‘Old English’ Thomas Butler, Earl of Ormond, affectionately known as “Black Tom” due to his swarthy looks, is waiting for his Queen, Elizabeth.
She is his cousin on Ann Boleyn’s side and in spite of her reputation as the Virgin Queen Elizabeth was rumoured to be the mother of one of Tom’s twelve illegitimate children. And she has promised to visit Ireland.
Black Tom builds a manor house for Elizabeth on one of his favoured estates, Carraigh on the River Suir. It is here he patiently waits for her. Also waiting is Arthur, a kitchen scullion, who idolises both Black Tom and Queen Elizabeth.
As Arthur grows from innocent child into manhood he becomes aware of the intricacies of Irish politics and begins to see his hero as more self-serving than noble. Arthur still waits for Elizabeth, but as time goes by it is for a much more sinister reason.
In this blend of historical fact and fiction, Joan Rosier-Jones has created a very real picture of life in 16th century Ireland and England.