Spotlight on Philippa Carr

Philippa Carr is a pseudonym of Eleanor Hibbert (1906-1993), who also wrote under the names of Jean Plaidy (historical fiction), Victoria Holt (gothic romance), and Eleanor Burford (contemporary romance), among others.

philippa2Eleanor worked in a jewelry store until she married George Hibbert, who was twenty years older, whereupon she was able to quit her job and begin writing “in earnest.” Her first efforts did not meet with success, but that changed after she took the advice of an editor and began writing romantic fiction. She published 32 contemporary romances under her maiden name before turning to historical fiction, which she wrote under the name of Jean Plaidy. Later, she wrote Gothic-style romances under the name of Victoria Holt and then she produced a series called The Daughters of England (historical fiction) under the name Philippa Carr.

My first introduction to Hibbert’s work was in the late 1960’s and 70’s when I would devour all the gothic romances I could find. Victoria Holt was my favorite; she couldn’t write fast enough for me! In 1973 I discovered Jean Plaidy’s historical fiction; she became my next obsession; I didn’t realize the two were the same person until years later, but I knew I couldn’t get enough of their writing. I don’t recall when I discovered Philippa Carr, but I’m sure by then I was aware of her true identity. And her books went to the top of my TBR list along with the rest. Several years ago, by trolling eBay, I was able to acquire a complete collection of Jean Plaidy and Philippa Carr books for my personal collection.

Good News: Open Road Media is reissuing these titles for today’s historical fiction lovers. The digital version that I received from NetGalley is a collection of the first three titles in The Daughters of England series: Miracle at St. Bruno’s, The Lion Triumphant, and Witch From the Sea.

From the Publisher

Miracle at St. Bruno’s

During the tumultuous reign of King Henry VIII, Damask Farland, named after a rose, is captivated by the mysterious orphan Bruno. Discovered upon the abbey altar on Christmas morning, then raised by monks, Bruno becomes the great man whom Damask grows to love—only to be shattered by his cruel betrayal.

The Lion Triumphant

While the rivalry between Inquisition-torn Spain and Elizabethan England seethes, Captain Jake Pennlyon thrives as a fearsome and virile plunderer who takes what he wants—and his sights are set on Catherine Farland. Blackmailed into wedlock, Cat vows to escape. Fate intervenes when she’s taken prisoner aboard a Spanish galleon . . . unaware that she’s a pawn in one man’s long-awaited revenge.

The Witch from the Sea

Linnet Pennlyon, proud daughter of a sea captain, finds herself in a vicious trap: Pregnancy has forced her to marry the cunning Squire Colum Casvellyn. Once their baby is born, she devotes herself to their son. Yet, little by little, against her will, Linnet finds herself drawn to her passionate, mercurial husband. Dark secrets lurk in their castle, and when a beautiful stranger washes up on the shore, Linnet suddenly finds she’s no longer in control of her family—or her life.

Susana Says: Riveting Reads, 4/5 Stars

SusanaSays3Damask, Catherine, Linnet, Tamsyn…are the strong, independent female protagonists in this fascinating saga of The Daughters of England. The first clue that these stories are more along the lines of historical adventures than romances is the use of the first person. The reader’s knowledge of the thoughts of the other characters comes directly from the narrator’s thoughts and beliefs—and because she is sometimes mistaken, the reader finds herself equally astonished when certain truths are revealed.

Damask comes from a wealthy family; her father is a devout Catholic who watches Henry VIII’s gradual power grab from the Church with concern. These are dangerous times for men with consciences, for anyone who disagrees openly with the king may soon find himself bending over a chopping block. Damask, like all girls, must marry, and she finds herself with a choice of her worthy distant cousin and another young man, whose birth was said to be miraculous, and who, unbeknownst to her, harbors lofty ambitions.

Her daughter Catherine finds herself on the Spanish island of Tenerife, the victim of a revenge plot. With little hope of rescue, she tries to make the most of her situation, and when her liberation is finally at hand, she is horrified by the direction it takes and fears that there will be worse problems ahead. Great description of the events leading up to and following the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

Linnet is well on her way to becoming the wife of a worthy businessman when she suddenly finds herself wed to a cocky brute eerily reminiscent of her own father. Although theirs is a volatile relationship, they share a passionate nature, and Linnet is content. But then a beautiful Spaniard washes up on the shore, and suddenly Linnet begins to have doubts about her marriage…and her husband’s mysterious occupation.

witchThese books will take you through a hundred years of English history as though you were there living it yourself. I’d forgotten how much I liked the first-person point of view, since it’s fallen out of fashion in recent years, but in these stories, its use strengthens the link between the narrator and the reader, to the point where you feel you are Damask, Catherine, Linnet, and Tamsyn.

This volume is a bargain at $9.99 for three full-length novels and a series of exciting adventures to the past. I’m already dusting off the remaining books in this series because I disliked seeing it come to an end.

Amazon • Barnes & Noble

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