Being a fan of both historical fiction and anything featuring human “oddities” I was fascinated to see a novel looking at the court of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta told from the viewpoint of dwarf Jeffrey Hudson. Many royals had collections of what was termed freaks, consisting of giants, dwarfs, conjoined twins, and many other types of unusual people, with Queen Henrietta being no exception. Ella March Chase’s book “The Queen’s Dwarf” does a wonderful job of bringing to life one of England’s most turbulent times, with intrigue abounding around the French-born queen.
Jeffrey is brought to court by the Duke of Buckingham to serve as a spy in Queen Henrietta’s court. Henrietta, homesick and alone in a country that despises her for her nationality and her barren womb, seeks levity and entertainment from her “Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature”, now including Jeffrey. Buckingham demands Jeffrey’s total loyalty, which is tested from day one by his love of the beautiful Queen Henrietta. But Jeffrey’s love and faithfulness will be tested against his love of family, leaving a country teetering on the edge of destruction.
I loved this book; with its new look at English history told by a fresh viewpoint. Chase did a wonderful job of creating heartfelt characters, weaving actual historical figures with imaginary, all to make a novel that will have fans of historical fiction eagerly turning each page. I will be picking up this author’s books with anticipation from this point on.
A richly imagined, gorgeously written historical novel set in the Stuart court featuring a unique hero: Jeffrey Hudson, a dwarf tasked with spying on the beautiful but vulnerable queen
It's 1629, and King Charles I and his French queen Henrietta Maria have reigned in England for less than three years. Young dwarf Jeffrey Hudson is swept away from a village shambles and plunged into the Stuart court when his father sells him to the most hated man in England—the Duke of Buckingham. Buckingham trains Jeffrey to be his spy in the household of Charles’ seventeen-year-old bride, hoping to gain intelligence that will help him undermine the vivacious queen’s influence with the king.
Desperately homesick in a country that hates her for her nationality and Catholic faith, Henrietta Maria surrounds herself with her "Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature"—a "collection" consisting of a giant, two other dwarves, a rope dancer, an acrobat/animal trainer and now Jeffrey, who is dubbed "Lord Minimus."
Dropped into this family of misfits, Jeffrey must negotiate a labyrinth of court intrigue and his own increasingly divided loyalties. For not even the plotting of the Duke nor the dangers of a tumultuous kingdom can order the heart of a man. Though he is only eighteen inches tall, Jeffrey Hudson's love will reach far beyond his grasp—to the queen he has been sent to destroy.
Full of vibrant period detail and perfect for fans of Carrolly Erickson and Philippa Gregory, The Queen's Dwarf by Ella March Chase is a thrilling and evocative portrait of an intriguing era.