Set in late fourteenth century England, Vanora Bennett's rich, dramatic new novel presents an England uncannily like our own.
The country is in turmoil, The King is in debt to the City, and the old order had broken down - a time of opportunity indeed, for those who can seize the moment.
The king's mistress, Alice Perrers, becomes the virtual ruler of the country from his sickbed. Disliked and despised by the Black Prince and his cronies, her strong connections to the merchants make her a natural ally for the king's ambitious second son, John of Gaunt.Together they create a powerful position in the city for one of his henchmen, Geoffrey Chaucer.
In this moment of opportunity, Alice throws herself into her new role and the riches that lay before her, but Chaucer, even though her lover and friend, is uneasy over what he can foresee of the conspiracies around them.
At the centre of these troubled times and political unrest stands the remarkable figure of a woman who, having escaped the plague which killed her whole family, is certain she is untouchable, and a man who learns that cleverness and ambition may for him sit too uneasily with decency and honesty.
Praise for `Blood Royal':
`Bennett writes thoughtful, well-researched historical fiction, finding connections between past and present without too much silliness or fact-bending, and with plenty of romance. Enormous, in every sense of the word' The Times
`A page-turning story, successfully evoking the atmosphere of intrigue and fear that beset the times'
'A skilful blend of fact and fiction. [Bennett's] characters, story, and fluid writing style sweep you along in a pageant of medieval life. This is quite simply an excellent read!' Historical Novel Society
Praise for `Portrait of an Unknown Woman':
'Bennett's background detail is impeccable - part love story, part thriller, all excellently imagined and written.' The Times
'There is plenty to admire and enjoy in Bennett's portrayal of a society convulsed by radical change...Vanora Bennett is a writer to watch.' Times Literary Supplement
'Distinguished...Romance, intrigue and art history are confidently blended, and Holbein canvases are afforded starring roles.' Daily Mail
`If you want a classier-than-average romantic read, one contender is this fine historical debut, a `Girl with a Pearl Earring'-style tale.'
Vanora Bennett is a journalist and writer. She lived and worked in Russia for 7 years, writing for Reuters and the LA Times. She has been a foreign correspondent and feature writer and contributed to publications including The Times, the LA Times, the Guardian, the Observer and the Evening Standard. She lives in London with her husband and two sons.