I read The Queen’s Exiles by Barbara Kyle a couple weeks ago and I enjoyed it immensely. So I’m delighted to review it as part of its Historical Fiction Virtual Tour.
This is what Kensington Publishing says about the novel: “Europe is in turmoil. A vengeful faction of exiled English Catholics is plotting to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and install her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots on the throne. And in the Netherlands the streets are red with the blood of those who dare to oppose the brutal Spanish occupation. But amid the unrest, one resourceful young woman has made a lucrative enterprise. Scottish-born Fenella Doorn salvages crippled vessels. It is on one of these ships that she meets wealthy Baron Adam Thornleigh. Secretly drawn to him, Fenella can’t refuse when Adam enlists her to join him in war-torn Brussels to help find his traitorous wife, Frances—and the children she’s taken from him. But Adam and Fenella will put their lives in peril as they attempt to rescue his young ones, defend the Crown, and restore a peace that few can remember. With eloquent and enthralling finesse, Barbara Kyle illuminates one of history’s grimmest chapters. The Queen’s Exiles breathes new life into an extraordinary age when love and freedom could only be won with unmitigated courage.”
I found The Queen’s Exiles an absorbing, entertaining story and, even though I had plenty of time to finish it before my review was due, I grabbed every chance I could to slip back into the story for a short while, reading a few pages at a time whenever I had a few minutes free. I couldn’t leave the book down for long.
The plot and the characters drew me equally. I knew little about this episode in Tudor history until I read this novel. Kyle’s portrayal of it roused my empathy for the human suffering caused by the conflict between Britain and the Netherlands under Spanish control. The story flows well and there’s rarely a let up in the action. At the same time, Kyle balances well her descriptions of places and events with the action itself. I could see each scene in my head and felt that the action was happening around me. I had to keep turning the pages.
Kyle’s characters are also realistic. I especially liked and rooted for Fenella Doorn, empathising with her difficult choices and the hardships she endures. She is such a well drawn, dynamic character that it’s hard for me to believe she only played a minor role in a previous book in the series. I hope she will reappear in subsequent novels. Fenella is a very conscientious, moral person and that made her choices extremely difficult and, until near the end of the story, I couldn’t see how she might ever be able to be with the man she loves.
I find that I have less to say about this book than some others I have reviewed. That doesn’t indicate that I was not impressed by it. I think the brevity of my review reflects that I was not left with any unanswered questions or ends that weren’t satisfactorily tied up. I felt that the story was told exceptionally well and I couldn’t have wanted more from it. I was completely satisfied when I got to the last page though I was sad to leave Fenella.
I can easily recommend The Queen’s Exiles to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance in any era or just a good story.
For more information about Barbara Kyle visit her website. You can also connect with Barbara on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. You can learn more about the novel on its Amazon US & UK pages and the first chapter of the novel is available to read here.
About Barbara Kyle: She is the author of the acclaimed, internationally-published Thornleigh Saga novels which follow a middle-class English family’s rise through three tumultuous Tudor reigns.
She was a speaker in 2013 at the world-renowned Stratford Festival with her talk Elizabeth and Mary, Rival Queens and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers’ organizations and conferences. Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S.