Cover Image: The Phantom Tree

The Phantom Tree

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Member Reviews

If you're a Tudor maniac, definitely give this book a try. If you're into time-slip stories, give this book a try. If you're into contemporary romance, give this book a try. If you're into fantasy, give this book a try. Just...if you enjoy fiction at all, give this book a try. ;)
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I recieved an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book and will recommend it often to lovers of mysteries, and historical fiction!
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As a huge fan of Tudor historical fiction, I am always up for a new story that lets me dive into this period. I ultimately did end up reading this both in ebook and audio form, but found the story more rich because of that. I found it fascinating to see the Tudor court during the time period that we did. It felt removed in a way, because so often we're right in the royal household. We didn't get that here and I found I appreciated to get the same dynamics of Tudor England and the politics of the society without Edward, Mary or Elizabeth being the center piece (as one of them would have been during this period). I also found the element of time travel intriguing. There was almost an unspoken acceptance of it. As in, of course, this is normal. It makes me wonder if delving deeper, there is a magic in this world that isn't in our world and that is why they're so openly accepting? I don't know. I LOVED the idea of Mary Seymour still being alive. There are so many little details in Tudor history that are mysterious that if a writer should so like they could grab them up and take and run with them. Make a phenomenal story with it and have fun. Cornick did a bit of that here. I think the failings lie in that Alison got center stage as the main character when she was the weaker of the two characters, unfortunately. Also, I know that as creatures, we will learn things out of necessity. I found it too bizarre that she learned so much about the modern world so effortlessly. Even as an intelligent woman from the 16th century, Alison would have had a steep learning curve and yet seemed to have no trouble diving right in. Overall, I enjoyed it. I would read more from Cornick in the future.
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I thought I would not like time travel stories, but it seems that ever since I listened to Outlander, I became very fond of them. History was always one of my favorite subjects and the going back to the sixteenth century is very welcome to me!

Out of the blue, Alison Bannister comes across a portrait of a young lady she thought long gone. The antique shop claims it to be the portrait of Anne Boleyn, the Tudor Queen. But Alison knows better. This is Mary Seymour,  the daughter of Queen Katherine Parr, former wife of Henry VIII, with her second husband. Alison knows Mary very well, as she had to share her bedchamber with her, when she arrived at Wolf Hall, more than four hundred years ago.

Mary's painting is the key to the connection with the past. They had made a pact before Alison comes to the future and she is certain that Mary has kept her part of the bargain and the answer awaits her. All she needs to do now, is to find what Mary left for her. The way to reunite her with what she left in her own time, back in the past.

The fact is that Thomas Seymour and Katherine Parr had a daughter, Mary, who is nowhere to be found in the history books, past the age of two and so she has presumably passed away in such an early age. There is a theory that Mary lived longer than that, but there is no strong evidence to support it. Nicola Cornick bases her book in this second theory and creates a whole life for Mary Seymour. The girl is to be transferred to Wolf Hall upon the death of her father; her mother already gone by then. In this house of relatives, Mary gets to know Alison, a very beautiful girl, and they love to hate each other. All that, till the time that things get ugly and they have to help one another. Alison gets pregnant and Mary is accused of witchcraft as she has visions of the future. Their only hope is to be transferred to another relative's manor until they are married. Somehow Alison travels to the future and she stays there, but not before she has given birth to her child and it is taken away from her. Now she has to find a way to get back to her son, but she cannot travel back to her time.

The writing was so compelling I could not put it down. I regret I haven't read it earlier. Cornick knows very well how to describe a scene to make you feel part of it. She can transfer you back and forth in time and you won't be confused at all. I was able to see Wolf Hall and Middlecotte in my mind as if I was there myself. I could feel Mary's and Alison's feelings, their heart beating as if I were them. That is one very well written book!
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This was my first book by this author, and I can positively say that I really enjoyed reading this one. Its captivating. For sure I will be checking other books written by this author.
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I loved the idea that this book had the past lives aspect and when I read the synopsis, I was kind of getting The Portrait of Dorian Gray vibes. That was not the case at all and that's okay. I loved how history was brought into Alison's life and how the portrait was a pivotal part of her life. I enjoyed the writing and thought that the story was a great story. I am trying to get more into historical fiction that also incorporates history into the story and I thought Nicola did that well.
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Sarah and I both read and enjoyed The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick, which is interesting as our reading tastes are fairly divergent. I finished the book in one day, and I was super excited to talk to her about it later.

Sarah: I finished it in a day and a half and shamelessly bothered Elyse for a week or more to ask if she’d read it yet, had she? Huh? Had she read it? (FINALLY SHE DID.)

Elyse: The Phantom Tree is part historical fiction, part romance, and part mystery, with a little bit of magic tossed in. Alternating between Elizabethan England and present day, the story follows two women, Alison Bannister and Mary Seymour (who was the daughter of Katherine Parr and a real person in history). Mary and Alison are both poor relations to the Seymour family and are sent to Wolf Hall in 1557 where they live with other familial cast-offs earning their keep. It’s Alison who discovers a portal that allows her to travel through time to the present day. After she becomes pregnant out of wedlock and the baby is taken from her, Alison flees from banishment into the present day, intending to come back for her child.

Unfortunately the portal is lost to her. She manages to survive and even thrive in the modern world, although she’s haunted by the baby she lost. Mary had promised to discover the infant’s whereabouts and send word to Alison, and now Alison is searching historical records for some clue Mary could have left h
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Fabulous historical fiction…      
The Phantom Tree is a truly imaginative and mesmerizing rendition surrounding the mystery of 16th Century Mary Seymour who went missing from Wolf Hall as a child.  Mary was the daughter of  Katherine Parr, the sixth and final wife of Henry the VIII.  After his death, she married Thomas Seymour but died shortly after giving to Mary.  Thomas was executed for treason a few years later but was able to get Catherine Willoughby, the then-Dowager Duchess of Suffolk, to agree to become Mary’s reluctant guardian.

The sparse references to Mary include initial correspondences from the Duchess indicating she was less than thrilled with the burden of keeping a Queen’s daughter in the expected level of accommodations and documents indicating a monthly stipend was awarded from the crown before the records go silent regarding Mary.  There is no death or marriage records for her even though people, through the centuries, have claimed to be descendants of Mary. Nicola takes this vague background and weaves in the story of Alison Bannister, Mary’s supposed childhood enemy, but now a young woman trapped in the 21st Century.  Alison’s own personal reasons for desperately searching for a way back for her own personal reasons bring light to the tragic short life of Mary.  The unfolding of Alison’s desperate quest comes through the clues that Mary is able to leave centuries before.

I was totally enthralled with this tragic tale and even spent time exploring the known history of Mary Seymour and Catherine Parr.  The addition of a story-line about the fictitious Alison Bannister allows the novel to have real depth and intrigue while giving an intimate look at the experiences of both Alison and Mary.  There is magic and time-travel that fit seamlessly into the plot and seem as if they could be plausible.  It is apparent from the settings, events, and attitudes of The Phantom Tree that Nicola has an in-dept knowledge of the period.  Her ancillary characters also bring great variety and texture to this already rich story.

This is a republication of the the same book, different cover, released December 29, 2016.  I am not sure if any changes were made in the two versions.
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One of my new favorite books! This author has such a way with words the pages flew by in no time! I can’t wait to see the next work by this author! This was such a joy to read!
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I love books involving time travel, and this one was no different. I thought that this book was absolutely lovely. It was so atmospheric, and I adored the alternating timelines and POVs. The story is beautifully woven together, slowly bringing together more pieces of the story as you turn the pages. I loved the supernatural elements, and thought that this was just an excellent historical fiction novel.
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(Another one I can't believe I forgot to do feedback for!)

I thought this book was fantastic - i love time travel stories and anything about the Tudor era so this was a fusion I found impossible to resist.
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I really enjoyed this book. Dual timeline books can be very hit or miss. This one is a hit for me. I requested this arc having never read a Nicola Cornick book and now because of it I've read 2 others and have a found a new favorite author that I will definitely return to again and again. The dual timelines are handled  really well and I found myself engaged throughout. If you are a fan of Susanna Kearsley or Sarah Jio you and haven't tried Nicola Cornick yet, then I encourage you to pick this book up.
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Not having read the first book in the series I felt that I was missing information. Still I enjoyed the story of Mary and Alison, and I will get a copy of the first book get the full picture.
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The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick has a little bit of a lot of things in it - old England, time travel, the role of women in society, witches, history, adventure, romance, male privilege, and strong, sympathetic characters. What I enjoy most about the book is that the twists and turns manage to surprise me. Maybe, all of this happens because I vest in the stories of these characters. Regardless of the reason, this book holds my attention all the way through to the end. 

Read my complete review at 

Reviewed for NetGalley
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Alison Bannister has spent the past ten years looking for her son, and in the middle of a Wiltshire antiques shop, she comes across a portrait that could be the key to finding him. The portrait is of a woman known as Mary Seymour. Alison knows this because they grew up together.

The Phantom Tree by Nicola Cornick is a unique tale of time-travel and historical fiction. Alison has lost her son and in the process has found a way into the future. The only problem is, she can’t get back. So now she must rely on her frenemy Mary to leave clues for her to find her lost child.

I’m a sucker for historical fiction and The Phantom Tree is right up my alley. I loved the mixture of past and present so elegantly presented. However, I did get the sense that the two women’s stories were a bit disjointed, only overlapping in convenient areas. I thoroughly enjoyed the time period as it’s one of my favorites. The story is well-told and intriguing but I wish there had been more about Mary’s story as she’s such an important character. The ending also fell a bit flat for me. I felt as if Cornick just wanted the book to be over and gave readers an ending that might satisfy them.

All in all, it’s a wonderful story and one I thoroughly enjoyed. If you’re looking for a historical fiction with a touch of the present, I definitely recommend picking up The Phantom Tree.

**I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for an honest review.**
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This is a totally awesome story with time travel and historical romance!  We are told the stories of two women - Alison and Mary.  Alison has traveled through time from the 1500s to the present and had planned to return for her son, but was unable to.  However, she had asked her friend, Mary to leave her clues as to where her son had been taken.  Both women's stories are fascinating.  I highly recommend this book.
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Great timeslip novel. It reminds me of the Bookshop of Found Things by Paula Brackston. Fans of Outlander might like this novel as well.
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Listened on Hoopla while reading eArc

Really enjoyed. Didn't care for certain elements.
Wanted more information about the relationship 10 years previous.
How was the protagonist able to time travel? I felt that was never addressed or made clear.
I would recommend and plan, in future, to pick up more by Cornick.

eArc provided by Graydon House via Netgalley
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As a lover of historical fiction I was really excited to be able to read this book! The Description really sucked me in and I’m happy to say that the book lived up to my expectations. I connected quickly with the main characters and found myself excited to follow along in their adventure. Though the book ended up being a little slower paced than I normally like I wasn’t put off by the pace. The writing was vivid and lovely which really brought settings to life. If you enjoy historical fiction then this book is worth a look!
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Alison Bannister and Mary Seymour were cousins orphaned at a very young age and sent to live in Wolf Hall.  They did not like each other but over time they did in fact grow to trust each other a bit. Alison began an affair with Mary's cousin Edward Seymour that resulted in a child.  Flash forward 400 years and Alison spies an old painting in an art gallery falsely  listed as Anne Boleyn but Alison knows that it's actually a picture of Mary.  Alison has spent years trying to figure out what happened to Mary because she is the last hope Alison has of ever finding out what happened to her son.  
This is a time travel book that covers all the bases.  It has historical fiction and facts all wrapped up in one not to mention magic, romance, and intrigue.  I loved every facet of this novel.  I only rated it 4 stars because I found Alison to be a tad bit on the obsessive compulsive side.

Thanks so much to NetGalley, the author, and the publishing house for the preview of the book.
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