I am a big fan of historical fiction, with a real passion for the Victorian and Tudor periods. Monarchies have always fascinated me, particularly those during the 14th to 18th centuries when the royal courts were scenes of ludicrous luxury. The power wielded by the reigning monarchs, the strong influence of religious values and the social norms of the time gave rise to many high-profile scandals and conflicts, providing countless opportunities for fictional interpretations.
Historical fiction, when done well, immerses you in a completely different world, which I find even more intriguing than entirely fiction environments because it is based on the truth. In my opinion, the best historical fiction novels are meticulously researched, weaving their fictional story around facts, rather distorting facts to fit the story. I want an author to stick to fact especially in the cases of descriptions of living conditions, fashion and decor so that I can feel like I truly inhabit the period whilst reading their novel.
The author who really drew me into the genre of historical fiction is Philippa Gregory, a highly successful, bestselling author. She has written numerous series in addition to stand-alone books, primarily set between the 16th and 18th centuries. Gregory is a historian as well as a writer, which adds significant credibility to her works, although her critics do question her novels’ accuracy.
Gregory is an expert at breathing life into historical figures. So far, I have read both her Tudor Court and Cousins’ War series (known, since August 2016, as one series, The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels). While I have enjoyed some books more than others, I have always devoured each and every one. Her novels are full of deception, treachery, passion, heartbreak and conflict. So, I was thrilled when she announced her next book!
The Last Tudor
The Last Tudor is the next instalment in The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels. It is set to tell the tale of Lady Jane Grey and her two sisters during the 1550s. Lady Jane Grey was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII. She married Lord Guilford Dudley, a son of the Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley, chief-minister of Edward VI. Before King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, was killed on the battlefield, he named Lady Jane Seymour as his successor to the throne, over his half-sisters. Jane was queen for 9 days before she was imprisoned in the Tower of London when the Privy Council declared Henry VIII’s daughter, Mary, queen instead.
The novel follows the sisters as Jane is sentenced to death but Katherine and Mary refuse to cower to the insecurities of Queen Mary, and later Queen Elizabeth, instead choosing to defy them.
Read the official synopsis.
The Last Tudor Promotion
The Last Tudor will be released on 8 August 2017! To promote the publication, Simon & Schuster has created a video celebrating Gregory’s 30 year writing career (her first novel, Wideacre of the Wideacre trilogy, was published in 1987) and highlights her Plantagenet and Tudor novels.
I was excited to see the video on social media because I don’t come across book advertising very often, other than posters in the tube or on bus stops (even though I’m in the publishing industry so I’m watching out for the promotions!). While this is not the best form of marketing I have seen, I like to see publishers working with other formats than print, particularly as video is being recognised as a very important marketing medium.
The video has beautiful animation, emulating the designs of the book covers. The simple copy is powerful and intriguing, effectively promoting Gregory’s writing. I just wish the fireball effect had not been incorporated so often, as its frequency makes it lose its dramatic effect. Also, I think the video would have been much more interesting and innovative if it had refrained from incorporating pack shots. (A pack shot is the image of the product, in this case the book / book cover)
Book marketers traditionally display pack shots on a lot of marketing material, but this is increasingly viewed as predictable and uninspiring. Now, marketers are looking to depict elements of books’ contents on promotional materials instead of the standard book cover image.
Regardless, I think the video was a great idea; it was successful in making me aware of the book’s release and getting me excited.
I can’t wait to read another tale of Tudor treachery!