Long fascinated by the queens of sixteenth century Britain, I built A Tapestry of Queens around the adventures of Cordelia Shelton, a dressmaker/needlewoman who serves a succession of famous royals, from England's Kathryn Howard to Scotland's Marie de Guise. After all, who could draw closer to these queens than their dressmaker, the person responsible for the gem-encrusted damasks, the fur-trimmed velvets of a royal wardrobe?

And so, when Cordelia is commanded by Henry VIII to travel to Scotland – a country on the brink of war with England – she allows us to see the political intrigues of the Stuart and Tudor courts through the eyes of a sympathetic commoner, one who cares for the queens she serves. Detailing Henry VIII's ruthless attempts to absorb Scotland – while portraying Marie de Guise, widow of James V, as fiercely determined to safeguard Scottish independence – A Tapestry of Queens explores the effect a strong queen can have on a divided, war-torn society.

But Marie de Guise is not the only queen Cordelia admires; she also befriends Catherine Parr, the woman she realizes Henry VIII has chosen for his sixth wife. Torn between love and ambition, Catherine Parr turns to Cordelia for guidance; in this court where careers are built or shattered on the whim of the Tudor king, Cordelia knows her advice will be critical in shaping England's future.

Giving us a view of three sixteenth century courts – England, Scotland and, by extension, France, A Tapestry of Queens illustrates the importance of personal loyalties and allegiances in international politics. And, as the novel unfolds, Cordelia's strength and courage will be tested; her intelligence, resolution, and skill with a needle will prove essential for her survival.

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A Tapestry of Queens