The Tower: A Novel (Hardcover)

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The Tower: A Novel (Hardcover)


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Staff Reviews

I adored this debut from Flora Carr! The Tower takes place during Mary Queen of Scots' imprisonment in a remote Scottish castle, where she is joined only by enemies and a select group of attendants. What follows is an immersive and propulsive story of perseverance and the bonds that save us.

— Lindsay

A bold, feminist debut novel, reimagining Mary, Queen of Scots’s darkest hour, when she was held hostage in a remote Scottish castle with a handful of loyal women while plotting a daring escape to reclaim her country and her freedom.

"Such a vivid, visceral read, you feel you’re locked in the tower alongside the characters, acting out a royal family drama. I am moved and impressed." --Tracy Chevalier, New York Times bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring

Scotland, 1567. A pregnant Mary, Queen of Scots is dragged out of her palace by rebel lords and imprisoned in the isolated Lochleven Castle, an ancient fortress surrounded by a vast lake. Her infant son and heir, James, has been captured by her enemies. 

Accompanying Mary are two inconspicuous serving women: observant, ambitious Jane and romantic, quick-tempered Cuckoo, who endeavor to keep their mercurial mistress company while sharing the space of a claustrophobic room over the course of their eleven-month forced stay. Their hosts want them dead. They'll settle for Mary's abdication.

After Mary reluctantly surrenders her throne, her closest friend, the reserved, devoted Lady Seton, is permitted to join the captive women. Against the odds, as they hatch a perilous getaway plan, the four women form a bond that transcends class and religion, and for Jane and Seton, becomes something even deeper. At the center of it all is Mary--calculating, charming, brave, and unbowed. Flora Carr's thrilling, feverish debut is a celebration of resilience, a meditation on the meaning of power, and a testament to the unshakeable strength of female friendship, starring one of history's most charismatic leaders.
FLORA CARR was named one of 40 Emerging Writers 2020/2021 with the London Library and has a short story published in the program’s anthology. She is a previous winner of the British Vogue Talent Contest, and in 2020 her short story Starling was Highly Commended for the Harper’s Bazaar Short Story Prize. She was also shortlisted for the 2018 V.S. Pritchett Short Story Prize, and is a graduate of The Writing Squad. Her journalistic work has appeared in the likes of TIME Magazine, British ELLE, and The Observer New Review. Flora grew up in Yorkshire and currently lives in London. The Tower is her first novel.
Product Details ISBN: 9780385550185
ISBN-10: 0385550189
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: March 5th, 2024
Pages: 272
Language: English
"Thrilling historical fiction . . . A devastating portrait of what it was like to be a woman in the 16th century. . . Through Carr’s lively re-imagining, we huddle with Mary and the women imprisoned with her as they plot an escape . . . Carr imbues this visceral story with the female empowerment that much of male-centric history lacks." --The Washington Post

"Richly detailed. . . Mary, Queen of Scots, has been imprisoned by rebels. . . Schemes ensue . . . Through her tale, Carr depicts the ways in which women can care for and exert power over one another." --The New Yorker

"Fresh" --The New York Times Book Review

“An immediate, immersive experience of sharing the year the fallen Mary Queen of Scots was held in a Scottish island castle prison with a few attendants and only her courage and charm to rescue her. Lyrical, riveting, and unforgettable.” --Margaret George, New York Times bestselling author of Elizabeth I

"Many authors have produced fiction portraits of Mary, Queen of Scots, but none has been quite like that provided by Flora Carr in her debut novel . . . Carr has taken an often overly romantized figure and given her new life and originality." --The Sunday Times (U.K.)

"A gripping and claustrophobic read." --The Irish Times

"Superb . . . This is historical fiction at its very best: literary, yet thoroughly absorbing." --Historical Novel Society, Editor's Choice

“An unforgettable, spellbinding debut--Flora Carr's The Tower offers an immersive and intimate portrait of Mary Queen of Scots and the women in her orbit, revealing their humanity beyond the stories and myths.” --Lindsay Lynch, bestselling author of Do Tell

"A claustrophobic story about Mary, Queen of Scots’ imprisonment in Lochleven Castle, The Tower tackles much broader issues —-class, religion, sexuality—alongside its exploration of a lesser-known period in the Scots queen’s life." --Paste

“Carr’s taut debut recalls Maggie O’Farrell’s The Marriage Portrait . . . Carr dexterously explores how the seductive allure of royalty is undimmed by Mary’s grim circumstances, which are depicted with earthy physicality. . . this pulled-from-history novel resounds as a victory for female camaraderie and cleverness.” --Booklist

“Close-focused and vivid. . . Carr’s interest in the women—their bodies, their allegiances, their intimacies—offers a contemporary perspective that extends beyond the [central] foursome to other females seeking or manipulating power. These musings and observations are rendered in bright, cinematic prose.” --Kirkus Reviews

"Lush . . . gripping . . . a rousing and lyrical epic." --Publishers Weekly

"Fascinating" --Electric Lit

"Bold and intimate . . . [The Tower] maintains a sharp immediacy in keeping with the bristling antagonisms and power plays that take place within the castle walls." --The Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)

"Atmospheric . . . there's much to enjoy in The Tower" --The Telegraph

"Accomplished and engaging" --The Scotsman

"Steeped in the physical sensations of daily life. . . Carr probes the enduring appeal of the Scottish queen." --Literary Review (U.K.)
"The Tower launches a fresh voice in historical fiction." --The Bookseller, Editor's Pick for March

"An imaginative, dark gem of a novel, about women, power and fear, still, intelligent and beautifully written, yet as tense as a thriller." --Neil Blackmore, author of Radical Love
"An absorbing read and an utterly believable female perspective on history. Its cocktail of tension and tenderness perfectly captures the claustrophobic world of the four women in the tower; a historical narrative with contemporary relevance." --Sally Hinchcliffe, author of Hare House

"An intimate, exquisitely told story of Mary, Queen of Scots and her maids during their year of imprisonment, portraying their hopes and fears, their affections and irritations with such skill that you feel you are in the room with them. A beautiful, poignant book that draws you into the world of these women so fully that it is a wrench to leave it." --Elizabeth Lee, author of Cunning Women

"The Tower takes us into the timeless struggle of women in a man’s world—still relevant today—and sheds light on the poignant stories of women’s friendship and devotion rarely included in history books." --The Big Thrill