A real pleasure to be involved in this mini anniversary blog tour today for THE WOMAN IN THE SHADOWS by CAROL McGRATH. My thanks to the author and publishers for inviting me to be part of it all!
About the book
The powerful, evocative new novel by the critically acclaimed author of The Handfasted Wife, The Woman in the Shadows presents the rise of Thomas Cromwell, Tudor England’s most powerful statesman, through the eyes of his wife Elizabeth.
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 own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband…
Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, 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.
Published by Accent Press
You know when you finish an historical book and your first thought is to research more of the characters and period of history, then it has completely enthralled you and the author has done a first rate job! That is exactly what happened when I finished the last page of The Woman in the Shadows as I was just itching to know more about the historical figures in this fascinating novel, and very clever too to put Cromwells’ wife Elizabeth at the core of the story, as the story jumps from her past to her present alongside Cromwell, watching on as he becomes more involved in dealings with the court and the big players of the time.
The story of Elizabeth is a fascinating woman and very interesting to hear of life in the Tudor period from a womans’ perspective – especially one who has been widowed at 22, to a man she never really loved but who had a secret and how she dealt with keeping that to protect him. After this marriage she is determined to marry for love next time round, not the done thing at that time! She works for her father as a cloth merchant and is well educated and as time goes on she impresses the other traders with her knowledge and eye for a good fabric.
On the day of her husbands funeral, Thomas Cromwell is introduced to her although it turns out they knew each other from childhood. She is smitten but rarely sees him and concentrates on the cloth business before he proposes. We then follow their lives together, the role women played in the lives of these powerful men, while raising a family and following through gossip the goings on between the King and the Queen at the time. It follows the family through different houses they lived in as their family grew – they had 3 children together – and people they came into contact withx
I ended up reading this in one afternoon as I was just intrigued by the story – I loved the way the storyline jumped backwards and forward so that many different elements of Elizabeth and her life could be witnessed. It also did a great job of humanizing a character I’d only read about in history books in Thomas Cromwell – it made you wonder what kind of man he really was and how those around him dealt with things he was involved in. Highly recommended!