Publication Date: August 4th, 2015
The second in Laura Purcell’s captivating and acclaimed series of novels chronicling the lives and loves of the consorts and mistresses of Britain’s rash, reckless and ebullient Hanoverian kings.
Her first novel, Queen of Bedlam, was published by Myrmidon in the summer of 2014.
Orphaned and trapped in an abusive marriage, Henrietta Howard has little left to lose. She stakes everything on a new life in Hanover with its royal family, the heirs to the British throne.
Henrietta’s beauty and intelligence soon win her the friendship of clever Princess Caroline and her mercurial husband, Prince George. But, as time passes, it becomes clear that friendship is the last thing on the hot-blooded young prince’s mind. Dare Henrietta give into his advances and anger her violent husband? Dare she refuse?
Whatever George’s shortcomings, Princess Caroline is determined to make the family a success. Yet the feud between her husband and his obstinate father threatens all she has worked for. As England erupts in Jacobite riots, her family falls apart. She vows to save the country for her children to inherit – even if it costs her pride and her marriage.
Set in the turbulent years of the Hanoverian accession, Mistress of the Court tells the story of two remarkable women at the centre of George II’s reign.
What Did I Think About the Story?
From the first sentence of Mistress of the Court the reader is engulfed in the violent abuse, both physical and mental, that Henrietta Howard experiences at the hands of her useless and manipulative husband...all of which her young son witnesses! Laura Purcell does an exceptional job of describing the horrid conditions Henrietta has been living in and I could not help but sympathize with her as she struggled to not just survive but make a better life for her family, one that would allow her son to have the advantages in life his name and heritage should give him. How can she make this happen? By getting herself and her husband to Hanover and into the employ of the royals due to succeed the English throne once the current English queen dies.
One of the things I enjoyed most about this story was the attention to detail Laura Purcell put into the descriptions of the dress and trappings of the court, their palaces (both splendid and rundown), their surroundings...really just everything is wonderfully described so that I was whisked off to the locales with our characters. It was quite easy to get lost in the story as our two main women - Henrietta and Princess (then Queen) Caroline - road the impossibly bumpy paths their lives ended up taking. Not being as familiar with this time period and the Hanoverian royals this attention to detail was very helpful in giving me a better appreciation of how their court and politics operated.
Something else I very much appreciated within the story was the attention taken to presenting the similarities between these two women, even as their lots in life were quite far apart. Both women are at the mercy of temperamental men (although it appears only Henrietta's husband was physically abusive) and have to all but give up their children in the pursuit of a future they long for. Both love their children dearly and try to win back their children's affection when they are later able to do so, neither necessarily getting the results they expected or wanted. Both women are also quite prideful and, in the end, both end up loving the same man.
One thing I have to note is that I never felt that Caroline and Henrietta developed a real friendship. While Caroline helped Henrietta when she first came to court the very fact that she is the one who pushed Henrietta into George's bed (basically threatening her if she did not comply), all with an aim to distract George with a mistress Caroline could manipulate, made me feel like Carolyn didn't really feel anything stronger for Henrietta than concern and mild amusement. I was clucking my tongue as Carolyn began distancing herself from Henrietta when the affair started and shaking my head when Carolyn began actively disliking and undermining Henrietta's influence with the King. Carolyn's internal monologue did note that she knew she was being unfair to Henrietta given the fact that she herself pushed the two together, but this tampered my appreciation of Carolyn's character, which I had until then quite enjoyed.
The topsy turvy relationships between all the Hanoverians was a wake-up call for me, and I found it at times humorous and at other times horrifying. These royals fight, manipulate and undermind each other like nothing I've ever seen before. While Carolyn and George seem to have a very loving and respectful marriage, the rest of them are quite another story, especially King George I (Carolyn's father-in-law) and King George II (Carolyn's husband). They honestly seem to hate each other and with both being prone to fits of rage and vengefulness, I was shocked at the lengths they went to hurt each other and their legacies. With this family there was no need for scheming and attack from anyone on the outside...they did enough of that themselves!
Being that I was not very familiar with the Hanoverians, I think Mistress of the Court was a wonderful introduction. They are quite an interesting dynasty and I am now very excited to learn more, hopefully starting with Laura Purcell's previous novel, Queen of Bedlam, which promises to deal with the women in King George III's life. With a start like this I can only imagine where these Hanoverians will go next!
What Did I Think About the Cover?
It's pretty enough. It doesn't really offer much beyond the woman sitting before the curtain, but I do like that she is staring directly at the reader a little defiantly. I might have preferred a little more color or substance in the background, but this is still a cover that would draw my eye and have me turning it over to read more.
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
Thank you to TLC Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of Mistress of the Court in exchange for an honest review! Be sure to continue below for information on the author, the blog tour and how you can grab your own copy!
Praise for Mistress of the Court
"Ms. Purcell’s knowledge of the intimate life of the Hanoverians is stunning, and in this novel she has brought a remarkable, and unappreciated herione to gritty, heart-breaking life.” –Anita Seymour, author of Royalist Rebel
“Laura Purcell is a wonderful storyteller, and Mistress of the Court a fabulous Georgian read!”–Lucinda Brant, NY Times bestselling author of Georgian romances and mysteries
Buy the Book
Laura Purcell is a former Waterstones bookseller who lives in Colchester. She is a member of the Society for Court Studies and Historic Royal Palaces and featured on a recent PBS documentary, talking about Queen Caroline’s life at Hampton Court. She maintains a history blog at laurapurcell.com.
I am so excited to be able to offer one copy of Mistress of the Court up for giveaway, open worldwide!! All you have to do is enter your name and email address on the giveaway form HERE. Please be sure to leave both your name and your email on the form so I can contact you if you are my winner (no email address, no entry!). For extra entries you can follow the blog in various ways (all links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave the name/email you follow with on the form. That's it!
I'll use a random number generator to pick a winner on October 14th, 2015 and will announce the winner here as well as email the winner for their mailing address. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email before I have to pick another winner. If you have already won this giveaway on another site please let me know so I can pick a new winner and give someone else a chance to win a copy of this great book.
Mistress of the Court Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, September 21st: Hoser’s Blog
Wednesday, September 23rd: Living in the Kitchen with Puppies
Monday, September 28th: Unabridged Chick
Wednesday, September 30th: Books Without Any Pictures
Thursday, October 1st: The Maiden’s Court
Monday, October 5th: Broken Teepee
Monday, October 5th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, October 6th: A Chick Who Reads
Wednesday, October 7th: A Literary Vacation
Thursday, October 8th: Just One More Chapter
Friday, October 9th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, October 12th: Luxury Reading
Tuesday, October 13th: Open Book Society
Wednesday, October 14th: #redhead.with.book
Tuesday, October 27th: Reading Lark
Date TBD: Romantic Historical Reviews
Date TBD: BookBub – author guest post
TBD: Bibliophilia, Please