“The Phantom Tree” by Nicola Cornick #BookReview

Georgia Kostopoulou


36531702._SX318_I thought I would not like time travel stories, but it seems that ever since I listened to Outlander, I became very fond of them. History was always one of my favorite subjects and the going back to the sixteenth century is very welcome to me!

Out of the blue, Alison Bannister comes across a portrait of a young lady she thought long gone. The antique shop claims it to be the portrait of Anne Boleyn, the Tudor Queen. But Alison knows better. This is Mary Seymour,  the daughter of Queen Katherine Parr, former wife of Henry VIII, with her second husband. Alison knows Mary very well, as she had to share her bedchamber with her, when she arrived at Wolf Hall, more than four hundred years ago.

Mary’s painting is the key to the connection with the past. They had made a pact before Alison comes to the future and she is certain that Mary has kept her part of the bargain and the answer awaits her. All she needs to do now, is to find what Mary left for her. The way to reunite her with what she left in her own time, back in the past.

The fact is that Thomas Seymour and Katherine Parr had a daughter, Mary, who is nowhere to be found in the history books, past the age of two and so she has presumably passed away in such an early age. There is a theory that Mary lived longer than that, but there is no strong evidence to support it. Nicola Cornick bases her book in this second theory and creates a whole life for Mary Seymour. The girl is to be transferred to Wolf Hall upon the death of her father; her mother already gone by then. In this house of relatives, Mary gets to know Alison, a very beautiful girl, and they love to hate each other. All that, till the time that things get ugly and they have to help one another. Alison gets pregnant and Mary is accused of witchcraft as she has visions of the future. Their only hope is to be transferred to another relative’s manor until they are married. Somehow Alison travels to the future and she stays there, but not before she has given birth to her child and it is taken away from her. Now she has to find a way to get back to her son, but she cannot travel back to her time.

The writing was so compelling I could not put it down. I regret I haven’t read it earlier. Cornick knows very well how to describe a scene to make you feel part of it. She can transfer you back and forth in time and you won’t be confused at all. I was able to see Wolf Hall and Middlecotte in my mind as if I was there myself. I could feel Mary’s and Alison’s feelings, their heart beating as if I were them. That is one very well written book!


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