Brazen, by Katherine Longshore

Katherine Longshore is having an event at my bookstore, so we decided to base the first meeting of our teen book club around her three young adult novels about women living at court during the reign of Henry VIII. "Brazen," her third, comes out in a couple of days, so as soon as we got it in the store, I started reading it. And didn't stop. I read the entire thing in less than 24 hours, which I think might be some kind of record for me. It's a really fun book, with a charming, interesting heroine.

Mary Howard is married to the king's illegitimate son Henry FitzRoy when they are both just 14 years old. Forbidden to consummate their marriage until they have reached adulthood, Mary and Fitz spend the next three years playing an incredibly awkward game of romantic hide-and-seek. Told in the first person by Mary, we wonder along with her whether this marriage, which dramatically raises her social standing, will free her from the grasp of her horrific mother or instead become her new prison. Mary must often decide between duty and loyalty, self-interest and selflessness, and though the Tudor court is very different from our own culture, these decisions are faced by teens everywhere, all the time. I especially loved the way Longshore gives Mary a type of synesthesia: Mary loves poetry and words, and each word has a distinctive taste. These synesthetic remarks are sprinkled throughout the book, and they give the narrative a lovely richness. I can't wait to talk about this with the members of our teen book club, and to meet Longshore at her reading!


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