Eliza Rose is the up-close and personal account of young Elizabeth Camperdowne, a girl growing up among the nobility in Tudor England. From her youngest days, Eliza is taught to put her duty to her household name and family above all else. As her story opens on her twelfth birthday, she is already prepared to become betrothed to a stranger for the sake of making a good family alliance.
But when her father’s marriage plans for Eliza go sour, she is sent instead to a finishing school for girls destined to go to King Henry VIII’s Royal Court. When Eliza is finally selected to become a maid of honour at Court along with her confident, worldly-wise cousin Katherine Howard, she is ecstatic! But life at Court proves more of a battlefield than a ball for the two cousins, and Eliza must determine who her true friends are and where her real duties lie.
I found myself spell-bound by this story from page one. Thanks to the first-person narrative and to Lucy Worsley’s in-depth knowledge of the time period and Hampton Court (where a large part of the story takes place), the book reads more like a genuine memoir than a fictional story. And for the history enthusiast, there is so much to glean from this book about Tudor day England and life at Court. But even for readers with less inclination towards history, Eliza Rose is the sort of honest, believable character that modern girls can easily relate to and it is impossible not to become fully tangled up in her plight.
A word of warning: I had expected this book to be aimed at Middle Grade readers, probably due to the picture of a young girl on the cover. In fact, the material is better suited to teen readers. The dark and even violent nature of life at Court in those days and the duties young girls were expected to perform may be disturbing to younger readers. But for those slightly more mature bookworms, I highly recommend Eliza Rose and hope Lucy Worsley intends to write many more historically-inspired books like it!
Genre: Young Adult historical fiction
Tea: Earl Grey Latte