George Heriot, jeweller to King James VI, moves with the Court from Edinburgh to London to take over the English throne. It is 1603. Life is a Babel of languages and glittering new wealth. The Scottish court speaks Danish, German, Middle Scots, French and Latin. James gives Shakespeare his first secure position. To calm the perfidious religious tensions in the country, he commissions his translation of the Bible. He creates the Union Jack, called after himself.
George becomes wealthier than the king as he sets a fashion for hat jewels and mingles with Drummond of Hawthornden, Ben Johnson, Inigo Jones and the mysterious ambassador Luca Von Modrich. However, both king and courtier bow before the phenomenal power invested in their wives.
‘A joy to read. In George Heriot – Edinburgh goldsmith, royal jeweller, and philanthropist – Findlay has found an everyman through whom we all get access to the weird world of royalty. Her novel captures the domestic wit and warmth, alongside the casual brutality of the court of James VI of Scotland and I of England. Beautifully pitched between the homeliness and the haughtiness of the Shakespearean era – and often very funny.’
'A stunning novel about the birth of the United Kingdom that demonstrates the scholarship of the author, as well as her imaginative power'
'Findlay excels in conveying the nature of a place, be it the Queen’s own private chamber, an Edinburgh close, a fragrant garden, or a claustrophobic cabin in a ship at sea. We are there, we smell the flowers and the fish, we see the vomit.'