3 out of 4 stars
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What would historical figures have to say about the controversies they have left behind for future generations? Well, Dolly here, is about to find out.
In Seven Will Out: A Renaissance Novel, the sequel to Six of One: A Tudor Riff by author JoAnn Spears, Dolly is in for another girl’s night out with some famous Tudor ladies. In the previous book, Dolly, a history professor by profession, lost consciousness during her bachelorette party and ended up in the astral plane with the six wives of Henry VIII (the king of England from 1509 to 1547). Her dream interview with these six ladies proved beneficial for both the sides involved. So, this time around the younger generation of the Tudor period decides to seek Dolly’s help. Dolly’s second fainting spell, right before an important speech she has to make, teleports her back to the astral plane, where she has been summoned to meet some important personalities like Elizabeth I, ‘Bloody’ Mary, Mary, Queen of Scots, and some other famous females of that period. What is the secret they conceal that will not only mean rewriting of history, but shake the foundations of the literary world as well?
First off, readers are advised to go through the short genealogical chart provided at the end of the book to refresh their memory about the Tudors and the English court in that period. A quick revision of English history of that period won’t hurt either. Now that I have got that out of the way, let me say that this is a book in the historical fiction genre, and not only is it fiction to a T, it also a non-serious take on Tudor history.
The concept of the book is fascinating; with the author introducing a humorous twist to Tudor history. While the story is replete with tongue-in-cheek humor, especially the execution faux pas running throughout the book, there is also political intrigue and conspiracy to keep the reader hooked. The clever parallels drawn with Dolly’s life, add to the mix. The author doesn’t stray too far from actual verifiable history, with one major exception, but what is different is her interpretation of the historical events and what might have been the motivation for various political figures to act as they did, for example, for ‘Bloody’ Mary to peruse religious persecution during her reign.
There is a lot of sentiment involved too, but when the book is considered as a whole, the sentimental portion comes across as a bit silly. Coming back to the plot, almost half of the book is over before the reader comes to the central plot. There are a lot of peripheral characters with their own stories to finish before the intended seven characters enter the scene, and their interaction, not unlike Cinderella’s appearance at the ball, is on a tight schedule.
The book is written in first person narrative, with the author’s rich vocabulary complementing the story. While I enjoyed the descriptions of the attire and other paraphernalia in the Elizabethan era, the excessive emphasis on the farthingales, ruffs, et al was slightly annoying. So was the overuse of rhymes in the titles of the chapters.
The book gets full marks on concept, but I’ll take away a star for execution of the plot, which could have been sharper. Readers who enjoy historical fiction, especially spoofs and parodies, should not miss out on this entertaining, somewhat nonsensical, spin on the Tudors & Co. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars.
Seven Will Out
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