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)
As a historian and avid reader, I found this volume to be a jewel. Elizabeth Tudor has been written about to the point of being overdone but Weir's bi...moreAs a historian and avid reader, I found this volume to be a jewel. Elizabeth Tudor has been written about to the point of being overdone but Weir's biographical account is refreshing in the face of so much redundant scholarship. This reads like a novel but Weir manages to maintain excellent standards of accuracy. This book is great. (less)
This book is a little dry. I listen to it rather than read it, which was perhaps a mistake.. it's easier for your mind to wander from audio in my opin...moreThis book is a little dry. I listen to it rather than read it, which was perhaps a mistake.. it's easier for your mind to wander from audio in my opinion. Weir is an excellent historian and I've read enough histories to know that she's a great writer as well. This book's downfall is the dullness of the beginning. It gets better as it goes along but since it starts off so slow, it's hard to hang in there that long.
There are many lists of dates and lists of people in the beginning. This is because the only information that we have about Isabella and her early life revolve around dated travel chronicles.
I don't think that Weir could have done anything to make the story more interesting without compromising its historical integrity so I respect her for that. But towards the end, she started making some factually-based conjectures that were interesting. The beginning could have used more of that, though I don't see how she would have been able to make such conjectures with the paucity of the information she had to work with.
Overall, it was a job well done but not my most fascinating read. (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)
The information and analysis in this book are fascinating but the way the author organized it leaves much to be desired. The first chapter is a chrono...moreThe information and analysis in this book are fascinating but the way the author organized it leaves much to be desired. The first chapter is a chronological history and then the remaining chapters each focus on seemingly arbitrary hand-picked facets of Eleanor's life. This bizarre organization (though perhaps suited to SOME histories) is onerous in this case and negatively affected my reading experience. (less)