The Smallest Man – Frances Quinn

Published by: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 384
Date released: 07/01/2021
Date read: 02/02/2021

I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.”
My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story. The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new Queen of England.
They called me the Queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their King, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.
Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England forever, The Smallest Man is a heart warming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

Every so often, there comes along a book that is so perfect in every way that I cannot say anything negative about it. The Smallest Man is one of them. This is the debut novel of Frances Quinn (not the one from The Great British Bake Off) and bodes well for any future books she decides to write.
Quinn uses the historical story of Jeffrey Hudson, the real life “Queen’s Dwarf” as inspiration, but changes just enough to give her literary freedom. I admit I am not fully up to speed on the 17th Century, but Quinn writes in such a way that you feel as if you are there with her characters. The period details appear authentic, the story is compelling, and the characters just leap off the page as fully formed real people.

It is a story that, at first glances, follows a young man as he finds his way in the world and in this spectacular situation he finds himself in. But as you read it, you realise this is not just his story. You realise everyone has, at one point or another, felt like an outsider, even the King or Queen, and this book really tests the bonds of friendship, and teaches us all that it’s important to see what’s beyond the surface.

I finished this book in just a day and it managed to worm its way into my consciousness and it still sits there. I can’t stop thinking about it, the storyline, the characters and Frances Quinn’s writing. I am desperate for others to read it so I can have someone to discuss it with. The whole thing feels so real that it’s difficult to remember that this in fact fiction, and Nat is not real, no matter how much I want to be his friend.

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