Thank you NetGalley, Clare Marchant, and Avon books for the opportunity to read this book!
I love Tudor history. Who doesn’t? It is such an intriguing time period to study. The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant is a dual timeline that takes place during the reign of Henry VIII and also the year 2019. In 2019, Amber is staying with her Grandfather at his old home called Saffron Hall. She is archiving his massive book collection, even though the real reason she is there is to try to deal with her grief. While there she discovers an old prayer book that belonged to a woman named Eleanor from 500 years before. This book links their lives together in more ways than one. In 1538, Eleanor’s father dies and she is married off to a merchant by her cousin. She takes with her saffron crocus bulbs gifted to her from the local monks. While her husband rises is favor at the court of King Henry VIII, Eleanor makes a successful saffron crop that increases their favor. But if anyone knows anything about Henry VIII, his favor never lasts forever.
Yes. Yes. Yes. When I think of a Tudor historical fiction…this is what I want. We have enough books where the sole focus is on Henry VIII. His infamous wives have been done to death. (No pun intended.) I do love Tudor history, but a few years ago, the publishing industry was absolutely saturated with Tudor historical fiction and quite honestly, I got a little burnt out. This is coming from someone who studied Tudor history in London. But this book renewed my love for the period genre. The dual timeline is very well-done. The stories flow together and are intricately entwined. Then there is the added mystery. In 1538, readers are learning about Eleanor’s life. In 2019, we are working with Amber to solve Eleanor’s mystery. I love it when the timelines play off of each other perfectly.
Then there are the characters. Both deal with grief, and even though 500 years separates them, they can still relate to one another. TRIGGER WARNING. This book does go into detail about miscarriage and stillbirth and the grief process. Having gone through that process myself, I thought the author did a great job of capturing the despair and depression.
If I had one complaint…I would have liked an epilogue. BUT I did enjoy the whole novel. The book releases TOMORROW, August 6th! So go check it out! This book gets 5 out of 5 stars from me!