I’m glad whenever positive initial impression that I’ve got from reading the first 20-30 pages of book is sustained throughout its length onto the lasI’m glad whenever positive initial impression that I’ve got from reading the first 20-30 pages of book is sustained throughout its length onto the last pages, such as the case with this book.
I know what I want and I know what I seek when I’ve come across a mention about this book amongst the Tumblr community of “The War of the Roses” enthusiasts, and then spent a considerable amount of time, effort, and my (googling *ahem*) research skill in scourging the net freebies zone for its digital version (seeing that it was out of prints everywhere since yesteryear, being that it was published in the 1980s and apparently not very popular). What I want and what I tirelessly seek was a properly written and properly detailed historical fiction concerning the subject of 2 interesting and colorful individuals of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York who each represents the 2 warring sides of House Lancaster and House York and also who ended the decades of bloodied feud for the throne of England with their union and their coronation as the King and Queen of England after the end of The War of the Roses.
What makes them so interesting to me and what makes them to be such an interesting subject to write for was that their political marriage (between two people that are taught to suspect and resent their each opposing House, nonetheless) eventually transforms into a love match and a loving and great marriage (not to mention faithful, which was considerably a rarity in those days) throughout the 17 years they were together as the ruler of 15th century England (also apparently a great one in that aspect, seeing that they manages to bring back England towards its former glory, return political stability to the nation, restore the royal coffer, improve trades and mend its losses which caused by the wars).
Here’s an excerpt of their marriage from “Henry VII : The Winter King” by Thomas Penn:
"(In 1503) the royal household moved to the Tower, where Elizabeth was to give birth. She went into confinement, surrounded by her ladies and gentlewomen. But it was a traumatic and premature labor. With a raging temperature, she slipped in and out of consciousness. Henry was beside himself. Messengers rode through the night to summon specialists, but nothing worked. The 11th of February 1503, her 37th birthday, Elizabeth died. Their marriage had been one of genuine love, and Henry was shattered by her loss (…) Without his wife, the very foundations of his reign were shaken. Usually so inscrutable, Henry’s reaction to Elizabeth’s death was one of complete physical collapse. Retreating into the depths of Richmond, he came close to death. But when he emerged six weeks later, the mask was back in place, and his drive for control was even more remorseless. The cornerstones of his reign - his wife and heir - were gone, and Henry’s crown was more at risk than ever. (…) Increasingly ill, suspicious and unable to trust people, Henry saw conspiracy at every turn. But his resolve was unshakeable. He would hang on to the crown, whatever the cost."
Also this :
“The news of Arthur’s death caused Henry VII to break down in grief, as much in fear for his dynasty as mourning for his son. It is a testament to his love for Elizabeth – and her love for him – in the fact that she comforted him, telling him that he was the only child of his mother but had survived to become King, that God had left him with a son and two daughters and that they were both young enough to have more children” - Arlene Okerlund: Elizabeth of York, (2009).
Now you see why they are giving me the FEELSSSSS!??? Their entire history was built like an epic love story ala Han – Leia, Jack – Rose, Pinky and the Brain etc etc. CMON PEOPLE!! THEY NEED A BOOK! A MINISERIES! SIX SEASONS AND A MOVIE!
Okay, back to this book: Yeah, I really, really LIKE it! It’s well written and well worth reading if you are particularly interested in the subject. It basically covered the childhood of Henry VII where he was consistently living in the shadow of danger inside the Plantagenet’s rule, his escape for safety towards the duchy of Brittany with his uncle Jasper Tudor, his return to England and his victory in the battle of Bosworth which ended with the death of current ruler, Richard III, His introduction and courting and marriage to Elizabeth and it (unfortunately) ended shortly after the birth of their first son Prince Arthur and the coronation of Elizabeth of York as His Queen.
The writing is sharp, the characterizations are as canon as they get to known historical accounts, there are surprisingly a lot of subtly yet cleverly inserted humors found scattered alongside the story and never failed in making me chuckles (seriously, it’s great), and what I really dig was that Henry VII and Elizabeth’s romance is really built up well and always keeping up with both established characters. Pity it’s only 300 something pages long though and not as much of Elizabeth of York as I would like.
I would love if somewhere in the future Roberta Gellis would release 900 pages of the “Author Cut” version of this book. A girl could dream, right! ...more
This book frustrates me! The prose is derivative (holy hell and how…?), relies too much on repeated exposition where characters hammered motives and iThis book frustrates me! The prose is derivative (holy hell and how…?), relies too much on repeated exposition where characters hammered motives and intentions to other characters for the ‘reader’s sake’ as if they are in the midst of intense battle in fighting the honorable title ‘Sir Obvious of Expositionville’. There are no discernable backbone of a story, inconsistent characterizations (how in the name of logic a 3 years old Henry VIII could spar with 5- I think- years old his sister about the state of English court as if they are a pair of educated adults?), and more often than not the lack of editing process shown through (at one point the writer describes William Stanley as the brother of Henry VII’s father-in-law, whereas the fact is William Stanley’s brother , Thomas Stanley is the man who married Henry VII’s mother, making Thomas Stanley Henry VII’s step father. Oh lorddd, do this book really passed the editor’s desk before being printed and sold to the masses..??! it really beggars belief..)
And the ultimate offense; as a novel which titled The Story of Henry VII and His Queen Elizabeth of York, there’s really little to none of Elizabeth of York in the story, she described as a little more than a breeding machine without any thought and voice of her own. I feel duped because I enter this expecting an elaborate and detailed account on their union and the period of their reign together because Henry VII and Elizabeth of York are fascinating characters, together and their own, seeing that their marriage has brought together decades of warring houses Lancaster and York and from their union borne the Infamous Tudor Dynasty with their own interesting figures. A grave disservice and missed opportunity, not even any well written smut included in this book (you see,i'm actually not that hard to please, really..) so that at least this could be saved from being a total craptacular disaster. ...more
A thoroughly engaging and interesting historical fiction which I could truthfully admitted that I’m glad to invest my time in, while not without its fA thoroughly engaging and interesting historical fiction which I could truthfully admitted that I’m glad to invest my time in, while not without its flaws. Sharon Kay Penman’s proves once again that she is one of the most skilled and not to mention the most dedicated writer on the subject of medieval slash historical fiction. Her knack for excellent world building is continue to be on display here after the strength of her first outing in “The Sunne In Splendour”; painting a very mysterious and elusive, almost romantically gothic, thirteenth century Wales with its abundance forest valley, pure crystal blue lake, majestic stronghold, imposing castles and snow capped mountain peaks.
Her prose is also continually become of her strongest asset as a writer: elegant yet economic at the same time, and she makes a lengthy tome felt like a breezy read (although in truth I actually need more than two weeks to finish this book, but it truly felt breezy, fleeting almost..). Granted, that the characters in HBD are admittedly not as colorful and grand or even as well drawn as Sunne’s , this was no less caused by the real characters this book is based are not as well known and not as well documented through preserved historical footnotes as its English counterparts.
What this book lack in complex characterization is supplanted by a well drawn love story which successfully acts as a narrative anchor between Llewellyn ap Iorwerth, known as Llewellyn the Great; a Welsh Prince who dreamed, struggle and strive to establish a united and independent Wales free from its English oppressor, and Joanna: his beloved wife who also the bastard child of King John of England, daughter of his own sworn enemy. An initially political match which in turn subsequently transforms into a great and genuine love between two representatives of the opposing sides who never stops being at war with one another, medieval England’s own version of Romeo and Juliet if you will…:)
I need to voice also my mild disappointment on several aspects: For one of the gruesome and most bloodied period in history, the battle scenes and logistics of it is very short lived, sparse not very well drawn and not as detailed as I would’ve liked, and some of the characters in this book are pretty throwaway that I’ve wondered why SKP bothered to included them at all if there were no arcs they were to be part of.
Taken all into consideration, I’ll give this one a 4 full stars. ...more
Like I’ve said before, a quarter way through this book the impression that I’ve got are “a historical fiction book that felt more like an easy readingLike I’ve said before, a quarter way through this book the impression that I’ve got are “a historical fiction book that felt more like an easy reading for beach time, somewhat romanticized instead of play-by-play chronological accounts embedded with a strong narrative backbone about a chunk of medieval England histories known as the War of Roses / The Cousins War. There's an economy of prose and a touch of modernity in its narrative but somehow it doesn't deliver emotional weight behind its bulk of events and the comings and goings of the power grab process between Houses York, Rivers and Lancaster (I C wat u did there George RR Martin) for the Throne of England”.
The tone doesn’t change much towards the end but I confess Phillippa Gregory has done quite a good job building the story towards its climax in the 3rd act and highlight the characterization (probably…Entirely 100 percent the fruit of author’s pandering but what interesting characters they were) of King Richard III and especially his wife Lady Anne Neville through which the narrative of this story is told from her perspective.
While this book is not heavily decorated with(hell..who am I kidding, little to almost none)tidbits, facts nor even historical footnotes, I say this was quite an entertaining time waster and a good place as any for readers-slash-historical buff upstart (YAY MEE!!) to start delving into Medieval England tome.
Next stop: Sharon Kay Penman’s “The Sunne in Splendour” ...more
I’ve only just start knowing the subject of “The Wars of the Roses” while watching the recently aired BBC miniseries “The White Queen”. The miniseriesI’ve only just start knowing the subject of “The Wars of the Roses” while watching the recently aired BBC miniseries “The White Queen”. The miniseries itself was an adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s the Cousin Wars book series (The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter). The Cousins war omnibus were a retelling of ‘The Wars of Roses’ , which was the decades long dynastic wars fought between 2 rival houses (House of York and House of Lancaster) for the throne of England during the 15th Century. Gregory’s book series depicted this event exclusively from the perspective of the Women who unwittingly or not, helped in setting up the gears, waging wars and ultimately shaping up the medieval England history, from the Plantagenet reigns (King Edward IV and King Richard III) and ushered it into the era of infamous Tudors Dynasty (King Henry VII). The story of Elizabeth Woodville (Edward IV’s Queen), Anne Neville (Richard III’s Queen) and Margaret Beaufort (Henry VII’s Lady Mother) penned by Gregory, while imaginative enough and gave me a satisfaction by viewing the historical events from the woman point of view, still left me reeling because I felt there were too much events being skipped between chapters, glossed over and Gregory’s tools in filling the blank could sometimes relies too much on exposition from one character to another character which made the dialogue felt stilted and superfluous.
Bottom line is, I need my historical fiction fix on The Wars of Roses from another better written source. Then through internet glowing recommendations, came this beautiful brick of a door stopper and Boy! I was blown away…
“The Sunne In Splendour” is quite probably a novel that’s near perfect in its attempt to cover the breadth and vastness of this particular and very fascinating subject. Sharon Kay Penman’s writing is utterly fantastic and while the length of this book could be very intimidating, I found it really easy to get sucked into the universe that is meticulously crafted by the author. The world building of 15th century England is really detailed and you could feel the sense and taste, the hurly burly of medieval England came to life in your mind. This book is also benefitted by telling the story from a number of characters’ perspective instead of one so that you feel the expansive nature of the story and how complicated the atmosphere on medieval England courts. One of the things I loved from this book is also how the political intrigues, psychological war fares and court shenanigans are very neatly depicted that you can feel the laborious research done by the author in weaving the fiction into historical facts and transformed it into a fascinating narrative without sacrificing its historical integrity.
The longstanding controversial figure of King Richard III is given a very sympathetic treatment in this book, depicting his character in a very favoring light, chivalrous and loyal to the bone. While sometimes his portrayal could be too straightforward without any shades of grey (The Princes in the Tower business and whatnot), it doesn’t deterred my enjoyment because it really fits the almost mythological tone of this book. His romance with childhood companion-turn lost lover-turn Queen Lady Anne Neville is told in a beautiful and romantic way that you can help falling in love with these two characters as they struggle to find their way to each other.
This book has so much to offer for historical fiction lovers. It has all the element of swoon worthy romance, chivalry, medieval politic and history…hell, even if you’re not usually into historical fiction, just read it anyway. I’ll guarantee you’ll end up loving this like i do. 5 unabashedly-head over heels in love- glowing stars.
Sharon Kay Penman, meet your new adoring fan! ...more
This book gave me FEELS! Straight up FEELS!! Askhfhksjgjgfksadf...
Okay, to try putting in my limited command of words this book is panoply of a comingThis book gave me FEELS! Straight up FEELS!! Askhfhksjgjgfksadf...
Okay, to try putting in my limited command of words this book is panoply of a coming of age story, an intriguing-subtle (and quite sexy) love story, entwined with quasi-introduction to the breadth of 15th century Italian art and cultural scene and its turbulent political landscape. All of these elements work together to form a fully fleshed narrative centered on one woman’s journey and quest for ‘freedom’ amidst the change of time, political and cultural landscape of her country. Quite an ambitious undertaking for a debut novel and in some measured ways it has succeeded admirably.
We follow the heroine’s journey, an adolescent girl named Alessandra Cecchi, The intelligent and passionate youngest daughter of a renowned Cloth Tradesman who has a thirst of political and art knowledge, also an ambition and talent to become a painter, an equal among men, at a time where the renaissance movement is in full bloom in a 15th century Florence, unfortunately for her 15th century Florence is also the time where the only thing that was expected from women is for them is to be chaste and demure and the knowledge they need to possessed is the knowledge of courtship, and the highest achievement for them is to marry and marry well and ultimately to produce heir to further the family lineage. Always at odds with the wishes of her parents and feeling different amongst her siblings , Alessandra struggles to free herself from the shackles of conventionality and to pursue her dream to become a painter while toeing the line of limitation of womanhood, pursuing her love and defining her own freedom as a woman amidst a changing political landscape of Florence from patron of art and culture becoming into a more pious, religious and restrictive atmosphere under the new leadership of an evangelical bishop.
The details is rich and vivid, the story while flows in a pretty languid time frame, the pace itself feels like moving in a breakneck speed thus not one second I felt bored while reading it, and the characters is layered and 3 dimensional, I get the sense of Alessandra’s inner workings, her motivation, frustration, her hope and agency, in some ways I think the readers (esp. the female one) will at one point identified themselves with her character, which I think is important to create a sense of engagement from the reader to the story. I love it!
PS : Quick shout out to Ms.Jae for leading me to this wonderful book :) ...more
Is it considered sacrilegious by Austen purist if i read this cover-to-cover with Joe Wright's movie adaptation as my headcanon? while some of the chaIs it considered sacrilegious by Austen purist if i read this cover-to-cover with Joe Wright's movie adaptation as my headcanon? while some of the characters interpretation widely differs between the two, 'twas certainly responsible in my comprehending the text, forming mental image and thus increasing my reading enjoyment. Might still have to watch the wet t-shirt version in the near future for more informed comparison :D...more
eh...the story and the political intrigues of the supposedly fictitionalised accounts of the Tudor eras and its key players flowed in a decent pace (aeh...the story and the political intrigues of the supposedly fictitionalised accounts of the Tudor eras and its key players flowed in a decent pace (although hardly exciting) for the first 2/4 and crumbling down fast at the last 1/4 parts..as dissapointing as its movie adaptation ...more
This novel is truly a BRICK of amazingness, at 900 pages, it surprises me how it just flew by and i thoroughly devoured every page until it's finishesThis novel is truly a BRICK of amazingness, at 900 pages, it surprises me how it just flew by and i thoroughly devoured every page until it's finishes, it took me only 5 days to finish it, such a rarity,amazing!. Basically it is a neo-victorian novel, set in the 19th century London, but written with a 21st century perspective, about a victorian highly-sought out-prostitute named Sugar and her struggle to rise for the betterment of her life, sort of like Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair but with raunchier and tantalising narrative. Along the way Sugar encountered a variety of characters which, while some only brushed by through her life,but some will helped forging her path and decision towards the climax of her tale. Michel Faber's skill of weaving sentences into sentences together is impeccable, throughly hooked you for wanting more. It is truly one book you must read and i can't wait for it's BBC adaptation airing this year.