About the Book
Three sisters. Three secrets. Three ways to fall…
England, 1628. Forcibly seduced by the powerful George Villiers, doctor’s daughter Hester is cast aside to raise her son alone and in secret. She hopes never to see Villiers again. Melis’s visions cause disquiet and talk. She sees what other’s can’t – and what has yet to be. She’d be denounced as a witch if Hester wasn’t so carefully protective. Young Hope’s beauty marks her out, drawing unwelcome attention to the family. Yet she cannot always resist others’ advances. And her sisters cannot always be on their guard.
When Villiers decides to claim his son against Hester’s wishes, the sisters find themselves almost friendless and at his mercy. But the women hold a grave secret. The question is, will what they know be their undoing or their salvation? Because in the right hands, a secret is the deadliest weapon of all…
Format: Hardcover (368 pages) Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication date: 6th August 2020 Genre: Historical fiction
Find The Honey and the Sting on Goodreads
When George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, tries to claim his illegitimate son Rafe from Hester, the young woman he seduced, she and her younger sisters, Hope and Melis, are forced to flee their home and seek safety in a remote house in Shropshire owned by a loyal family friend. It has to be said the group make rather poor fugitives, risking discovery on their journey by discarding their disguises, drawing unnecessary attention to themselves and through Hope’s dangerous naivety.
The story is told in the first person by Hester and in the third person from the point of view of Hope. The thoughts of Melis and the nature of her strange visions and glimpses of the future, remain unknown to the reader making her all the more enigmatic a character. Her affinity with bees and her keen sense of the presence of danger her sisters would do well to heed.
It becomes clear that Hester has underestimated George Villiers’ determination to possess whatever he desires or the lengths to which he will go to remove the hold she has over him, a secret which could bring about his downfall. When the name of the individual he engages to remove the threat the sisters pose is revealed, those with any knowledge of the history of the period are likely to be as intrigued as me. From this point on, the way the author blends fiction with fact is imaginative and completely compelling.
As the reader discovers, there are more ways to defeat an enemy than may be supposed. “The bees know it – honey and sting – sweetness and sharpness. That is what you need.”
The Honey and the Sting is the third book I’ve read by Elizabeth Fremantle. Although not quite my favourite (that accolade would go to The Poison Bed), it is still an absorbing story that demonstrates the power of maternal love and women’s ability to determine their own futures, with just a touch of the supernatural. (You can read my reviews of The Girl in the Glass Tower and The Poison Bed by following the links from the titles.)
My thanks to Michael Joseph for my advance review copy of The Honey and the Sting via NetGalley.
In three words: Intriguing, imaginative, mystery
Try something similar: Earthly Joys by Philippa Gregory
About the Author
E.C. Fremantle is the critically acclaimed author of The Poison Bed, ‘an electrifying, brilliantly executed thriller,’ and a Times Book of the Year. As Elizabeth Fremantle she has published four Tudor and Elizabethan set novels: Queen’s Gambit, Sisters of Treason, Watch the Lady and The Girl in the Glass Tower. She has contributed to various publications including The Sunday Times, Vogue, Vanity Fair, The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal. She lives in London.