All The Queen’s Players by Jane Feather
It was nice returning to the court of Queen Elizabeth, as I had not visited in some time. Ms. Feather did a wonderful job keeping tone and language as well as did a fabulous job with description of scenes and characters. This story was very well-written.
I quite enjoyed All the Queen’s Players, a story about Rosamund Walsingham, cousin to Queen Elizabeth’s spy master. Rosamund is a young girl who is sent to Queen Elizabeth’s court to spy on the courtiers and the Queen’s ladies, and later sent into exile with Mary, Queen of Scots, months before her execution. Being in the court of Queen Elizabeth, there are plenty of plots and intrigues, mostly focused in this book on the discovery of those who would support ‘Scots Mary’ taking the English throne.
Kit Marlowe focuses largely in this book, and our young heroine has somehow finagled her way into several different play houses, and falls in love with the scene, the actors and how plays are presented. The only objectionable content was the love affair between Rosamund’s brother, Thomas, and Kit Marlowe. However, Ms Feather doesn’t dwell too much on this aspect, so it was not a ‘show stopper’ for this reader.
Rosamund has the unique ability to draw from memory and to render people quite well. Her skills are put to use for Sir Francis Walsingham, in hopes of discovering plots and intrigues of the court. Rosamund is told not to carry on any liaisons, as Queen Elizabeth liked to direct her ladies-in-waiting. However, young Rosamund does not heed this advice and falls for young and poor courtier Will Creighton. Knowledge of a liaison leads to her banishment from Queen Elizabeth’s court and Sir Francis sends her directly to the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots, where she is to play her greatest role of entrapping the Scottish queen in authorizing the rebellion against Queen Elizabeth.
The pace of the story was very good. I found myself stealing away whenever possible to read more...until the story was finished. One almost felt like she was walking around the gardens or through the crowded hallways or down a London street with the smells and sights of Elizabethan England. I was quite taken with the main character and enjoyed watching her grow. The later part of the book did seem a bit rushed, but not so much as to feel cheated when the story ended. I had wondered how Ms. Feather would end the story; it wasn’t the fairy-tale ending I had hoped for, but it was a good ending.