Synopses & Reviews
Jane Stevenson's Several Deceptions was hailed as one of the outstanding literary debuts of the year 2000. Now, with The Winter Queen, Stevenson confirms her place as a major new talent. This superb novel, the first in a historical trilogy, is a work of extraordinary ambition and range. Set in Holland in the seventeenth century, The Winter Queen is a sweeping portrait of the tumultuous history and politics of the era as well as an immensely moving account of a strange and magical love affair. At its center are two royal exiles: Elizabeth of Bohemia, the Winter Queen, and her clandestine lover, an African prince with shamanic gifts, sold into slavery and freed after years of bondage. Their world is delineated by the illuminating portraiture and exquisite detail of the Dutch paintings of the period. But beneath the light-filled surfaces, crowned heads lie uneasy, scheming princes vie for power, chaos and war threaten in a time of painful uncertainties. As always with Jane Stevenson's work, The Winter Queen appeals powerfully to both the heart and the mind. This elegant novel is that rare achievement: a brilliant, beautiful, astonishingly learned work that is also wonderfully entertaining.
"Well-crafted, moody portrait of royal striving and human need...highly recommended." Library Journal, starred review
"A testament to her astonishing skills. Like the late Penelope Fitzgerald, Stevenson is a meticulous fabulist." The New Yorker
"Deploying a remarkable depth of knowledge with offhand grace, [Stevenson] writes with a casual versatility...a very modern love story." The New York Times Book Review
"Stevenson's knowledge of the period's physical detail [is] impressive, and her way of mixing religion, science, and politics is fascinating." Book Magazine
"Stevenson's pacing can be slow and uneven, but the cool glow the story sheds like a Jan van Eyck painting exerts a powerful attraction." Publihsers Weekly
An immensely moving account of a strange and magical interracial love affair,The Winter Queen illuminates the Netherlands of the seventeenth century. Amid the dark ambiance of the time, the exiled Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia and Pelagius, a West African prince and former slave, fall in love and secretly marry. With great erudition and compassion, Jane Stevenson vividly renders both a portrait of an extraordinary relationship and a tumultuous political history. Set against a historical backdrop enriched with the art, philosophy, and religion of the Dutch Golden Age, "scene succeeds scene in Vermeer-like richness of color" (Memphis Commercial Appeal).
About the Author
Jane Stevenson is the author of Several Deceptions and, most recently, the historical novel The Winter Queen. She teaches at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.