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Mrs. Hilda Lewis"" says one of her reviewers- ""must be accounted a historical novelist of far more than ordinary competence."" This is true, so far as it goes. Assiduous in her research, she achieves a definite sense of period (16th century England), even to writing in a kind of bastard Jacobean; but she does not escape what proves too often the limitations of the genre. Her heroine, Lady Purbeck, was the daughter of Sir Edward Coke, and was forced by her father to marry the unprepossessing and unstable brother of James I's favorite, the Duke of Buckingham. The husband, Purbeck, is mad and at the same time something of a saint, who, learning that Frances was literally whipped into marrying him, promises never to touch her. His monstrous mother, unbelievably wicked, constantly makes trouble for her daughter in law, not the least when she becomes pregnant by her lover, Robert Howard. Her trial for adultery is a travesty of justice, but finally she escapes to France where she lives until her unfortunate husband makes possible her return. On both sides of the Channel she is prey to the whims of royal flavor and the lusts of the aristocracy; cheerfully the evil characters in the book are given to sudden changes of heart at the strategic moment and the story flows on to a happy ending. Not top drawer historical fiction.

Pub Date: May 7th, 1962
Publisher: St Martin's Press