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February's Under The Covers Book

February's book of the month
A NET FOR SMALL FISHES by Lucy Jago

 


Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I.
Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world. Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution. When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour. With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
         
 

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY

Lucy Jago is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction, a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, and a former documentary producer for Channel 4 and the BBC. Her first book, The Northern Lights, won the National Biography prize and has been translated into eight languages. She was awarded a Double First Class Honours Degree from King’s College, University of Cambridge, and a master’s degree from the Courtauld Institute, London. lucyjago.com                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
 

READING QUESTIONS

1. Anne and Frankie become close friends despite coming from completely different backgrounds. In what ways do their different experiences of the world shape their friendship? When is it a problem, and when is it an advantage?

2. Much of the plot is driven by the pressure on Frankie to produce an heir, and the tension that arises from her husband’s inability to impregnate her. What impression does the novel give us of relationships in Jacobean England?

3. The saffron yellow colour of the novel’s colour has a particular significance. What did saffron represent in Jacobean society? In what ways do the characters in the novel experiment with colour and fashion? How is fashion shown to be connected to power?

4. The true story behind this novel has often been written about, but often in history books rather than historical novels, and often with men as the main characters rather than women. Why do you think the author chose to centre Anne and Frankie in her work? How does this change our understanding of what really happened?

5. Anne and Frankie are responsible for much of the plot, working decisively to take action, despite the fact that society at the time expected women to remain obedient, chaste, and silent. What does this tell us about their strength as individuals? What does it tell us about the strength of their friendship?

6. Anne and Frankie are complex characters, and the author is careful to show that they did things that were wrong as well as right, and that their actions were reckless as well as brave. Why do you think the author made this decision?

7. A recent review of the novel described it as ‘a gloriously immersive escape from present times, but not escapism’. What do you think the reviewer meant by this? Do you agree?

8. Much of the writing is rich in detail, painting a vivid picture of what it was really like to live at this time. Did any particular details catch your attention? In what ways were they similar to – and different from – your preconceptions about the era?

9. Lots of historical fiction has been written about the Tudor period, often but not always focusing on the reign of King Henry VIII, but much less has been written about the Jacobean period. Why do you think this is?

10. What did you make of the ending of the novel? What messages will you take away from the book?        

 

FURTHER READING  

 Wolf Hall trilogy – Hilary Mantel The Confessions of Frannie Langton – Sara Collins Hamnet – Maggie O’Farrell The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory The Familiars – Stacey Halls Six Tudor Queens – Alison Weir A Tapestry of Treason – Anne O’Brien The Shardlake series – CJ Sansom Blackberry and Wild Rose – Sonia Velton The Glass Woman – Caroline Lea

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

And make sure to join in the conversation on our Under The Covers Facebook group!

 



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