This is a work of surpassing dryness which came as a welcome antidote to the overheated romanticism of the novels (set in this same period) with whichThis is a work of surpassing dryness which came as a welcome antidote to the overheated romanticism of the novels (set in this same period) with which I have been lately afflicting myself.
Once past the endless chapters on the family connections of Eleanor Talbot, her husband and all their distant and collateral relations, the eternal definitions of property and descriptions of landscapes there is some material of interest. Eleanor herself never fully emerges from the obscurity in which she is veiled by history. Perhaps this is inevitable since women were generally of no great account in the fifteenth century but the efforts of Ashdown-Hill to make her a figure of more importance than she already was are somewhat laughable. He ascribes to her motives and behaviour which must remain speculative as if it were proven. Why did she not lodge a protest when Edward announced his bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Woodville? Ashdown-Hill provides a number of reasons which seem rather contrived but are plausible. What was her connection to which religious house or body? Our author declares she never became a professed nun but may have become a lay member of the Carmelites. "May have", "might be" and the like are the irritatingly repeated hall mark of this book. I will not get into the question of the identification of Eleanor's possible body or his speculation over the significance of her dental abnormalities. (If the body with the abnormality is really hers.) Just another, "it may have been".
Ashdown-Hill has another habit which drove me near distraction. He continually sprinkles his text with French and Latin phrases to no useful effect. He also quotes sources in Latin, translating the more obvious ones and leaving the tricky and harder ones in the original tongue. I am not sure if he is simply playing games or did not have the skill to read the more difficult passages.
There are a number of handsome coloiur plates depicting open fields upon which a given manor or castle stood, a castle wall showing a vanished garden with a long gone footbridge over which Eleanor might have walked, effigies of some of her relatives and the x-rays of what might be Eleanor's mouth which proves something or the other. Ashdown-Hill does not seem quite sure what it proves.
This is the only book yet available devoted completely to the story of Eleanor. And, like the little boy with with book on penguins, it told me more about her than I actually wanted to know. For bad writing and unconscionable padding of meagre material, this gets only two stars; for not being romanticised fiction about the characters involved it gets more than one star. Read this if you are avidly curious about Eleanor Talbot, otherwise wait for a better treatment of the subject....more
Purely a joy. I read most of this while Plotz was writing for Slade on-line magazine. When the opportunity to buy it for the Kindle arose, I could notPurely a joy. I read most of this while Plotz was writing for Slade on-line magazine. When the opportunity to buy it for the Kindle arose, I could not resist.
This is not theology; it is one man's journey of discovery.
It astonishes me that after the devastating points raised in this book that Geller is still showing up in various places. One would think he would seeIt astonishes me that after the devastating points raised in this book that Geller is still showing up in various places. One would think he would seek a wonderfully well deserved obscurity. ...more