The queen is coming for a visit: Seven words that could terrify any member of the Elizabethan gentry who owned a country house.
Kathy Lynn Emersons eighth mystery in the series, Face Down Below the Banqueting House, takes place in 1573. When Queen Elizabeth I announces that she plans to stay at Leigh Abbey on her summer progress, Susanna, Lady Appleton is torn between bemusement and outright dismay. It is a great honor to entertain royalty, but visits from Elizabeth and her courtiers have been known to leave chaos and even bankruptcy behind. Compared to the social horrors that lie ahead, murder becomes an almost welcome diversion.
On the queens progress, a journey through her realm, Elizabeth should feel as if she were in one of her own country houses, like Sissinghurst or Knole. Therefore other peoples houses were rearranged and redecorated, especially the royal suite (formerly the owners bedchamber). At least the queen did bring her own bed and bathtub, plus much other furniture and equipment. Five hundred horses were needed for each destination! Many more fascinating historical details, such as the construction of a banqueting house high in a tree, are sprinkled throughout the book.
Emersons mystery series differs from two others that are contemporary to it, by Fiona Buckley and Karen Harper, in that Lady Appleton never goes to court and avoids royalty wherever possible. In the other two series, QEI and her illegitimate half sister are sleuths, perhaps at the expense of historical accuracy. For the benefit of newcomers as well as aficionados of historical fiction, Banqueting House contains a cast of characters and a glossary of Elizabethan terms, which are used sparingly.
Kathy Lynn Emerson, author of 30 books, has been interested in the Elizabethan period all her life. In addition to the eight mysteries and many stories in the Face Down series, she has used that setting in several romance novels, and she also wrote two nonfiction books on the period. While researching Banqueting House, she visited English 16th-century manor houses to get an accurate feel for what Susannas home, Leigh Abbey, should be like. Emerson is also the author of a new historical mystery series set in 19th-century America. Her home is in Maine, from which she sends out a newsletter to her fans, The Face Down Update.
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