Sunday, November 24, 2013

Venus in Winter (A novel of Bess of Hardwick) by Gillian Bagwell

Venus in Winter (A novel of Bess of Hardwick)
By: Gillian Bagwell
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Summary: On her twelfth birthday, Bess of Hardwick receives the news that she is to be a waiting gentlewoman in the household of Lady Zouche. Armed with nothing but her razor-sharp wit and fetching looks, Bess is terrified of leaving home. But as her family has neither the money nor the connections to find her a good husband, she must go to facilitate her rise in society.

When Bess arrives at the glamorous court of King Henry VIII, she is thrust into a treacherous world of politics and intrigue, a world she must quickly learn to navigate. The gruesome fates of Henry’s wives convince Bess that marrying is a dangerous business. Even so, she finds the courage to wed not once, but four times. Bess outlives one husband, then another, securing her status as a woman of property. But it is when she is widowed a third time that she is left with a large fortune and even larger decisions—discovering that, for a woman of substance, the power and the possibilities are endless 
Review: Venus in Winter was a refreshing novel about the life of Bess of Hardwick, a young woman who came of age in the court of King Henry the VIII, as he was going through wives, like women today might go through shoes.  From the first chapter of this novel the language flowed very smoothly and it was a very intoxicating read that I did not want to put down.  Bess leaves her house at the age of twelve for better opportunities and for the prospect of marriage, the book follows her through four marriages, over six children, four different monarchs, and four marriages.
Each husband seemed to fulfill a different need for Bess from the sweet innocent love of Robbie, the trusting love of her first William, the passionate love of her second William and with her last marriage to the earl fulfilling the  need to be known as a woman who was noteworthy as her years progressed and her children left home.  My favorite line in the book was when Queen Elizabeth asked Bess her advice about marrying and what she should do, and Bess after thinking says something to the effect of, "whatever you want."  I think this sums up how her character was portrayed and why she was loved by everyone; although marriage had been the right choice for her, she recognized that for the Queen it would probably bring more harm than good, and Bess accepted that and still loved the Queen and served her and accepted her for who she was.  Many of the characters loved Bess and she showed them kindness and professed sadness for them when their decisions got them on the wrong end of the axe (such as Jane Grey) and in trouble with the monarchs.  Yet she still showed them kindness even though they or their loves ones for them had made bad decisions.  Bess stuck to the established rules and decorum of the time, and that I think is what kept her safe, that and her choice of husbands.  I finished this book in two days because I loved the characters and how it was worded I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good read; especially who loves Tudor history.

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