Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn, by NA Pickford

Roll up your sleeves and settle down to some serious reading.

LadyBetteCoverRoll up your sleeves, pour yourself a glass of Madeira, and settle down to some serious reading.

Set in 16th-century London, this is a firework of a book.

Telling the true story of the richest heiress of the time, Lady Bette, it’s a rollicking, fact-filled book that had me gasping with some of the choice information.

For example, did you know that Puppy Water was considered very beneficial for the skin of young girls (rich ones, obviously)?

And what actually is Puppy Water, you may well ask? Well, I’ll tell you, but you may want to look away. You have been warned. It is, quite literally, the juices of a roasted puppy mixed with wine. Told you.

Also, poor Lady Bette had all her eyebrows removed and fake ones made of mouse skin stuck on slightly higher than normal to give her a "pleasantly surprised" look that was apparently all the rage. The poor girl was 11. Perhaps it was the precursor of all those women who have regular botox for that oh so pleasing "pleasantly surprised" look.

She was married at 12 to her first husband - and that’s when the trouble started. That, and a very interfering grandmother. But Bette was a gal not to be beaten.

Anyway, I don’t want to give away too much, but this reads like a whodunnit and is stuffed full of amazing facts that you can show off about for ages.

As for Lady Bette, after three marriages and 13 children, she is a fascinating footnote to history. I’m glad I met her.