A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago


Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.

Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.

When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: A Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.

With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.

My Review:

Lucy Jago is an award winning writer and her book The Northern Lights (Hamish Hamilton) published in 2001 won the National Biography Prize. Now Lucy Jago returns A Net for Small Fishes (Bloomsbury) with a sumptuous 17th century novel based on the true story of the scandal at the heart of the Jacobean court. This is a fabulous read that lovers of historical fiction will really enjoy.

This is the time of the reign of King James I and what Lucy Jago brings into the novel a fabulous blend of both fact and fiction that tells the story of the two main characters the Countess Frances Howard and Mrs Anne Turner. Both women could not be different for Frances she was in an arranged marriage at age of just 14 to the 13 -year-old Robert Devereux who was the 3rd Earl of Essex and she was abused by her husband. Frances is beautiful but locked in a marriage leaving her desperately unhappy and fearful on the other hand Anne Turner really has nothing but it is her husband who is a respected doctor.

The marriage is doomed to failure but the friendship of the two women becomes strong and Anne with an eye for fashion begins to style Frances that gains her attention and of Robert Carr.

But life within the royal court is paved with danger, you are in the Kings favour one day and you can fall the next and so it is when news reaches the King that Sir Thomas Overbury who was imprisoned in the Tower of London died but not of natural causes but was actually poisoned. But by who and why? It just so happened that Overbury was a close friend and advisor to Robert Carr. After the death of Overbury, the marriage between Frances Howard and Robert Devereux was annulled and that just months later Frances and Robert Carr were married.

Now the two women at the centre of this story are now in a precarious position to put it mildly as any woman who dared to stand up and challenge would be destroyed. So much detail is contained within the storyline which makes for a great and riveting read. I have always enjoyed reading historical fiction but Lucy Jago has manged to weave a story and bring the characters to life that will captivate any reader and I for one read this in two sittings and I was so immersed in the story of the two women. Highly Recommended.

A Net for Small Fishes is published on 4th February.



352 Pages.

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the NetGalley review copy of A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago.

A Net for Small Fishes by Lucy Jago isnpublished by Bloomsbury and will be published on 4th February 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org

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