The Secret Keeper: A Novel of Kateryn Parr by Sandra Byrd, 2012
Ladies in Waiting, Book 2
Kateryn Parr (b.1512-d.1548)
Sir Thomas Seymour seeks Hugh St. John to settle some business and comes upon his daughter, Juliana, as a lector at the church. Assured she would be just the one to serve as a confidante lady-in-waiting for his beloved Kateryn, her mother initially agrees to one year's service at court for her daughter.
Kateryn Parr has long been in love with Thomas, brother of late Queen Jane Seymour. Getting rid of his wives at whim, the King seeks to have Kate Parr as his next wife. Unknown to Henry VIII, she will be his last wife. King Henry VIII in failing health, the Court goes on without him ~ until he hears about it and has them beheaded. To the Tower is a command that doesn't return many. Desirous of keeping all the power himself, he is not overly pleased with the influx of reformers entering and promoting influences amid his reign. If only he had realized the true Queen he had, he would have had a much better outcome. He was swayed by opinion and pompous self-pride, on again ~ off again allegiance to Kate.
For all of his misleading, Thomas does indeed do a great service for Kate when bringing Juliana to court for her. She is a faithful friend and continues at court for the duration of Kate's life. Kate, in turn, is the mother figure Juliana unknowingly sought. Benevolence on both parts, they are valuable to each other's lives. Juliana has prophetic dreams that forewarn of coming events, even before she knew she was to be a part of the outcome.
Juliana tells the story as an observer and participant in the life of Queen Kateryn. She gives the Queen her complete attendance beyond a life of her own. Juliana is my very favorite character and I was overwhelmed with the acceptance she receives as she leaves court after the death of the Queen. Very satisfactory and a beloved friend. As a believer, she realizes she was never alone nor forsaken.
This Tudor story is very thorough and well-written of hidden times revealed within the private chambers. Although Juliana is fictional among the actual happenings portrayed, she stands out as the very needed member. Enjoy the rich stories told in the Ladies-in-Waiting series by Sandra Byrd. Further historical readings of Principal Works of Reference are included in the back of the novel. Also included is a Reading Group Guide and Author Q&A.
***Thank you to Author Sandra Byrd for this story and the opportunity to read and review The Secret Keeper. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
I love these books! The Secret Keeper, Sandra Byrd's second book in the Ladies in Waiting Series, follows the life of Kateryn Parr, King Henry VIII's last wife. After reading her novel about Ann Boyeln, I knew this would be a quite the read as well. Because royalty in those days were what the French call drah-ma.
Told from the perspective of one of Parr's ladies in waiting, Juliana, this was not only interesting to dive more into that era, but through her eyes, the reality of society for women was brought to life. It really is sad, but also encouraging to see how some women did stand up in different ways. At least we've come a long ways in society.
There were definitely a couple of twists I didn't expect and kept me on my book reading toes :) . Once again Byrd opens up a fascinating world with fantastic writing! There's beautiful details, stirring stories and of course the crazy British drama. I can't wait for her new one, Roses Have Thorns, A Novel of Elizabeth I, to come out this Spring!!
I definitely recommend this series, so be sure to pick up a copy!
While many of the historical novels and movies of late featuring the wives of King Henry VIII are nothing more than sensationalism, Sandra Byrd shows that historical fiction can be accurate and still entirely sensational in her latest book The Secret Keeper. Sweeping through 8-plus years of court intrigue, royalty, and grandeur, Sandra tells the story of Kateryn Parr through the eyes of a humble lady-in-waiting, Juliana St. John. Juliana's journey begins innocently enough, but hairpin turns are only a moment away, and what was once an exciting adventure to be included in the company of the Queen quickly becomes Juliana's duty to protect her from those who intend to discredit her. She also does not count on shameful circumstances affecting her directly, and thus, charts a firm course for the remainder of her life...to which, God has another plan.
Sandra's study of the Tudor period and Kateryn's life was intense, providing the reader not only with several family trees in the beginning, but an extensive author's note in the back detailing her meticulous research. From the royal garments and stunning jewels to the actual letters and books used in conversation during that time, The Secret Keeper had a natural authentic quality that set it apart from other historical novels regardless of their time period. As a reader, I paused several times to savor the rich language and dialogue that made up each scene. This was not a novel that I wanted to race to complete, but one that grew sweeter with each and every page.
I have been so impressed with all of Sandra's books over the years, but historical fiction is where her talents shine the brightest. Although I am anxiously awaiting her next Tudor novel about Elizabeth I, it comes with a hint of sadness that it will bring this series to a close. And for a reader whose tendency is to never re-read a book, I have no doubt I will be making *several* exceptions for Sandra's entire Ladies in Waiting series.
A sweeping historical novel of the little known Kateryn Parr.
We've all heard about Henry VIII and his six wives, and we know about his first and second wives Katherine (or Catherine) of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, but what do we know of Henry VIII's sixth and final wife, Kateryn Parr? If you read this book you'll find out.
The Secret Keeper is another book to add to my exclusive favorites pile, rich with real-life characters and full of intrigue The Secret Keeper is everything and more than I expected.
I loved being able to sit back and seep into another time and place, a world of power, secrets, and rarest of all true love.
I absolutely loved Ms. Byrd's attention to detail and how she brought a character so often tucked away into the back round to the forefront, through the eyes of Juliana St. John. I knew that there was alot going on in the court of Henry VIII during the time he was married to Anne Boleyn, but I never guessed how dangerous it was even in the time of Kateryn Parr!
I was absorbed into the era through the eyes and ears of Juliana, a young woman who had secrets of her own. I came to be so invested in the tale that I read it all in two sittings, only because my mother insisted I go to sleep!
I loved getting to know Kateryn better, and learning more about the time between Anne Boleyn and Queen Elizabeth. The Secret Keeper is a lush historical read, that gripped me in a strangle-hold from beginning to end, and that I HIGHLY recommend to anyone looking for a fully engrossing read.
Many thanks to Sandra Byrd and Howard Publishers for providing me with this copy of The Secret Keeper in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Great Tudor Fiction: The Secret Keeper; A Novel of
July 11, 2012
Wow! Does Sandra Byrd know how to write a book or what? I'll be the first to admit that I don't often seek out books set in 16th century England but since having read To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn last year I make a point to read all Ms. Byrd's stories. I don't know a lot about the Tudors or English royalty but reading books like The Secret Keeper makes it feel like I'm living it up at court or that I'm right in the midst of a royal intrigue.
Juliana St. John, a companion and maid of honor to Kateryn Parr, quickly becomes attached to the last wife of Henry VIII especially since Kateryn shows more affection for her than Juliana's own mother. Life within the palace's inner circles isn't without its disadvantages, especially to an innocent young woman like Juliana. The secrets that she must hold close abound and if they ever come out everyone could be in danger including the new queen herself.
Writing seemingly authentic to the time characters and the ability to make the struggles of a person who lived hundreds of years ago relevant to the modern woman takes true talent and Sandra Byrd definitely has it! Every moment of Juliana's story was gripping, entertaining, and chock full of emotion. Getting to know Juliana as a naive young woman and follow her as she matured while in service to queen, king and country was truly a joy. Don't get me wrong there are definitely moments that will make you want to weep, especially concerning the treatment of women and assaults, but the ending was terrific without being an over the top happily-ever-after. I enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Tudor court set fiction regardless of whether or not they like Christian fiction.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.*