Falling Pomegranate Seeds

All Manner of Things

Fiction - Historical - Personage
576 Pages
Reviewed on 08/01/2021
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Author Biography

Wendy J. Dunn is an award-winning Australian author, playwright and poet. Her first Tudor novels were two Anne Boleyn novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This? and The Light in the Labyrinth. Wendy’s most recent publications are two novels inspired by the life of Katherine of Aragon: her Falling Pomegranate Seeds duology: The Duty of Daughters (a finalist in the 2020 Chaucer award) and All Manner of Things, published in 2021. Wendy tutors in writing at the Swinburne University of Technology. She’s currently writing a novel set in 2010. Of course, it includes a Tudor story. She is also writing her first full length Tudor biography.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things is a work of historical fiction penned by author Wendy J Dunn. Being a noblewoman in the early sixteenth century was difficult at best. Women in this era had no say in anything, not even in whom they could marry. Our protagonist Maria de Salinas was both friend and cousin to Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII. Katherine married out of duty to both family and state. But before leaving Castile, Katherine had promised Maria she was free to marry the man of her own choice. That results in Maria walking a different road. Maria’s only child, her daughter Katherine, named after her life-long friend, was given in marriage to the Duke of Suffolk. Katherine was a child, the duke an old man, and Katherine never forgave her mother. In 1539, Maria knew she was dying. In a valiant attempt to set things straight with her daughter, she pens a telling missive that explains her position, how she, as a woman, could do nothing. Maria, and her friend, the once Queen of England, had to show courage at all times through troubling times full of betrayal and hatred. In the end, friendship was the only thread that bound, the only love that mattered.

Wendy J Dunn’s historical fiction novel, Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, is a different look at the life of King Henry VIII’s first wife, a story told through the eyes of her friend, companion, and cousin, Maria. The author takes a unique approach in unveiling this passionate look at women in early sixteenth-century England. Beginning later in Maria's life, whilst she is struggling to write her last missive to her daughter, the story unravels partly through letters and through scenes looking back over past events. Letter-writing is an age-old art of storytelling and this certainly fits in well with the era. Each part of Maria's letter to her daughter leads into another narrative section, taking the reader back to a journey that began with Maria accompanying her cousin, Catalina (Katherine) of Aragon to meet her husband, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur, as history buffs will recall, never lived to become king, and his younger brother, Henry, took both the crown and the bride from Aragon. The story follows the personal journeys of both women as they struggle to keep their courage intact when their lives are navigated beyond their control. The author chose these two strong women from history to accentuate the difficulties women faced in this era (and many other eras, for that matter). Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things is well told, engaging, and will both entertain and educate the reader from beginning to end.

The Coffee Pot Book Club

From a tender, yet forbidden, romance to the death of her dearest friend, Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, Book #2 by Wendy J. Dunn is the unforgettable story of María de Eresby as she, along with Catalina of Aragon, learns to dance to a decidedly deadly Tudor tune.
Mary Anne Yarde: The Coffee Pot Book Club. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Read complete review here: https://maryanneyarde.blogspot.com/2021/01/bookreview-falling-pomegranate-seeds.html?fbclid=IwAR09_Dq8-oj399iVc8biYLAksM7IXsRxLkx6DntRRndiIka2Lz0TOV1mAVI

The Historical Fiction Company

In sum, I can think of almost nothing I would change about this book. It is beautifully written with realistic and sympathetic characters, and shot through with the golden threads of music and poetry that bring the era to full life. If Tudor history is your passion – or even if it’s not – this is a book to enjoy again and again.

Five Stars from The Historical Fiction Company, “Highly Recommended” Award

Full review: https://www.thehistoricalfictioncompany.com/post/hfc-editorial-review-of-all-manner-of-things-by-dr-wendy-dunn

Amy Mc

Dunn has written such a beautiful story of the love and friendship between Katherine of Aragon and her lady in waiting Maria de Salinas, from the viewpoint of Maria as she recalls her life in a letter to her daughter as she nears death. Through Maria the reader experiences Katherine's story as well as Maria's. Both lived exceptional lives and their bond of friendship is beautiful to read about.

Maria left Spain with Katherine and remained with her most of her life. This book really brings Katherine's story to life, from leaving her family, marrying Arthur, many heartbreaking miscarriages and her marriage to Henry. Maria is by her side through it all whilst also facing her own disappointments and heartbreaks and battling her dislike for Henry.

It's a tale of two sides, there are some extremely happy moments and some really sad, I almost had tears in my eyes towards the end.

If you have a love of the Tudor court then this is definitely one you should read, the gowns, jewels and court are all described so vividly.

I thoroughly enjoyed how the narrative switched between the letter to the time of the memory, it was a great way of transporting the reader back in time.

I think this book will actually stay with me for a while but I was pleased to note this is actually the second in the series so will be reading the first shortly!

Kristie Dean

This book provides a unique look at the relationship between a queen and her best friend. I highly recommend it. Vivid descriptions and well-developed characters draw you in.

Glenice Whitting

I loved this story and learnt about the history of this era by following Maria de Salinas’s life story. Since her childhood she has been the devoted friend of Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. Educated with Catalina, she vows to share her life of exile when Catalina leaves her mother’s side to wed Prince Arthur, the heir to England’s throne. The journey on the ship is enthralling reading.
Life in England is marked by triumphs and tragedies. Maria watches as Arthur and Catalina begin their marriage as complete strangers, but soon bond over common interests and experience the joy of first love. But the promise for a happy life together comes to nothing. I was brought to tears by Wendy Dunn’s writing when Arthur dies suddenly, five months after their wedding.
This time also sees Maria falling in love with a married English Lord. I felt her pain of her being unable to become his mistress. When he becomes embroiled in an attempt to save the life of a friend, she acts to save him. She is then faced with a terrible choice, and I really understood her struggle. She must choose between seeing Tudor justice fall upon the man she loves or promise to betray Catalina in the future. Her loyalties torn over and over, Maria discovers achieving her own happiness during the reign of Henry VIII brings with it guilt and heartbreak, and a burden of hate. By looking back at her life, she sees it is for her own sake she must let go of hatred and forgive. A truly satisfying read and novel.

Nerina Jones

Wendy Dunn's Tudor era novels offer more than courtly romance, glitter and pageantry. Behind the jostle for status and power, the blanks in history become inhabited by characters who pulse, breathe and shiver, exposing through their interactions entrenched structures of female dependence and dis-empowerment.
All Manner of Things, is a deathbed letter from Maria de Salinas to her daughter Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk. The narrative recounts Maria’s life as kinswoman and intimate of Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII. Having aspired to marry for love herself, the narrative becomes a rationalization of decisions made by Maria in respect to her daughter that effectively deny her comparable opportunity for marital choice.
To the extent that those decisions uphold the status quo and lead to estrangement of mother and daughter, the novel must be viewed as questioning the mechanisms whereby prevailing social mores, masculine power and trickery, ensure the instrumental complicity of women in their own servitude.
The contribution of All Manner of Things to a progressive unveiling of issues of complexity in women’s lives across the course of the Tudor novels suggests evolutionary possibilities for Dunn's future works.

Carole Mumford

Excellent reading. I have to say it was a beautiful history lesson for me. Looking forward to reading more from Wendy J Dunn.

Monica Luoni

Brilliant book!!!!