I have had Gillian Bagwell to my blog a few times over the last couple of years when she’s had a new novel release but her newest, Venus in Winter which released on July 2, is the first one I’ve read. Why is that I ask myself and I have no answer other than it won’t be long before I read her other two books. This is a story that doesn’t contain any new information especially when you’re familiar with a certain period but it’s the way it’s portrayed that really brings the story to life and that is just what Gillian Bagwell does in Venus in Winter. The novel is rich in historical detail but there is never a boring moment. For me Venus in Winter was the perfect blend of fact and fiction!
I haven’t read a lot about Bess of Hardwick so this story of her life from her younger years to almost the end of her life was fascinating to read. We are first introduced to Bess when she’s twelve and is about to go to the household of Lady Zouche to be a lady-in-waiting. For Bess this is the perfect opportunity to further herself and hopefully catch the eye of a suitable match for herself. Her time at Codnor Castle is good and also gives Bess the opportunity to go to London where of course there is never a dull moment and Bess is at turns exhilarated and horrified by all that happens.
It is during this time that Bess enters into her first marriage with Robert Barlow which doesn’t last long as he falls ill and passes away. It is then that she accepts a position as lady-in-waiting to Frances Grey and would remain on close terms with the family throughout her life. She is married three more times and had eight children as well as being made a lady of the privy chamber to Queen Elizabeth I which was a huge honor as these were the ladies closest to the queen. Throughout her life we follow along with her as we experience life at court along with all the betrayals and treachery through her eyes.
I think it’s the mark of a great author when they can take real people and events from history and weave a story that is very hard for the reader to put down. Gillian Bagwell made Bess into a real person for me, not just a historical figure and left me feeling as though I knew her by the time I turned the last page. Bess certainly lived a full and good life and reading Gillian’s novel has left me wanting to learn even more about her. She was strong, smart, and loved her family. My heart always breaks for women of that time who had to say good bye to their children much too early whether to go to another household or to be married. It also must be said that this novel being of The Tudor period sure doesn’t hurt as it my favorite period to read about.
If you’re a fan of good historical fiction then Gillian Bagwell’s newest, Venus in Winter, is sure to please! It’s one of my favorite historical novels this year!
Please pop back to the blog tomorrow for a guest post from Gillian as well as a giveaway of this wonderful novel!
Source: Review copy provided by the Publisher. No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.