuous historical novel reminiscent of the great Jean Plaidy with her ability to bring the well-trodden paths of history to vibrant life. Some modern readers may find it a slow read, but to me, this is traditional historical fiction at its very best.