Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September 2014
About the Book
Sixteen-year-old Peggy is a well-bred orphan who is coerced into posing as a lady in waiting at the palace of King George I. Life is grand until Peggy starts to suspect that the girl she’s impersonating might have been murdered. Unless Peggy can discover the truth, she might be doomed to the same terrible fate. But in a court of shadows and intrigue, anyone could be a spy—perhaps even the handsome young artist with whom Peggy is falling in love . . .
Peggy Fitzroy lives with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. She knows she’s not wanted; her aunt and uncle have made that clear. But she gets along quite well with her cousin, Olivia. The novel opens with Peggy in a difficult position. Her uncle has arranged a marriage for her. She’s not thrilled, instead more than a little hesitant. Her hesitation only increases after she meets the man at a ball.
Her intended isn’t the only person she meets there, however. One other mystery man makes her acquaintance. He offers her a way out. He tells her that he knew her mother. He wants to make a deal with her, of sorts. He wants her to spy for him, to impersonate one of the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting. He leaves her with his card. She’s curious but just as hesitant about that option as well. If only she could have some control over her own future . . .
With a title like Palace of Spies, it’s obvious what her choice was. She will become Lady Francesca Wallingham. Can she learn enough from Mr. Tinderflint and Mr. Peele? Do they know enough about her to tell her everything she needs to know to pass as this lady? Is either man trustworthy? What are their intentions? What will they do with the information she provides? Who can she trust at court? Did Lady Francesca have enemies? How will she be able to discern who her friends were and who her enemies were? Will she fool anyone? Will she fool everyone? Will she ever get a minute to call her own? How long will this deception last?
I enjoyed this one. I think I enjoyed it even more having read Lucy Worsley’s The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace earlier this year. I was familiar with several of the characters. It was quite entertaining with a nice balance of danger and romance.