BOOK CLUB: The Queen’s Apprenticeship

Click to rate this book!
[Total: 1 Average: 4]

The Queen’s Apprenticeship by Australian author Tracy Ryan is a superb fiction novel set in the golden days of the French Renaissance

Jehane was born in the town of Lyon, France, the same year the new king was crowned. Her father saw this as a sign and told her, “You will grow great and strong as the kingdom grows, and never lose your footing.”  Her father never saw his words come true— he died in a fire when Jehane was a child. 

When her mother remarried Jehane found her life changing, little did she know how much. One night her stepbrother Antione lured her into his room and forced himself upon her. She cried for help and her stepfather Thilbault, entered the room only to be enraged.  Explaining she was trying to defend herself it fell upon deaf ears and was told she was a disgrace to the Thilbault home and all in it.  

With shears, her stepfather cut off her hair and cast her out of the house. Jehane, longing to be a printer like her father, dresses as a man and changes her name to Josse. She joins a group of printers and publishers in Paris. Can she rebuild all that is lost? 

Marguerite de Navarre, sister of King Francois I was born into privilege and power, under house rules she had to follow strict guidelines.  At the age of seventeen Marguerite married Charles IV of Alençon, aged twenty.  Her marriage was for political expediency and the good of her brother’s kingdom.

Often feeling isolated she turns to her love for writing but some of what she writes implicates others finding herself in trouble.

Jehane and Marguerite come together in an unanticipated way, two women from two different worlds. Both rich and poor learn how to deal with life and sacrifice for the sake of keeping the balance but in the end, want to be loved and encouraged to follow their passion.

The setting and era are well developed, and the plot unfolds with vigour, pulling the reader into the story from the beginning with no release until the end. I thoroughly enjoy historical fiction and was fascinated by this story and loved the author’s attention to detail.  It introduced me to a female figure I had never heard of and gave me an insight into how Marguerite de Navarre impacted society, this greatly added appeal and strengthened the story’s quality. 

Ryan brings to life the power and the passion of the rebirth of France and the religious reform that advanced it, protected it, and made it difficult for many, particularly women, to achieve success. The era was primarily a man’s world, women had a set place in society which did not include work. 

The characters’ interactions with each other and their individualities helped shape the book into something wonderful; at the same time, the author excels at pacing the story with her characters, all within a framework designed to help readers understand their world.

Marguerite’s character is well-written and thoroughly researched. Her personality has been expertly captured and brings depth and nuance to her portrayal. I admired Jehane as a strong, vivacious, ambitious female character who paved her own way.

The Queen’s Apprenticeship is simply beautiful, Tracy Ryan has done a tremendous job with this moving story of two women trying to find their place in the world against all odds. 

The book cover is simply exquisite showcasing Marguerite de Navarre (c12530) by Jean Clouet with a parrot on her finger at Château de Clos Lucé. Amboise, France. Everything about it is eye-catching and perfect.

I highly recommend it to those who enjoy historical fiction. 

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading The Queen’s Apprenticeship by Tracy Ryan. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

3 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Queen’s Apprenticeship

  1. This lovely historical fiction is a captivating story of 2 different women. Marguerite lives a privaledged life but also has to adhere to protocols enlisted to her. However, personally, she is an avid and passionate writer which does lead her to trouble.
    Jehane/Josse lives an impoverished life mainly on the streets and has a dream of being a painter like her father. She dresses as a male for safety reasons. Being spirited and trying to live her life in freedom, her life changes when she meets Marguerite.
    A lovely story with an intrigue and drama! Written to capture the reader. Well worth reading.

  2. The Queen’s Apprenticeship is historical fiction set in Renaissance France.
    It is an interesting and captivating read about two passionate and motivated women from different classes.

    Marguerite de Navarre is the King’s sister, leading a powerful and privileged life. Her interest is in religious reform.

    Jehane’s family are poor. When her mother remarries she is cast out by her step father. She dreams of being a printer like her late father.Disguising herself as a male and using the name Josse she joins a Group of Printers and Publishers in Paris. It is not a safe occupation as many pamphlets printed are controversial.

    Fate brings the two strong women together.

    The research brings the characters and times to life, keeping you engaged to see the outcome for each character.
    I look forward to reading Tracy Ryan’s next book, The War Within Me which brings the next chapter in Marguerite’s life with her daughter and the religious upheaval in France.

  3. Thanks for this historical read about two women from different upbringings and the challenges they faced at a time when women were ruled by men. Well written and I enjoyed reading this one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *