Official Review: City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

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inaramid
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Latest Review: City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Official Review: City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Post by inaramid »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "City of Ladies" by Sarah Kennedy.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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In City of Ladies, Sarah Kennedy brings to readers a vibrant picture of Henry VIII’s England — a fitting backdrop to an engrossing story that combines a murder mystery, family drama, and a dash of political intrigue. Helmed by a strong and witty protagonist, this second installment to The Cross and the Crown series follows Catherine Havens Overton as she embarks on a new chapter of her life.

Catherine, a former novice at Mount Grace Convent, is now married to Lord William Overton. With the king’s dissolution of all monasteries in the land, Catherine took the displaced nuns of her convent under her wing, forming her own “city of ladies.” All seems well — until one of her ladies is found raped and throttled to death. Things at home have also taken an uneasy turn, as William starts to doubt whether their firstborn child, Robert, is really his.

William’s ambitions thrust Catherine away from home and into a world of intrigue. Though she wanted to serve Mary Tudor, daughter of the deposed Katherine of Aragon, she’s forced to work for Elizabeth, Anne Boleyn’s daughter, instead. The royal sisters are currently at Hatfield House, and Catherine finds her attention (and her loyalty) divided between the two. When more of her former companions go missing, Catherine must unravel what evil is lurking back at Overton House before her city of ladies is completely destroyed.

Kennedy deftly evokes the oppressiveness of the era, from the constant fear of a volatile king’s retribution to the societal restrictions imposed on women of all stations. The vocabulary reflects a bygone world that existed nearly five centuries ago, yet the prose is neither stuffy nor forced. The words wash over you, helped along by a well-balanced mix of dialogue and exposition interspersed across short, digestible chapters. Detail-oriented readers will love Kennedy’s rendering of the landscape, from the vast countryside to the suffocating city, as well as the historical figures who make memorable appearances. Of the Tudor sisters, for example, Kennedy writes, “Mary sits still as a dark star in the sky, and when she speaks, the air changes. Elizabeth is all chatter and sunshine.” Catherine’s interactions with the Tudors are truly the highlights of the book.

Catherine’s marital problems dovetail neatly into the Hatfield House storyline, dredging up layers of conflict that showcase her strength of character, intelligence, and inherent skills at politics and diplomacy. The murder mystery plotline, however, seems so divorced from the main story that it occasionally feels like there are two books here rather than one cohesive narrative. Towards the end, the culprit's identity is so obvious that it feels implausible Catherine didn’t pick up on it earlier. Though the conclusion is satisfactory, the chapters leading to it just seem so rushed and frenetic.

Nonetheless, City of Ladies is a great pick for fans of historical fiction, particularly of tales set in the Tudor period. The story stands well on its own, though the emotional connection to returning characters will naturally be stronger if one had read the first book. A few typos mar an otherwise fluid text, but the prose is clear and vivid overall. Erotic scenes are present but tastefully written, and profanity is at a minimum. However, sensitive readers should be warned of some grisly details of death. All things considered, I rate City of Ladies 3 out of 4 stars.

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City of Ladies
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Naomey
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Post by Naomey »

I feel like my traveling the world just at a sit, Catherine must be experiencing a number of marital problem, otherwise great review.

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Post by Pluma »

I’ve always been interested in the period in history where this book is set, especially the lives of the women in that time. This sounds like a fascinating story, and I would love to find out what happens to Catherine and her companions. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by Drianie »

I enjoy good historical fiction, even though this book might have a few chapters toward the end that fall flat. I'm intrigued by the author's writing style as well as the overall storyline. Thank you for the recommendation. I enjoyed your well-written review!

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Post by Olgamiell »

This is definitely the book that I'd like to read. I enjoy historical fiction, especially when the story is set in England. It seems like the historical background is very accurate, so even though the murder intrigue plotline may go not as smoothly as the rest of the story, I still think it should be an interesting novel. I appreciate your review; I really enjoyed it.

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Latest Review: City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Post by inaramid »

Pluma wrote:
01 Nov 2020, 19:19
I’ve always been interested in the period in history where this book is set, especially the lives of the women in that time. This sounds like a fascinating story, and I would love to find out what happens to Catherine and her companions. Thanks for the great review!
Me too! And Catherine is a great protagonist. She just fits right in.

Drianie wrote:
02 Nov 2020, 01:31
I enjoy good historical fiction, even though this book might have a few chapters toward the end that fall flat. I'm intrigued by the author's writing style as well as the overall storyline. Thank you for the recommendation. I enjoyed your well-written review!
The author's use of language does an excellent job of transporting you this place and time. If it's historical fiction you're after, this is a great choice.

Olgamiell wrote:
02 Nov 2020, 06:39
This is definitely the book that I'd like to read. I enjoy historical fiction, especially when the story is set in England. It seems like the historical background is very accurate, so even though the murder intrigue plotline may go not as smoothly as the rest of the story, I still think it should be an interesting novel. I appreciate your review; I really enjoyed it.
It is still an interesting novel. If you like historical fiction set in England, I'd recommend this one. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by lavenderbooks20 »

Seems like the author has done a great job in writing an accurate historical background. And the plot sounds really fascinating. I enjoyed reading your very detailed and well-written review.

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Post by Saint Bruno »

This is a very insightful review! I love historical fiction books, so I am looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the recommendation.

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Post by REIGN GODDESS »

After seeing the title of this book, I was reminded if Aristophanes' Lysistrata
I'm also interested to check out the historical aspect if this book. Thanks for the review.
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Latest Review: City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Post by inaramid »

lavenderbooks20 wrote:
04 Nov 2020, 06:27
Seems like the author has done a great job in writing an accurate historical background. And the plot sounds really fascinating. I enjoyed reading your very detailed and well-written review.
Yes, exactly! Thanks for dropping by!

Saint Bruno wrote:
05 Nov 2020, 12:36
This is a very insightful review! I love historical fiction books, so I am looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for the recommendation.
Thank you for comment! This is a good one to check out, for sure.

REIGN GODDESS wrote:
09 Nov 2020, 13:10
After seeing the title of this book, I was reminded if Aristophanes' Lysistrata
I'm also interested to check out the historical aspect if this book. Thanks for the review.
I'm not familiar with the work, unfortunately, but the historical aspect IS one of the book's strengths. Thanks for commenting!

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Post by Mbrooks2518 »

The plot and setting of this book doesn't interest me much, but I enjoyed reading your review.

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inaramid
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Post by inaramid »

Mbrooks2518 wrote:
18 Nov 2020, 14:01
The plot and setting of this book doesn't interest me much, but I enjoyed reading your review.
Thanks for dropping by anyway!

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Post by Manali_DC »

A historical fiction set in King Henry VIII's England sounds like the perfect book for readers who like reading about palace intrigue! Thanks for a great review

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inaramid
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Latest Review: City of Ladies by Sarah Kennedy

Post by inaramid »

Manali_DC wrote:
21 Nov 2020, 10:18
A historical fiction set in King Henry VIII's England sounds like the perfect book for readers who like reading about palace intrigue! Thanks for a great review
Very much so. Thanks for dropping by!

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Post by Sou Hi »

Thanks for your detailed review. This book is quite refreshing as it focuses on the ladies a lot. Still, I think I need to have some research about Britain's history to understand the plot and the characters' relationships.

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