It could only be a matter of time before I reviewed this one. It was inevitable. I'm going to start this review off by saying this was the very firstIt could only be a matter of time before I reviewed this one. It was inevitable. I'm going to start this review off by saying this was the very first book set in a time before the 1700s that I'd ever read. It was definitely the first Tudor book I'd had an association with. You can basically say that this books started my love affair with 16th century England, Henry VIII, and everyone/everything else associated with this time period. For that, Philippa Gregory, I give you a mad props. You made the historical geek that was buried deep inside of me come screaming out into the world....and here I am today.
Like I said, I went into this book knowing virtuously knowing nothing at all except Henry VIII had a lot of wives and that this one in particular, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded. That's it. This is all that Philippa G. expects you to know, and she runs with it. As the title implies, the book is about the less famous of the Boleyn sisters, Mary. She was Anne's younger sister, an early mistress of Henry whom he delightfully deflowers and she later bore two of his children. When Anne comes waltzing into the court, Henry is immediately obsessed with her. Anne keeps him wrapped around her finger for six years, never fully taking the title of mistress. Henry in the meantime kicks out his old spinsterish wife, Katherine of Aragon, and tells the Pope to GTFO. He marries Anne and they have a much unwanted daughter, Elizabeth. Meanwhile, Anne is sexually aroused by her homosexual brother, gives birth to a bunch of deformed babies, and in retaliation, takes ward of Mary's son, never allowing Mary to call him her son again. Henry is getting tired of Anne's inability to produce a son and her general bitchiness, so when it is found out that she is a witch, he figures this is the perfect time to get rid of her. Since being a witch is a crime, and so is sleeping with hundreds of other men while being married to the king, Anne gets punished pretty severely: she gets her head cut off. (That's what happens in the book. IT'S SO HISTORICALLY INACCURATE I WANTED TO DIE WHILE TYPING IT.)
So where is Mary this whole time? Other than being without her son and banished from court (which is probably a good thing in her eyes), she's living a grand life. She married a man of lower rank purely for love, lives in the country and plants crops. Because she stayed away from her family and the court during Anne's reign, she was able avoid punishment in being associated with Anne (their poor brother, George, one of the only likable characters, sadly did not).
Throughout her other Tudor novels, it is blatantly obvious that Philippa hates Anne Boleyn, and in essence, Elizabeth I. They are always written out to be awful, evil, horrible characters. Mary says something along the lines of "Anne wants everything that isn't hers" and it's so true; her selfishness is disgusting in this book. When her head was hacked off, it was the first and only time I would ever cheer at that event.
OK, it must sound like I hate this book with all my being, but I really don't. I just hate the fact that Philippa felt like she needed to fluff up and twist the book around just to make it interesting. In reality, this period of time doesn't need any help in being interesting and colorful on its own.
So after all this, what's the verdict? Believe it or not, 4 stars. I'm not sure if I can ever read it again without cringing but since it planted the historical seed that made me who I am today, it has a special place in my heart. And yes, that is the dorkiest thing I have ever written....more
What can I possibly say about this book? It's near perfect. Alison Weir (whom I love dearly!) reveals the histories and personalities of each of HenryWhat can I possibly say about this book? It's near perfect. Alison Weir (whom I love dearly!) reveals the histories and personalities of each of Henry VIII's six wives. Detailed family backgrounds and individual quirks allows the reader get a good glimpse into a great time in England's history. The good. Alison Weir obviously spent years painstakingly researching every detail and fact that went into the book, and it pays off. I feel as if I personally know each of the wives. It had the possibility of being textbook-like, but it read like a big, detailed epic. I lovelovelove the family trees in the back. It seems like Henry was in someway distantly related to almost all of his wives! The bad. More than half of the book was about Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn. Granted they are the most popular and/or controversial, and their stories span over many years, but because of that, I felt that I knew enough about them already. The rest of the wives were all crammed into the remaining pages. Poor Jane Seymour and Anne of Cleves only have a chapter each, while Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr have two each. I liked the pictures (well, um, paintings), but I wish there were more. I now have much more respect for the Showtime show The Tudors. The writers had a tendency to mess around with history, like combining Henry's two sisters into one, making fake mistresses (grr, I still hate you Ursula Misseldon!), etc. However, in this book I realized that the show does take words and circumstances directly from history. Anne's final confession was word for word in the show, and so are a lot of other quirky lines; before I just thought these were clever lines from the minds of the writers. I felt so important in recognizing these! While already semi-knowledgeable about this period of time, I seriously learned so much from this book! While I don't think this is much of a lay-by-the-pool-and-relax-on-vacation book, it is definitely a must read for all lovers of any kind of history. 4.5 stars! ...more
The quote from the front flap that reads "I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live" has haunted me ever since IThe quote from the front flap that reads "I am now a condemned traitor . . . I am to die when I have hardly begun to live" has haunted me ever since I read this back in September of 2009.
Lady Jane Grey was truly a tragic character. She was the grand-niece of Henry VIII, the granddaughter of Princess Mary and Charles Brandon. In 1553, her cousin Edward VI dies of illness, leaving Mary I next in line to the throne. The general population fears Mary taking the throne because of her Catholic beliefs. Since Jane has royal blood and is Protestant, her parents and father-in-law scheme to put her on the throne. It works--but only for nine measly days. Mary and her supporters push Jane off the throne and into jail. While Jane sits in jail for about a year's time, Mary begins marriage negotiations with Philip of Spain, but he won't come to England until all threats to the throne are disposed of.....a.k.a Lady Jane Grey. She is therefore executed for treason at the age of sixteen.
The title first intrigued me. The Innocent Traitor...talk about an oxymoron. Yet it rings true in the book. Jane was forced onto the throne by her elders. She had absolutely nothing to do with it, she was just a pawn in their treacherous games. Jane was perfectly content with sitting and reading her books all day.
One thing that might be tricky while reading this book is the slew of characters we meet, and by meet, I mean we are told part of the story from their viewpoint. The book opens with the POV of Jane's mother, Frances Brandon, and closes with the thoughts of Jane's executioner (It's heartbreaking! I cried!). The real problem is that most of the speakers sound alike....meaning Katherine Parr, Lady Elizabeth, Jane's nurse, and her father-in-law all sound alike.
Still.....it's just great. One of the many things I love about historical fiction is the fact that old dead people are brought to life again, and in Innocent Traitor, an already interesting story line is brought to life once again and made even more interesting and personal. Highly recommended.
I love to read about Henry VIII, his wives, and oldest daughter Mary I, but I've never really read an entire book dedicated to Elizabeth I. I decidedI love to read about Henry VIII, his wives, and oldest daughter Mary I, but I've never really read an entire book dedicated to Elizabeth I. I decided that one written by my favorite author was a good place to start! I adored this look into Elizabeth's life before she was queen, a time that is not really known or explored too well. The book opens around the time that Anne Boleyn was executed, and ends when Elizabeth learns that she will be Queen. The fact that this novel was in third person rather than first allows us to get a cleaner look into the minds of the influential and important people around Elizabeth. She truly had a uneasy, traumatic childhood, with the execution of her mother and the constant fear she lived in while Mary was on the throne.
One aspect that I like was the evolution of Mary I. When we see her at the beginning of the book, she is still a young woman, and seems to genuinely care for Elizabeth, especially with the fact that she had just lost her mother. Throughout the course of the book, Mary changes from that mother-like figure to the old, worried, almost maniacal queen.
*Maybe a spoiler, but not really*The author takes on the controversial and slight rumor that Elizabeth actually had a child at sometime in her lifetime. Here, she miscarries the child of Thomas Seymour. While I don't think Elizabeth ever had a child, especially at that age, it was still an interesting point. I also applaud Weir for adding a footnote saying that this was merely speculation.*End the maybe-ish spoiler*
I think the only thing about The Lady Elizabeth that I didn't like was a sentence at the very end. I won't write it here (who would want to know the last sentence beforehand?), but it is one of the dorkiest lines ever written. When I read it, I scrunched up my nose, went "Seriously?" and then burst out laughing.
This was one of those books that just reinforced my love for Alison Weir! As I said before, I find it respectable that she sticks to the facts, only adding in little details that are unknown or unsure. Highly recommend, especially for those Tudor-lovers! 4 stars....more
Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck yuck. Initially when I read this book I liked it. I think this was my first book about Elizabeth I, so I was clueless. The writinYuck. Yuck yuck yuck yuck. Initially when I read this book I liked it. I think this was my first book about Elizabeth I, so I was clueless. The writing was decent and the story line somewhat interesting. I felt that it focused to much on Amy Dudley, even though she was quite interesting herself (especially her mysterious death). I was really hoping for a book from Elizabeth's POV. Looking back, however......the big problem that I see is that it's very hard to believe and difficult to swallow that, even though so young, Elizabeth was that clingy and needy. This big deal about her being a strong and courageous woman is questioned when you read about her having nervous breakdowns when Robert Dudley isn't around. Who would've wanted that bag of hormones running a country? The second problem lies more with stupidity on the editors side. The book is set up chronologically and each chapter's title is a date, but half of the time, the years are wrong. For instance, Chapter 7 is titled '1563' and Chapter 8 is '1561' (just an example, I can't remember exactly what the typos are.) I spent at least 10 minutes staring at the book going 'Huh?!' Also, I got distracted by weird and random quotations and capitalizations. Maybe I just had a messed up version?
All in all, The Virgin's Lover left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It also reinforced my feelings that Philippa Gregory should not call herself an historian. 2 stars. Not my favorite book from PG, but I still love her. On to The Other Queen A Novel....more
To me, Philippa Gregory is a touchy subject. She picks interesting people to write about, but twists and exaggerates history and calls it the truth. MTo me, Philippa Gregory is a touchy subject. She picks interesting people to write about, but twists and exaggerates history and calls it the truth. Maybe I should start a meme called Soapbox Sunday, where I pick a book related issue and rant and rave about it. Hmm....you're up first Philippa. Anyways, The Queen's Fool focuses on a young Spanish Jewish girl named Hannah who emigrates to England and through a small series of events begins working as a fool for Edward VI (supposedly she's funny, I never saw it.) So obviously, if you know the history, Edward doesn't last long as King, so Hannah is now Mary I's fool. Some other things happen (some grisly murders, a marriage, lots of crying, etc), but by the end of the book I was bored. I was sick of Hannah Green and wished that she would die in a fire. Maybe then the book would jump up a notch on the awesome scale. If you are a firm Bloody Mary hater and despise everything about her, just read this book and you will immediately change your mind and love her. Most books I've read about her during the time of her reign describe her as old, ugly, and stubborn, not to mention a tyrant about faith (have you seen Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett? Jeez, poor Mary looks like a dwarf ogre). The Queen's Fool does not deny that she is old and ugly, especially compared to her younger sister Elizabeth, but it shows the good in her and overlooks the less than desirable qualities. I have so much more sympathy for her after this; she led a downright sad life. For some reason, Hannah runs around in boy clothes. I don't think she wears a dress until the end of the book. So this leads me to question who the heck that person in the lovely green dress is on the cover. Hey, if Hannah can woo a husband all while wearing drag, more power to her. However, the main problem I have with this book is that Hannah had key roles in some major events during that time: she worked for Robert Dudley, and was close friends with both Mary and Elizabeth......pretty impressive FOR SOMEONE THAT DIDN'T EXIST. That's just stretching a fiction story too far. Do I recommend this book? Maybe. If you like whiny girls and descriptions of people being impaled, go for it. One big cheery 'ugh' from me. 2.5 stars....more
I may be going out on a limb here, but I think it's safe to say that 99% of you have read Hamlet by William Shakespeare. If you haven't....you probablI may be going out on a limb here, but I think it's safe to say that 99% of you have read Hamlet by William Shakespeare. If you haven't....you probably didn't attend high school. Anyways, you all know Ophelia, Hamlet's lady friend whose peak in the story is drowning herself. In Ophelia, we are told the same story that we all know by heart, only from a different angle.
The story starts with Ophelia as a young girl. She lost her mother early on and lived with her domineering father, Polonius, and brother, Laertes. When she is about ten years old, her father gets her a spot in the palace working for Queen Gertrude. Several years later, she catches the eye of Prince Hamlet. They fall in love, but they must keep it a secret as he is a prince and she is essentially a nobody.
Part 2 is all of the events that essentially happen in the play. As I said before, it's the same story, just told from a different point of view. Ophelia watches the madness of King Cladius, the piety of Queen Gertrude, and Hamlet's ravel to madness from the sidelines. Then things began to get weird. Remember Ophelia's scene where she has the likeness of a crazy woman as she gives flowers to everyone? I think the author didn't want Ophelia to be insane....in this story, she was simply putting on an act to fool everybody around her. Up to this point in the book, I'd been enjoying the story immensely. It was the change of Ophelia from a tragic character to strong heroine that irritated me.
If this wasn't enough, Ophelia doesn't die. She takes poison to feign a death and only lets Horatio in on the secret. I realize that this would have been a much shorter story if she really had died, but c'mon...I would have enjoyed the overall book much more if it had followed the story more closely and ended with a crazy person drowning herself. I think this irritation carried over into Part 3, Ophelia's new life in a new country. Everyone that she previously knew (her family, Hamlet, etc) are barely given a passing thought. There was a totally different feel to the story that just didn't fit.
If you don't mind that the story becomes majorly skewed from the original play, I think you'd like this story a lot. It was well written and Ophelia is a pretty likable character. It was a nice, quick read - as well as a flashback to high school. 3.5 stars....more
omething that I have always been interested in, even though I don't believe in it, is reincarnation. The fact that there is an opportunity to live anoomething that I have always been interested in, even though I don't believe in it, is reincarnation. The fact that there is an opportunity to live another life, so different yet similar to the others, is just fascinating! So, Green Darkness had two of my favorite reading subjects: the Tudors and reincarnation. Imagine how happy I was to find this book! In Book 1, we begin our journey in 1968, with Celia, an American now unhappily wed to an English man. Soon she starts getting strange visions and acting odd and deranged. Celia babbles about King Edward and dancing, then is frozen in an awkward and painful looking position. Fearing for her life and sanity, she is hospitalized. An Indian friend and doctor fears that she is subconsciously reliving one of her past lives, 400 years ago, a life that needed closure. We get a glimpse into this life in Book 2, in the years 1552-1559. We follow a young poor, orphaned girl named Celia living her life under the reign of Henry VIII's children: Edward, Mary, and Elizabeth. We follow her these seven years through abandonment, love, marriage, and ultimately, a gruesome end. What I find the most interesting and engaging is the fact that Celia's family/friends/neighbors/enemies in 1968 play basically the same role in her life in the 16th century. We are swept back to the 20th century for, in my opinion, a less than satisfactory, but sweet, ending. I found that by the time I had reached Book 3 (Conclusion, 1968), I had forgotten all of those characters, so I recommend that after finishing the book, you read Part 1 again. You can make connections and realizations that were missed the first time. I think Ms. Seton did a wonderful job at creating a truly originally and well-thought out book. The way pieces tie together throughout both of Celia's lives is so creative. It was a rather hefty book, but well worth it!...more
Jane Boleyn was no saint, yet this biography portrays her to be one. She has no flaws! She was happily married to George Boleyn, was a close confidantJane Boleyn was no saint, yet this biography portrays her to be one. She has no flaws! She was happily married to George Boleyn, was a close confidant of Anne Boleyn, she never provided evidence that led to the death of her husband or sister-in-law, she was innocent in the Katherine Howard-Thomas Culpepper scandal, and before her death, she never went mad! What an angel! What. The. Heck. I really don't feel that I have learned anything more about Jane than I already knew from a Philippa Gregory book....more
I've read countless books about Tudor England, the majority focused on Henry VIIIs wives. I've heard the same stories dozens of times, but they never,I've read countless books about Tudor England, the majority focused on Henry VIIIs wives. I've heard the same stories dozens of times, but they never, ever get old. In these countless books, Henry is almost always portrayed as a tyrannical, mad, lusty old fat guy. He is written to be evil and disliked, the antagonist of his own realm. In this book, Margaret George took on one of the biggest challenges ever: to write the life story of this infamous king - all from his point of view, actually giving him a chance to defend himself. My first impression was suspicion and doubt that that could ever be done, but boy, did she pull it off.
The book is written in memoir form. The actual diary is being sent from Henry's fool, Will Somers, to his illegitimate daughter, Catherine Knollys (the niece of Anne Boleyn). Will Somers throws in some quirky little thoughts now and then, which is quite enjoyable. Henry's memoir starts from his early childhood as the overlooked second son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, and runs all the way to shortly before his death, when he is the ailing King of England and on his sixth wife.
My favorite aspect of this book was how it changed my view of Henry. Margaret George's Henry VIII is not obsessed with women or heirs, like we've seen before; this Henry is mostly focused on his struggles with religion. We find logical reasons for why Henry did some of the tyrannical things he did (though they may just be speculations). I actually sympathized with this man in some parts.
You might think that in order to read a detailed memoir of a famous king who ruled for many years you would need to previously know a lot about him or this time period. Well, you don't. His family history, wars, famous people of the day and customs are all explained to you by Henry (Why? I don't know.) As usual with a Margaret George book, The Autobiography of Henry VIII is HUGE! It may be 900-plus pages, but don't be daunted! The reading actually passed very quickly for me, as I was enjoying it so much. I wish I could give it more, but 5 stars will have to be sufficient for now!...more