The Woman in the Shadows by Carol Mcgrath @carolmcgrath @AccentPress @lovedreadinthis #TheWomanintheShadows #CarolMcgrath #bookreview #blogtour #historicalfiction

img_7145August 2017 Accent Press

Book Description

‘Next time if there is a marriage, it will be one of my own choosing…’

When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father.  But there are those who oppose a woman making her way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who know the truth about her late husband.

Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to the kind and ambitious merchant, Thomas Cromwell.  Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect, but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London.

The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen or risk losing everything.

My Thoughts

While I don’t read a vast amount of historical fiction it is a genre I enjoy on occasions, and a favourite time period for me, as for many is the Tudors.  This book was a little different to anything else I had read from this time period insofar as it was about a ‘commoner’ rather than nobility.  We meet Elizabeth as a young widow burying her husband.  A loveless marriage arranged by her father for the status and links forged through this betrothal, Elizabeth is relieved to have more autonomy as a widow.  Determined to find success as an independent woman she continues in the family business, facing many hurdles as a lone female.

Thomas Cromwell, Elizabeth’s second husband is a historically significant figure, however this is very much Elizabeth’s story as she watches with a degree of trepidation her husband’s rise.

I liked how, in the book the author successfully gave a real sense, I think, of life in Tudor times, for women especially but how it was to live in these times not in the luxury of the royal court.

As with much historical fiction this left me wanting to read more and to learn more about these characters.  That said I closed the book feeling I had gained some knowledge which for me is always a positive outcome of reading a book I have enjoyed.  And this was a book I enjoyed, written in a way that is highly readable and not falling into the trap of too many characters which can be a hazard I think for books in this genre.  As the author commented in the end note, not a huge amount is known about Elizabeth and some of the other aspects of the story, but the gaps in knowledge, the fictional parts felt very authentic and in keeping with the true facts which again I enjoyed.

Written entirely in the first person, this is Elizabeth’s story as a Tudor woman married to a man who became increasingly successful in the royal court.

This is the closing post of the mini anniversary blog tour, but please do check out the rest of the blog tour as detailed below.


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