The Pleasure Palace (Secrets of the Tudor Court, #1) by Kate Emerson | Goodreads
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Beautiful. Seductive. Innocent. Jane Popyncourt was brought to the court as a child to be ward of the king and a companion to his daughters -- the princesses Margaret and Mary.

With no money of her own, Jane could not hope for a powerful marriage, or perhaps even marriage at all. But as she grows into a lovely young woman, she still receives flattering attention from the virile young men flocking to serve the handsome new king, Henry VIII, who has recently married Catherine of Aragon.

Then a dashing French prisoner of war, cousin to the king of France, is brought to London, and Jane finds she cannot help giving some of her heart -- and more -- to a man she can never marry. But the Tudor court is filled with dangers as well as seductions, and there are mysteries surrounding Jane's birth that have made her deadly enemies.
Can she cultivate her beauty and her amorous wiles to guide her along a perilous path and bring her at last to happiness? Basing her gripping tale on the life of the real Jane Popyncourt, gifted author Kate Emerson brings the Tudor monarchs, their family, and their courtiers to brilliant life in this vibrant new novel.

372 pages, Paperback

First published January 22, 2009

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About the author

Kate Emerson

11 books214 followers
Kate Emerson is a pseudonym used by Kathy Lynn Emerson, author of the Face Down Mysteries featuring Susanna Appleton, 16th century gentlewoman, herbalist, and sleuth, the award-winning How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries, and a wide assortment of other books.

She was born in Liberty, New York and recieved an A.B. from Bates College and an MA from Old Dominion University. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime and other professional organizations. She currently lives in rural Western Maine with her husband and three cats.

"Kate Emerson" is her pseudonym to distinguish her historical novels set in the Tudor era (England 1485-1603) that feature real but little known historical figures as the protagonists.

Series:
* Secrets of the Tudor Court

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 233 reviews
Profile Image for Kristy.
592 reviews95 followers
January 1, 2011
When I bought this I was afraid of it; I was scared of what the title "The Pleasure Palace" would infer into this book. I thought it was going to be littered with erotica. I was afraid it would be all sex and no story.
I also thought it was going to deal with "the tudors", as in the encore show, as in Anne Boelyn and Jane Seymour, etc....

Wrong on pretty much all accounts. There was hardly any sex in this one at all and the scenes included were very short and left much for you to fill in for yourself. This book had a good story-line and plot.
It was actually about a french girl named Jeanne, or Jane aa she would be known to the English Court. Jane and her Mother fled to England in a frantic rush when she was only an 8 year old child. For reasons unknown to us or our young heroine, she is allowed to become part of the royal nursery. She is neither treated as good as family nor as poorly as a servant. She is just Jane. She is brought up in wealth and priveledge, but has close to nothing to call her own. Her Mother dies, leaving her with all these questions of why they had to leave their home, or why the King has taken her in. Jane lives pretty much her whole life full of questions and the feeling of someone breathing down her neck. Our story unfolds itself to answer Janes Questions and to reveal the truth of who she is.

Not exactly a book that took my breath away, but still a lovely story. I want to read the next book in this series. I would recommend this to those of you who enjoy historical fiction, but maybe are tired of the more used story of Henry the 8th and all of his many lovers.
Profile Image for Misfit.
1,638 reviews309 followers
January 21, 2011
(3.5) Emerson's first book in what I believe is going to be a series set during the Tudor period is based upon Jane Popyncourt, a member of the Tudor Court and of whom very little is known, giving the author more leeway to craft her tale. When the French King dies mysteriously Jane's mother flees to England with her daughter and seeks shelter with her twin brother at Henry VII's court. Jane is taken to Eltham to be raised with the royal children and after the mysterious death of her mother she is made a ward of Henry VII and raised in the royal household with Henry and his two sisters Margaret and Mary.

As an adult Jane serves the Princess Mary, although her life takes a bit of a turn when a highly born French prisoner of war takes an interest in her - an interest that Henry VIII encourages hoping for a state secret or two. As Jane begins to hope for happiness with the one man who loves her, her search for the answers to her mother's death and the reason for the mad flight from France spins Jane into a perilous situation with life-threatening consequences.

I greatly appreciated the time and effort the author put into her research - she especially did a great job with the details of life in the Tudor Court, the clothes, the food, the tournaments, Henry and his mistresses, etc. and the author was able to do that without making me feel like I was being clubbed over the head with the minute details. I liked the fact that the author gives you the family trees of the English and French Nobility of the period, along with a who's who in the back of the book. Jane was an enjoyable, albeit a bit too spunky and independent heroine, but in the end the big mystery fell just a tad bit flat for me. Why anyone would consider the big mystery such a threat that they would want bump people off just stretched the believability factor. A very easy breezy read - light and entertaining but one that's not likely to stick with you long after its finished.
Profile Image for Bookish Ally.
542 reviews50 followers
August 2, 2019
2.75 wavering stars.

I found a historical inaccuracy and that, in itself, would have been a huge mark against it. I love the premise of Jane Popincourt but found this book to be a fluffy piece about a woman without a lot of personal dignity. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone but the most casual reader of historical fiction.

I am removing everything by this author from my list to read. I do not mean that as scathing. It would be a good first book for someone to read about this era. I just mean that her style is not a match for me.
Profile Image for Elena.
1,115 reviews85 followers
March 30, 2020
Borrowed from Open Library.

Jane Popyncourt is a name that sometimes pops up in Tudor biographies. She was a french woman who arrived at the English Court to teach french to Mary and Margaret Tudor, daughters of Henry VII. She probably had a brief affair with Henry VIII, and was also the notorious mistress of the duke de Longueville. Apart from that, little else is known about Jane, and this gives Emerson vast possibilities to develop her story.

The Pleasure Palace is heavy on the fluffy side: its attention is primarily on Jane and does not waste much time on important historical events. However, it is also historically accurate: its strongest point is, in fact, its rich, detailed and accurate setting. Emerson fully explores what it meant being a courtier at the English Court: descriptions of the masques, tournaments and festivities are meticulous and engrossing. I have read many Tudors novels, but most of them tend to focus mostly on the characters' relationships and present only a vague setting. Emerson's novel, instead, truly succeeds in bringing the Tudor Court to life.

Another remarkable, original characteristic of the book is that it features, even if as secondary characters, historical figures who are usually not much used in historical fiction: for example Henry VIII's companions and friends, and also fascinating women like Princess Mary, Bessie Blount and Catherine Gordon.

What the novel sadly lacks is a strong and absorbing plot. The story follows Jane's life, and mostly revolves around her love stories and the mystery surrounding her family (Jane and are mother had to flee from France when she was a child, and her mother died shortly after arriving in England). However, nothing much happens in the whole book: the mystery is easily guessable, and it is so lightly featured in the story that it was difficult to become involved in it. In fact, Jane starts to wonder about her mother's secrets only after she meets again with a childhood friend, many years after she fled from France. I found highly unbelievable that she had not thought about her mother for such a long time. Even after she decides to discover the truth, her investigation is slow, difficult and not at all satisfactory.
As for Jane's relationships with men, I liked how Emerson explained the rumours about her affair with Henry VIII, and I was pleasantly surprised that she did not idealize her affair with the duke of Longueville. As for her relationship with Guy,

In the end, The Pleasure Palace is worth a try because of its beautiful setting and of its focus on less known historical figures, but I would not recommended it if you like a plot with many twists and turns. I am not sure if I will continue with the series: after all, this book was an enjoyable experience, but I am not really intrigued by the next books' premises.
Profile Image for Elysium.
389 reviews62 followers
June 28, 2012
2.5 stars

After the king of France dies, Jane’s mother flees to England where her twin brother lives in the court of King Henry VII. Jane is taken as a ward by Henry VII and to be raised with the royal children. She is just settling down to the new life when her uncle tells her the news of her mother’s death.

As an adult Jane serves princess Mary when her life takes a turn when French prisoner comes to court with his bastard half-brother who happens to be Jane’s childhood friend. Now that her friend is in England Jane sees opportunity to search answers about what happened to her mother.

When I think about this book the first word come to mind are meh and boring. Not necessarily a good thing...
Author has clearly done lot of research and it shows in the book but it fails to make it any more interesting. I didn’t much care for the heroine and couldn’t understand many of her decisions. I was starting to nodd off until about half way through it got somewhat interesting. I have to admit taking a peek and reading some scenes between Jane and Guy and it’s the only thing that got me through the whole thing.

I didn’t understand the reason why Jane and her mother had to leave France or why would it be such a big deal. I mean that was kinda common thing at the time. And why would it make Margaret Beaufort hate her mother so much. Shouldn’t Elizabeth of York be more mad about it?

I just doesn’t seem to have much to say about this and in the end all I can say is that is was okay.
Profile Image for Tanzanite.
187 reviews19 followers
April 23, 2009
Actually, 2.5 stars (average). Overall, a light fluffy read with an interesting storyline that failed to live up to its potential. Few facts are known about the real Jane Popyncourt, giving the author quite a bit of creative latitude which she fails to take advantage of. The big mystery as to why Jane and her mother left France was weak and not very interesting. Since the author admits to making it up, it really could have been so much more spectacular.
Profile Image for Orsolya.
627 reviews286 followers
July 1, 2011
I read this book relatively recently (okay, within the past year) and can't remember much about it aside from the name of the main character and that I looked her up on the internet after reading the book. That says something, right? I do remember liking it but obviously not a standout novel. Please note: I actually have a strikingly good memory.
Profile Image for caminandoentrelibros.
96 reviews15 followers
January 19, 2020
Me ha gustado bastante.
Una historia en la que se mezclan los datos históricos con los datos inventados de la autora.
Personalmente las historias de reyes y las intrigas de la corte me gustan bastante.
Asique todo un acierto.
Profile Image for Jordan Taylor.
330 reviews169 followers
November 6, 2019
From beginning to end, this was a fluffy book that made for painful reading.

It is the story of Jane Popyncourt, who flees 1500's France to England with her mother at a young age. There, she does her best to blend into the royal court of King Henry VIII.

I was bored by the hollow characters here, especially Jane herself. Her thoughts seemed so wooden and scripted.
The writing was abrupt and hurried through, certain things struck me as a bit too unrealistic, and there were a few plot points that were never really tied up.
The basis of the story, which has Jane's mother fleeing her country, is never fully explained.

For a few chapters, Jane spends a great deal of pages coming up with an involved, elaborate plan to get the king alone in order to speak with him privately. However, this never made much sense to me because Jane seems to have a good relationship with the king, and sees him as often as she wishes. Surely she could simply ask to speak to him privately, or lower her voice? But no. Instead, she hatches a scheme to pretend-seduce the king, culminating in his being in his bedroom with her and about to undress her (is that alone enough?). At this moment, Jane tells him that actually, there will be no sex. In fact, quite the opposite - she wants him to do a favor for her. Considering the fact that Henry VIII was known for being so lusty and prone to tantrums (not to mention being a man), I found it very suspicious that he accepts this bewildering changing of the tides with little more than a twinge of disappointment. And to make everything even worse, Jane's secret request isn't even secretive. It wouldn't have mattered if she had asked the King in public after all. The whole thing was ridiculous.

The above paragraph is simply one example of writing that often made no sense. A smaller thing would be that Jane recognizes her brother immediately after not seeing him since she was 9 (I cannot remember how old she was at the time, but most likely around 20), and doesn't even make that big of a deal of their reunion.
Jane is always being described as innocent and good and child-like, though she does take a lover, which would almost certainly have lost her these titles in her day and age. The King himself calls her "child" when she is in her 30's, and not as a pet name. Um...
I was annoyed at Jane constantly referring to her romantic interest, Guy, as if it was the first time the reader was hearing of him. Hundreds of pages after we first meet Guy, she is still saying "I saw his brother, Guy..." or "I say a young man named Guy Dunois walking by..." Alright, we know who he is now!

I cannot think of anything I enjoyed about this poorly written book.
Profile Image for Angela.
126 reviews31 followers
June 1, 2012
The Pleasure Palace was a fast-paced Tudor romance with dashes of mystery and a great dose of scandal that cannot be a Tudor historical without. The Pleasure Palace is a fictional account of the life of Jane Poppycourt, friend of Mary Tudor, King Henry VIII's sister. Transforming a woman with little historical evidence, Kate Emerson creates a wonderfully imagined, yet believable story behind the woman who sent letters to Mary.

Jane Poppycourt is a young girl when she and her mother move to England from France for mysterious reasons that her mother is not willing to divulge. Finding herself in a new land, forced to learn a different language and customs, not to mention fitting in with the royal children of England, Jane gains powerful connections that last when she matures as a teenager, and finally in her twenties. During her stay at the Tudor court, Jane learns of the love, scandal and passion that all possess deep in their hearts.


Honestly, The Pleasure Palace is not an extraordinary Tudor historical fiction. There is the notoriety that all novels possess, but lacks in the description department. Much of the descriptions are omitted or extremely brief, which forces the reader to imagine much of the court themselves, which is difficult for people who do not read Tudor fiction often, such as me.

There is also the ridiculousness of Jane. Jane is one of those heroines who you want to slap often for her unrealistic, not to mention pathetic decision making. It is understandable that she is human, therefore she is bound to make mistakes. However, Jane has this innocence, which takes the blame for her errors, that is impossible to find in such a setting as Tudor court. The book mentions her learning of sexual intercourse and other things that a woman is bound to already know at such an old age. It is indeed unfortunate that Jane does not.

The romantic feel of The Pleasure Palace is also lacking. There is not passion, or real passion, in fact. Scenes between Jane and her love interest are rare and few in between until the end. The whole plot, in fact, is anti-climatic. No real exciting events are portrayed in this account of Jane Poppycourt. Love between Jane and "He Who Shall Not Be Named" seems paltry in comparison to the other ones who are supposedly obscured in favor of Jane's love, but are truly not. Those passionate relationships are so much more vivid and colorful.

The Pleasure Palace is definitely not a genius of historical fiction. The writing is well done, so I must give the author some credit, despite the dry, choppy story line.

Profile Image for Heather.
112 reviews3 followers
June 15, 2009
Author Kate Emerson has picked the Tudor Court during Henry the VIII's reign as the setting for her novel "Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace." I absolutely adore historical fiction (former "Dear America" junkie here) so the premise for this book was quite appealing. However, this book is an example of the good idea that's needs better execution (perhaps on the guillotine, non?).

For starters, Emerson could have tried harder not to give away the love interest of her main gal Jane Poppyncourt on page 2 of the book. As soon as I read about the young girl's love for her friend (including the poetic description of the color of his eyes -- can you guess who it is?) it became obvious that he would be Jane's happily ever after.

Further features of the book that irked me were Emerson's repetitive recaps. Jane would experience something (for example, the flight from France with her mother), and then later in the book describe it to the reader as if the reader hadn't been through said experience WITH Jane earlier in the novel. It made the book read as if it were written for a young adult audience suffering from ADHD.

My final complaint regarding the novel is that I always felt like I was two steps ahead of Jane in discovering the so-called secrets of the Tudor court. As Jane expressed her shock in the discovery of her lineage, all I could think was "Duh! You're just now figuring that out?"

Overall, the novel was predictable and there wasn't really anything special about Jane. The piece of the book that I found redeemable was it's view of Henry VIII as a child and young king, before he became infamous for beheading his wives. Emerson brought a new part of his character to life that I hadn't previously considered and deepened the complexity of Henry's character. A lighthearted read with some intrigue, "Secrets of the Tudor Court" is definitely worth a look, but don't expect to be dazzled by brilliant plot twists.
Profile Image for Haley.
78 reviews57 followers
May 27, 2009
(4.5) I was REALLY reluctant to not give this 5 stars, but I’m trying to not be such a softie on the ratings. The flow stalled occasionally and it’s a bit of a slow start but it is most definitely worth the read if you fit into my recommended to section.
I’ve read a fair amount of Tudor history novels, and also check out that section in Barnes and Noble/ Borders, and I’ve got say, this is probably the most original premise, the most original heroine, I’ve read or heard of concerning the genre.
Jane Popyncourt was a real person, but one who not much was recorded about- perfect for a novelist, up to interpretation yet with more boundaries than any old fictional character. There are many unknowns in the record kept of her- why was she, out of all the eligible fluent French girls, chosen to tutor Margaret, Mary, and Henry Tudor when she had no exceptional status? Why did King Louis XII forbid his betrothed, Mary, to take her with her, saying she should be “burnt”? Why did she receive 100 pounds from Henry VIII to leave for France?
All these questions are answered in stunning, luxurious prose.

Would reccomend to fans of historical-fiction or tudor history, fans of Alison Weir or Philippa Gregory.
Profile Image for Kathy Davie.
4,775 reviews715 followers
February 4, 2011
The first in the historical fiction series, Secrets of the Tudor Court, Pleasure Palace takes place through the eyes of Jeanne/Jane Popyncourt from age 8 through 26 in the last 11 years of Henry VII and the first 7 years of Henry VIII.

Jane has a particularly up close and personal view of the court as she immediately is assigned to the Royal Nursery to speak French with the young Tudors, primarily the Princesses Margaret and Mary forming a part of Mary's court when Margaret marries James IV of Scotland.

I very much enjoyed reading this story as Emerson does a very nice job of incorporating English history and conveying the lifestyle of the Tudors and their court. I don't really see the point of the story except to show off Emerson's historical knowledge. Yes, there's a mystery as to why Jane and her mother were treated as they were but it's more of a mention than any real concern.

Emerson also writes of the tension of living at the whim of princes and the machinations of greedy courtiers but fails to make the reader feel any danger to anyone let alone Jane. The story itself is a flat line from day to day. The only reaction one has when Jane decides to take the duc de Longueville as a lover is "what, is she stupid?"
Profile Image for Beverly Diehl.
Author 5 books73 followers
September 4, 2018
3.5 stars. I love Tudor history, real or fictionalized, so I was sure I would love this book. Instead I liked it, a lot. The main character, Jane Popyncourt, was a real historical figure at the Tudor courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, and not a whole lot is known about her.

I loved plunging into that era, and the details are rich and evocative. But it felt like it (the book) didn't quite know what it wanted to be. There was romance, but that wasn't the main thread; what I found did not work for me was the thread where Jane is in danger because of some secret in her past - and was her mother murdered over it? In a normal thriller, things happen bang-bang-bang, the characters go to the place to find the clue in a matter of days, if not hours. The tension seeps out when the character goes to the place months, or years later, and then for the next clue, several years later. I still liked the book, and it was clearly very deeply researched, and has a satisfying ending, but the thriller angle didn't work for me.
Profile Image for chucklesthescot.
2,974 reviews127 followers
September 18, 2019
On the death of King Charles VIII of France, Jeanne's world is turned upside down when her mother, a lady at the Court, suddenly flees with her to relatives in England, changing her daughter's name to Jane and hers to Joan. Joan takes up a position as lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth, wife to King Henry VII, while Jane joins Princess Mary and Margaret to teach them better French. Jane becomes friends with the princesses and the sons of several well known courtiers being educated with them. She finds she has to rely on their support after the sudden death of Joan, leaving her at Court purely on the kindness of the King.

Jane was a real person at the English Court and the author has decided to use her as the main character in this Tudor drama, creating a whole colourful backstory for her that is probably mostly fiction. She serves Princess Mary until Mary is sent to France to marry the French King, and Jane has to remain in England. Her romances begin with a flirtation with the handsome Charles Brandon, closest friend of young Prince Henry but he soon loses interest in Jane in favour of wealthier prospects, something she fears will constantly be a problem in her future. Things seem to improve when a prisoner of war is brought to be housed in London and Jane develops an instant attraction to him, and him to her. Their affair begins secretly with Jane seduced by the hope that this wealthy man will take her back to France with him when he is finally ransomed. As far as I'm aware the affair with the Duke was real and Jane was notorious because of it.

Jane, at least in this story, has another reason for wanting to go to France. She is bothered by the details coming out about her mother's death which is starting to sound like a deliberate poisoning rather than a fever sickness but trying to track down everyone who knew her mother at that time is difficult and she is soon warned about sticking her nose into things that don't concern her. She starts to wonder if Joan's possible murder is connected to the unknown reasons that made Joan flee the French Court for the assumed safety of England. The arrival of her childhood friend Guy who serves her new Duke lover, tells her she and her mother were assumed dead and that there was a big search for Joan in the days after she went missing.

I admit that this is not my favourite Tudor book. I did like the early pages with Jane's journey to England and settling in at the Palace where she makes friends with the children of well known courtiers, growing up with the likes of Will Compton. It was as the book goes on that things started to get a bit tedious for me. I was fine with the Charles Brandon plot which was interesting and I wish it had been more developed, whether it was based on fact or fiction not bothering me one way on the other. His character has always interested me. I didn't find the Duke anywhere near as interesting though I guess it was ok to read about their secret affair and the problems it caused Jane when people found out. I would rather have seen her relationship with Henry VIII as the main focus for the story as there have been rumours that she really was the mistress of Henry. Instead the author went for focus on just the Duke and a historical side story which was a little disappointing.

I really didn't care much for the historical side story. This paragraph does contain spoilers for the main twist in the book so read ahead with caution, though it wasn't difficult to guess from the start of the book that this was where the plot would eventually lead. Joan was actually the bastard daughter of Henry VII when he was in exile, and he took in her and earlier her brother in positions at his Court, keeping it as the family secret. The hints are that Henry's mother Margaret murdered Joan because of this. I'm really not sure why she's murdering Joan one minute and is happy to let her brother live? A bastard son is more dangerous than a bastard daughter! Why kill Joan but not Jane? What is the purpose to it? It didn't really make sense to me. I found it a pretty weak and uninteresting plot. The search for answers was just dull and dragged on for most of the book and it never became interesting.

Jane herself was a pretty weak character. A lot was made of how pretty she was but she was also an airhead. She was constantly warned about sullying her reputation by hanging around the likes of Charles Brandon and her affair with the Duke but seemed to be motivated by lust, and then she wondered why she was unfairly seen as the Court slut. She was far from subtle about her digging for information so she is a ridiculous figure for Henry VIII to use as his spy. I really feel that I ploughed through this book more than read it. It felt so slow and dull in places and I wasn't really enjoying the plot or the way it was delivered. I kept going because there were interesting bits in it but the rest of it was padding that I wasn't liking. I really wish the focus had been more toward Henry and less of the Duke and his aide.

I have the other books in this series to read but there needs to be a massive improvement in style and content for me to finish the next offering.

2.5 stars.
Profile Image for Kristie.
647 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2019

Hoy os traigo un libro un poco diferente, de temática romántica histórica, si bien antes leía bastante de este género últimamente no había leído nada, pero ver esa sinopsis me intrigó bastante, ya que la protagonista es un personaje real, aunque la mayoría de las situaciones han sido producto de su imaginación ya que no esta muy claro algunos pasajes de su vida.

Cuando se habla de novela histórica, lo primero que se piensa es en novelas aburridas llenas de datos, algunas son así, no nos vamos a engañar, pero cuando a una novela le pones amor, pasión, intrigas y aventuras la cosa cambia radicalmente, y es lo que ocurre con La espía de los Tudor.
Una novela que comienza con una huida por parte de nuestra protagonista, Jeanne, que desde que pisa suelo Ingles pasará a llamarse Jane, echando de menos su Francia natal y sus amigos, poco a poco olvidará su pasado y vivirá en la corte Inglesa, junto a las princesas y el futuro rey, no será una hermana pero tampoco una sirvienta, y a lo largo de los años, se convertirá en la confidente de la princesa María.
Y un buen día verá que la pasión crece al encontrarse con un prisionero francés, el duque de Longueville, un casanova muy dado a la galantería que volverá completamente enamorada a nuestra protagonista, a pesar de ese estado por un accidente se dará cuenta de que su amado no es tal y como ella pensaba así que por orden del rey aquel niño con el que de pequeña jugaba, Enrique VIII, le mandará seducir al duque para saber que trama, y así anticiparse a sus planes.

Un libro lleno de traiciones que se trazan desde las alcobas y una conspiración oculta desde hace años y que Jane necesita descubrir para saber que paso para que su madre y ella huyeran hace años.
Un libro realmente recomendable, y autoconclusivo, excelente para meterte de lleno en la corte Inglesa y salir el mismo día!
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,555 reviews694 followers
July 30, 2013
This is an easy read for a complex and often ornate period, the period just before the big schism. 1498 begin is within the reign of Henvy VII. And the story moves onwards- through the decades thereafter, intersecting the reigns of various European royal houses as seen by a Lady in Waiting at the English Royal Court.

It is NOT a 4 star in the sense of a Hilary Mantel. Do not expect that at all. But it is a 4 star for what it does. And does well. Which is to give you the base background and life of a female noble who is basically a servant to a Royal Court. And who lives and moves and flourishes, or does NOT, upon any aspect of change or pleasing or health condition, you name it, relating to the most important Royal served.

The romance is treated as a secondary, which in reality, it was. And for me the royal girls and the young Harry who will be VIII, made the book. They are characterized quite well here. You rarely hear about the child Harry, or the teen-ager Harry. And this one nailed him. Beyond the descriptions of courts, mores, relationships- that formality and economics of power- all of that, making out the Harry psyche for what it was, and from day one! Good job. And in simplistic easy read basics brand English too. You do not have to be an historical scholar to get the "hoops" game, for instance.

If he doesn't win, he will change the rules. Or call the others cheaters.
Profile Image for Annie.
259 reviews16 followers
January 25, 2012
This Tudor England, historical/fiction novel was one of the better ones I've read, but if I could give all writers looking to write one of these a piece of advice from the reader: Make them shorter! For heaven's sake! We don't need to cover someone's entire life to get the idea of what's going on! "The Pleasure Palace" (by the way, the name is no good. Everyone thought I was reading a Harlequin Romance Novel!) is better than a lot of other one's I read, but it spanned nearly 30 years! At some point, stop talking...
Anyway...
I really did enjoy this book! The characters were vivid and I actually learned a lot! They weren't joking when they said that Kate Emerson is an expert on all things Tudor England - she really does! Little tidbits here and there were really fun and the attention to court etiquette and speech were very well done and flowed very well. Better than most, but still not the enthralling novel I'm looking for.
Profile Image for Anne.
41 reviews16 followers
April 4, 2009
Like The Other Boleyn Girl this book gives the reader a glimpse of life in the Tudor court from the imagined prospective of a minor figure in history. Although we know very little about Jane, we do know that she was a witness to an era that continues to fascinate people nearly five hundred years later. Henry VIII and his court changed the way governments work and the relationship between church and state.

This book gives the readers a glimpse of what it might have been like to have been both an insider and an outsider at the same time during the latter part of Henry VII and early part of Henry VIII's reigns. It also gives a view of relationships within the Tudor family and its court.
Profile Image for Rio (Lynne).
329 reviews4 followers
July 3, 2010
I am a huge fan of historical fiction, but this book never grabbed me. Since we don't know much about the real Jane Popyncourt, the author had a lot of room to make things interesting. She never really brought her to life. She seemed to not really know where the character was going. One minute she wanted Charles Brandon, the next she easily jumps into bed with the Duc. Then she starts having feelings for someone she didn't even notice in the beginning. It just didn't flow for me. I never cared about Jane. The fictional part of why She and her Mother left France never even got interesting. I did skip a lot of the pageantry stuff that just seemed to go on and on (decorations, costumes, etc). This book is OK for a bargain read
Profile Image for NayNay.
399 reviews31 followers
June 10, 2012

I really enjoyed this book, in my opinion, it is written very well. Kate Emerson's writing captivates the time and place. Details are well placed and the attention to the life in the Tudor court (things like clothing and sports and tournaments) are very vivid. The characters are well developed and realistic. This novel is part of a series called Secrets of the Tudor Court; there are three more books in the series, and I am looking forward to reading them all.
I would highly recommend PLEASURE PLEASURE for anyone interested in Tudor history because Kate Emerson has done a great job.
Profile Image for Angie.
195 reviews
June 17, 2009
This is a nice piece of historical fluff. I usually like something a little more historically based, but this is historically acurate with a frilly romantic story attached. This is a great beach book, and worth reading for the entertainment factor.
86 reviews
November 18, 2010
It was an enjoyable read. It wasn't as "meaty" as Philippa Gregory's books, but still gave some info. on Henry's court life. It was kinder to Henry than Gregory's, but it told the story of one of the "lady's in waiting".
Profile Image for Emma.
1,105 reviews93 followers
December 15, 2015
I'm on a roll of unpleasant reads, it seems. I normally love historical fiction but when this didn't catch my attention within the first 60 pages, I decided to put it away.

Jane's background is boring and her personality seems willfully naive to the point of annoyance. No, thank you.
Profile Image for Karen Hogan.
886 reviews52 followers
April 28, 2014
Tudor historical fiction. I read it to completion, but it was not memorable.
Profile Image for Laura Wiltshire.
115 reviews5 followers
July 29, 2014
Another Philippa Gregory- brilliantly adapted historical fiction, guaranteed to hook & educate you simultaneously.
Profile Image for Stacey.
185 reviews1 follower
July 26, 2023
At eight years old, Jane Popyncourt is brought to England by her mother under mysterious circumstances and is awarded a place as a child of honour in the entourage of the children of King Henry VII. As she grows up, she starts to question her place and tries to discover just what secrets her family and the Tudor Court have hidden from her...

Sounds like it should be an interesting read, right? I certainly hoped so, especially as I'd read some good reviews. And it's based on a real person; Jane really was a lady at the Court of Henry VII. But I'm afraid there are very few redeeming features in this book for me. The story feels like it's stretched too thin; it's not fast paced, but where it takes place over an extended period of time it barely skims the surface of character or plot. The 'twists' are entirely predictable and the actual 'mystery' about what forced Jane's mother to leave France in the first place is incredibly dull and, if you're not paying attention, actually quite hard to follow!

The writing came across as clunky and awkward; in trying to maintain the period feel of the prose, the author has made some choices which detracted even further from what little engagement I had. I do appreciate that names and titles during the Tudor period can get confusing, but there is no need to repeat a character's full name and title each almost every time they appear. And while using period words is absolutely fine, it felt like the author picked a couple and used them at every opportunity, 'mayhap' being the worst culprit.

I will admit that, with the cover, the series title and the book title being what they are, plus the setting and the fashion that surrounds this style of book, I was expecting a little bit of spice. But unfortunate you cannot judge this book by its cover. There are a couple of allusions to the act, and a very brief open door scene that has basically no detail, and that's it. While it's not a necessary feature for any book, when you pick up one expecting a little bit of "the good stuff", to find it so sorely lacking is really disappointing!

I did listen to the audio version, which also didn't help; having someone else interpret the writing for me on this occasion just exacerbated the above issues. The narrator sounds like she's reading from a script she's never seen before; there are moments that are completely robotic, and her over-enunciation of every word makes her sound like an AI being. It's not without inflection and tone, but it just sounds 'fake'. Her attempts at all of the different voices and accents, while laudable, were just off-putting. I do wonder if I'd read the book rather than listened to it whether a lot of the problems I have would have been reduced as I'd be reliant on my own internal monologue and imagination...

I did have the rest of this series on my TBR list, but as they all appear to be standalone novels I'm not going to worry - I've got too many other books that I'm looking forward to to delay reading them for more of the same.
Profile Image for Didi.
386 reviews1 follower
May 11, 2019
This novel was not as torrid as the title suggests.
Jane Popyncourt was a woman raised in the royal nursery with Henry VIII; her role was to teach the Princesses Margaret and Mary French. Drawing from the few, yet intriguing, facts known about Popyncourt, Kate Emerson has crafted a very readable novel.

I can see why Emerson found Popyncourt a great subject for a novel- The historical Popyncourt was from France or Flanders, but raised with Henry VII's children, teaching them French. She was a close friend of Princess Mary (Henry VIII's sister). As a young woman she had an affair with a French prisoner of war, Louis I d’Orléans, duc de Longueville, who was held/ lived at the English court for several years. Longueville was key in negotiating the marriage between Princess Mary and King Louis of France. When Mary travelled to France, Popyncourt was listed as one of her ladies in waiting, but King Louis struck her from the list (the only person he removed from the list), declaring that she should be burnt. A few years after King Louis had died and Mary had returned to England, Popyncourt left England bearing a gift from Henry VIII of 100 pounds, and she lived the rest of her life in France.

Emerson fashions a good story around these facts. The mysteries that emerge about why Jane's mother left France so suddenly, why Henry VII took them in, and Jane's mother's death create suspense. This story of how a woman with no money or family could live by her wits in the royal court was clearly well researched. I enjoyed it a lot and I stayed up way too late last night finishing it.

(It's interesting to compare this book to another I recently finished, a novel about Jane Grey by Alison Weir. Weir is a fairly well-known and respected writing of history and biography, and I have never heard of Emerson. Yet, Emerson's novel was such much moe compelling. It really demonstrates to me the skill required in writing good fiction.)
Profile Image for loopyloulaura.
981 reviews20 followers
March 16, 2024
Jane and her mother flee to England when the French king dies unexpectedly. The pair are welcomed to the court of King Henry VII and he even assigns Jane to his children's household, starting friendships that last for decades...
The Pleasure Palace is the first book in the Secrets of the Tudor Court series by Kate Emerson. I believe I have read this book before but decided to listen to the audiobook as the whole series is available via the library.
The Tudor court is brought vividly to life through the eyes of an almost unknown character, Jane Popyncourt. Originally from France, she joins the royal household. I thought the characters and setting descriptions were effective in sending me back in time. The danger and machinations of the Tudor court added tension to the plot.
The style of writing is easy to read. In the audio version I found the voices a little offputting at times. The narrator seemed to do a childish voice at some points.
Jane Popincourt was a real figure at the court of Henry VII and his son Henry VIII but I don't remember reading about her in my many non fiction books. This meant the book had a freshness of perpective but I also doubted its historical accuracy.
The twist about Jane's parents' past seemed obvious from the start, or maybe I did vaguely remember from my previous reading. The ending is a little abrupt and I would have like to know what happens to Jane next (I wonder if we will meet her in later books in the series). I also wish the author had included an historical note to further my knowledge.
The Pleasure Palace is an enjoyable novel and will please Tudor history fans like me!
Profile Image for Dottie.
287 reviews27 followers
January 19, 2018
The Pleasure Palace was an absolute pleasure to read! I couldn't put it down and devoured every detail in less than 24 hours!
The story is based on the real character Jane Poppyncourt. Uprooted from her childhood in France by her mother who was obviously on the run from something, or someone. Jane was established as a ward (or child of honor) of King Henry VII. Her duties, to teach the young princesses French through daily conversation... but why Jane? Out of all the girls in France was she chosen for such a meanial task?
As Jane grows into adulthood, she blossoms. And though she has no fortune to snare a husband, she still turns the heads of men in the Tudor court. When a dashing French prisioner makes advances toward her, she cannot help but give part of her heart to him even with the knowledge that she can never marry him.
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