Anne of the Fens by Gretchen Gibbs is a part of The Bradstreet Chronicles. Anne Dudley lives with her family in Tattershall Castle. They are all puritans. Anne has an older brother, Sam, and three younger sisters: Patience, Sarah, and Mercy. Thomas Dudley, her father, was the steward for the Earl of Lincoln. King Charles has imposed a new tax and Thomas Dudley does not think they should pay it. He advised the Earl not to pay the tax and now the Earl in in the Tower of London. Anne studies during the day with her tutor, Simon. Simon is nine years older than Anne. Anne has tried flirting with him, but she has not been able to get any response out of Simon (or Anne thinks she is not doing it right). Anne wants more out of life. She wants to dance, watch plays, and to be held. One day as they are going to church her little sister, Sarah, darts off into the crowd. The May Fair is taking place in town and Sarah loves sweets. Anne is in charge of Sarah and takes off to bring her back to church. Anne soon loses sight of Sarah in the crowds. Anne heads towards the area where the sweets are being sold where she is sure to find Sarah. On the way Anne gets swept away into a dance with a stranger. She loves it but swiftly extricates herself to find Sarah. Then Anne sees a play and is mesmerized. Anne is watching Romeo and Juliet when Sarah walks up with a very dirty face (icing). Anne grabs her sister and drags her back to church.
Anne did not get to see the end of Romeo and Juliet and wants to know how it ended. The book, though, is not in the castle’s library. When Anne asks Simon about it, he makes a strange reference to rabbits. When Anne ponders upon it, she realizes it refers to the rabbit on the second floor fireplace (carved rabbit). Anne sneaks out during the night to investigate and finds a secret room. There in a trunk are many books including Shakespeare’s plays. Anne stays up late reading Romeo and Juliet. The next night she sneaks away again, and finds a man in the room. It is John Holland who is a steward for the Earl of Lincoln on his Sempringham estate. John had written a notice that is posted in towns about not paying the tax. There is now a warrant out of for his arrest. Anne is attracted to John. Anne’s father asks her to bring food to John every night after everyone has gone to bed (no one must know that John is at Tattershall Castle). Each night they get to know each other better and some touching as well as kissing takes place between them.
One day as they are leaving town from Church, they notice a crowd around the town notice board (before newspapers all information was posted on the notice board for all to read). On the board was a poem that Simon had written for Anne. It contained some blasphemous references to the King. Sarah had taken it from Anne’s hiding place and posted it. It was on the back of one of John’s notices about not paying taxes. Anne quickly takes if off the board and the family leaves town, but the sheriff is following them. If they search the castle, they will find John Holland. Anne helps John escape the castle and get to a boat heading for Holland. Anne goes on quite an adventure.
To find out what happens with Anne, John Holland, Earl of Lincoln, and the rest of the Dudley family, read Anne of the Fens. Anne of the Fens is a young adult novel. The author, Gretchen Gibbs, is a direct descendant of Anne Dudley. Anne of the Fens is a fictionalized account of Anne Dudley’s life. I give Anne of the Fens 3 out of 5 stars. It is interesting, but the first half of the book is long and not engaging. The second half is more interesting as Anne helps John escape. The first book in The Bradstreet Chronicles is The Book of Maggie Bradstreet who is another descendant of Gretchen Gibbs.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Happy Monday! Thank you for reading my latest review. Have a great day and Happy Reading!