Admiration for another writer of historical fiction.. The Poison Bed


Unreliable narrators, psychological thriller. Who said history was boring?

In 1613 Sir Thomas Overbury was imprisoned in the Tower of London at the “request” of King James I. Five months later he died of “natural causes.”

Ten days later Lady Essex, nee Frances Howard, was granted a decree of nullity from her marriage to the Earl of Essex. Three months later, Frances married Robert Carr, a favorite of James I.

Beginning as a page in the royal court, Carr attracted the attention of James by 1607 and in the years that followed was showered with titles and gifts–so much so that he became the gatekeeper to the King. Thomas Overbury had been Carr’s friend and mentor who assisted him in the rise to the King’s favor.

The court was divided into two main factions fighting for the attention of the King–the Essex faction and the Howard faction. Overbury insisted that a marriage to Frances, Lady Essex would be the ruin of Carr. By marrying Frances Howard,Robert Carr no longer was neutral and those who opposed the Howards searched to bring him down.

By 1615, Carr and the King have a falling out.. and Carr as Duke of Somerset and Lord Chamberlain and his wife Frances are put in the tower and charged with causing the death of Thomas Overbury by poison.

Those are the facts.. Elizabeth Fremantle has told the story in alternating chapters–Her and Him. What is the truth? Who is truthful? What is real?

This is a fascinating look and interpretation of these events and the people involved.

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