Ladies in Waiting is set during the reign of Charles II, the 1660s. (Be sure to watch the video!) The book is not a romance. The book is about the choices or lack of choices women had during this time period. (Did women have any power over their lives? Were women merely the property of their fathers or husbands?) We see this depicted in the lives of three very different women all named Elizabeth.
Eliza Parsloe does not want to get married. She thinks she has a better chance of manipulating her father than any future husband. She is a thinker. She loves to write. She'd love, love, love to write plays and have them produced. The bawdier the play, the better!
Beth Foljambe will fulfill all her mother's plans...or else. Oh, Beth's mother is creepy and strict and cruel. Beth is at court to get a husband, not of her own choosing, of course, that would be ridiculous. But her mother is determined to protect her daughter's virtue until she can find the right husband for her. Beth secretly and perhaps foolishly is thinking of a childhood friend, a boy, that she hasn't seen in ages. When she sees him again, it's TRUE LOVE, or is it?!
Zabby Wodewose is an intellectual woman interested in science, nature, and medicine. Raised in Barbados, she is traveling to England for the first time. She happens upon Charles II at a very vulnerable time. He is very ill, and she nurses him back to health. He swears her to secrecy, and the whole world perhaps with the exception of Eliza and Beth thinks that Zabby is one of the King's (many) mistresses. As a result of her being in such close contact with him, she becomes obsessed with how in love she is with him.
These three become close to one another since they all serve the same Queen (Catherine of Braganza). All three women have secrets, of course: some they share with the others; some they don't. All three women have strengths and all three women have weaknesses. None of the heroines are perfect. I didn't exactly "love" (if love goes along with the idea of unconditional approval) any of the heroines. However, I found their stories fascinating or entertaining.
The book is full of sexual innuendos and jesting which completely suits the time period.
You might be interested in: Catherine of Braganza, Charles II, Thomas Killigrew, Barbara Palmer, Nell Gwyn, Duke of Buckingham, Samuel Pepys.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews