The Virgin's Spy: A Tudor Legacy Novel by Laura AndersenThe Virgin's Spy: A Tudor Legacy Novel by Laura Andersen

The Virgin's Spy: A Tudor Legacy Novel

byLaura Andersen

Paperback | November 10, 2015

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Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, The Virgin’s Spy is award-winning author Laura Andersen’s second novel about the next generation of Tudor royals—a mesmerizing historical novel filled with rich period detail, vividly drawn characters, and all the glamour and seduction of the fabled Tudor court.
 
Queen Elizabeth I remains sovereign of England and Ireland. For the moment, at least. An Irish rebellion is growing and Catholic Spain, led by the Queen’s former husband, King Philip, plans to seize advantage of the turmoil. Stephen Courtenay, eldest son of Dominic and Minuette, Elizabeth’s most trusted confidantes, has accepted a command in Ireland to quell the unrest. But the task will prove dangerous in more ways than one.

The Princess of Wales, Elizabeth’s daughter, Anabel, looks to play a greater role in her nation, ever mindful that there is only one Queen of England. But how is Anabel to one day rule a country when she cannot even govern her own heart?

Praise for The Virgin’s Spy
 
“Andersen delivers another dramatic thriller complete with spies, battles, ruthless villains and twists on historical events that draw the reader deeply into the lives of her characters. There is magic here, and Andersen’s fantastic storytelling will keep readers coming back for more.”RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars, Top Pick!)

Find your next book club pick, read special features, and more. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle.
Laura Andersen is married with four children, and possesses a constant sense of having forgotten something important. She has a B.A. in English (with an emphasis in British history), which she puts to use by reading everything she can lay her hands on.
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Title:The Virgin's Spy: A Tudor Legacy NovelFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:368 pages, 8 × 5.2 × 0.9 inShipping dimensions:8 × 5.2 × 0.9 inPublished:November 10, 2015Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0804179387

ISBN - 13:9780804179386

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent read! I could not put this book down! It was captivating and intriguing. If you love Tudor history and want an alternate reality this book (series) is for you! It is written a little bit like a teenage drama, but you become so invested by the characters and the intrigue that you loose sight of this very quickly.
Date published: 2017-05-18

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONEJune 1581Elizabeth loved weddings. At least those weddings in which she could appear the benign good fairy, generously bestowing her favour upon a couple and, as always, claiming the spotlight for herself. Most families fortunate enough to draw the queen’s attention to such an occasion fell over themselves to get out of her way and let her run things in the manner she wanted them.Not the Courtenay family.At this wedding, Elizabeth was little more than a guest. For one thing, she had wanted the wedding to take place in London. As the bride was both the eldest daughter of the Duke of Exeter and Elizabeth’s own goddaughter, the queen had graciously offered any number of royal chapels for the ceremony, from private ones such as Hampton Court to more public parishes like St. Margaret’s at Westminster.But Lucette Courtenay had her mother’s stubbornness when her own wishes were at stake, and so Elizabeth herself had to travel northwest to participate in the wedding of the En­glish lady and her French Catholic spy.Elizabeth did not stay at Wynfield Mote with the Courtenay family, but in Warwick Castle ten miles northeast. After the castle’s forfeit to the crown upon the Duke of Northumberland’s death, Elizabeth had bestowed it upon one of the duke’s surviving sons, Ambrose Dudley. In gratitude for the queen’s generosity, Ambrose gave her the run of the castle whenever she wished. A queen had no release from ruling, so Elizabeth filled hours of each day with letters and papers and in meeting with the men who rode back and forth between the monarch and Walsingham in London. Though her Lord Secretary (and chief spymaster) had once used both the bride and groom in his intelligence web, Walsingham had not been invited to the wedding.The ceremony itself went off beautifully. Conducted at Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-­upon-­Avon—­and in the language of the Prayer Book issued by Elizabeth’s government in the first year of her reign—­Lucette Courtenay and Julien LeClerc pledged themselves to love and honour, to worship with their bodies, and remain loyal to their deaths. Elizabeth herself had not been married to quite those words. Indeed, the working out of her marriage more than twenty years ago to Philip of Spain had required nearly a month of exhaustive debates on how precisely to balance their vows as Catholic and Protestant. But as Julien LeClerc had willingly adopted the Protestant faith for his bride, there was no trouble about words today.They at least allowed the queen to host a banquet for them afterward at Warwick Castle. Elizabeth had rather hoped that Lucette would wear the Tudor rose necklace she had once given her, but the dark-­haired bride was adorned instead with another necklace familiar to the queen: pearls and sapphires, with a single filigree star pendant.When the bride’s mother joined her, Elizabeth said acerbically, “Don’t tell me you have handed over your prized possession, Minuette. Whatever does Dominic say?”Though nearly forty-­five, Minuette Courtenay was recognizably still the young woman who had once captured the King of En­gland’s heart. If there were strands of gray in her honey-­gold hair, they did not show, and her gown of leaf-­green damask fit as neatly as when she was young. There were times, looking at her friend, when Elizabeth could almost believe the last twenty-­five years a dream.Minuette returned her to the subject of the necklace. “It is only lent for now,” she replied with equal tartness. “And Dominic would say that we ourselves are our prized possessions, not any material goods.”“Do you never tire of your husband’s practical perfection?” Not that there wasn’t a grain of envy in Elizabeth’s soul at her friend’s long-­lived and loving marriage.Minuette turned the conversation with the ease of a woman who had known her queen since childhood—­indeed, still knew her rather better than made Elizabeth comfortable. “Anabel tells us you intend to invest her formally as Princess of Wales. She is very proud—­and, to your credit, taking the responsibility seriously. Dominic says her spoken Welsh has become quite good.”Instinctively, Elizabeth darted a look to where her only child sat in merry companionship with Minuette’s twins. Kit and Pippa Courtenay were on either side of the princess, their matching honey-­gold heads (like their mother’s) bent inward as the three of them talked in no doubt scurrilous terms about the guests. The tableau tugged painfully at long-­ago memories. “The Holy Quartet,” Robert Dudley had called them: Dominic, Minuette, Elizabeth . . . and her brother, William. She could only hope there was less pain in these young ones’ futures.“The investiture,” Elizabeth acknowledged. “Of course it is only a formality. A ritual I never had. But it will be useful just now to remind the Welsh of our power. That is why I have chosen Ludlow Castle for the investiture, rather than simply doing it before Parliament. Anabel will make a charming figure to the Welsh.”“She says the council has invited a representative from the Duc d’Anjou to attend the investiture.”“As well as an envoy from Scotland. France is prepared to give us a large measure of what we want now that Mary Stuart has wed Philip. I will see what I can get from them, but it is Scotland that is most desperate for an alliance.”“What is Anabel’s preference?”Elizabeth huffed in exasperation. “You know better than that, Minuette. With my divorce from Philip and his recent marriage to Mary Stuart, all Europe is on edge. Mary wants Scotland back, make no mistake, and if she can persuade my former husband to give her Spanish troops, then our island is in serious danger. If Anabel were at all prone to romance—­and I’m not certain that she is—­she would have to give over for hard, cold reality. En­gland and Scotland must stand together or we will fall separately to the Catholics.”Minuette held her silence almost to the point of discomfort, but finally said, “I wasn’t criticizing, Elizabeth. Not intentionally. It is only that you were my friend before you were my queen, and at times I wish you unencumbered by the burdens of ruling. You and Anabel both.”It was my choice to rule, Elizabeth thought, but would never say. I just didn’t have a clear idea of what it would mean, the years of weariness and care and doubt. And always, the waiting for the next crisis.She didn’t have long to wait. Before the wedding party had quite broken up, a courier arrived from London with a curt message written in Walsingham’s hand, the message Elizabeth had been fearing since the Scots queen had escaped her En­glish imprisonment last year and then married the King of Spain.Mary Stuart is four months gone with child.The morning after his sister’s wedding, Stephen Courtenay woke late and for nearly the first time in his life was reluctant to leave his bed. (His empty bed, at least, and at home it was always empty.) But with Lucie’s wedding out of the way, he couldn’t put off what came next. The queen had offered him a command, and would not long await an answer.Command was one thing—­he had been raised to expect it. Command in Ireland was something else entirely. And convincing his parents to accept it when he himself was ambivalent? No wonder he’d rather stay in bed.But he was twenty-­one years old and could hardly hide from trouble. So he flung himself out of bed and dressed in record time in the belief that he might as well get unpleasant things done quickly. If he were Kit, he would dawdle his way through, putting it off as long as he could, but irresponsibility was not a trait an eldest son and heir could afford. That was the province of younger brothers.On this particular morning, Kit was long gone on a ride with Pippa and Anabel. Lucie and her husband had spent the night at their new home, Compton Wynyates, and from there meant to go north and spend the next few weeks in Yorkshire, since the French-­born Julien thought it sounded exotic. From the way Lucie and Julien had been looking at each other last night, Stephen supposed they would hardly notice their surroundings, as long as they had a bed.And that was a disturbing image of one’s sister. Stephen shook it off as he swiped bread and cheese from the Wynfield Mote kitchens and headed for the fount of all certain knowledge where his family was concerned—­Carrie Harrington.Just turned sixty, Carrie had been in his mother’s service for twenty-­five years, and in Minuette’s mother’s service before that. After she’d lost her first husband and both their children to illness early in life, she had remarried the large, silent Edward Harrington, who’d served Dominic Courtenay since before he was the Duke of Exeter. Carrie had personally delivered Stephen and each of his siblings and could always be counted on for good advice.And also a certain amount of mind reading.“Looking for your parents?” she asked, squinting up at him from her comfortable chair in the sunlit solar. “Or looking to avoid them?”Stephen smiled. “Which should it be?”Her hair was a soft grey-­brown and her face lined, but her hands were steady on her needlework. “Don’t look to me to sort your problems. Go to Ireland or not—­it is your decision. And that, for what it’s worth, is what your parents will tell you.”“I know. Sometimes I wish they were more autocratic.”“No, you don’t. You only appear submissive in comparison to your brother. If ever you are commanded against your wishes, Stephen, you will balk authority as surely as Kit does.”“Then let us hope I am never commanded against my wishes. There can only be one Kit.”“Your parents walked in the direction of the old church,” Carrie said, dismissing him and returning to her sewing.Stephen met them coming back toward the house, halfway between Wynfield Mote and the Norman church that had stood empty since Henry VIII’s reformation. Dominic and Minuette Courtenay had been married in that empty chapel—­married in a Catholic ceremony, surprisingly. Every now and then Stephen remembered that his parents had not only had a life before their children, but a rather complicated and dangerous life. They were so very . . . stable. But today, remembering that his father had once been enough of a rebel to land in the Tower gave Stephen courage to speak the whole of his conflicted mind.As ever, his mother went right to the heart of the matter. “The queen is demanding an answer to Ireland, is she not? I could feel the weight of her attention on you yesterday.”“I’ve put her off as long as possible. If I’m taking a force to Ireland, it must be before summer’s end.”“Are you seeking counsel, or approval?” his father asked.“I’m always seeking both.” Stephen smiled briefly. “Partly I feel I don’t want anything to do with the mess in Ireland—­and partly I feel that very reluctance means I should go.”His mother laughed. “So like your father, making everything ten times more difficult than it need be. Go to Ireland or don’t, Stephen, but stop flaying yourself alive over the decision.”But Dominic Courtenay knew his son as he knew himself, and so he added what the young man craved—­an opinion. “If it were myself, I would go. I was your age when I commanded men along the March of Wales, and it was a critical experience in my life. You are a good leader with good men from your Somerset lands who will follow you. Let them. What they learn of you in Ireland will shape their lives and yours. Besides,” and here he cast a rueful glance at his wife, “military service is the least demanding request a monarch can make. Be glad if that is all the queen wants of you, son.”Stephen laughed as he was meant to, and he did feel lighter when he wrote to the queen later that day to accept her offer of command in Ireland.But beneath the lightness of a decision made was a brittle unease. Because military service was not the only thing wanted of him. His second letter was addressed to Francis Walsingham. Though officially the queen’s principal secretary, Walsingham had never given over his role as her chief intelligencer. Last year, Stephen had served him from within the imprisoned household of the exiled Scots queen, Mary Stuart. Walsingham was a man to exploit what advantages he could, and having a spy he trusted in Ireland would be a definite advantage.I will be in Ireland by mid-­August, Stephen wrote.He expected Walsingham would have requests of his own to add to the queen’s orders.Anne Isabella, Princess of Wales, had learned from her earliest years that she could nearly always get her way. Not many people had the power to say no to the daughter of two reigning monarchs, and so nineteen-­year-­old Anabel, when she was being particularly honest with herself, admitted that she was a bit spoiled.The trouble was, one only tended to realize that when one didn’t get one’s way. As now, with Kit Courtenay staring her down in refusal.“What do you mean, ‘No’?” she demanded. “I have appointed you my Master of Horse. It wasn’t a request.”“Unless you mean me to operate in chains, then I am telling you that I very kindly decline the appointment.”“What is wrong with you, Kit? You’ve been irritable and difficult for months.”“Because I have a mind of my own and a wish to do more with my life than follow you around and offer you compliments? ‘How lovely you are today, Your Highness,’ ” he said in deadly mimicry of court sycophants. “ ‘The very image of your royal mother, but is that a touch of Spanish flair in your dress?’ ”Anabel’s temper went from raging to white-­hot in a moment. In a chilly tone reminiscent of her father’s Spanish hauteur, she said, “Long acquaintance does not give you the right to insult me to my face.”Most unusually, Kit did not immediately respond. Anabel was used to his ready tongue and the quick wits, which could spin any conversation a dozen dizzying directions without warning. But in the last months, his irritability had been accompanied by these bouts of reflection before speech.Kit did not apologize; she had not expected him to. But he offered something of an explanation. “I am growing older, just as you are. I do not have a throne waiting for me, nor even a title. Stephen inherits my father’s riches. I must make my own path. And I would prefer to do it without undue favoritism.”“And what of due favoritism? Do you expect me to appoint strangers to serve in my household?”

Bookclub Guide

Perfect for fans of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir, The Virgin’s Spy is award-winning author Laura Andersen’s second novel about the next generation of Tudor royals—a mesmerizing historical novel filled with rich period detail, vividly drawn characters, and all the glamour and seduction of the fabled Tudor court.   Queen Elizabeth I remains sovereign of England and Ireland. For the moment, at least. An Irish rebellion is growing and Catholic Spain, led by the Queen’s former husband, King Philip, plans to seize advantage of the turmoil. Stephen Courtenay, eldest son of Dominic and Minuette, Elizabeth’s most trusted confidantes, has accepted a command in Ireland to quell the unrest. But the task will prove dangerous in more ways than one.The Princess of Wales, Elizabeth’s daughter, Anabel, looks to play a greater role in her nation, ever mindful that there is only one Queen of England. But how is Anabel to one day rule a country when she cannot even govern her own heart?Praise for The Virgin’s Spy   “Andersen delivers another dramatic thriller complete with spies, battles, ruthless villains and twists on historical events that draw the reader deeply into the lives of her characters. There is magic here, and Andersen’s fantastic storytelling will keep readers coming back for more.”—RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars, Top Pick!)Find your next book club pick, read special features, and more. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle.1. Discuss the relationship between Mary and Elizabeth. Do you agree with Elizabeth’s actions? How would you have handled the situation, in Elizabeth’s position? How do you feel about Mary’s relationship with Philip, compared to Elizabeth’s?2. As Anabel gets older, the dynamics between the princess and the queen become increasingly complex. Compare and contrast the two women. In what ways are they similar? How are they different?3. How does the parenting style of Minuette and Dominic compare to that of Elizabeth and Philip? Is one technique more or less effective? Would Elizabeth be a different sort of mother if she weren’t also a queen?4. What do you think of the dynamic between Anabel and Kit? Do you see any parallels to Elizabeth’s relationships?5. Responsibility and honor are reigning principles in the Courtenay household. How do the Courtenay children embody these principles? Discuss the sacrifices each member of the family makes to uphold their sense of honor. Does each define honor in the same way? Do any of them fall short of their high moral standards?6. The political and the personal are intimately entangled for Elizabeth, Philip, Mary, and Anabel. How—-if at all—-do these characters separate themselves from the offices they hold? Is there room for a monarch to have a personal life outside of the throne?7. Discuss Stephen’s experiences in Ireland. What surprised you the most? In what ways is he similar to his father? In what ways is he different? If you read The Boleyn King trilogy, do you see any parallels between Stephen’s experiences and those of his father?8. Discuss the importance of military training and experience for young men during this time period.9. How do the events of this novel compare to the actual historical record? Did anything strike you as particularly plausible or implausible?10. Do you have any predictions for the next novel in the series?

Editorial Reviews

“[Laura] Andersen delivers another dramatic thriller complete with spies, battles, ruthless villains and twists on historical events that draw the reader deeply into the lives of her characters. There is magic here, and Andersen’s fantastic storytelling will keep readers coming back for more.”RT Book Reviews (4 1/2 stars, Top Pick!)