"My name is Mary Seymour and I am the daughter of one queen and the niece of another."
What genre does the book belong to?
Time-slip is the first definition which comes to my mind when you ask me, but The Phantom Tree is a novel for fans of mystery, drama and romance. Perfect for readers of Philippa Gregory, Barbara Erskin or Kate Morton.
What’s the historical setting of the novel?
There are two parallel narrative lines: one set in Tudor England and the other one in present-day England.
Can you briefly sum up the plot without giving away too much?
Wiltshire, Autumn 2016. Deep in a small, unassuming art shop, Alison Bannister stumbles upon a newly discovered Tudor portrait, supposedly of Anne Boleyn. Except Alison know better, the woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.
Alison is not from the modern world. She has travelled a long way forward and is trapped in the future. But she needs to find a way back, she needs to find a clue as valuable as this portrait. The painting holds the key to Mary Seymour’s mysterious disappearance and Alison’s own unhappy quest.
Alison and Mary have made an agreement which trascends time. Alison will help Mary escape Wolf Hall and Mary will find Alison’s baby boy.
What’s the moral of the book?
Love is stronger than Time
Could you define the book with 3 adjectives?
Well-crafted, intriguing, compelling
Any favourite quote?
“She had not told him a single thing about her family. She had never spoken of them. But they were all there on the pages of notes she had so painstakingly compiled. The Seymour family tree linked them together, tangled as the roots of the old oaks of Savernake Forest. They were all there: she, Edward, Mary, Arthur…”
What did you particularly appreciate in this book?
This is not my first Nicola Cornick novel and I particularly appreciate her thorough, respectful approach to history.
In this case, for instance, the story has been built around Nicola’s interest in the mystery of Mary Seymour. How could the daughter of the widowed queen, Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth wife, and a man as notorious as Thomas Seymour simply disappear from the records?
However, Nicola stated that the initial inspiration for The Phantom Tree came from a small portrait claiming to be of Anne Boleyn, belonging to one of her relatives.
There is no way of knowing if the portrait claiming to be of Anne Boleyn is real or fake but the question of its authentication got Nicola thinking about the stories behind the facts.
Nicola always works with historical facts and shapes them through her own imaginative retelling.
For The Phantom Tree she visited the locations Wolf Hall, Savernake Forest and Littlecote House, researching local records and national documents on the stories surrounding the area. Several events in the book, including the ghost of the headless woman in Savernake Forest, are based on existing myths.
Can you tell us something more about the author?
Nicola Cornick is an international bestseller who has penned over 40 novels. She has been shortlisted four times for the US Romance Writers of America RITA Award and twice for the UK Romantic Novelists Association Romance Prize. She studied History at the University of London and has a Masters in Public History from Ruskin College Oxford. She acts as a history consultant for TV and radio and gives talks on local history and creative writing. Nicola also volunteers as a guide and historian for the National Trust at Ashdown House. She lives in Oxfordshire.
How/Where did you get your copy?
The publishers sent me an advanced review copy before the book was released in the UK
How would you recommend it on twitter?
Spell-binding romance, time-slip, intrigue and suspense make The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick the perfect summer read. Read my Q/A review at FLY HIGH! and pre-order your copy. Out on August 21st in the US!
Browsing antiques shops in Wiltshire, Alison Bannister stumbles across a delicate old portrait - supposedly of Anne Boleyne. Except Alison knows better ...
The woman is Mary Seymour, the daughter of Katherine Parr who was taken to Wolf Hall in 1557 as an unwanted orphan and presumed dead after going missing as a child.
The painting is more than just a beautiful object for Alison - it holds the key to a past life, the unlocking of the mystery surrounding Mary's disappearance, and the enigma of Alison's own son.
But Alison's quest soon takes a dark and foreboding turn, as a meeting place called the Phantom Tree harbours secrets in its shadows ...
The Phantom Tree will be released in the US on Agust 21st!