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The Poison Bed

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  1,082 ratings  ·  249 reviews
A king, his lover and his lover's wife. One is a killer. In the autumn of 1615 scandal rocks the Jacobean court when a celebrated couple are imprisoned on suspicion of murder. She is young, captivating and from a notorious family. He is one of the richest and most powerful men in the kingdom.

Some believe she is innocent; others think her wicked or insane. He claims no kno

Hardcover, 416 pages
Published June 14th 2018 by Michael Joseph
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  1,082 ratings  ·  249 reviews

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Amalia Gkavea
‘’Whether we fall by ambition, blood, or lust
Like diamonds, we are cut with our own dust.’’
The Duchess of Malfi, John Webster

May I just say that this is one of the most intriguing covers I’ve ever seen?

Few eras were as tumultuous and fascinating as the Jacobean times. A period that produced some of the bloodiest tragedies in British Theatre, with John Webster and Ben Johnson as the leading playwrights, an era that was sadly defined by an incompetent king, the son of a dull mother. James I t
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Some years ago I read about the poisoning affair at James I’s court and I was intrigued by the circumstances. When I found this book, I jumped at reading it, and the novel turned out to be a real page-turner with two narrators, Frances Howard and Robert Carr, telling the stories of their lives and love. The Poison Bed is a historical fiction, very well-researched with regard to the period. Based on actual events, the novel actually aims at providing the answer as to the murderer, and does so spl ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Poison Bed is based on true events and takes place in the beginning of the 17th century, in the court of King James I.
The story revolves around Frances Howard and Robert Carr, who are accused of poisoning Sir Thomas Overbury and are held in the tower awaiting their trial.
Each tells their own tale in alternate chapters and as the story unravels, we learn more about each character and what circumstances led to their incarceration.
Who is guilty? Who is innocent? And who is telling the truth?
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
This is an interesting book if you are looking for sexual misadventures in King James I times. If you are looking for historical accuracy or good writing, this would not be the book for you. According to the author's epilogue, she spent an amazing amount of time in research by reading ONE book. Wow! The book is riddled with historical inaccuracies and improbabilities. Told by a husband and a wife in alternating chapters, it concerns the murder of the husband's friend, Thomas, while he is incarce ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This was based on a true crime. I love historical fiction and this is set in between monarchs and the periods I know about so was interesting from that point of view. The story was told from two points of view. I enjoy character led stories but I never really felt strongly about either of the characters.
Thanks to Netgalley for an arc of this book.
Umut Rados
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
I read 20% of this book and although I really wanted to keep going to learn the story, I couldn't because of the writing style.
This is a story of the events that took place in court during King James I's reign. If you read the real history, it's really interesting and could be a good plot for a historical novel.
Sadly, I spent my time trying to decipher who's talking to whom, what happened to which character. All the narrative is like someone talking to another, it's not clear. It might be done
I have long been obsessed with the Howards and have read about them in various books over the years, and I had heard of infamous Frances Howard and the scandal that raged through the Jacobean court before picking up this book. It was essentially the reason to read this book. Now, I do think this is a very solid book and for fans of Phillipa Gregory and similar authors, this will be a fantastic read. I just wished I had not known the scandal and the outcome before reading this book, it spoilt it ...more
Michael Cayley
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
A generally well-researched novel in which chapters alternate between Robert Carr, favourite of James I, and Frances Howard his wife. It holds the reader’s attention. At the centre of it is the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, who had almost certainly assisted Robert’s career and who helped Robert when he had senior ministerial office. Both Robert and Frances are accused of involvement.

This was a real life scandal, and the book sticks fairly closely to the facts, though it omits one of the key cau
Told in alternating chapters entitled ‘Him’ and ‘Her’, the book opens with the imprisonment in the Tower of the two main characters.  What follows is a series of flashbacks starting with the beginning of their relationship to their arrest and imprisonment.   It’s a story of friendship, betrayal, secrets, lies and, more than anything, obsessive love.  Based on a true event and featuring the actual historical figures, it is nevertheless a work of fiction and speculation on the part of the author a ...more
Bookish Ally
Jun 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
There’s a common turn of phrase that states that you never really know someone. This book details this very idea.

The English kings court has always been a place of intrigue, of schemes, of the politics of life and death but in this literary exploration of the true story of the Earl & Countess of Somerset I experienced it at such intensity that it became very uncomfortable the closer to its end that we got.

To fully appreciate this story, set in the Jacobean court, one must look at the Howard fa
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the 17th century, Sir Thomas Overbury dies in the Tower of London. Not an unusual occurence, you might think. This death was a little unusual in that two people were accused of his murder. Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset and his wife Lady Frances Howard, Countess of Somerset.

Robert Carr was a "favourite" of King James I. History has never been kind to that king and his predelictions towards good looking young men.

In "The Poison Bed" E. C. (Elizabeth) Fremantle makes an excellent attempt to expl
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Frances Howard and Robert Carr....what a fascinating snippet of history to base a novel on! I have enjoyed Fremantle's books and this one was no exception. The author demonstrates exceptional skill in creating realistic personas for historical figures, and with this historical mystery she takes that a step further, creating deep psychological motivations for murder.

In the beginning, one gets the impression that this book is romantic. No, that isn't the right word. Even when Robert and Frances ar
Finitha Jose
What will you do if your best friend is besotted with an evil person? If you are someone who will resort to any means to save your friend, then you need to hear this story. The death of Thomas Overbury is a lesson that history teaches us; in the tug of war between friendship and love, the winner will always be the latter.

Reading 'The Poison Bed' helped me brush up some of my history lessons. The fact that I was not familiar with this poisoning case which shook the Jacobean court at least playe
Jun 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
What starts as a relatively straightforward albeit downright excellent historical novel about James I, his lover and his lover's wife, shifts about halfway through into a historical psychological novel. While I enjoyed the first half more than the second, this is an absorbing and at times engrossing look at the unusual court of James I. What a magnificent cover! Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights. ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
During the reign of King James I, the Jacobean court was marked by a scandalous murder in 1613.

The book sets the story in 1615. Frances Howard, is an English noblewoman, and Robert Carr, is a favorite of the King. But there is someone else who stands in the way.

Both, Frances and Robert, get accused of murder. In alternating voices they reveal their own stories, which build up to the murder. Their voices weave through the court of intrigue, where allegiances fluctuate constantly, in this case be
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I loved Elizabeth Fremantle's Tudor books, but just couldn't get into this one. It might be okay if you like romance of the "will they/won't they" variety. Sorry to say that I abandoned the novel about 1/3 way through. ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Based in on true events at the beginning of the 17th century in the Jacobean court of King James I. The Poison Bed revolves around Frances Howard and Robert Carr, who are accused of the poisoning and death of Sir Thomas Overvurg and are held in the tower awaiting their trial.

Each alternate chapter is from the perspective of either Frances or Robert, who tell their individual side of the story of how they met and what happened in the lead up to their incarceration. The novel has all the musts of
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many authors write historical novels and many even succeed in making it onto the best-seller list, but few, are as brilliantly executed as this thrilling story. In an interview, the author stated this book was inspired by a true story about a man poisoned in the Tower of London in 1613. A woman confessed to the crime and EC Freemantle became fascinated by this woman, her marriage, the scandalous divorce behind it and why she might have done such a thing.
Set in the Jacobean era, this tale highlig
Leonie Hinch
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Netgalley, Elizabeth Fremantle and Penguin Michael Joseph for my ARC of The Poison Bed in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: 14th June 2018

This novel was seriously transfixing. I haven't read much about the Stuart's beyond Outlander which is obviously at a later period and based in Scotland. I've mostly read about the Tudors so it was really interesting first and foremost to delve into a part of history I don't know much about.

Secondly, the characters were amazing.
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, reviewed, england
Author's interpretation of a scandal that rocked the court of James I, the murder of a nobleman and the possible involvement of a husband and wife. Told in alternating chapters "Him" and "Her" with events leading up to the murder and imprisonment of both in the Tower. Then, the denouement. The actual historical facts are still murky.
I did not like either of the main characters; that alone spoiled the book for me:
Robert Carr was presented as a complete milksop, utterly infatuated with his wife,
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I'm not a huge historical reader (like Victorian crime), however The Poison Bed hooked me. With a dual narrative, seen from his and her side we follow the lives of Frances Howard and Robert Carr who have been imprisoned in the Tower of London, accused of murder.

A must for fans of Philippa Gregory, in fact I enjoyed this more than her novels (I've only read a couple and didn't think much of them).
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My favourite book of 2020!
I'm a little late to the party, but it didn't spoil the show. Wow! What a book. Loved it!
It was the cover that captured me, the blurb that convinced me, and the talent that captivated me. A simple tale told so beautifully well I was blown away by it...

A king, his lover and his lover's wife. One is a killer. In the autumn of 1615 scandal rocks the Jacobean court when a celebrated couple are imprisoned on suspicion of murder. She is young, captivating and from a notorious
Renita D'Silva
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Brilliant and very dark.
Lovely Day
Jun 30, 2021 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf

DNFd at 6% because of weird sexual comments….possibly incest???

Language: 1 b, 1 ba, 1 abuse of God’s name
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thanks Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and netgalley for this ARC.

Fremantle gives us a real historical tale that will have you on your toes with suspense, awe, and you won't know if you should feel compassion or hatred at their daring.
Juliet Bookliterati
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Poison Bed is based on true events from the early seventeenth century and tells the story of Frances Howard and Robert Carr, the Count and Countess of Somerset, and the accusation of murder against them.  Each chapter is simply titled Him or Her as we read their differing stories from how they met until the murder accusation and the consequences  from that event.

The Jacobean Court of James I has so much intrigue and machinations that lends itself to brilliant historical fiction.  The Poison
Vanessa Wild
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping historical thriller set in the Jacobean court based on a true story. It’s a fabulous tale of murder, witchcraft, secrets, betrayal and deception.

It’s beautifully written, well paced and full of intrigue. There are some amazing and colourful characters, one or two of whom are not as they seem and are easy to hate! Be warned! There are plenty of twists and turns and it had me on the edge of my seat with suspense. It’s an absolute page turner.

An exciting and and captivating story which
Olive Sparrow
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I felt fairly confident throughout the novel that I knew what was coming although this did not diminish my enjoyment of it. Then, just over half way, it took an unexpected turn. Lulled once more into a false sense of security, it got me again in the last few chapters. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of the couple suspected of murder, although one is third person and the other first. This was a clever choice and worked very nicely.

It was thoroughly enjoyable and I'd recommend
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Poison Bed by Elizabeth Fremantle is a mystery based in actual history. I've read other books by this author, and I always find them intriguing. This one was great. It's a good mystery, well written and based on historical facts. Lady Frances or Lord Robert? Who is responsible? Court intrigues and manipulations for power keep you guessing. I enjoyed the mystery and the time period. The characters are not always likeable, but they are interesting. If you love historical fiction based on facts ...more
This story is fascinating. This book was not. I’ve read Gone Girl, yk?
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Ancient & Medieva...: JULY 2018: THE POISON BED by E.C. Fremantle 21 90 May 21, 2019 09:09AM  

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