I love historical fiction and am delighted to be starting the launch celebrations for The Woman in the Shadows by Carol McGrath, especially as I knew absolutely nothing about Thomas Cromwell’s wife Elizabeth before I read the book.
The Woman in the Shadows will be published by Accent Press on 4th August 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here.
The Woman in the Shadows
When beautiful cloth merchant’s daughter Elizabeth Williams is widowed at the age of twenty-two, she is determined to make herself a success in the business she has learned from her father. But there are those who oppose a woman making her own way in the world, and soon Elizabeth realises she may have some powerful enemies – enemies who also know the truth about her late husband.
Security – and happiness – comes when Elizabeth is introduced to kindly, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage is one based on mutual love and respect…but it isn’t always easy being the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London.
The city is filled with ruthless people and strange delights – and Elizabeth realises she must adjust to the life she has chosen…or risk losing everything.
My Review of The Woman in the Shadows
Being a woman in the C16th isn’t always the easiest thing to be.
Ooh, I really enjoyed The Woman in the Shadows because Carol McGrath writes with such vivid descriptions that appeal to all the senses. It’s rare to have such an effective feeling of touch when reading, but the quality of the fabrics, the silks and furs was so sumptuous that I could sense them under my fingers. Carol McGrath conveys the stench of London, the taste of sugared fruits, the sounds and sights of pageantry and poverty so evocatively I was there with Elizabeth Cromwell.
The quality of research that has been woven into such a fascinating narrative is so skilfully presented. I learnt an incredible amount about the times in which the book is set. I loved the depiction of society, religion, social convention and the role of women whilst I read this hugely entertaining story. Whilst I had a vague knowledge of the times, Carol McGrath has presented an oft forgotten aspect of our history – the place of women – so brilliantly that I now have a completely different perspective.
I thought the all characters were realistic, human and striking so that I felt I came to know them intimately. I experienced Elizabeth’s anxieties with her as she dealt with the intrigues surrounding her life. I’m not sure if I like Cromwell any more or less having read The Woman in the Shadows, but I certainly understand him more.
The plot of The Woman in the Shadows is entertaining and engaging, but what I really enjoyed the most was the ordinary daily details that gave me such an insight into the peoples and the times; the sewing and preparation of meals, the clothing and the servants all wove a tapestry of colour I thoroughly enjoyed.
I think The Woman in the Shadows is a must read for anyone remotely interested in history. Or, indeed, for anyone who simply wants a really good book.
About Carol McGrath
Carol McGrath studied for an MA at Queens University Belfast’s Seamus Heaney Centre for Creative Writing. Later she worked on the MPhil in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Carol travels extensively, enjoys photography and loves spending time with her two children, her husband and in her home and garden.
Carol’s debut novel, The Handfasted Wife was published by Accent Press in May 2013. The Handfasted Wife is the first novel in a trilogy about the Norman Conquest from the point of view of the royal women. Its subject is Edith Swan-Neck, King Harold’s common-law / handfasted wife. The Swan Daughter and The Betrothed Sister followed in 2014 and 2015.
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