31 Mar A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago: A Review
I am not the kind of person you would usually see holding a historical novel. I gave them up in my teen years after having graduated from Philippa Gregory to the non-fiction Tudor tomes and series. So A Net for Small Fishes was being raved about in our office and a few people whose taste I trust really harked the hallowed angels and sang this book’s praise. I ended up doing what any good book reader would do when faced with such a situation, I picked up a copy for myself, sipped my tea and started the first page. The last I remember — some time thereafter — was me finishing the book a few days later wondering why I was suddenly drinking tea with my pinkie finger extended.
About the Book
Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court.
Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the unhappy creature in the world.
Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.
When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.
With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
This book is perfect for those seeking intrigue, a court scandal and two women navigating a world that really wasn’t built for them. Anne Turner is a dressmaker as well as the wife of a renowned court doctor. Her children are happy and well and, most importantly, her status in society is secure. Anne’s path crosses Francis’ (or Frankie’s) when the latter helps the former by dressing her for an upcoming event — an attempt to make her more attractive to her brutish husband. Hailing from a high-ranking family, Frankie leads a life of opulence, of affluence, of wealth. As these two women become closer friends their worlds become entwined and they start to share secrets, it becomes clear that both their lives are about to change forever. There is envy at court and when one becomes desperate who knows what they’ll do and whom they’ll seek out for help.
If you are like the millions of people who have watched Bridgerton, this is the perfect graduation read — something to keep you in the world of courts and kings — but A Net for Small Fishes twists things somewhat by threading through a slight feminist thread, examining the kind of lengths women will go to to keep themselves alive… and their children fed. It is such a wonderful read, so as winter starts to creep across South Africa, please grab this book and let it help you escape.
3 out of 5 stars