Hello my beauties ❤ Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Butcher’s Daughter by Victoria Glendinning! This is part of the Summer Reads series hosted by Duckworth Books all month long – so thank you to them for sending me a free copy to review! All opinions are my own.
In 1535, England is hardly a wellspring of gender equality; it is a grim and oppressive age where women—even the privileged few who can read and write—have little independence. In The Butcher’s Daughter, it is this milieu that mandates Agnes Peppin, daughter of a simple country butcher, to leave her family home in disgrace and live out her days cloistered behind the walls of the Shaftesbury Abbey. But with her great intellect, she becomes the assistant to the Abbess and as a result integrates herself into the unstable royal landscape of King Henry VIII.
As Agnes grapples with the complex rules and hierarchies of her new life, King Henry VIII has proclaimed himself the new head of the Church. Religious houses are being formally subjugated and monasteries dissolved, and the great Abbey is no exception to the purge. The cosseted world in which Agnes has carved out for herself a sliver of liberty is shattered. Now, free at last to be the master of her own fate, she descends into a world she knows little about, using her wits and testing her moral convictions against her need to survive by any means necessary . . .
The Butcher’s Daughter is the riveting story of a young woman facing head-on the obstacles carefully constructed against her sex. This dark and affecting novel by award-winning author Victoria Glendinning intricately depicts the lives of women in the sixteenth century in a world dominated by men, perfect for fans of Wolf Hall and Philippa Gregory.
The Butcher’s Daughter is an assured addition to the world of historical fiction. Glendinning sets the scene extremely well, conjuring a vivid picture of the 1500s, a time period which I have not read about often. The historical detail was accurate but not over-bearing, giving the story a chance to shine in its own right.
The long chapters in this book make it easy to get caught up in this story, despite its slow pace. Most people would claim to know something of Tudor history – even just the story of Henry VII’s wives at its most basic. This book offers a fresh take on that time period and I felt like it gave me a greater understanding of the possible reasons behind what happened during this era, despite some of the historical events not being described in great depth.
The narrative voice is confident and readers cannot help but root for the protagonist, Agnes. It was refreshing to read about a woman of that era who knew her own mind and could confidently convey her thoughts to the reader, while maintaining a meek appearance as demanded of her by the society in which she lived. (Yes, I’m aware that I’m talking about Agnes as if she were a real person but she was just such a fully realised character!) I would describe this as a quietly feminist book; it doesn’t shout about its themes but there is a definite sense of righteousness evoked when reading about Agnes.
Overall, this is definitely a slow read but one which fans of historical fiction should find worthwhile!
To hear what other readers thought of this book, check out the other stops on the tour! x
Are you a fan of historical fiction? If so, what are some of your favourites? Let me know in the comments! x