Songbird: A Novel of the Tudor Court by Karen Heenan

Songbird Cover

Bess has the voice of an angel, or so Henry VIII declares when he buys her from her father as a member of the music, the Royal company of minstrels, best grows up with in the decadent Tudor Court navigating the ever-changing tide of royals and courtiers. Friends come and go as cracked voices, politics, heartbreak, and death loom over even the lowliest of musicians. Tom, her first and dearest friend is her only constant but as Bess becomes too comfortable at court, she may find that constancy has its limits.


This book wasn’t what I was expecting when I picked it up. Instead of being mainly historical it focuses on part of the Tudor court that I didn’t really have much experience of, the Music. The musicians, choirs and the singers who entertain the king. It caught my attention and I wasn’t able to put it down! I don’t know how many of the characters mentioned are real, there are definitely some that are but some, including Bess that I suspect may not be
Bess is a person who lives for music and as one of the kings favourite singers she is in good stead. She arrives at court a very young girl and it takes a lot of time for her to settle in. I struggled with parts of her story, at times she seemed quite self absorbed and oblivious to what those around her could see, I think this is also linked to the fact that she narrates the story and therefore you can only see things from her point of view but as a reader you can see in the actions of those around her that they may feel things slightly differently to how she perceives them
She is close to one person, Tom, a singer turned lute player and their interactions a prominent throughout. 
The story also looks at how things can change so quickly at court, how they moved round so often, behaviour during illnesses like the sweating sickness which I had never considered. 
This book is well thought out with the main cast of characters developed and relatable to the reader, but with some distance to keep the illusion of majesty alive. 
I would recommend this book to those who enjoy historical fiction, engaging characters and discovering a part of the Tudor court not often written about 
AM 🐾 x

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Author Bio

Songbird - karen heenan headshot

Karen Heenan was born and raised in Philadelphia. She fell in love with books and stories before she learned to read, and has wanted to write for nearly as long. After far too many years in a cubicle, she set herself free to follow her dreams – which include gardening, sewing, traveling and, of course, lots of writing.

She lives in Lansdowne, PA, not far from Philadelphia, with two cats and a very patient husband.

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