Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Forgotten Sister

The Forgotten Sister
  The Forgotten Sister
Author:  Nicola Cornick
Publication Information:  Graydon House. 2020. 368 pages.
ISBN:  1525809954 / 978-1525809958

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley and through the Fall 2020 historical fiction blog tour from Harlequin Trade Publishing free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "They came for me one night in the winter of 1752 when the ice was on the pond and the trees bowed under the weight of the hoar frost."

Favorite Quote:  "Yet in the end it is your kindness that heals me. Kindness cannot alter the past but it can change the future. It can bring peace."

***** BLOG TOUR *****


Amy Robsart is a historical figure from Elizabethan England. Her "claim to fame" unfortunately was her unhappy marriage and her death. She was the wife of Robert Dudley, a favorite of Elizabeth I. Amy died from a fall down a flight of stairs. The circumstances surrounding the fall were never clarified. It remains undetermined whether the death was an accident or a results of more nefarious decisions.

The book begins with a prologue from 1752. It is unclear how it ties into the story until the very end, but then it encapsulates the story and brings it to closure. The rest of the book goes between 1549 and 2020. In 1549, there are Amy, Anna, Robert, Elizabeth, Arthur, and Johnny. In 2020, there are Amelie, Anna, Dudley, Lizzie, Arthur, and Johnny. In 1549, there are court intrigues and the rise and fall of fortunes as the struggle for power continues and the control of the throne shifts. In 2020, there are celebrity lifestyles and a death which calls into question life choices. in 1549, the story centers around Amy. In 2020, it is Lizzie.

Both Amy and Lizzie's stories are also the stories of women in their own way finding their own voices and taking (or attempting to take) charge of the direction of their lives. Considering that history tells us Amy dies under suspicious circumstances tells you the conclusion of her story. Where Lizzie's story end is much more open for question as is the question of how their stories relate.

The book gives a lot of clues as to that connection - the prologue, the title of the book, the character names in the two time periods. In other words, the mystery turns out to not be such a mystery. However, in this case, it does not distract from the discovery of the mystery or the enjoyment of the book.

The magical realism in this book stems from extrasensory abilities in people. Psychometry is the supposed ability to learn about an event, a person, or other history from touching an inanimate object. Science disagrees about whether or not psychometry actually exists. This, telepathy, a ghost boy, and even time travel are foundational to this story. I choose to suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. I also do respond to the emotional use of psychometry. The thought of touching an object of a loved one who has passed away and conjuring up a scenario as if they were still there is an appealing one. Which one of us would not relish that possibility if only for a moment!

This book picks up on the history of Amy Robsart's death and develops an entire two timeline story that incorporates history, love stories, sibling rivalries, celebrity lifestyles, mysterious deaths, and magical realism. This book is unusual in two timeline stories in that I find myself equally engaged in both stories. Usually, one takes precedence, but this book finds that unique balance. The title of the book, I realize at the end, is a spoiler, but the book itself is a fast paced page turner that keeps me engaged until the very end.

About the Book

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.


Copyright © Nicola Cornick.


Amy Robsart, Cumnor Village

They came for me one night in the winter of 1752 when the ice was on the pond and the trees bowed under the weight of the hoar frost. There were nine priests out of Oxford, garbed all in white with tapers in hand. Some looked fearful, others burned with a righteous fervour because they thought they were doing the Lord’s work. All of them looked cold, huddled within their cassocks, the one out ahead gripping the golden crucifix as though it were all that stood between him and the devil himself.

The villagers came out to watch for a while, standing around in uneasy groups, their breath like smoke on the night air, then the lure of the warm alehouse called them back and they went eagerly, talking of uneasy ghosts and the folly of the holy men in thinking they could trap my spirit.

The hunt was long. I ran through the lost passageways of Cumnor Hall with the priests snapping at my heels and in the end, exhausted and vanquished, my ghost sank into the dark pool. They said their prayers over me and returned to their cloisters and believed the haunting to be at an end.

Yet an unquiet ghost is not so easily laid to rest. They had trapped my wandering spirit but I was not at peace. When the truth is concealed the pattern will repeat. The first victim was Amyas Latimer, the poor boy who fell to his death from the tower of the church where my body was buried. Then there was the little serving girl, Amethyst Green, who tumbled from the roof of Oakhangar Hall. Soon there will be another. If no one prevents it, I know there will be a fourth death and a fifth, and on into an endless future, the same pattern, yet different each time, a shifting magic lantern projecting the horror of that day centuries ago.

There is only one hope.

I sense her presence beside me through the dark. Each time it happens she is there too, in a different guise, like me. She is my nemesis, the arch-enemy. Yet she is the only one who can free me and break this curse. In the end it all depends on her and in freeing my spirit I sense she will also free her own.


I met her only a handful of times in my life. She was little but she was fierce, always, fierce enough to survive against the odds, a fighter, clever, ruthless, destined always to be alone. We could never have been friends yet we are locked together in this endless dance through time.

I possessed the one thing she wanted and could not have and in my dying I denied it to her forever. For a little while I thought that would be enough to satisfy me. Yet revenge sours and diminishes through the years. All I wish now is to be released from my pain and to ensure this can never happen again.

Elizabeth, my enemy, you are the only one who can help me now but to do that you must change, you must see that the truth needs to be told. Open your eyes. Find the light.

Social Links

Author Website: https://www.nicolacornick.co.uk
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/NicolaCornick
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicola.cornick/
Insta: https://www.instagram.com/nicolacornick/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/63843.Nicola_Cornick

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