Portrait of an Unknown Woman

  • by Vanora Bennett
  • Narrated by Lucy Scott
  • 17 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It's 1527 and Hans Holbein is welcomed as a guest at the splendid Chelsea home of Sir Thomas More to paint the family portrait. Unknown to them, it is the dawn of a tumultuous time in English history, affecting the family as well as Tudor society. Meg Griggs, a foster daughter of More, attracts the attention of two people, one of them being Holbein. She marries one - but loves the other.


What the Critics Say

"Bennett constructs lush backdrops and costumes, and has impeccable historical sense. She luminously shades in an ambiguous period with lavish strokes of humanity, unbridled passion and mystery." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Lush Tudor Fiction

Portrait of an unknown woman, begins with Hans Holbein arriving to paint the family of Sir Thomas More. Meg Griggs is a ward of Sir Thomas and the beginning is told in the first person through her eyes. She is a bit of a lonely figure having watched her siblings married and start families of their own, but she has always been in love with the family Tutor, John Clement. And so the stage is set, so to speak.

The novel is a meandering tale, and not short of historical detail, and the author brings the period to life, enabling the listener to 'see' the story unfold easily. Slowly we come to realize that many things and events are not as they seem, and many surprises become apparent along the way. The character of Holbein is particularly well drawn, especially towards the final chapters.

My only complaint about this novel is that there is perhaps too much historical detail. Sometimes less is more. It's as if the author is letting us see how much she knows. Also the story switches frequently between first and third person the whole way through. I feel the story would have flowed better being told one way or the other. That said, I did get used to it after a while.

The story is narrated by Lucy Scott, who does an excellent job. I knew exactly which character was speaking just by the changes in her voice. Again, Hans Holbein was brilliantly done.

If you are interested in historical fiction, with a few twists and turns, and a gentle love story thrown in, do not hesitate. I will certainly be looking up other titles by Vanorra Bennett. Hope this helps.
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- Deirdre

A portrait of love and scandal

A world famous artist, a king in hiding, political intrigue and plenty of twists, what more could a person wish for? I found this book easy to listen to and easy to follow, but it didn't feel like I was being spoon fed. Each character was easy to identify and the narrator brought forth qualities that are only hinted on in the story.

Set in tudor england it highlights the problems women face in a male dominated society. That not to say the main character is dowdy or submissive, far from it, she is enquiring, progressive and challenging for the times. I have totally enjoyed this book and have listened to it twice and was not bored either time.
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- Jo

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-06-2007
  • Publisher: Oakhill Publishing Ltd