Blog Book Tour | “The Lady of the Tower” by Elizabeth St. John

Posted Saturday, 13 August, 2016 by jorielov , , , 2 Comments

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Acquired Book By: I am a regular tour hostess for blog tours via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours whereupon I am thankful to have been able to host such a diverse breadth of stories, authors and wonderful guest features since I became a hostess! I received a complimentary copy of “The Lady of the Tower” direct from the author Elizabeth St. John in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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Why I wanted to read a story writ out of the author’s historical past:

Hallo, dear hearted readers – I was especially keen on the idea of a historical fiction novel inspired by the ancestral history of the author’s past because I am an Ancestry Sleuth myself! I have had a penchant of following in the footsteps of my Mum and grandfather who originally started to ferret out the remnants of our ancestry past through the groundwork they started in the 1970s to not only unearth hidden threads of our ancestors but to start the quest to work towards understanding where we all originated once you enter into the historical data on immigration from the UK and Europe respectively.

It’s an interesting process, as an Ancestry Sleuth as your digging through records and following leads – where some days you come up empty and other days, you might get a lucky break – where finding one ancestor could lead you to find a whole lot of ancestors you never even heard about previously! Thus, knowing this about how much I love researching where the living histories of my family could lead to new ancestors in the historic past, imagine then, my joy in reading the synopsis and back-story attached to The Lady of the Tower, wherein Ms St. John used one of her ancestors as the cornerstone of enquiry into how her story was both set and told.

I could be mistaken, but I believe the Stuart period of England is one that I haven’t yet had the joy of exploring? I love when I get to dig into another chapter of British history, seeing a whole generation pop alive against the pages of a historical novel and give me a cardinal viewing of that generation’s untold insights & stories. I remember when I first read a novel set during the era of the Tudors & the Georgian era, too. Of the two, I leaned more towards the Tudors – however, I have the tendency to fall back on my regular haunts of the Regency & Victorian eras whilst traversing a bit into the Edwardian. It would be quite lovely to feel an equal attachment for another era – perhaps, the Stuart will appeal? I do appreciate certain stories set during Elizabethan England, too. It’s just my heart flutters such joy in the other three eras it’s hard to pull myself out of them! Laughs.

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Blog Book Tour | “The Lady of the Tower” by Elizabeth St. JohnThe Lady of the Tower

Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as “the most beautiful of all,” defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. In 1609, the early days of the rule of James I are a time of glittering pageantry and cutthroat ambition, when the most dangerous thing one can do is fall in love . . . or make an enemy of Frances Howard, the reigning court beauty.

Lucy catches the eye of the Earl of Suffolk, but her envious sister Barbara is determined to ruin her happiness. Exiling herself from the court, Lucy has to find her own path through life, becoming mistress of the Tower of London. Riding the coattails of the king’s favorite, the Duke of Buckingham, the fortunes of the St.Johns rise to dizzying heights. But with great wealth comes betrayal, leaving Lucy to fight for her survival—and her honor—in a world of deceit and debauchery.

Elizabeth St.John tells this dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family’s surviving diaries, letters and court papers.

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ISBN: 9781523417889

on 30th January, 2016

Pages: 246

Published By: Self-Published Author

Read more about the Stuart period of England via WikiHow

Converse via: #TheLadyOfTheTower & #Ancestry + #HistFic
Available Formats: Softcover paperback and E-Book

About Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St. John

Elizabeth St.John was brought up in England and lives in California. To inform her writing, she has tracked down family papers and sites from Nottingham Castle, Lydiard Park, and the British Library to Castle Fonmon and The Tower of London. Although the family sold a few castles and country homes along the way (it’s hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth’s family still occupy them – in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their imprint. And the occasional ghost. But that’s a different story…

Elizabeth is currently writing a sequel to The Lady of the Tower, following the fortunes of the St.John family during the English Civil War. The working title is “By Love Divided”, and it is due to publish in early 2017.

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My Review of The Lady of the Tower:

Lucy St. John did not have a good start in life, as she was under the duress of influence of an vengeful Aunt, of whom regretted her Uncle in selecting her to his ward. This story begins as most orphaned tales do, with an unwelcoming measure of horror for a child placed into a family where duty overruled kindness and where the plight of the child was not measured against what was right but cast out due to personal conflict or prejudicial judgements. I was a bit surprised by how harsh the story begins – as although historically in-tune with the age within the sparse entreaty of the Prologue, it’s a bit of a jolt to go from a future Lucy to the frustrated younger Lucy caught in a battle of wills against her unforgiving Aunt who despises her with such a fierce temper!

The prescripts to each chapterial passage are beautifully inked out by the potential honest words of Lucy St. John (the author’s ancestor) as the letters are both works of fiction and of fact (per the copyright notice). The font was chosen well, as it eludes to the age behind the ink itself, the separation of the 17th Century to the 21st Century reader who finds them whilst hinting in a language a bit removed from contemporary tongues the difficulties of everyday life; especially on the precept of knowing where Lucy was in 1617! Such an auspiciously difficult opener – to recognise a fate no one would will onto themselves much less anyone of their choosing – yet to have this flicker a glimpse into her character and the internal strength of resolve she must have carried through til that moment in time, is well apt to begin her story.

The story is told in an journalled manner of the craft – where we are treated to a more intrapersonal experience on behalf of Lucy rather than a traditionally styled novel. With the journalled prompts serving as a bit of a chapter by chapter hinting towards the events that will soon be revealled and strengthened by a firm enlarging of it’s events – we are growing in our scope on behalf of the life Lucy St. John might have led whilst she was alive. The interesting bit is how the artifacts of her life were resurrected and read by her descendant (Elizabeth St. John) proving to provide wick for the flame as the story truly arose out of the ashes of the past.

My reading of the story was a bit stalled in the beginning – as I was unsuspecting the opening would be such a harbinger of what ill-fate was yet to befall Lucy nor how her life was truly lived as a cast-out amongst her kin. If she weren’t worried over her personal safety, there was the growing fears of how a new reign would affect her family’s station and wealth. Counter-current to the power re-alignment at Court and Crown is the growing concerns over the Plague ebbing out of it’s London cornerstones. This was only the beginning of where we grew into the hours of Lucy’s growing years before we shifted forward quite quickly into the years leading up to Lucy’s entrance into the Tower.

I admit, I struggled a bit with the pacing of the story – as although everything felt quite historically accurate and ruminative of the Stuart period, part of me questioned why there felt like there was a feeling of urgency in how the novel was laid out to be told. I felt the transitions were a bit off as I am more used to a slowing pace when it comes to alighting in the backstory through to the present; especially if we are predisposed to learn of a ‘future’ on behalf of character before moving backwards to resume the forward motion. This could be an issue only I foresaw as I read it, as I do admit, it was written in a different vein of styling than I am regularly accustomed to finding.

I also observed that I think this particular era is a bit more out of where I enjoy residing in the annals of English History. Being my the first story set in the Stuart era, I noticed a few things that wrinkled my brow as much as the Georgian era – it was simply a very rough hewn period of history, where everything was blighted to be quite dark or depressing. Language was rougher and even the manners in which shrewd women attempted to advance through all means outside of what was proper was quite abundant. Not that corruption is limited to this timescape, no, it’s more to the fact I think as I walk through certain eras I notice certain attributes of each of them and this one simply did not capture me as much as I had hoped it might.

St. John has given a layer of authenticity towards arriving in the century of her ancestor’s living age by reaffirming how her circumstances were constrained against her will but bound by duty to be upheld. Lucy St. John would be grateful to have such a resourceful writer in her ancestral line – one who could give testament to her life and provide a living legacy for all who might never have known of the life she lived.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours - HFVBT

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The Lady of the Tower blog tour hosted by HFVBTs.
I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read. Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2016 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Saturday, 13 August, 2016 by jorielov in 17th Century, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Blog Tour Host, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fiction, Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Historical Thriller Suspense, Lucy St. John, Multi-Generational Saga, Story knitted out of Ancestral Data

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2 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “The Lady of the Tower” by Elizabeth St. John

    • Thanks for dropping by Andrea!

      If you’re familiar with the Stuart era, I think you will love this story. My favourite bits were the journalled pieces of Lucy St. John’s life at the head of each chapter as they provided such a hearty segue into the narrative itself. It was as if Lucy St. John’s own voice was coming through quite strongly to help tell her own story. It was very clever and very well done.

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