New month, another blog tour! This one was way more to my liking than the last one and I enjoyed reading it whilst travelling to London. As you know if you’ve read my blog for a while I have a love for Tudor England and I wasn’t disappointed this time either! The synopsis is borrowed from Goodreads:
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.
Songbird throws its reader into the Tudor court along with Bess just like a lamb thrown to the lions and then is expected to defend itself. We meet Bess at a very young age and then follow her into adulthood. Her circumstances seemed very strange to me at first and as a reader I got the sense that something evil was going on, which in some sense I suppose it is, but then I realized that Bess’ story wasn’t unusual in Tudor England. The king could get whatever he wanted and it didn’t matter how it happened. Speaking of Henry VIII, I’m very glad this book doesn’t take on the most common cliches of Tudor England! In some books I feel it is ok with these cliches because the cover or the synopsis indicates that it is that type of book. However, I feel that Heenan have been able to keep the historical backdrop very much intact whilst also blending in some hidden modern mindset. I think we can see this mainly in Bess because of her personality and the way she makes her decisions throughout the book. I don’t think this is very obvious but since our main point of view on the story is Bess we get to know her quite well and although she is a character of her time I believe that she can speak to modern girls and women in several ways.
As for the other characters, one simply cannot help but falling in love with Tom, Bess’ best friend. He is a complicated yet simple boy who we see grow into a man alongside with Bess. He is a real keeper with a talent for the lute which has gained him a central position within the Royal Music as one of Henry VIII’s favorites. Tom is a good character in many aspects! He is complex yet he seems simple at times and it is this alteration between the two that makes him so intriguing to me. He also has a secretive past of which he rarely speaks. How did Tom became the man he is?
We get to meet a lot of famous historical characters here. Among them is of course Henry VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragorn but we also meet Anne Boleyn, Margaret Boleyn, Cardinal Wolsley and Princess Mary, later to be known as Bloody Mary, and we also get a glimpse of one of Englands most famous queens, Elisabeth the 1st. I think it is very interesting to learn about these historical characters from different perspectives and I’ve never read about them from a servants point of view before. In my opinion it gave an even clearer picture of how much power these people possessed when they were in favor of the king. I enjoyed seeing the scheming in the court from a different perspective for once and I still find it fascinating the lengths people are willing to go to in order to get their way!
Songbird is a book most historical and romance fiction lovers will enjoy. It has, in my opinion, a sound historical backdrop with a good storyline that keeps the reader engaged with good characters. If you are a lover of the Tudor Court this book will welcome you back to one of the greatest historical periods in British history!
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, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.
She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.
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Genre: Historical romance
Theme: Music, friends, love
– The Book Reader