The Queen’s Dwarf

Ella March Chase. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-00629-5
Entertaining but flawed, Chase’s latest (after 2011’s Three Maids for a Crown) follows Jeffrey Hudson, a dwarf from a poor family who finds himself spying on the French-born queen of England after his father sells him to the scheming Duke of Buckingham. For much of the story, Jeffrey is torn between the need to protect his younger brother, Samuel, and his feelings of loyalty and affection for the queen, Henrietta Maria, a kind woman who wants to do right by everyone, but whose Catholic faith, barren womb, and foreign birth have aroused suspicion among her subjects. The handsome, commanding Buckingham—who has had the king, Charles Stuart, under his spell since Charles was a sickly boy—has Jeffrey relay potentially damaging information on the queen to the king in order to maintain his influence on Charles. Much of England begins to hate Buckingham, as his hubris leads to many deaths, but Charles continually forgives him. The story, while engrossing, has a glaring plot flaw midway through that creates an impossible quandary for Jeffrey, and undermines the idea that the dwarf is smarter than most people think. That aside, the novel is a fascinating glimpse into 17th-century court life, rife with ladies in waiting who could be confidants or backstabbers; lush, wasteful banquets; and people like Jeffrey who are treated kindly but were essentially pets for royalty. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/14/2013
Release date: 01/21/2014
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-250-06136-2
Open Ebook - 384 pages - 978-1-250-03852-4
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