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A Net for Small Fishes: ‘The Thelma and Louise of the seventeenth century’ Lawrence Norfolk

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This tragic story of self-punishment explores the idea that man and nature, if they are to survive, together and separately, must forever remain in conflict. Furthermore, The City Always Wins is a novel not just about Egypt’s revolution but about a global generation that tried to change the world. The court of King James 1st is a seething mass of political intrigue as some of the greatest families in the land jostle for influence with their new Scottish king.

When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. These, though, are small gripes compared with the many things there are to love in this scintillating novel that plunges you head-first into a darkly compelling chapter of British history.This novel begins and ends with yellow, the colour of deceit, treason and witchcraft during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Beneath the dread I feel a core of heat: it is joy at the actions we took, the chaos we created, the possibilities we saw, the lives we led; it is love. Anne sets about dressing Frankie powerfully to enhance her presence in court and to encourage the Earl of Essex to notice her and hopefully give her a much desired heir. This total gem of a novel is one that will have you truly believe you are a part of Anne’s world as she fights her way to stay by Frankie’s side but when she loses someone who meant the absolute world to her, Anne’s future is thrown into disarray. Both women are unhappy with their current situations, but not much you can do when you are living in a time when all females are expected to be silent, loyal, and obedient.

Highly recommend checking out A Net for Small Fishes as it was a fascinating read based on a real life scandal taking place during the reign of King James. As the enemies of the Howards grow stronger, Frankie and Anne face the gravest of dangers in a society determined to crush women daring to challenge the limitations placed upon them. Lucy Jago creates a perilous and edgy atmosphere that encircles the story of two unlikely female friends who sought to change their lives from the abusive and restrained existence they endured. Anne’s account of their relationship nicely balances self-interest with sincerity; Frances looks like her route to advancement, until the gossip gathering around the aristocratic lovers threatens her own more modest hopes of romantic happiness.

Indeed, William Larkin (1580-1619) is an outstanding character in the novel, for he portrayed at least two of the main characters in this Overbury Scandal: Robert Carr and Frances Howard. Also, she is based on a real person in history, and her actual historical conclusion might not sit well with a work of fiction which has a requirement for closure that history doesn’t provide. Regardless, the whole got much better in the last 1/3rd but also, for me, barely connected outside of the Frankie and Anne's friendship.Within a few breathless chapters, Anne has followed Frankie into the court of King James, who takes a shine to Frankie and praises her attire. Siamo convinti di agire con dignità, quando in realtà continuiamo a girare in tondo, troppo rasoterra per capire quale sentiero ci conduca in paradiso e quale all’inferno. I encourage book clubs to consider this one as a selection as there's so many points of discussion here.

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