All The Queen’s Players by Jane Feather
Published: May 8th 2014 by Headline Eternal
Genre: Historical Fiction
At Queen Elizabeth’s palace, intrigue abounds. And when a naive girl with a gift for keen observation enters the court, she can hardly imagine the role she will play in bringing England – indeed, the whole of Europe – to the brink of war. Nor can she foresee her own journey to the brink of ecstasy and beyond…
When she becomes a junior lady of Queen Elizabeth’s bedchamber, Rosamund is instructed by her cousin, the brilliant and devious secretary of state Sir Francis Walsingham, to record everything she observes. Her promised reward: a chance at a good marriage. And then Rosamund meets Will Creighton – a persuasive courtier, poet, and would-be playwright who is the embodiment of an unsuitable match.
The unsanctioned relationship draws the wrath of Elizabeth, and Rosamund is sent in disgrace to a remote castle that holds Elizabeth’s cousin Mary Stuart, the imprisoned Queen of Scots. Here, Walsingham expects Rosamund to uncover proof of a plot against Elizabeth. But surely, nothing good can come of putting an artless girl in such close proximity to so many seductive players and deceptive games. Unless, of course, Rosamund can discover an affinity for passion and intrigue herself…
‘All The Queen’s Players’ is the first novel and historical novel that I have read from Jane Feather. As soon as I saw this book on Amazon, and I found out that it was a historical novel, I knew that I had to have it!
‘All The Queen’s Player’ focuses on a young woman called Rosamund, who is a cousin of one of the most powerful and influential men at the court of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I; Francis Walsingham (known as the Spymaster). She was living a simple country life after the death of her mother until her older brother, Thomas and his friend, poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe turned up to their family home and bring her to their cousin in London, Francis Walsingham. However, as her observational drawing skills become noted and work to the benefit of Francis Walsingham. As long as Rosamund uses her skill to help him in his spy work, Francis manages to acquire Rosamund a place at Elizabeth’s court amongst her ladies-in-waiting. Despite her brother’s warning not to go to the theatre, Rosamund disobeys his orders and comes across an actor and playwright, Will Creighton. She ends up in a scandal that gets her banished from court and used as an informant in the household of the imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots.
I personally liked Rosamund as a character, but I will admit at times I did find her a bit too naive and willing to let her passions run wild but I cannot criticise her wholly on those two things. Although I found her to be one of the more likeable characters in this novel, other than Will Creighton and Mary Queen of Scots (just because I love her and in novels she can do no wrong for me), the rest were quite boring, horrible and just hated reading about. Rosamund’s brother Thomas wasn’t likeable and I at first enjoyed reading about his friendship/relationship with Kit Marlowe but in the end, I got really bored of reading about it as it was (in my own opinion) quite a volatile relationship and I don’t think neither Thomas or Kit benefited from the relationship. Kit Marlowe was an okay character to read throughout the novel, but sadly I became bored reading about him in the end, as all he did was moan and whine about his situation as Francis Walsingham’s spy, but also the author has used the idea that he was an alcoholic and he is constantly getting drunk, it was boring to read after a while that even though I liked Kit as a character (when he wasn’t drunk), I hated reading his sections of the novel.
One character however that I detested above all else was definitely Arnaud Chevalier de Vaugiras. His whole story line and how he fit into the novel really confused me, as to be perfectly honest, I felt that if he wasn’t even written into the book that the story would have made more sense, as his plot was completely POINTLESS! All he wanted to do was seduce Rosamund and he even used his mistress Agathe (Lady Leinster) to help him get close to Rosamund to try and sleep with her. Arnaud and Thomas Walsingham’s hatred of each other also did not make any sense to the story, I understand that it would help to explain why Thomas wanted Rosamund to stay away from him, other than that it is completely irrelevant of the story, it was frustrating to read! I did feel sorry for Agathe when it came out about her courtship with Arnaud and she was banished from court by Elizabeth, she was told that she should go to her lover, but when she turned up at his door, he refused to help her! I literally could not believe him, but sadly that was the world that people had in. He is one of my most hated characters!
I don’t want people to read this review and think that I absolutely hated it, as that is not the case, but there were a lot of ideas/storylines/characters that annoyed me, the lack of Mary Queen of Scots until near the end actually devastated me, as I love her and was looking forward to reading more about her. I felt that the ending was a little bit rushed and was looking for a happy ending for Rosamund (which to be fair, everyone would want her to have) but it would have been interesting to read about the aftermath for Rosamund and the events that led up to her eventual wedding and birth of her child. Also, I will agree with many readers and anyone who has reviewed the book that once I read the blurb, I was gripped and needed the book, but the blurb did not really match what happened in the book, and the most important parts (i.e. Rosamund’s banishment and her place in Mary Queen of Scots household) did not happen until near enough the end of the book, and just felt rushed.
I will give the author big credit for the amount of detail that the author put into her historical fiction novel made me feel as if I was transported back into the Elizabethan Era and got a good sense of all the historical figures in that period of time, but also the author did a fantastic job in teaching me and opening up my mind more to the theatre as well. This book is a good one to recommend, but however if you are going by the blurb of this book, then I would say to you “Don’t!” but you can still enjoy the book! This would be a good book for anyone interesting in reading a drama based in the Elizabethan era, if you like espionage, and if you would like a book lightly based on the theatres and in the court of Elizabeth I.