I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Poyson Garden by Karen Harper

I love this historical series, however I have not read it in ten years and have forgotten most of it.  This series focuses around Princess Elizabeth as she tries to keep from getting killed by her sister Queen Mary, who is slowly dying on the throne.  Elizabeth has just been released from the Tower of London after a failed rebellion that she had nothing to do with, but caused many of her supporters to die.  She is now living in her home Hatfield House, where she is "watched over" (spied on) by the Pope couple.  She has a trusted horseman, named Jenks and a former nursemaid, Kat, who help her. 

The former Mary Boleyn , sister of Anne, who had an affair with King Henry VIII, and was allowed to marry a man she loved, as long as she faked her death and moved to the country, after all these years Elizabeth thinks her dead.  Mary is dying and her son, Harey Carey, is riding in from exile in Switzerland to be by her side.  He and his man are attacked by a group of people yelling "Death to the Boleyns, even the royal one".  He survives and makes it to his mother's home.  Elizabeth is sent a secret message to come if she can.  With Kat and Jenks help she goes to Windverne to see her long lost aunt.

They find out that Mary was poisoned.  The herbalist Meg Milligrew, who has only been there a year tells a tale of not remembering who she is, just that she knows something about herbs.  Meg looks an awful lot like Elizabeth.  When the poisoner turns out to be someone else, who kills herself before revealing who is ultimately behind the plot, Elizabeth gathers a strange group of people around her that she feels she can trust to help her and find a way to catch the poisoner.  She finds a way for all of them to stay at Hatfield House.  The first to arrive is Meg, then Ned Topside, an actor and performer, who has a quick mind and the ability to become anybody and teach Meg how to pretend to be Elizabeth.  The other two are Jenks and Kat.

This group sets out to find the poisoner and encounters more than they bargained for, nearly getting killed many times.  A lot of people do not like the Boleyn family line, but who would go so far as to try to kill them all?  And for what purpose?  Like the real Elizabeth, the young one in this book is clever and has a mind like a steal trap.  It is hard to trust anyone, because anyone can betray you.  She also has to keep up appearances for the Popes and rely on her "headaches", which she truly suffers from, to help her leave the house in search of a killer, or someone she cares about might die in her stead.

Elizabeth I is one of my favorite historical people (and not just because she has red hair).  At a time when women had no rights and could achieve nothing and hold no power, she grows into one of the most powerful people on the globe at that time.  You see her promise here as a young woman.  She has had to grow up very fast, as things are as dangerous at court as they are at Hatfield House.  Any slip up, anything that might upset Mary, could end her life.  This makes the book highly exciting and a real page turner.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Poyson-Garden-Elizabeth-Mystery/dp/0440225922/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466774951&sr=8-1&keywords=the+poyson+garden

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