The Tower: A Novel (Hardcover)
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A bold, feminist debut novel, reimagining Mary, Queen of Scots’s darkest hour, when she was held hostage in a remote Scottish castle with a handful of loyal women while plotting a daring escape to reclaim her country and her freedom.
"Such a vivid, visceral read, you feel you’re locked in the tower alongside the characters, acting out a royal family drama. I am moved and impressed." --Tracy Chevalier, New York Times bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring
Scotland, 1567. A pregnant Mary, Queen of Scots is dragged out of her palace by rebel lords and imprisoned in the isolated Lochleven Castle, an ancient fortress surrounded by a vast lake. Her infant son and heir, James, has been captured by her enemies.
Accompanying Mary are two inconspicuous serving women: observant, ambitious Jane and romantic, quick-tempered Cuckoo, who endeavor to keep their mercurial mistress company while sharing the space of a claustrophobic room over the course of their eleven-month forced stay. Their hosts want them dead. They'll settle for Mary's abdication.
After Mary reluctantly surrenders her throne, her closest friend, the reserved, devoted Lady Seton, is permitted to join the captive women. Against the odds, as they hatch a perilous getaway plan, the four women form a bond that transcends class and religion, and for Jane and Seton, becomes something even deeper. At the center of it all is Mary--calculating, charming, brave, and unbowed. Flora Carr's thrilling, feverish debut is a celebration of resilience, a meditation on the meaning of power, and a testament to the unshakeable strength of female friendship, starring one of history's most charismatic leaders.
About the Author
FLORA CARR was named one of 40 Emerging Writers 2020/2021 with the London Library and has a short story published in the program’s anthology. She is a previous winner of the British Vogue Talent Contest, and in 2020 her short story Starling was Highly Commended for the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize. She was also shortlisted for the 2018 V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize, and is a graduate of The Writing Squad. Her journalistic work has appeared in the likes of TIME Magazine, British ELLE, and The Observer New Review. Flora grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in London. The Tower is her first novel.
“An immediate, immersive experience of sharing the year the fallen Mary Queen of Scots was held in a Scottish island castle prison with a few attendants and only her courage and charm to rescue her. Lyrical, riveting, and unforgettable.”
--Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth I
“An unforgettable, spellbinding debut--Flora Carr's The Tower offers an immersive and intimate portrait of Mary Queen of Scots and the women in her orbit, revealing their humanity beyond the stories and myths.”
--Lindsay Lynch, bestselling author of Do Tell
"An imaginative, dark gem of a novel, about women, power and fear, still, intelligent and beautifully written, yet as tense as a thriller."
--Neil Blackmore, author of Radical Love
"An absorbing read and an utterly believable female perspective on history. Its cocktail of tension and tenderness perfectly captures the claustrophobic world of the four women in the tower; a historical narrative with contemporary relevance."
--Sally Hinchcliffe, author of Hare House
"An intimate, exquisitely told story of Mary, Queen of Scots and her maids during their year of imprisonment, portraying their hopes and fears, their affections and irritations with such skill that you feel you are in the room with them. A beautiful, poignant book that draws you into the world of these women so fully that it is a wrench to leave it."
--Elizabeth Lee, author of Cunning Women
“Close-focused and vivid. . . Carr’s interest in the women—their bodies, their allegiances, their intimacies—offers a contemporary perspective that extends beyond the [central] foursome to other females seeking or manipulating power. These musings and observations are rendered in bright, cinematic prose.”
“Carr’s taut debut recalls Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait . . . Carr dexterously explores how the seductive allure of royalty is undimmed by Mary’s grim circumstances, which are depicted with earthy physicality. . . this pulled-from-history novel resounds as a victory for female camaraderie and cleverness.”