It’s 1553, and a teenaged girl with a dangerous secret is caught up in royal intrigue as she tries to serve a scheming lord, an unhappy queen, and the queen’s ambitious sister.
As Edward VI, only male heir of Henry VIII, lies dying, 14-year-old Hannah Green is helping her father in his London printing and bookshop. Because young girls are not supposed to set print or deliver books, she’s dressed in boy’s clothing, but that’s not Hannah’s only secret. She and her father are Spanish Jews who fled the Inquisition after her mother was burned as a heretic. Finding refuge in Protestant England, the Greens observe Christian rituals in public, but privately they still honor the old ways. One day Hannah attracts the attention of a shop customer, handsome Lord Dudley, by innocently revealing that she has the gift of second sight—a particularly useful gift in these uncertain times, when it seems that Protestant Edward will be succeeded by Catholic Mary. Hannah becomes an aide to Lord Dudley, who recommends her to the young king to be his Fool. While serving Edward, she follows Dudley’s orders to attend and spy upon the king’s older sister Mary, whom she grows to love. When Mary becomes Queen, Hannah attends her at court, but (again at Dudley’s request) also makes contact with her sister Elizabeth. Hannah admires the young princess’s courage as Elizabeth faces losing her life when Mary starts burning Protestants as heretics. Her loyalties divided, fearful that she and her father are vulnerable in Catholic England, Hannah relies on her wits to survive threats, intrigue, and danger. She must also decide whether she will marry Daniel, a family friend, to whom she is officially betrothed. Tudor England is not a merry place, but Hannah is no fool.
Another intelligent and engrossing tale of Tudor England from Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, 2002, etc.).