After posting a review of Jane Borodale's The Knot on Tuesday, I got to thinking about other historical novels I've read that are set in Tudor England (1485-1603) but which feature lesser-known personalities or fictional characters, and which take place away from the royal court.
While novels featuring royalty are a longtime interest, I also enjoy reading about daily life at the time and the impact of major historical events on average citizens. Below are examples of "Tudor fiction without the famous" that I've reviewed, as well as others I've come across.
Valerie Anand's The House of Allerbrook, a standalone sequel to The House of Lanyon, is a family saga set mostly on Exmoor in Somerset in the 16th century.
Jenny Barden's two historical novels, Mistress of the Sea and The Lost Duchess, set partly in England and partly in the New World, are romantic adventure novels that evoke maritime exploration during the Elizabethan Golden Age.
The Miracle at St. Bruno's, first in the Daughters of England series by Philippa Carr, takes place in 1530s London. Philippa Carr was a pseudonym used by Eleanor Hibbert, who also wrote as Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy.
The Wise Woman by Philippa Gregory is a dark novel of jealousy and the supernatural set in County Durham in the 1530s.
Time's Echo, a time-slip novel by Pamela Hartshorne, contains marvelous details of Elizabethan-era York. I understand her subsequent novels The Memory of Midnight and The Edge of Dark fall into the same category.
Mary M. Luke's out of print novel The Nonsuch Lure is a time-slip focusing on the Coddington family, who were forced to relocate after Henry VIII decided to build Nonsuch Palace on their lands in Surrey.
Jeri Westerson's Roses in the Tempest imagines a chaste romance between a woman who becomes a nun and her childhood friend, a Tudor-era courtier, at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. There are some court scenes, but it mostly takes place in a village in Staffordshire.
And some other titles worth a mention:
Nancy Bilyeau's Joanna Stafford series (The Crown, The Chalice, The Tapestry) features a Dominican nun's determination to survive the political and religious changes transforming her world. The last volume finds Joanna in the midst of the Tudor court.
Sarah Kennedy, author of The Altarpiece and City of Ladies (and the upcoming The King's Sisters), has guest-posted here about nuns and mothers as well as mystery plays in Henry VIII's England.
Gallows Wedding by Rhona Martin, the first winner of the Historical Novel Prize in Memory of Georgette Heyer, is a novel of witchcraft and doomed love set in Henry VIII's time.
Green Darkness by Anya Seton, which I'd read ages ago, is a classic novel of reincarnation set in the England of Edward VI (son of Henry VIII) and 20th-century England.
What else can you recommend along these same lines? That is, Tudor times, non-famous characters.
Note: I've based the title of this post off the HNS conference session entitled "Historical Fiction Without the Famous" (see Mary Tod's blog A Writer of History for more), although from what I understand, that session focused on novels with fictional characters.