I absolutely love historical fiction and read a lot of it; I love to learn history this way. I also enjoy reading science fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller and non-fiction science.
In present day Wiltshire, England Alison Bannister sees a portrait that catches her eye. The portrait has been recently authenticated to be of Anne Boleyn, however Alison knows better. It is of her friend, Mary Seymour and the portrait contains precious clues that Mary left for Alison in order to find her son. Mary and Alison grew up together, castoffs of Wolf Hall under the care of their cousin Edward. After becoming pregnant and being forced to give up her child, Alison runs away with plans to set up a home and bring Arthur there. Though, the place Alison has found is a portal into the future and for 10 years she has not been able to find out how to return to her own time.
Exciting and engaging with strokes of magic and fantasy, Nicola Cornick's The Phantom Tree reimagines the little known life of Katherine Parr's daughter, Mary Seymour and gives her an enchanted but tragic life with a time-traveling best friend. From the time Alison sees Mary's portrait, I was hooked on the mystery surrounding her life. The point of view shifts back and forth between Alison and Mary's life in the 16th century and Alison's life in the present. I was amazed at how well Alison was able to adapt as well as intrigued by the series of clues left for her by Mary. Alison and Mary's characters are painted as opposites, Alison is wild, resourceful and cunning, Mary is careful and quiet in order to keep the secret that she sees visions of the future. Between the the women, there is a full picture of what life was like for a woman in the 16th century who did not have a male figure to provide for them. The writing easily transported me to both centuries and I could envision Wolf Hall and Middlecote as well as Alison's modern flat and the portrait of Mary. Historical fiction rolled up with fantasy, romance and time travel provides for a well-rounded, fast-paced entrancing read. I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.