The Butcher’s Daughter by Victoria Glendinning

Review published on July 4, 2018.

I have read several books recently about Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell and others and their various roles in the dissolution of the monasteries and other religious institutions in England. So I was very interested to find this book, which is just a little different from the others out there. I wanted to read it mainly because it offers an alternative and more unusual viewpoint from the other books or films that I have recently read or seen.

The first thing I noticed about the book is that it is a version of the story told from the point of view of an ordinary woman rather than a man in power and also it is a look at these historical events from the perspective of a woman living inside an abbey rather than the machinations of King Henry or one of his men, courtiers or wives.

The Butcher’s Daughter is incredibly well researched and I learned a great deal reading it about the structure and organisation of these ecclesiastical institutions. Here you will find out about the role they played both nationally and locally and also about how they were structured and worked; in fact, what they actually did on a mundane day to day basis.

The main character is a young girl called Agnes Peppin and the story is about how she comes to be living with the sisters at Shaftesbury Abbey. Agnes is a likeable character and she is easy to relate to. We find out how she feels about the destruction of her new home and life in the abbey as well as how she copes with the loss of her structured and stable existence.

I would recommend this book to anybody who likes historical novels, especially those set in Tudor England. It is very enjoyable and gave me a new perspective on the events and people involved in the dissolution of the monasteries.

Sara Boorman 4/4

The Butcher’s Daughter by Victoria Glendinning
Gerald Duckworth & Co Ltd 9780715652916 hbk May 2018

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