THE PLAY OF FORTUNE
MG Historical Fiction
Fates are altered and fortunes transformed for the thirteen young Elizabethans whose parallel lives all hinge upon an ill-fated betrothal between Lady Judith and that disreputable old codfish Lord Grimbald. Will Fortune’s wheel decide their fate as most Elizabethans believed, or will they take their own free-will (an idea which emerged in the Renaissance) into their own hands? Will Judith the Defiant escape to France to become a nun? Does Agnes the Designing finally feel satisfaction after embroidering a not-so-nice nomenclature on to the back of Judith's wedding dress? Will Charity the Tenderhearted succeed at giving the wedding feast's main course back its freedom? Readers unravel the tangled threads of this interwoven tapestry, and come to learn much about Judith though the others’ candid (and sometimes scathing) stories of this complex young woman bound, like the others, by her station and her lot in life.
What makes “Fortune” different than most is that the first part of the book contains the thirteen fictional narratives, while the second section further engages the reader through playful, hip historical notes. “Fortune” not only strives to entertain, but also illuminate. The third section of the book brings the story alive—literally, as it focuses on the bawdy origins of Elizabethan theater, and blithely shows how the whole first part of the book might be performed as a one-act play.
When I’m not at the Bristol Renaissance Faire with my two lovely daughters in tow, I can be found in my garden planting Chamomile (for patience) and azaleas (for good fortune). I have a BA in English, and as my Mother says I “…do my English on the side,” by hammering out a few words whenever I find a moment to squeak it into my hectic life as a working, homeschooling mom of two.
One: Charity the Tenderhearted
I closed the door behind me without incident, having buttered the hinges that morning and sooth--there was no sound by which to betray me. I crept away from the cottage leaving my parents and younger brothers sleeping soundly, though it had taken near a lifetime for John and James to quiet into their fitful childish sleep. Sweeping soundlessly ‘cross the courtyard, mother’s dark shawl about my shoulders shrouding me from the half-moon’s glow, I made straightaway for the dovecote. Not a soul was about, the guards evidently feeling that the coops were beneath need of their steadfast watch.
They were wrong.
I intended to free them—the doves I mean. Hang the half-witted hens and the surly capons—even the charming songs of the larks left me indifferent—they were such nervous, anxious things. ‘Twas the doves alone that pulled at my heart with their gentle trills and trusting nature, gathering at my feet like innocent, hungry children as I broadcast their meal. How could I leave them to their desperate fortune when they had given their unwavering trust to me, their jailer? And now, would I truly be willing to disobey my father and mother--and even Lord Briarly to give them their freedom? In truth, I would rather spend hours with my hands shrinking in freezing dishwater or have my face blister in front of the fire turning some ugly pig on a spit—that would be easy, mindless work, compared to having to work in the coops with Father.