This book was the most worthy indulgence I've ever allowed myself. I prefer historical novels with main characters who are actually historical figures...moreThis book was the most worthy indulgence I've ever allowed myself. I prefer historical novels with main characters who are actually historical figures but Gregory did this with the utmost integrity. Very fulfilling.(less)
This book is, in my opinion, Gregory’s best novel. Some historical fiction can be a little too tawdry for my taste. (But don’t get me wrong, tawdry is...moreThis book is, in my opinion, Gregory’s best novel. Some historical fiction can be a little too tawdry for my taste. (But don’t get me wrong, tawdry is awesome as long as it’s accompanied by some substance I can sink my teeth into). Gregory’s novels can lose this balance every now and then and she is sometimes guilty of repetitive phrases that can force your mind to wander. I did not notice these pitfalls in this particular novel. There are, of course, passionate love scenes (because what hf would be complete without them?!?!?) But she does it with enough nuance that I found that not only did I not mind it, but it truly enriched the story. It was a little hard to get into at first, as military history was my downfall in college and it begins describing Catherine of Aragon’s life as the youngest daughter of the Catholic warmongers Ferdinand and Isabella. Tudorphiles often forget that Catherine of Aragon was the infanta. She was quite beautiful when she was young and she was the daughter of Spain’s most glorious monarchs. Needless to say, I found myself drawn into the story. I was extremely emotionally affected by many episodes in the book and by Gregory's interpretation of Catherine’s oh-so-debated virginity after her first husband’s (Arthur) death. In fact, had to put the book down for a week because I couldn't think about anything else and it was really getting to me. It reads like an alternative history and it breaks your heart to think that this woman, who is so often portrayed as the dowdy, helpless first wife of the infamous Henry VIII, could have lived such a painfully sweet existence. The ending is abrupt but necessary for your sanity after the heartbreak that you will feel throughout the book's duration. I recommend this novel for amateur and professional historians everywhere but beware: you must have not let your historical prowess get the best of you. Just enjoy the story for what it is.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel when I read it directly after it hit the shelves. I seredipitously came across it the day Barnes and Noble shelved it....moreI thoroughly enjoyed this novel when I read it directly after it hit the shelves. I seredipitously came across it the day Barnes and Noble shelved it. Fir me it opened up the world of the Plantaganets, for which I am eternally grateful. I prefer it to Gregory's Tudor fiction (perhaps just because Tudor novels are just so darn numerous these days).
The only downside was something that I can hardly blame on the author, it was more of an editing/publishing issue. The main character had 5 daughters and suddenly, half way through the novel, Gregory starts forgetting one of them and the number falls to 4. I re-read this section numerous times to see if I missed her being married off or passing away. No. Mary Plantaganet just drops out of the novel out of carlessness on the part of the editors. It was something I caught right away and I'm no professional.
Also, Gregory sometimes mixes up Elizabeth Woodeville's older sons from a previous marriage - Richard and Thomas Grey and at one point she called Thomas Grey the uncle of Elizabeth Plantaganet (be he is really her half-brother).
I read and re-read, trying to find a reason for these mistakes but couldn't find one. So for now, I chalk it up to careless copy editing.
Regardless of the snafus, this novel is a great read and I still recommend it highly. (less)
I read this short and sweet novel in one sitting. As an avid reader of histories as well as historical fiction, I can say that this is one of the more...moreI read this short and sweet novel in one sitting. As an avid reader of histories as well as historical fiction, I can say that this is one of the more enjoyable reads that I've had in a while. The author makes no attempt to portray the story as historically accurate (seeing as it is fiction after all) but the story is very real and well-researched. The author did not try too hard and did not seem to struggle too much with the tension between historical accuracy and telling a great story. This novel is definitely worth your time if you are a fan of historical fiction. It isn't perfect but it's immensely enjoyable. (less)
This book is a quick and entertaining read. I prefer the first book in this series but I still enjoyed this book very much. My only complaint is that...moreThis book is a quick and entertaining read. I prefer the first book in this series but I still enjoyed this book very much. My only complaint is that the author spent so much time catching up the reader (for those of them who have not read the first book). I understand that she wants each novel to stand on its own but the re-hashing was corny and onerous.
Other than that single complaint, this is a great historical thriller-- not for those sticklers though who prefer their novels to be as historically accurate as possible. Nonetheless, it's smart, entertaining and I can't wait to read the next one. (less)
It is always difficult for a serial author to engage a reader with her subsequent novels as much as she did with the first. The second and third book...moreIt is always difficult for a serial author to engage a reader with her subsequent novels as much as she did with the first. The second and third book of this series were enjoyable for me to read and I finished them quickly but they were not quite as rewarding. I tried the 4th as an audio book and I enjoyed it in this format much more. I will always love book #1 the best, however.
There is one thing about this novel, or even this series, that irritates me though. The author makes the assumption that readers will just automaticall feel the tenderness between the main character, Adelia and her lover, the Bishop of St. Albans. I have not cared for this couple since the first novel. Franklin did a great job of portraying their falling in love in the first novel but since then, she seems to assume that the reader's admiration of the match will just continue on through the rest of the series. I don't understand it because the rest of their past is reiterated (to my annoyance) throughout the novel but I suspect that newcomers to the series who read this novel first, will not particularly care for them as a couple.
That's my complaint but it's rare for a novel to be perfect. And I love this author for her ability to write a page-turner, not because of any profound, earth-shattering truth about human nature that is revealed through her writing. (less)
I really enjoyed this novel. I've read one by Maxwell before and I abandoned it half way through because it got a little boring to me. This novel also...moreI really enjoyed this novel. I've read one by Maxwell before and I abandoned it half way through because it got a little boring to me. This novel also has some lulls where I was not reading through it like a machine (especially the ending which, in my opinion, is quite drawn out). But overall, I really enjoyed it.
The main character is quite likeable and it's fun to imagine that Caterina da Vinci's life could have played out this way (though it's quite doubtful that it did). I love that the author played off the fact that we know so little about a woman who gave the world one of the most creative and fascinating men to ever live.
I'm a huge history buff and I especially love art history. It was wonderful to read as the main character encounters so many of history's great artists and politicians from Renaissance Florence. It was a super fun read!
I recommend this novel to someone looking for a fun and entertaining read about Renaissance Florence. It is not the most cerebral of novels but the author did her fair share of research and it's quite enjoyable, even more so for someone who is knowledgeable about Renaissance art. (less)
This is an excellent book. It was my first audio book so it took some getting used to but I found myself looking for excuses to drive and sitting in m...moreThis is an excellent book. It was my first audio book so it took some getting used to but I found myself looking for excuses to drive and sitting in my car before and after my drive so that I could listen to more of it!
I am an avid reader of historical fiction so I am aware that it is difficult to keep the balance between historical accuracy and good storytelling. This novel hits the nail right on the head. The language is beautiful and the story is lovely. I recommend this novel to anyone interested in Italian Renaissance art, Renaissance history or historical fiction in general. It's a gem!(less)
This novel was hauntingly delicious to read but I sometimes I doubted the author's knowledge of the field of history.
She captures the flavor of the e...moreThis novel was hauntingly delicious to read but I sometimes I doubted the author's knowledge of the field of history.
She captures the flavor of the era and I can tell she has her biographical facts down but the integration of her fictional story with historical circumstances leaves something to be desired. The Borgias are politically fascinating and I didn't get that sense as I read (even though this book is supposed to be about their personal lives and I knew that going in.) I guess I prefer historical fiction that offers explanations for the political decisions/personalities of historical figures and this novel fell short in that regard.
Also, there are far too many situations/thoughts/word plays that products of modern culture. It could have been a lot better with a little more political intrigue and a tad more editing.
Nonetheless I loved the read and I highly recommend it. This book is, in my opinion, underrated and I think it should be more popular than it is. (less)