I’m sure you know that a few months ago the whole world went bonkers for the Netflix series Queen’s Gambit. In the first weeks, I missed the hype and only found out about it from my mum. She told me she is reading the book before she’ll watch the series because she would be too lazy to do it in reverse order. Then as she read it she was sharing her thoughts with me, but in very general terms when it comes to the plot (basically, she mentioned “she plays chess all the time”). I was still busy in those weeks, so had no idea what the book or the series was about.
When I finally had some time I delved into the shared Kindle library we have with my mum and scrolling through the books found Queen’s Gambit. Curious about the book she was so raving about, I dived in. Very enthusiastically, because it was only around page 100 that I got the tingling feeling of something being off. Because that’s when the first game of chess occurs in the book. Nonetheless, I persisted, as mum has been so enthusiastic about this book!
I got almost to the end when the tingling feeling fully developed into a deafening roar in my mind: “You must be reading the wrong book!” that I could not ignore anymore. Quick googling and my suspicions were confirmed…Oh, well, I finished it being already so far into it.
It is the first novel by Elizabeth Freemantle. It is a historic fiction book, so if you like the genre I think you will find this book enjoyable. I have no comparison rarely reading historical fiction myself.
If I am to judge it on its own merits then it is very decent entertainment. The book centers on the life of Catherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII, the one that got away, you may say. From what I know it is a factually faithful rendition, the embellishments mostly happen in dialogues. The plot is fascinating, revolving around the tension of managing to survive as a wife of the old and sick king, prone to mood swings and beheading his wives.
The details going into the descriptions of court intrigue is stunning. Freemantle also adds a cast of supporting characters, that helps to enliven the historical facts and widens our understanding of Henry VIII’s England and how all levels of society lived then.
All in all, not as bad a mistake as it could have been. A very readable book, even though I won’t go running and buying more historical fiction. I liked it as an exotic find, but still, in my mind, it is too near to a romance.
Thankfully my mum had only two Queen’s Gambits on her Kindle, so from this one I could move on to the correct book. More to come on that.