Cover Image: The Testimony of Alys Twist

The Testimony of Alys Twist

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Member Reviews

I’m not sure how to rate this book. It centres on a laundress in Elizabeth I’s court. The descriptions of London and the Thames are vivid but I didn’t really engage with them. I’m a lover of historical fiction and can usually lose myself in it but for some reason I just couldn’t get engaged with this. I finished the book but nothing about it really stayed with me sadly. I’ve enjoyed Suzannah Dunn’s writing previously but sadly not on this occasion.
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An excellent addition to novels about Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth the First) and Tudor history. Suzannah Dunn's expertise and research shines through, When Queen Mary puts her sister Elizabeth in the Tower of London, orphan Alys Twist is forced to spy on her. But is she Elizabeth's friend or foe? Obviously we know what happens in history to Elizabeth but nevertheless this is a great read.
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This is such an interesting read..  The sibling rivalry between Queen Mary and Lady Elizabeth is  

retold as laundress Alys Twist aka Annie Turner is obliged to perform espionage duties. We are drawn into a world 

of faction and intrigue where danger is lurking in every corner and no one is safe.. Lesbian Alys has to juggle  

her relationship with Bel with her royal duties,  a.  dangerous and challenging mix.

This is an extremely readable and enjoyable story that brings sixteenth-century England to life..
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Suzannah Dunn makes history come alive through the everyday stories of ordinary people. Alys Twist is one of these ordinary people - a laundress in the household of Queen Mary. The turmoil of the times is recounted by Alys as she navigates between service to Queen Mary and her half-sister Princess Elizabeth. This is an entertaining tale of intrigue, love and laundry set in the teeming streets of Tudor London.
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Suzannah Dunn has done it again! I've read many of her books and they're all great. Loved the sapphic themes, and the focus on working women rather than royals. One of my favourites aspects of the book was how Dunn writes about the immense skill of launder women, really made the character real.
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A fascinating Tudor novel about a laundress during the reign of Mary Tudor. I thoroughly enjoyed this book as it was from a very unusual angle. If you like historical fiction I’m sure you’ll enjoy this
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A captivating historical novel centered around the highly toxic and very dysfunctional sibling relationship between Mary Tudor and her sister Elizabeth at the beginning of the 1550s, as we follow the adventures of Alys Twist, a young orphaned girl working as a laudress within the confines of the royal palace, Whitehall.
It's 1553 and England is awashed with conspiracy fever and wary about its future. Recently married to her Spanish monkey, Philip of Spain, and soon to be consumed by an imaginary pregnancy, the Queen is deeply convinced that her half sister is comploting her downfall somewhere behind her back. Unable to shake that gnawing feeling, the unbalanced monarch will pretty soon set up a sinister game of cat and mouse into which the innocent Alyse will eventually and unwillingly be drawn into, 
a dangerous web of espionage and counter-espionage that our smart and quick-witted heroine will have to learn how to navigate in order to avoid its treacherous pitfalls and remain safely ahead of her game..... A rich and colorful tapestry of a rather somber moment in English history full of memorable characters and compelling historical details. A delightful story from start to finish.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Little Brown UK/Abacus for the opportunity to enjoy this ARC.
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Arrested by her sister for treason, who in her household can Elizabeth trust? 1553: deeply-divided England rejoices as the rightful heir, Mary Tudor, sweeps to power on a tide of populist goodwill. But the people should have been careful what they wished for: Mary's mission is to turn back time to an England of old. Within weeks there is widespread rebellion in favour of her heir, her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, who is everything that Mary isn't. From now on, Elizabeth will have to use her considerable guile just to stay alive.

I found Elizabeth as a princess to be one of the most intriguing characters in the book. I really enjoyed this well-written foray into Tudor England, it offers a slightly different perspective to the period against similar novels. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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This Tudor based historical novel, deals with the rivalry between Queen Mary 1st, and her half sister, Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth 1st, or the lady  Elizabeth in this book, due to her bastard status. 
We become involved in this story, through the eyes of a laundress, Alys Twist. The descriptions of the clothes, fabrics and their care, how each laundress has her own recipe for making soaps, various herbs and ointments , perfumes, all to take care of garments, was fascinating, I would have loved more details from this perspective, most novels involve the grander people and not the essential
 work of keeping one clothed in clean items. I am definitely going to seek out the book used as a source by this author, Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe unlocked, by Janet Arnold, in order to satisfy my curiosity! 
With Queen Mary, asserting her Catholic rule upon England, Alys is ordered to spy upon the Lady Elizabeth, to see if she is involved in any intrigues that would affect her position in the succession to the throne. 
Alys forms a close friendship with Bel, daughter of the Queen’s tailor, they become lovers, but their relationship gradually draws to a close, due to Alys having to move around the country on Royal Progress. There are good descriptions of below stairs/ back stairs Palace life, the efforts involved in moving from one Palace to the next, and the sheer number of people employed is staggering. Very through research on these areas. 
I’m afraid this novel never really came to life for me. I am an avid fan of Tudor dynasty novels, and I really enjoyed the laundress aspect, being both new to me and intriguing, but the rest of the story felt flat. We didn’t get much of the titular testimony, who was Alys meant to be reporting to , and the Sapphic relationship that added a new dimension was allowed to wither on the vine, but, it was a bold move and Bels occupation could have been explored in greater detail. I believe this would make a promising young Adult read, a good introduction to this era of intrigue within the Tudor history. 
My thanks to Little, Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley for my return for my honest and unbiased review.
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This is a really hard book to rate. As historical fiction that provides an insight into a time period and key characters, it ticks the boxes as it focuses on Queen Mary Tudor and her rivalry with her half-sister Elizabeth. Descriptions of London are colourful and vivid, with descriptions of the barges and the bridges making me reflect on the last river boat I took! 
Insights into Tudor households are interesting and the roles of the laundress as critical to the smooth running of a palace was something I hadn’t really considered before.

However that’s where it falls flat. There isn’t much of a story. Alys has moved from job to job and finds herself in the Queen’s laundry. She makes friends with the engaging Bel - more insights into her life as a tailor’s daughter would have rounded the historical perspective - but probably add nothing to the story. For quite a while they have fun together (as colleagues and in secret) and then all of a sudden Alys is supposed to have been recruited as a spy. But she has no interaction with her recruiters afterwards... and the whole testimony is very limited. Her dark secret doesn’t really get explored as to the implications or even used to her advantage. The other thing that got me was that she took 10 days to travel 30 miles but then seemed to get from London to Woodstock in a flash. She didn’t get paid for months but managed to survive and even pay for things that she had earlier said she couldn’t afford.  And finally there wasn’t really a testimony... I kept waiting for a crescendo that never arrived! 

Sadly too many loose ends and not enough story to keep me fully engaged and makes it hard to recommend. 

Didn’t quite live up to it: promise.
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This incredible Tudor based Historical novel by susannah Dunn breaths new life (and perspective) into the reign of Britain’s first female Monarch, Queen Mary I and her rivalry with half-sister (The future Queen Elizabeth I).

Told from the perspective of Laundress, Alys Twist who has managed to work her way up to a position in the palace and her hard work rewarded with a placement in the Royal Wardrobe.

However tensions arise with the new Queen’s efforts for Catholic reformation with rebellious forces seeking to put her sister on the throne.Alys is pressed into service as a spy in the princess’s household- by order of the Queen. 

With the Machinations and political intrigue of surrounding the crown- and the arrest of Princess Elizabeth, Alys who has startling secrets of her own must now make a dangerous choice.

Overall an enjoyable and well researched novel-weaving the lives of thecommon people with historical events that give us a glimpse into the upheaval (and often uncertainty) the Tudor era wrought on the majority of lives. Not the mention the rise and ultimately fall of the woman history now dubs ‘Bloody Mary’. 

I loved that the narrative is based around a main character who isn’t a noble or a courtier (as most Tudor era novels tend to be) which to me felt incredibly refreshing. I’m also impressed with the level of accuracies in the details surrounding historical events-the tide letter being just one of many examples. 

As it’s narrative driven, we see more of the everyday people- staff, servants, etc. than he eras ‘movers and shakers’. So if you prefer your Tudor fiction to resemble a Starz mini series, this book may not be for you.

However I definitely recommend this to Tudor History buffs or Historical fiction lovers. 

A huge thanks you to Little,Brown Book Group UK and NetGalley for the ARC.
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