Wednesday, August 18, 2010

To Hold the Crown

This isn't my first Jean Plaidy book. She wrote under several pseudonyms but probably the best one is Jean Plaidy. A lot of people who are attracted to the Tudors tend to gravitate towards her since she has written so much about them. I must be a total weirdo, because I cannot get into her writing. Mostly I feel like I'm being talked down to while I read her stuff. Well, I had decided that even though I didn't like the other book of hers I had read (Murder Most Royal), I needed to give her another shot. It's hard to judge harshly on an author if you have only read one of their books. Well, To Hold the Crown wasn't any better and a book that should have taken me days to read ended up taking me weeks. I learned a little, but grumbled a LOT about trying to finish this book.

To Hold the Crown is the story of Henry VII. If you go look at the synopsis, Elizabeth of York is touted as a main character, but Henry dominated for the most of the book. It told very little of their story together and Elizabeth is treated as a brood mare for the large majority of the book. When she dies, I felt nothing for her character. I wasn't sad because I hadn't known her at all throughout the book.

My biggest problem with this book was the editing. Whoever sent it to print, didn't do a great job. The letter "c" randomly popped up in the most weird words (ex matcurity). My second biggest problem was how she treated young Henry VIII. Now the ladies over at Goodreads in the Tudor History Lovers group will tell you that I am a staunch Henry VIII supporter. I feel that while he wasn't a great person in his later years, his younger years are often overshadowed by some of the misdeeds he had done. That being said, Jean Plaidy wrote a 12 year old Henry VIII like he was a blood thirsty womanizer, who wanted nothing more than to count the heads on London Bridge and constantly get his own way. Henry apparently wanted to take the crown at the tender age of 3 from his older brother who he felt wasn't suited for the job. Now I realize this is historical fiction. But seriously, make it a little bit believable for me.

I have a couple of quotes, but I'll just cull it down to one. This particular quote deals with the mother of Elizabeth of York, Elizabeth Woodville. Woodville's husband was Edward IV, a yorkist king who died leaving the contention of the crown in an awkward standing. Edward had been a heavy drinker, partier, and he loved sex. He had several mistresses. In this quote, Woodville is talking about the relief she felt in his mistresses. In Woodville's own words (again don't have pages because I'm reading from a Kindle) "Not that she ever attempted to (get rid of any mistresses) for she had been secretly glad that there were other women to cater for his insatiable sexuality." Now, I don't know about you, but if my man was off with other women, there is no way I'd be secretly glad. Maybe that's just me? It didn't ring true for me.

For those of you who are Plaidy fans, the book can be found here. Other people have mentioned a liking towards her style of writing, but as for me, I think I can now officially say that I don't think I'll be reading another one of her books for a very very long time.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Confessions of Catherine de Medici

So, I finished this book a couple of days ago, but I've been a little preoccupied to write about it. Confessions of Catherine de Medici follows the story of Catherine from the time she is a little girl up to her death. After reading Wolf Hall, this book was a breath of fresh air. It was nice to ease into a book that didn't require my full brain power. C. W. Gortner is a brilliant writer and I really look forward to delving into some of his other books. I really felt Catherine's hatred towards Diane de Poitiers, her husband's mistress. And the inner turmoil of Catherine was written in such an interesting way that I couldn't put the book down (I had to sneak peeks at it during work!!). I had had apprehensions about a man writing a story from a woman's view, especially one such as Catherine after reading a review on Amazon. However, all I can say is that C.W. got it right, and I feel the reviewer was incredibly unfair towards him. You can get the book here. I highly recommend it! It's a beautiful book!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wolf Hall

This book was a beast of epic proportions. I don't know if I can recommend this book to people who don't know much about the Tudors. It'll have you diving for facts and wondering who the main players are. Thankfully, the Tudors are one of my favorite royal families, so the fact diving was kept to a minimum. I also read it on my Kindle which was a Godsend when I wanted to highlight something. I'll share a couple of my favorite passages with you.
Unfortunately, since I did read this on my Kindle, I can't give you specific page numbers.

This quote is Thomas Cromwell (the main character) talking about Anne Boleyn, the King's new love interest. Just some quick background info.... Anne Boleyn became Henry VIII's second wife after his divorce from Katherine of Aragon. She was a liberal Catholic, meaning she leaned a bit more Protestant than most in a time when Catholicism was king. She was the mother of Elizabeth I. And, due to smear campaigns, it is said she had a sixth finger (never ever been proven). The author, Mantel, uses this rumor in such a great way in this book. Anne had developed these huge sleeves and hid her hands in them (hence the sixth finger rumor). Cromwell is referring to her habit of doing this in this quote:
"It is so much a habit with her that people say she has something to hide, a deformity; but he thinks she is a woman who doesn't like to show her hand."
Another favorite quote that doesn't require more info:
"Well,' Rafe says, 'let us run up and down Cheap: Thomas Cramner has a secret, we don't know what it is!'"
"Tell him to go north, or I will come where his is and tear him with my teeth!'
'May I substitute the word 'bite?'"

And the last quote that I really liked isn't really funny but just good. Cromwell is talking about Thomas More (the famous author of Utopia) and how he will use his connections on the Continent to make it seem like More is the victim in all the proceedings against him (it's extraordinarily complicated, and I can't give enough information here. A couple good sites to go to get more info would be or the Goodreads Tudor Group.)
"And sending it out of the kingdom to be printed. Depend upon it, in the eyes of Europe, we will be the fools and oppressors, and he will be the poor victim with the better turn of phrase."

I seriously cannot recommend this book enough. It won the Man Booker Award in 2009. Let me warn you, it's incredibly difficult to get into. Just bear in mind that most of the "he"'s in the book are Cromwell and it should be an easier read. Once I had figured this out, I couldn't put the book down! You can find it here, complete with other reviews!