Anne Bassett, known as Nan to her friends, wants nothing more than to achieve a marriage with a rich, titled husband. When she wins a place as one of Queen Jane Seymourís maids of honor, she believes that goal to be within her grasp. But Nanís happiness doesnít last for long Ė Queen Jane dies less than two weeks after the birth of her son, and the court goes into mourning. Nan isnít sure what will happen to her or her place at court Ė after all, there is no longer any queen for Nan to serve.
What Nan doesnít expect is that the kingís roving eye settles on her. She begins to wonder if itís possible that she might be the next queen; after all, it wouldnít be without precedent for a woman in service to the former queen to become the new one. Both Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour were maids of honor to the queen that preceded them. As Nan becomes embroiled in court intrigue, she beings to wonder what she really wants, and what she must do to achieve it.
Kate Emersonís Secrets of the Tudor Court series is an interesting look at the world of Henry VIII through minor players at his court. This novel, Between Two Queens, focuses on the real-life Anne Bassett. Though Emerson does take some minor liberties with her history, inventing some characters where necessary and simplifying some of the details about her life, she sticks to the facts for the most part. The result is a clearly well-researched look at a minor but interesting woman and a view of this exciting time through her eyes.
Nan is an appealing main character who develops well over the course of the novel. At the beginning, she is impetuous and immature. She thinks that all she wants is a marriage to a wealthy man with a title. But as the book progresses, Nanís wishes and desires change. Some of them are overly ambitious and horribly risky, and others are simple, no more than any other person would want. She becomes a balanced and thoughtful woman by the end of the book, aware of what she wants but also cognizant of her limitations.
Though Emersonís first novel in this series, Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace is as entertaining as Between Two Queens, it is not necessary to read these two novels in order. They are standalone books, and reading one without the other will not diminish the readerís enjoyment of them.
Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens is a fun and intriguing look at a period in history that has already been written about quite a bit. What makes this novel unique, though, is its perspective of a minor person from this era who is just trying to live her life and achieve happiness, despite the monumental events that are occurring around her.