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There's something about Thomas More which has always interested me. I can't quite work out what sparked it off because we certainly didn't do anything about him back at school. I've read a few books based on his life but as Jean Plaidy is one of my favourite authors this was the one I really wanted.
First set when he was a young man in his 20s he has just decided to not take his vows and enter into the life of a monk. Realising that he would much rather have a wife and children at his side than a hair shirt. And he gets his wish. With daughters, foster daughters and a son it seems as though he could be having the perfect life. Especially as he has risen from the ranks and is in high favour with Henry VIII.
Being a close friend with the king has its advantages until he risks it all disagreeing with his opinions. At first this is treated with a certain respect and understanding. All could be well. Until the arrival of Anne Boleyn. Where we see the Chancellor lose his wealthy peaceful life all because of the morals he wishes to keep in tact.
Every author has their own ideas about what a characters personality should be like. A few of the ones I've read have portrayed Thomas More as a cruel man. Others as a bit of a maniac. However Jean Plaidy has opted for the kind and caring version. Personally I favour the authors who do this. In this book he never claims that he wants more than he gets. He is one for justice even to the extent of seeing his wife in court after someone accused her of stealing a dog.
You do get to see how strong he is when it comes to his beliefs. More so with the Henry/Katherine and Anne plot but there is also a good part on his feelings towards heretics. His reactions to those around him are visible but whenever he is afraid for his life he always manages to mask it from his family. Aside from his eldest daughter Meg who he obviously loves the most out of all of his children.
Although I do really like this book I find that it lacks details on certain events. Plaidy goes to great lengths about how his family is coping, their marriages, connections and visitors to their household yet seems to play down on his meetings with the King. In fact if you were to really analyse it, the majority of the story is focused on Meg. There isn't a great deal about the Thomas and Henry relationship, maybe one or two pages and then nothing.
Naturally you have to consider that some historical novels do have a few facts which might not necessarily be all that true. I have found a great deal of difficulty finding many discrepancies though. It seems for once that there might not have been any need to do it.
The initial story line is a medium paced one. It neither grinds to a halt nor goes so fast that you don't know what's happening. Each character featured has a reason to be mentioned and there isn't any one who makes things confusing for the reader. Even those who are barely mentioned have an important part to play.
In all there is 285 pages so it isn't really that long. It's what you might call a bit of a page turner and is easy to follow without wondering what on earth is going on. The last page did get me puzzled for a bit as it seems a bit random for it to be added but after a few rereads it did eventually twig.
Overall this is a sympathetic novel towards Thomas More. One which I thoroughly enjoyed and would gladly read again without complaining. I think if you enjoy historical books and want to read something which isn't fully surrounding royalty then you might like this. It's very thoughtful and gives a lot of opinions about people who were around at that time.