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Book Review: "The Queen's Dwarf" by Ella March Chase

"The Queen's Dwarf" by Ella March Chase

Maneuvering the English court isn't easy for anyone, especially a dwarf. Jeffrey Hudson, the real life dwarf and favorite of Queen Henrietta-Maria was thrown into the scheming English court to serve as a spy for the cunning George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. Jeffrey was told to spy on the unpopular Catholic queen and do the Duke of Buckingham's bidding, but he had no idea how attached he would become to Queen Henrietta-Maria. When Jeffrey's life and family are put in danger, he must choose between his love and loyalty to his queen and the life and family he had before. In "The Queen's Dwarf" by Ella March Chase, Jeffrey may be only 18 inches tall, but he must be larger than life to survive the English court.

"The Queen's Dwarf" follows the life of the real life Jeffrey Hudson. Jeffrey is an 18 inch tall dwarf with a beautiful and angelic face. The Duke of Buckingham plucks Jeffrey from this home and commands him to enter the household of the unpopular French and Catholic Queen Henrietta-Maria, wife and queen to King Charles I. Jeffrey's role is to spy on the unhappy queen. Queen Henrietta-Maria adores Jeffrey instantly and adds him to her "Royal Menagerie of Freaks and Curiosities of Nature" which include more dwarves and a giant. Jeffrey becomes Henrietta-Maria's favorite, all the while Jeffrey is reporting her activities and words to the Duke of Buckingham. Jeffrey eventually falls in love and protective of the lonely and sad queen and wants to give up spying on her, but when the Duke of Buckingham puts his beloved brother at risk, Jeffrey is is trapped in the middle. This novel is a look at a dwarf with a heart of gold and a lot of hard choices to make.

Chase does a wonderful job with "The Queen's Dwarf". Chase takes an interesting approach in this novel as she focuses on someone part of the court that was considered a freak rather than focusing on a king or queen. Telling the story from Jeffrey's perspective makes this an interesting novel. Seeing the scheming, plotting, and turmoil of the English court through the eyes of the queen's favorite dwarf instantly draws you into this novel. This was a very creative novel from Chase.

Chase also does an exceptional job in portraying Jeffrey. Jeffrey was a real life person from history and Chase brings him even more to life in this novel. He is intelligent, loyal, and wise. "Game of Thrones" fans will be reminded of Tyrion Lannister in this portrayal of Jeffrey. You can understand why the queen adores her "Lord Minimus" and why others are drawn to him. Jeffrey is one of the most memorable characters in historical fiction this year.

Another strong aspect of the novel is the portrayal of the time period. The reign of King Charles I of England is not often portrayed in historical fiction, but it was an interesting and tumultuous time. There were scheming dukes, religious conflict, and strife with France. Chase brings to life the awkward yet stoic King Charles I, the lonely and homesick Queen Henrietta-Maria, and the seductively scheming Duke of Buckingham. This time period really comes alive thanks to Chase.

"The Queen's Dwarf" will most definitely be one of the more interesting and unique novels in 2014. It is a fitting tribute to Jeffrey. Jeffrey Hudson would be proud and honored by Chase's account of his life.

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