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384 pages, Hardcover
First published February 6, 2020
Queen Henrietta Maria with Sir Jeffrey Hudson (1633) by Anthony van DyckAt only eighteen inches tall when he was a child and young man, Nat was sold by his father to the Duke of Buckingham. The duke in return offered Nat as a curiosity, a ‘rarity of nature’, to the Queen. The distress it caused Nat’s mother to part with her son in that manner was heart-breaking and yet the unpleasant practice of selling children was all part of daily life. Nat was delivered to the Queen inside a pie to facilitate a surprise, which was actually true. It soon became apparent to Nat that the Queen was in a similar position, being wagered through marriage and living away from her family in an unfriendly environment.
“Queen Henrietta Maria was still only a girl, barely five years older than I was. The youngest daughter of the King of France, she’d been sent away from her home and family to marry a man she’d never met, who didn’t like her much, and she had the Duke of Buckingham stirring the pot to make sure it stayed that way.”The pressure the Queen received from all sides was very well highlighted and it enabled a strong bond between Henrietta and Nat - two similar souls unsure of their destiny. As part of the many characters resident at the royal court, Nat made an unfortunate enemy in Charles Crofts, which provides speculation and the weave of fiction with imaginatively ordered fact. Close friendships were developed with Jeremiah as an older mentor, and Henry and Arabella of similar age, which became the central theme to the second half of the novel. As feelings and vulnerabilities grew, Nat often wondered what chance a dwarf could have of finding love with a normal beautiful woman. Perhaps to see Arabella marry Henry would at least keep them close. There are a lot of uncertainties, misunderstandings and close encounters that tantalisingly evade the three friends.