Review of “Maid of the King’s Court” by Lucy Worsley

This book by the popular British television historian Lucy Worsley was first published in Britain in 2016 as Eliza Rose.


It tells the story of Elizabeth (“Eliza”) Camperdowne, a fictional cousin of Katherine Howard, the fifth wife of Henry VIII. The author stated in an Afterword that she wanted to look at Katherine’s history more sympathetically, which she thought she could accomplish by taking the point of view of a cousin/confidant.

Katherine, when 16 or 17, married the 49-year-old Henry VIII in 1540, very soon after the annulment of his marriage to Anne of Cleves was arranged. Katherine only lasted sixteen months, however; she was beheaded on the grounds of treason for committing adultery.

Katherine Howard

Katherine Howard

Worsley does indeed come up with a compassionate and interesting explanation for Katherine’s behavior, although she doesn’t quite make her simpatico. But my main problem with the book was the fictional main character Eliza. This girl never reached the level of likable in my opinion. I found her to be spoiled, greedy, jealous, short-sighted, and cruel throughout the story, which began when Eliza was 12 and continued until she was 19. This also made it quite difficult for me to believe that the (also fictional) king’s page, Ned Barsby, would be so smitten with her. She was consistently mean to him, and looked down upon him for his low birth. The outcome between these two seemed quite fictional indeed.

As for the story in general, I thought it plodded a bit. As interesting as the Tudor period was, the author, who apparently is very successful at constructing stories for the BBC, never managed to make this book for young adults into a riveting story, in my view.

Rating: 3/5

Published in the U.S. by Candlewick Press, 2017

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1 Response to Review of “Maid of the King’s Court” by Lucy Worsley

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    I just can’t get into the Tudor period so this isn’t for me.

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