This novel is, without a shadow of the doubt, one of the most compelling books I have read set in Tudor England. ................an intimate and plausible story about the life of the mother of one of England’s greatest explorers, Sir Walter Raleigh.
A Woman of Noble Wit by Rosemary Griggs is an astoundingly successful book. Up until now, Katherine-Kate’s life has, like so many women, been lost to time, which is such a crying shame, as some of these women had more interesting lives than the men whose names are forever documented in history. Rosemary Griggs has given her readers an intimate and plausible story about the life of the mother of one of England’s greatest explorers, Sir Walter Raleigh.
At times this novel was raw, emotional and left me in tears. At other times it is carefree, enjoyable. As the wheel of fortune turns slowly around we witness both Katherine-Kate’s triumph and failures. This is a gripping account of an ordinary woman who is trying to do her duty as a wife and mother while dreaming about adventures that will always be denied to her because of her sex. Katherine-Kate is a very flawed yet likeable character. When her first child was born I wept, for she was so excited and then so thoroughly dejected in thinking she had failed her husband. It was of little wonder she acted as she did, although this does have long-term consequences for her daughter mental health - although such things were not discussed back then. The blinkered thinking of the period which made women little better than breeding machines was very sobering, especially when a woman was as intelligent as Katherine-Kate. She has to play the passive wife around her husband, Otho, and she has to do as she is told. There are some very distressing scenes between Katherine-Kate and Otho, although I thought the author approached these scenes with the utmost care. In fact, the subject of mental health, which affects all of the characters at some point, is approached cautiously, and perhaps if you were not familiar with mental illness you might miss the gentle hints. Otho changes from a good, if not a little insecure and bitter man, into a monster and although his actions are deplorable the author hints that not all is well with his mental health. Likewise, Rosemary Griggs take a great deal of care in depicting postnatal depression, as well as grief.
I really liked the way the author approached the depiction of the court of Henry VIII. And although we only meet King Henry once, in passing, his decisions have consequences that cannot be ignored. After all, if he sentence his own wife to death then no one was safe. The fear of the King’s temper is as threatening as the plague that ravishes the country.
This novel is, without a shadow of the doubt, one of the most compelling books I have read set in Tudor England. I might just have found my new favourite author.
Original Review: https://likeathousandlives.blogspot.com/2022/01/book-review-woman-of-noble-wit-by.html