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A Phoenix Rising by Vivienne Brereton - Book Tour

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“If I have anything to do with it, we Howards will live forever.” Thomas Howard Charismatic head of one of the most powerful Houses in Tudor England. An indomitable old man approaching eighty: soldier, courtier, politician, a ‘phoenix’ rising from the ashes. After a calamitous period of disgrace, the Howards, renowned for their good looks and charm, are once more riding high at the court of Henry VIII. Set against the backdrop of the extraordinary 1520 ‘Field of Cloth of Gold’, it is a tale of ambition, love, and intrigue, with Thomas at the centre of this intricate tapestryWill Thomas’s bold vow be fulfilled? Danger stalks the corridors of the royal courts of Europe. Uneasy lies the head beneath a crown. Every other ruler - a fickle bedfellow…or sworn enemy. The action takes place in England, Scotland, and France. On either side of the Narrow Sea, four young lives are interwoven, partly unaware of each other, and certainly oblivious to what Dame Fortune has in store for them. “Nicolas de La Barre laid his lute to one side, hardly bothering to stifle a yawn of boredom. Nevertheless, he couldn’t escape the fact he’d agreed to take on a new wife….” Explosive family secrets are concealed behind the ancient walls of castles in three lands. But… “There are no secrets that time does not reveal.”  

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Tristan d’Ardres, half-French, half-Cornish, is the second son of Count Guy d’Ardres, and destined for a career in the Church. But he loves all sports and is just beginning to appreciate the attraction of the fairer sex. He is prepared to go to any lengths to avoid such the terrible fate his father has planned for him. Here we find the two of them gripped in a father-son argument, sixteenth century style….

   Christmas Eve, 1512                                    The library, Ardres Castle

        ‘Sacrébleu! There’s been an Ardres bishop in Avranches for the last five hundred years! And there’ll be one for the next five hundred,’ stormed my father, banging his fist down hard on the oak table.
   I watched as the pile of books in front of him seemed to jump at least six inches into the air, instantly producing a cloud of fine dust motes that shimmered in a shaft of sunlight. It was as if he believed such anger would somehow convince me a career in the Church was written in stone. Why couldn’t he see it was tantamount to passing a death sentence? It didn’t help that today was a fast day, guaranteed to worsen anyone’s mood.
   ‘But Père—’
   ‘I don’t want to hear another word. I’ve had enough of your ridiculous outbursts. And I don’t want you running to your mother again, like a small child. You’re fifteen years old. Old enough to be thinking of taking a wife. And certainly old enough to respect your father’s wishes.’
    I was outraged. ‘You talk of a wife. Isn’t that the one thing you’re making sure I never have in your bid to make me “respect your wishes”.’
   Clearly, Father didn’t trust himself to reply; instead, he marched over to the lattice window adorned with mistletoe, and stood looking out, his hands on his hips, his face turned to stone.

                                 *                           *                        *

    I sighed. <<How many times have we had this same argument?>> I could see it was useless to protest any further; I had a volatile enough relationship with my father at the best of times. Happily, with my mother, it was the complete opposite. I knew I was a great disappointment to him as he never lost an opportunity to compare me unfavourably with Gilles. Life was so unfair: a mere accident of birth had made me the younger and not the older sibling, thereby irrevocably changing my destiny. Not for me: a path strewn with military glory, amorous conquests, and finally, marriage and children. Instead, the Church was to be both master and mistress, condemning me to a life of sacrifice and unfulfilled ambitions. Yes, Father was right. I had asked my gentle mother to intercede on my behalf - except I’d ended up comforting her when she failed.
   I suddenly thought about the Englishman, Edward Howard, whose path in life sounded more winding…and definitely more riotous than the one Father led or had planned for me. Since I’d first heard about the Vice-Admiral of England, he’d often played a part in my wistful imaginings of a different kind of life for myself. One thing was for sure: <<I’d rather be the bastard offspring of an exciting man like that, an adventurer and a buccaneer, than the dutiful, true-born son of the cold-hearted Governor of Picar

                                    *                     *                    *

    ‘As you know, we have an honoured guest arriving for New Year. The Dutch scholar. I want you to personally look after him.’
   Standing by his desk again, at least, Father seemed calmer…as if he wanted no further conflict today. For a moment, his face softened. Moving aside a sprig of holly, he picked up the top book from the pile in front of him. ‘Here,’ he said, handing it to me. ‘These were meant to be your New Year’s gifts but as you’ve already seen them, I’ll give them to you now. Monsieur Erasmus penned them all.’
   I looked down at the first volume entitled ‘A handbook on manners for children’, and then glared at my father, repeating the title out loud. ‘I thought you said I wasn’t a child!’
    Looking confused until he saw the title of the book, Father snatched it up and set it to one side. ‘That’s not what I wanted to give you. Perhaps Desiderius intended it for me.’ He laid aside the second book in the pile, a copy of the New Testament in Greek, and lifted up another one. ‘Here it is. “In praise of Folly”.  Desiderius told me he wrote it to try and right the wrongs in the church today. And the world, in general. I think you should read it so you have plenty to talk about. Now, I must go and help your mother with arrangements for the New Year’s banquet….’


   Born near historic Winchester in the UK, Vivienne Brereton has been passionate about the Tudors for as long as she can remember. This led to a degree in medieval history at university where she met her future husband. Three sons later and six countries she called home, she finally felt ready to write a novel.
  Words have always played an important part in Vivienne’s life whether it’s been writing, editing, teaching English to foreigners, or just picking up a good book. In preparation for her novel, she read intensively on the skills needed to write well and did an enormous amount of research which she greatly enjoyed. Having three sons was helpful when she came to write about the characters, Tristan and Nicolas. All those squabbles she had to deal with came in very handy. She also used her husband and sons as guinea pigs for her Tudor cookery attempts with varying degrees of success (abuse).
   Seeing ‘A Phoenix Rising’ in print for the first time was a moment of great joy for her and she hopes you enjoy reading it as much as she enjoyed writing it. 

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