Blog Reviews

The Bridled Tongue by Catherine Meyrick – Review

The Bridled Tongue Elizabethan Historical Fiction

Set in Elizabethan England in 1536 this is a well-written and absorbing romantic novel. Alyce Bradley, returning home after being a lady’s maid in a grand house (which turns out to have been not so grand) comes into conflict with her father over her future. His father’s journeyman has ambitions to marry her but Alyce cannot bear him. (And neither can the reader!) Instead she opts for a more dangerous choice, Thomas Granville. Thomas is an older more worldly man, and has a reputation of a man with an eye for the ladies, and as a privateer. At first wary, the pair start to develop a relationship of mutual respect, against the jealous ill–will of Alyce’s sister Isabel, who wants to keep Alyce at her beck and call during her pregnancy.

Alyce’s grandmother was accused of witchcraft, and when Thomas has to go away, these accusations come flooding back. Alyce has always been outspoken, and though this makes us warm to her as a reader, it gets her into a lot of trouble.

I won’t spoil the plot, but suffice it to say there is a wealth of historical background here, of Spain’s Armada, and of the rivalry between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. Conditions for women at the time are faithfully rendered, and there are historical notes at the back of the book to add to your enjoyment. If you like to read about the lives of ordinary women in the Elizabethan period, you will find this novel gives you plenty of evocative detail wrapped up in a page-turning plot.

Buy the Book

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Low-life of Elizabethan London

Fortune’s Hand – a novel of Walter Ralegh

Blog Reviews

Fortune’s Hand – a novel of Walter Ralegh


The Boyhood of Raleigh 1870 Sir John Everett Millais

I knew nothing about Walter Ralegh, except the legends I’d been told at school; about how he lay down his cloak for Queen Elizabeth I. Was this legend true? Read more here on History Extra to find out.

In his novel, Fortune’s Hand, R N Morris treats us to a visceral interpretation of Ralegh’s life. This is an extraordinary novel. We experience it from multiple points of view, from the acorn that will grow to become the oak timbers of the ship he will sail in, to the teeming life within an old ship’s biscuit. Much of Elizabethan life on board ship is ugly and brutal. We are shown a thief having his hand cut off, and later we witness a massacre in Ireland, and wince at the way a horse might pick its way across a corpse-strewn field. Yet the writing of it is always lyrical, and Morris gives these events a strange kind of beauty. What impresses is that Raleigh experiences these things as part and parcel of his life – to him they are every day occurrences. We are really treated to the mind-set of an Elizabethan man.

Ralegh is of course obsessed with gold, and we see his ambition and his turbulent relationship with the Queen. Yet his literary ambitions are also on show – the novel includes a whole scene after a tennis match written in blank verse, where the dialogue zips back and forth like a tennis ball as if we are in a Shakespeare play. Above all, this is a novel that explores what it is to be a historical novel. It is unlike any other historical novel of the period, and its skilful research and execution are much to be admired.


Spotlight on Tony Riches’ new novel ‘Katherine – Tudor Duchess’


Katherine - Tudor DuchessAttractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England. When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform.

Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.

Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Available in eBook and paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US Also on Goodreads 


About Tony
Tony Riches is a full-tiTony Riches Authorme UK author of best-selling historical fiction.
He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors.
Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: The Tudor Trilogy: Owen – Book One,  Jasper – Book Two , Henry – Book Three, Mary – Tudor Princess and Brandon – Tudor Knight.

For more information about Tony’s books visit his website and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Twitter @tonyriches

Blog Seventeenth Century Life

Research Find of the Week – ‘Tudor Wimbledon’

Tudor Wimbledon I bought this from a charity shop in Kendal for £1.29.  As Wimbledon was a village so close to London (then 10 miles distant), it does include a few anecdotes about famous London personages, such as Catherine Parr, and Henry VIII. The King visited Wimbledon in his last days, when he was ill and could not travel from Nonsuch palace to Whitehall without breaking the journey. The booklet has a map of his journey, and records of what remedies were sent for.

It includes a few colourful snippets such as;  in 1564/5 the Thames froze solid and the villagers played football on the ice, and a description of the Wimbledon Militia who seem to have been the Tudor equivalent of ‘Dad’s Army’ with archery butts constantly ‘in need of repair.’

The book is mostly a record of written sources on this period, and so provides an interesting if patchy account. It also includes a chapter on the Puritan Walter family, and also on the Cecil family, who were visited by both Elizabeth I and James I at their manor house in Wimbledon. A short pamphlet of 120 pages, it was been written by a historian local to the area.

This, by the same author, also might be of interest:

Wimbledon in the English Civil War


Witchrise by Victoria Lamb – Historical Fiction Highlight

I have been interested in historical fiction for teenagers and young adults for quite a few years, and love to feature it on my blog,

Today I highlight Victoria Lamb’s latest novel for Young Adults, WITCHRISE, the third in her trilogy of books about Meg Lytton the witch.

I asked Victoria on twitter about how she enjoyed writing it:

‘There’s a scary scene in WITCHRISE where Meg tells the future using a homunculus made from a mandrake root; I loved writing it! I found that scene really quite frightening to write, and got the chills afterwards. Very spooky!’

Back cover blurb: 

Meg Lytton was born with a powerful gift for magic, as her mother and aunt were before her. But practising witchcraft in Tudor England is a dangerous business – as is hiding her secret betrothal to the handsome young priest, Alejandro de Castillo. Meg is called back into the service of Princess Elizabeth, who has fallen passionately in love with Robert Dudley – a married man. When Meg cannot foretell a happy future for Elizabeth and Dudley, the furious, tempestuous princess turns on Meg. Even more perilous, Meg learns that her enemy, the cruel witchfinder Marcus Dent, has joined forces with none other than the dark and ruthless priests of the Spanish Inquisition. She is in greater danger than ever – and her future with Alejandro hangs in the balance.

Find out more on Victoria’s website.