Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father as a member of the music, the Royal company of minstrels. Bess grows up within the decadent Tudor Court navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The court of Henry VIII, is a popular subject for historical fiction, the glamour, intrigue and romance of the era, warring with the disregard for life and treachery. ‘Songbird’, as the title suggests focuses on the court musicians, an essential part of the royal Tudor court. Bess’s voice, spotted by the King leads to her Father’s sale of her to the monarch. This abhorrent action, not uncommon in the sixteenth century, means that young Bess is left alone in a place unsuited to an innocent. This story charts her life, the alliance she forges and her friendship that blossoms into something more with Tom, a fellow musician, as they both try to survive the turbulent life at court. The dangerously decadent, political nature of the Royal court means no one is safe, not even the girl with the golden voice.
The historical detail enlivens the plot and the characters are authentically written. A clever mix of actual historical characters and events are interwoven with the author’s fictional creations. Against a vivid tapestry of Tudor life, Bess comes of age. Sadly, her life is angst-ridden, and her love life full of conflict.
The book flows well and is easy to read. Bess is portrayed in a believable way, her naivety and youth evident in the earlier parts of the story. Emotion and danger colour every action of the characters in the story.
An original perspective on a popular historical theme, which brings the Tudor times to life through the life of a young talented girl.
Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, travelling and, of course, lots of writing. She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.