THE PHANTOM TREE by NICOLA CORMICK

The Phantom Tree

“My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another.”

Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait – supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison knows better… The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.

The painting is more than just a beautiful object from Alison’s past – it holds the key to her future, unlocking the mystery surrounding Mary’s disappearance, and the enigma of Alison’s son.

But Alison’s quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows…

Life in the time of Alison and Mary was not good. With the death of their parents each has become an orphan living with unwelcoming and terrorizing relatives who would just as soon see them dead.

This was a time when women were owned by their fathers, husbands, guardians. Double standards abound. While the men bed anything they want, the women are then left damaged and in desperate straits.

When Alison runs away and ends up in modern-day London, she plans to go back and find her infant son, taken from her. Mary is to try her hardest to find the child and leave her clues.  However Alison ends up stuck in modern times, trying to find any clues to where Mary might be as well as the baby.

By chance she walks by a gallery and immediately recognizes a small portrait of Mary Seymour. Although it is labeled as Anne Boleyn,  Alison knows that the A.B. on the box in the portrait belongs to her and that Mary has left her clues in the painting.

But how can she get back? Maybe with the help of the gallery owner and his godson.

We read this book from alternating points of view, Mary and Alison, past and present.

This was one of the best slip time historical books I’ve read. Nicola has such a readable style to her writing, it was easy to keep up with who was who and where everyone was. It is one of those books for us history lovers that you fall in and cry with the characters because you know what is going to happen to at least one of them.

A must read this year! Well Done!

NetGalley/ September 21st 2018 by Graydon House

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