Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves created and hosted by Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out Lisa’s introductory post, here.
by C.J. Sansom
Autumn, 1546. King Henry VIII is slowly, painfully dying. His Protestant and Catholic councillors prepare for a final and decisive power struggle; whoever wins will control the government. The Catholics decide to focus their attack on Henry’s sixth wife, the Protestant Queen Catherine Parr. As Catherine begins to lose the King’s favour, she turns to the shrewd, hunchbacked lawyer, Matthew Shardlake, to contain a potentially fatal secret.
The Queen has written a confessional book, Lamentation of a Sinner, a memoir so radical that if it came to the King’s attention, it could bring her and her courtly sympathizers to ruination. The London printer into whose hands she entrusted the manuscript has been murdered, the book nowhere to be found.
Shardlake’s investigations take him down a trail that begins among printshops in the filthy backstreets of London, but leads him once more to the labyrinthine world of court politics, where Protestant friends can be as dangerous as Catholic enemies, and those who will support either side to further their ambition are the most dangerous of all.
The seventh book in C.J. Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake series, Tombland, was just released and reminded me that I still haven’t read the sixth book, Lamentation, which I actually bought a copy of when it came out… four years ago.
I love a bit of historical crime, and this series is one of my favourites, following a hunchback lawyer in Tudor England. If you like your historical fiction, or indeed your crime fiction, this is definitely a series I’d recommend because Sansom brings the Tudor era to life so vividly. My only criticism is that I wish there were more women who stuck around. He’s introduced plenty of varied women, but I’d love Shardlake to have a woman sidekick as well as all the men he trusts.
Lamentation focuses on Catherine Parr’s Lamentations of a Sinner which is very exciting to me because it means I get to bring out one of my favourite facts: Catherine Parr has been remembered as Henry VIII’s sixth wife, when actually she should be remembered as the first woman to publish an English book in England under her own name. She’s buried about half an hour away from where I live, at Sudeley Castle, and I’ve been to visit her a couple of times.
I’ve since bought myself a copy of Tombland because I found it half price, so I’d like to try and get to Lamentation soon! We’ll see how that goes, though, because NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow so I have no idea how much reading I’m going to get done before December.