The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick is a retelling of the Tudor love triangle of Queen Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and Dudley’s wife Amy Robsart. The death of Amy has intrigued historians for centuries: did she fall downstairs, or was she pushed? Did her husband arrange her murder so he could marry the queen? Tudor history is mashed together with time travel and all kinds of mystical goings-on.
Cornick has fun with her explanation of events, telling the story in dual timelines and mirroring Tudor characters with a contemporary circle of celebrities. At first, I found this irritating and was diverted from the story by trying to match up modern personalities with their Tudor equivalent. But when I stopped doing that, I sank into this easy-to-read story which I read over a weekend.
Lizzie Kingdom is a television personality with a clean-cut image. Her best friend is Dudley Lester, wild boy and former boy band member of Call Back Summer. When Dudley’s wife Amelia falls down the stairs to her death at their country house, Oakhanger Hall, Lizzie is suspected of having an affair with Dudley. Her ‘good girl’ image is in tatters and the press is hunting her. Lizzie’s story races along, she quickly discards her sycophantic group of followers and retreats to a country house she inherited but has rarely visited. And there we start to understand the mystical ability which Lizzie possesses connecting her with events in the past simply by touching an object – known as psychometry, or token object reading.
The romantic sub-plot sparks into life when Lizzie accidentally touches Arthur Robsart, the quiet rather stolid older brother of Amelia. Never before has her psychometric ability worked on a person. Arthur and his sister Anna suspect Lizzie of responsibility for the disappearance in odd circumstances of their younger brother Johnny. With the police seeking her again, this time for possible murder, Lizzie must choose whether to use the ability she has previously used only to remember her dead mother. To say more will give away the plot.
This was a fun read though populated with some unpleasant characters who were difficult to like. I was left wondering what the story would have been like if the viewpoints had been expanded to four. Cornick tells the story only via Amy Robsart and Lizzie Kingdom and shows us nothing of the events as experienced by Queen Elizabeth I [Lizzie’s equivalent] or Amelia Lester [Amy’s modern-day equivalent]. After Amelia’s death, Lizzie is crucified on social media, I was left wondering if Queen Elizabeth knew, or cared about, the gossip surrounding Dudley’s, and her own, guilt in Amy’s death.
A note on the cover, yet again another cover design which, though attractive, bears little connection with the story.
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