Three young women with very different personalities had two things in common: their name and serving the very meek and un-loved Queen of England. In “Ladies in Waiting” by Laura L. Sullivan, three very different Elizabeth’s come to the court of King Charles II of England to serve as ladies-in-waiting to his wife, Catherine of Braganza. Known through their nicknames of Zabby, Eliza, and Beth, these three young women formed a bond that would last a lifetime and learned about each other while learning about themselves as well.
“Ladies in Waiting” follows the paths of three different young women named Elizabeth who come to court to serve as devoted ladies-in-waiting to Catherine of Braganza. Zabby Wodewose leaves behind her home in Barbados to live with her godmother in England, but saves King Charles through her scientific knowledge and skill. Zabby takes a place at the court of King Charles and serves Queen Catherine all while developing a deep friendship with King Charles and falling in love with him. Eliza Parsloe is the independent, free-thinking, and saucy daughter of a wealthy Puritan. Her father seeks influence at the court and uses his money and Eliza to get there. Eliza serves Queen Catherine faithfully, but abhors marriage and dreams of writing a great play and living on her own terms. Beth Foljambe is the shy and impoverished daughter of the Countess of Enfield, a former great lady of the court who suffers from syphilis. The Countess sends Beth to serve the queen in the hopes of securing a good and powerful marriage for her daughter, but ends physically and emotionally abusing her while Beth longs for true love with a boy from her past. Throughout the novel all three women serve and protect their queen and encounter some colorful characters along the way including the scheming Duke of Buckingham, the dynamic and saucy Barbara Palmer, mistress to the king, and a young and saucy Nell Gwyn. The heart of this novel is about friendship between three very different young women and their self-discovery to who they really were as people.
“Ladies in Waiting” is a a nice read for those that are fans of the court of King Charles II. Creating three fictional and different young women to serve Queen Catherine was a nice approach. Readers get to enjoy fictionalized stories of these women, but also experience the real life drama and history of King Charles and his court. From King Charles and Queen Catherine to the mistresses of King Charles, you see all the major players of the time period.
The portrayal of each woman is strong as well. Zabby is fascinating as she is so intelligent and independent, but she struggles with her deep love for King Charles. Eliza is such fun as she is saucy, witty, and has a passion for the theater and being her own person. Beth is a tragic read as she finds love, but sadly loses it and also has to deal with a domineering mother. There are other strong female portrayals in the novel including Catherine of Braganza and her heartbreaking love and devotion for King Charles, Barbara Palmer and her court scheming yet having very human moments, and a young Nell Gwyn before her days as a royal mistress. This is a female driven novel.
“Ladies in Waiting” is a delightful read and a must for any fan of the court of King Charles II. You’ll end up wanting to be a lady-in-waiting after reading this fun and fresh take on the court of Charles II.
To purchase “Ladies in Waiting”: http://www.amazon.com/Ladies-Waiting-Ms-Laura-Sullivan/dp/0544022203