Favorite Book(s)/Scenes: The Vizard Mask

Before Ariana Franklin started her Mistress of the Art of Death historical mystery series, she wrote excellent historical fiction novels under her real name of Diana Norman. I found out about Diana Norman from Jayne at Dear Author a long, long time ago. I went and bought up her back list. Many of her older fiction books are sadly, out of print and difficult to find and quite costly. I own all of her books and feel that she was definitely worth it to me. Hopefully, if she’s doing well sales-wise with her newer books, maybe her publisher will release her older titles someday?

But anyway, The Vizard Mask tells the story of Puritan Penitence Hurd, a young girl who has left America to find her mother in London. It’s also set during the Restoration Period. As that first sentence states,

Penitance Hurd and the Plague arrived in London on the same day.

The story is all about Penitence Hurd. I think the story spans 25 years opening with Charles II on the throne and ends with Mary of Orange. I read this book twice back to back and would still say that today this book would be a terrific read as it is certainly worth finding.

The scene: Once Penitence has arrived in London, she stays in a brothel called the Cock & Pie. Just like I mentioned earlier, the Plague has hit London hard. Penitence along with the actor, Henry King put on a play, something by Shakespeare called, Much Ado About Nothing, in order to distract the Watch. A family who were suspected of having the Plague are ‘Shut Up’ for 40 days & 40 nights and that was a death sentence. So the play is just a ruse for the family to make good their escape.

So, Penitence is rehearsing her part. She’s afraid she’s going to mess up things because she has a habit of stuttering. Henry King comes to her rescue and tells her to breathe:

The actor was in front of her now. ‘Breathe.’ She breathed, her eyes fixed on his.
“Who are you?”
“I am Beatrice.”
“Are you rich? Beautiful? Witty?”
“Yes.”
“Who am I?”
“Benedick.”
“Do you love me?”
“Yes.”

He extended his hand, palm-upwards. She put her own on it and together they walked out on to the balcony

The Vizard Mask is a historical fiction novel that was deeply moving, entertaining and memorable. It has a wonderful love-story along with other parts that were full of suspense and political intrigue. The Vizard Mask is one of my favorite books and while I quoted to you one my favorite scenes, there are plenty more where that came from. And yes, Henry King is one of the best heroes I’ve ever run across in fiction. He’s mysterious, witty, charming and he made an impact on Penitence’s life. Excellent book.

Note: I’ve read the following and recommend them highly: Blood Royal, A Catch of Consequence and Taking Liberties under Diana Norman. Ariana Franklin’s medieval mysteries are awesome as well as her stand alone novel, City of Shadows. Awesome writer all around.

About Keishon

Voracious reader of just about everything.
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10 Responses to Favorite Book(s)/Scenes: The Vizard Mask

  1. Jorrie Spencer says:

    I wish The Vizard Mask was available! I liked Restoration-set novels too.

  2. SarahT says:

    I hope this is either reprinted or released digitally. I have a couple of Diana Norman’s books and loved them.

  3. Shelley says:

    Just wanted to mention a book I just discovered, for those who are curious about writers of historical fiction. Title is A Very Great Profession: the Woman’s Novel, 1914-39. Includes, of course, Edna Ferber, whose work is often in a time period before mine, but her writing, I think, is still engaging today.

  4. Maili says:

    *seething* I still envy you for having Diana Norman’s OOP books as a collection.

    As far as I know, ‘Fitzempress’ Law’ won’t be reissued or reprinted for a long time. I don’t know why. There’s a rumour that there’s a contractual issue, but I think I’m more likely to believe if it’s because Diana Norman doesn’t want them reissued, due to her known embarrassment over her writing skills in early works.

    I hope all her early books – Vizard Mask and Fitzempress’ Law, especially – will be re-issued soon because I’m getting really tired of hitting my head against a wall for lending my copies to a friend, who accidentally left them at some bloody hotel. At the time, to be fair, I didn’t realise those books were truly hard to find. I’d refuse to lend them if I knew this. But still… AARRGGHGALKDHFOALDINFLAKDS!!

    You might like Mary Brown if you hadn’t tried her yet. Try ‘Playing the Jack’. I’m not keen on cross-dressing heroines, but it works in PTJ.

  5. Please let us know when this is republished. Thanks.

  6. Renee says:

    That has got to be one of the best first lines, ever!

    I really enjoyed The Mistress of the Art of Death, but hadn’t heard anything about her previous works.

    Thanks for the info, Keishon. Off to ck my library’s catalog!

  7. Jorrie Spencer says:

    I checked my library system, my parents’ library system, my sister’s library system, my in-laws library system—no Vizard Mask anywhere! Boo!

  8. Avid Reader says:

    @Maili: Playing the Jack I think is available in ebook. Will go look, thanks.

    If I learn of anything regarding The Vizard Mask, you all will be the first to know about it. Thanks.

  9. Marg says:

    I think I found out from Diana Norman from you, and have since read the last trilogy she put out under that name, as well as the Ariana Franklin books.

    I am kicking myself though. When I first started reading her, my library had quite a few books on her backlist. Some what complacently I didn’t request them all to read at the time, and now they have been removed! Damn.

    I know a couple of emails have been sent to publishers like Sourcebooks (who do lots of rereleases of Historical Fiction) suggesting that they take a look at her books.

  10. Avid Reader says:

    @Marg: Hopefully her rights have been reverted back to her so that she can release her back list in digital format or print. I know I would buy them all. She truly is one of my favorite writers of all time. Along with two or three others.

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