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A Net for Small Fishes Kindle Edition
"A bravura historical debut . . . a gloriously immersive escape." —Guardian
Wolf Hall meets The Favourite in Lucy Jago's A Net For Small Fishes, a gripping dark novel based on the true scandal of two women determined to create their own fates in the Jacobean court.
With Frankie, I could have the life I had always wanted . . . and with me she could forge something more satisfying from her own . . .
When Frances Howard, beautiful but unhappy wife of the Earl of Essex, meets the talented Anne Turner, the two strike up an unlikely, yet powerful, friendship. Frances makes Anne her confidante, sweeping her into a glamorous and extravagant world, riven with bitter rivalry.
As the women grow closer, each hopes to change her circumstances. Frances is trapped in a miserable marriage while loving another, and newly-widowed Anne struggles to keep herself and her six children alive as she waits for a promised proposal. A desperate plan to change their fortunes is hatched. But navigating the Jacobean court is a dangerous game and one misstep could cost them everything.
A Most Anticipated Book of the Month (PopSugar, The Mary Sue, Business Insider)
"Jago weaves an intricate web of social, sexual, and political maneuvers that entangles all her characters . . . [A] narrative stuffed with vividly drawn secondary characters and atmospheric set pieces . . . highly satisfying entertainment."
"A terrific first novel, rich in colour, character, place, and time. If you like your history spiced with sex, scandal, and the sweet sensibilities of female friendship, then this is for you."
―Sarah Dunant, New York Times bestselling author of The Birth of Venus
"The Jacobean Era comes to life in this sumptuous story of a scandal that rocked the times. At the heart of this glorious novel is a friendship between Anne Turner, a gentlewoman and Frances Howard, a privileged woman of the upper class who is stuck in an abusive marriage with no intention of staying in it. Though they come from different social classes, they cleave together to change the course of their lives through tragedy and loss to find happiness. Romance, intrigue, beauty, and truth―it's all here as the women determine their own fate in a time when choice was impossible. Lucy Jago writes as though she was there―this author is a wonder."
―Adriana Trigiani, New York Times bestselling author of The Shoemaker's Wife
"Based on a true story, A Net for Small Fishes is a magnificently accomplished piece of historical fiction set in Jacobean London. This stunning novel of two brave and independent women doing what they must to survive in a man’s world is ripe with scandal and gossip, lust and betrayal, corruption and venality―thoroughly modern resonances, in other words. Lucy Jago marshals all this with consummate skill and wit, but she also writes with tremendous heart. The result is a thoroughly entertaining and deeply satisfying read. I can’t recommend it highly enough."
―Alex George, author of The Paris Hours
"A Net for Small Fishes is strung so tight with suspense that I read with my heart in my throat, watching as Anne and Frankie meet the myriad, shifting treacheries of their lives with an awe-inspiring largeness of spirit, loyalty, and love. This novel immersed me so fully in another world that I seemed to breathe its air, walk its halls―yet for me its greatest achievement lies in the vivid life it gives these women, who are forces of nature but also fully human, and who dare to try to carve out a space in their world that can fit them. Their story is spellbinding."
―Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson
"Brilliant . . . Jago’s striking depictions of bearbaiting and court mourning, wedding breakfasts and adulterous trysts capture both the brutality and the refinement of Jacobean London. Anne’s shrewd narration grounds the novel’s explosive drama even as she slides toward mortal danger one apparently logical choice at a time. It adds up to a remarkable exploration of the power, limits, and price of women’s friendship. This is a sparkling achievement."
―Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Jago presents a realistic and absorbing tale based on historical events, convincingly portraying the Jacobean period and personal relationships during that time between husband and wife, lovers, and female friends. Her characterization is rock-solid, and Anne’s voice resonates in this drama about how life choices, what is permissible and what isn’t, especially for women, form a slippery slope that can end at the gallows."
―Booklist, starred review
"Enthralling and moving."
"Sumptuous . . . If you're feeling bereft after finishing The Mirror and the Light, let Jago transport you back to the Jacobean court."
"Bravura historical debut . . . Jago keenly conveys the peril of being a woman of any class in the 17th century . . . Like all the best historical fiction, A Net for Small Fishes is a gloriously immersive escape from present times, but it’s not escapism."
"A superb exploration of female agency, sexuality and class . . . A scintillating novel that plunges you head-first into a darkly compelling chapter of British history."
"Riveting . . . In a narrative that brims over with colour and invention, Jago summons up Jacobean London with enormous persuasiveness."
―Sunday Times, Book of the Month
"A powerful take on a fascinating piece of history."
―The Times (UK)
"Rich in intrigue and incident, with a cast of vividly drawn characters and a wealth of detail on every atmospheric page, this is a fabulously engaging read."
"Will bring wit, wisdom, joy and comfort to your reading pile . . . There's no messing about in Lucy Jago's A Net For Small Fishes. From the first chapter you're plunged into the dark intrigues, violence, vying for position and cruelty of the 17th century Jacobean court as society beauty Frances Howard meets Anne Turner, whose way with bodices, stockings and eyelashes is unequalled."
"A sensuous evocation of 17th-century noble shenanigans. Jago offers a timely lens through which to reconsider power dynamics in Jacobean England . . . Seamless and stylish . . . Set in 1609, 69 years after the Mantel trilogy concludes, so those mourning Cromwell may find much to scintillate here."
―The Irish Times
"A magnificent reimagining of a scandal in the Jacobean court . . . Masques, machinations and murder ensue, as well as affairs, gorgeously described clothes, and a dangerous friendship."
"The Thelma and Louise of the seventeenth century: two mismatched heroines, two grittily textured lives, an outrageous plot (true!), sex, politics, and a gut-wrenching ending."
―Lawrence Norfolk, author of John Saturnall's Feast
“Full of colour, intrigue, and historical characters we can relate to . . . Jago has a great flair for the sensuous image and evokes the heady mix of gaudy glamour and grime that characterises the era with a distinctive, dense poetry. Historical fiction at its scintillating best and most filmic."
―Susan Elderkin, author of Sunset Over Chocolate Mountains
"A fabulous book. Frankie and Anne's world is not just brilliantly evoked but brilliantly sustained. Lucy Jago doesn't make a single false step. And it's exciting!"
―Andrew Miller, author of Pure
- ASIN : B08QGJRXNB
- Publisher : Flatiron Books (November 16, 2021)
- Publication date : November 16, 2021
- Language : English
- File size : 3086 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 322 pages
- Page numbers source ISBN : 1526616610
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #96,313 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
This book is based on a well known scandal – well known to many but nit to me, so I came in cold, not knowing the characters or events. I loved this read, took me back in time, I felt I was there with the people, and it conveyed the struggled females had so well. When I'm reading a historical novel I want to feel its real, for it to stay true to the time, and this one was perfect. Clearly very well researched, not just in the events but in the ways of how people lived in that time.
I didn't particularly like either of the female leads and yet – they did what they needed to do, according to the times they lived in. Life was hard for many, for those without money there was no support, nothing to stop them and their families starving.
For those with money power reigned, until someone more wealthy or with closer ties to the Throne came along. Those on and close to the Throne, and so many others claiming wealth actually lived in a morass of debt, spending money they had no intention of paying, always knowing that because of their position those they owed either couldn't or wouldn't press for payment. It was almost a way of life, even the King lived life like that.
Anne appeared to want advancement for security for her children. Who can say that's wrong? Even if the way she went about it didn't really feel right. I felt that she was almost in a trap of having taken one step, she was forced into the next, there being no way to go backwards, or even stay static.
Not only did she have to worry about money and position but there was the issue of being female. Thinking of the time was that females were born sinful and have to live perfect lives to redeem that sin. Any excuse to blame them for anything is taken, and here poor Anne gets the full gamut of sin thrown at her, blamed for the most ridiculous of things.
Frances, very beautiful, born to a wealthy and powerful family, but as was the way, females were pawns in life, used by their families for advancement. She was married at a young age to the most horrific of men. Abused horribly yet still determined to have a family she and Anne, who has become a good friend by now, seek some dubious methods to make it work. Of course it doesn't, and it leads them down some paths that cause issues later.
Truth wasn't really a factor when being judged, and Anne was made a scapegoat for the sins of others IMO. She did do things that weren't right, but times were different, and she was probably scared of what would happen t her family.
Frances, when it became clear she wasn't going to have a marriage and children, fell in love with someone who was dangerous for her and Anne, a man reputed to be the kings, lover, but who had many dangerous, powerful enemies. I kept thinking about them both, what would I do in that position. The answer: I don't know, who could, it was a very different time.
Stars: Five, a gem of a novel, perfectly capturing the flavour of the time and the difficulties women faced in a male dominated world.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers
Top reviews from other countries
Our two leading ladies Frankie and Anne, form an unbreakable and profound friendship which provides them both with previously unknown freedom, strength and mutual advantage. However, as always, when you play a game close to the knife edge, danger lurks on the other side...
We follow our protagonists through the triumphs and blows of their respective lives and we witness both of these intriguing women push against the repressive and patriarchal contexts in which they live. Lucy’s writing style is clear and engaging. I found this novel incredibly easy to read and I was really impressed with the level of research she had put into the narrative. I absolutely love to learn new words and this book taught me so many terms that were in common parlance in the 1600s but which have totally fallen out of use. I would definitely recommending this for all historical fiction fans. If you like Mantel and Gregory, this could be right up your street.
I liked the friendship between Lucy and Anne, it was very well written and believable, despite their different stations. I would have liked more on the ins and outs of court life, but it was fascinating to get a bit of insight into the bizarre nature of James I's court (his favourites included!). A really good read for any historical fiction fan.