The Secret World of Christoval Alvarez by Ann Swinfen

christovalalvarez

My favorite period to read about in historical fiction will always be of the ancient world; the great civilizations that helped form the modern world into what it is today.  But it seems that I have been subtlety swayed into the history of Britain, from the post Roman age, the Normans, Crusades, War of the Roses, Civil War, and now into the reign of arguably England’s finest Monarch, Elizabeth, daughter of arguably one of the worst, Henry VIIIth.  There is a plot afoot to assassinate  the Queen, one that involves Mary, Queen of Scots.  Enter her ‘spymaster’ Francis Walsingham and his network of spies and codebreakers.  Christoval (Kit) is training to be a doctor but is also an accomplished breaker of codes and that comes to the ears of Walsingham who enlists Kit’s help, first as a codebreaker and gradually as an agent/messenger/forger for the good of England.  This is mostly done against Kit’s wishes but there aren’t many who can say no to the powerful spymaster; especially since another member of the spy network knows a secret about Kit, one that will certainly ruin Kit’s life.  However, that is not the only secret that Kit harbors; there is also the matter of religious affiliation, being Jewish in Portugal was fine until the Spanish introduced a quaint custom called The Inquisition.  So, Kit and family escape to England yet even in London they must practice their faith in secret.  The tale is an exciting one, one of those that is hard to put down in order to fix dinner or let the dogs out; in other words, the pages refuse to let go of the helpless, but entertained reader.  Along with the main plot, the reader is given a look into what life was like in London late 16th century, including the rough life of those who choose to entertain from the stage.  That is one thread I am looking forward to continuing in the sequel as this has the makings of a tumultuous time for Kit (I can say no more.), well that and the sentence that the book ends with.  🙂    4.4 stars

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