If I could give this book 6 or more stars, I would.
Penman does a fantastic job in this incredibly well-researched novel of presenting a different, andIf I could give this book 6 or more stars, I would.
Penman does a fantastic job in this incredibly well-researched novel of presenting a different, and entirely plausible, view of Richard III.
Using letters and other data from his time, Richard III is brought to life as a man of fierce loyalties, emotion, and honor. Much of what has been written of Richard III, from Shakespeare to the present day, comes from a "history" which was rewritten, starting with his successor, Henry Tudor. He has been portrayed as the archetypal villian ~ with his shriveled arm and hunchback, murderer of children, executor of Henry IV, his brother Clarence and his own wife.
None of these allegations are actually supported by concrete factual data. For instance, there are no mentions by any of his contemporaries that he was physically deformed in any way (and Penman makes an excellent case that, because of his documented abilities on the battlefield it is highly unlikely that he actually could have been so physically deformed). Additionally, there are no written reports of any mistresses after his marriage, even as King (although he did have two illegitimate children before his marriage) and all indications point to it being a love match as well ~ their joint grief at the untimely death of their son is well-documented and further evidence of a stable and close union. Finally, it would not have been politically expedient for him to have his nephews murdered and actually would have been political suicide ~ even the suspicion that he had murdered them was enough to cause political turmoil for him.
Any book written about a person living over 500 years ago must paint him against the background of his own times, morality and contemporaries. Penman's novel succeeds at this by painting Richard III as a flesh and blood man, with weaknesses and strengths, insecurities and strengths. I was left at the end of the book mourning a man who has been vastly misportrayed in history, as well as man who could very well have been a great King, had several nobleman in his own government not turned against him at the moment they were most needed, on Bosworth Field.
One aspect of Penman's novel that I especially enjoyed was her painstaking effort to place Richard and events at the actual time, and in the actual place, where they occurred. For a history buff, it was especially enjoyable to know that events in the novel were based so concretely in time and place.
This was one of those novels that, at the end, I found myself bereft ... but this time not only for the end of the novel, but also the manner of Richard III's death, and his portrayal (or betrayal?) by historians past and present....more
This is a marvelous book in so many respects ~ historically accurate, rich in detail (but not overbearing in detail), and an utterly romantic story. SThis is a marvelous book in so many respects ~ historically accurate, rich in detail (but not overbearing in detail), and an utterly romantic story. Seton researched this story in great detail for 4 years in England, searching through old records for clues and facts. Luckily, due to the characters, much is known. Where the facts could not be found, Seton comes to very believable hypotheses. The result is a completely believable and, to me, utterly captivating story about love between the Duke of Lancaster and Katherine, Lady Swynford. My favorite Seton book....more