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The Spymaster’s Daughter by Jeane Westin

Posted By Claire on October 19, 2012

I haven’t been reading for pleasure much recently as I’ve been so focused on writing and editing, but when this came through the post I just had to start it. I adored Jeane’s previous novels so I had high hopes for this one, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It was a joy to read and I found it hard to put down.

The Spymaster’s Daughter is an historical novel set in the reign of Elizabeth I. The protagonist is Lady Frances Sidney, daughter of Elizabeth I’s ‘spymaster’ and trusted adviser, Sir Francis Walsingham, and wife of the poet, courtier and soldier, Philip Sidney. Frances is a spirited woman with a talent for cracking codes, the only problem is that her father does not think it fitting for a woman, and his daughter, to be spending her time on intelligence work, that’s a man’s domain. However, Frances needs something to concentrate on and inspire her because her marriage is unhappy; her husband is still in love with the “Stella” of his famous poem, Lady Penelope Rich.

Frances knows that she has to prove herself to her father and so she works on trying to crack codes in the correspondence of Mary, Queen of Scots. In the meantime, she meets Robert Pauley, a servant and not a gentleman, who makes her feel alive again and does not see her as a lowly woman. Can she find true love and happiness? Will she ever prove herself to her father? And what about the Earl of Essex who is so taken with her? Well, you’ll just have to read it, I’m not spoiling it for you!

In conclusion, it is a must-read for Tudor history fans who enjoy historical fiction. The characters and setting are brought to life beautifully and the plot-line keeps the reader hooked. Even if you know all about Frances’ life, you will be kept in suspense because of the fact that it is fiction. I also fell a little in love with Robert!

What I love about Jeane’s novels is that they’re ‘proper’ historical novels and Jeane makes it clear in her author’s note that her work is fiction:

“This is a work of fiction. Although it is based on real people and events, the love story and adventures come from my imagination.”

She then goes on to explain what is fact and what is fiction, so that there is no confusion.

There is also a reader’s guide featuring a Q&A with Jeane and discussion questions which could be used by reading groups and book clubs.

Book Details

Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: NAL Trade (August 7, 2012)
ISBN-10: 0451237021
ISBN-13: 978-0451237026
Available at, Amazon UK or your favourite bookseller.


One Response to “The Spymaster’s Daughter by Jeane Westin”

  1. Jeane Westin began her writing life as a freelance jounalist, then wrote a number of nonfiction books, and finally came to her first and true love, historical novels. She published two novels in the late 1980s, and after a long hiatus is once again indulging her passion for history. She lives with her husband, Gene, near their daughter, Cara, and has been rehabilitating a two-story Tudor cottage complete with dovecote for more than a decade.

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