Friday, August 18, 2023

Six top books about historical heroines in fiction

Elizabeth Fremantle is the critically acclaimed author of four Tudor historical novels: Queen's Gambit (soon to be the feature film, Firebrand), Sisters of Treason, Watch the Lady, and The Girl in the Glass Tower. As E.C. Fremantle she has written two gripping historical thrillers: The Poison Bed and The Honey and the Sting.

Fremantle's newest novel, Disobedient, about the artist Artemisia Gentileschi.

At Lit Hub the author tagged six books about her "favorite historical heroines in fiction," including:
Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies

What Mantel, an author of extraordinary skill and subtlety, has done in Bring Up the Bodies—in my opinion the best of her Cromwell trilogy—is give us a new portrait of Anne Boleyn. Henry VIII’s second wife has been more fictionalized than any other woman of that period, apart, perhaps from her daughter, Elizabeth I. There are so many versions of Anne – the temptress, the victim, the conniver – it is hard to gain a sense of what she might really have been like.

Mantel has excavated the historical record to find the politically canny Anne, the Reformation Anne, the Anne that made an uncomfortable ally of the coming man Cromwell, who would ultimately mastermind her downfall. This Anne is one who refused to be like other women but overplayed her hand and paid the ultimate price. Mantel’s depiction of her execution manages to balance being both heart-breaking, yet unsentimental. A truly extraordinary portrait of a remarkable and much maligned woman.
Read about another entry on the list.

Bring Up the Bodies is among Peter Stanford's top ten Protestants in fiction, Terry Stiastny’s ten top books about Westminster politics and Fiona Barton's ten favorite books centering on marriages that hold dark secrets. The position of Queen, in Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, is among Rachel Cantor's ten worst jobs in books.

--Marshal Zeringue