With this book I got into the head of Marie Antoinette. The author did all the research and based on the known facts delivered what she thought was goWith this book I got into the head of Marie Antoinette. The author did all the research and based on the known facts delivered what she thought was going on in Marie Antoinette's head. She convinced me. At the end of the book is a list of source material, "A Brief Timeline of Events" and an interesting conversation with the author. Don't skip this; it is really good.
The historical facts are clearly presented. You follow Marie from her coming to France as a naïve fourteen year old to her death at the guillotine. Toinette, as she is affectionately called by those close to her, has been maligned by history; I appreciated hearing a more balanced view. I empathized with her. I saw how she matured. I really did suffer with her when she couldn't become pregnant, through no fault of her own. That struggle felt very real to me, and when her husband, the Dauphin, finally did become aroused the author's lines beautifully portray the conception. You understood why before she had turned to gambling and frivolity.
Quite simply, I like the sensual writing. I like the clear presentation of the historical facts. Never are they boringly presented. I believe we see here Marie Antoinette's view of what happened around her in the years leading up to her death. For me, only through empathy with historical characters does history become meaningful.
After 20 pages: Some authors fit some readers. I very much like how this author writes. Mmm mmm, good stuff. I like the descriptive lines. I feel that I am in young Antoinette's head. I see her world from her point of view. This author studies the known facts and does not change them. Antoinette did not say, when told that the people of eighteenth century France were starving, "If they have no bread then let them eat cake!", and consequently that is not to be found in this book. What is found are the lines she did say. I have stupidly put off reading this book b/c royalty and historical fiction so often disappoint me. ...more
On completion: WOW - what a way to learn history! This reads like a horror story or a political crime novel. But NO!, this is history. I apNO SPOILERS
On completion: WOW - what a way to learn history! This reads like a horror story or a political crime novel. But NO!, this is history. I applaud Per Olov Enquist's talents. He presents all the facts, all the events of the "Danish Struensee Era", and yet not once do you feel you are reading anything but a political crime novel. And yet.... I don't enjoy political novels or crime novels or horror stories, either - but this I adored!
The imagery is stupendous:
The revolution that Struensee initiated was quickly stopped. It took only a few weeks for everything to revert to the way it was before, or to even earlier times. It was as if his 632 decrees, issued during the two years known as the "Struensee era" were paper swallow, some which landed, while others were still hovering low over the surface of the field and hadn't yet managed to alight on the Danish landscape. (page 310)
The theme focused upon Christian's insanity has the reader continually asking: Is he insane? Yes, he is! No, he can't be, not when he is capable of such reasoning. This is not a criticism of the quthor's description of Christian. It is instead the author's ability to keep us pondering: What is insanity?
The book offers intriguing philosophical insights. The following text concerns a painting of the Swedish King Gustav III by Carl Gustaf Pilo:
Is it the darkness that is light or the luminous that is dark? A choice must be made. The same is true of history; people choose what to see, what is light and what is darkness. (page 304)
This is of course very relevant to the events of the story.
There is superb character portrayal. The writing is very Swedish/Scandinavian. Characters simply cannot reveal themselves to one another. There is always an atmosphere of tension and the prevalent suppression of communication.
Christian, Caroline Mathilde, Struensee. Those three.
They seemed to be observing each other with curiosity and suspicion. The court observed them too. As they observed the court. Everyone seemed to be waiting. (page 137)
I don't like political novels. I don't like horror stories. I usually shy away from Swedish authors since I have read a fair share of them. Thus, I shouldn't like this book, but I really, really did. 5 stars!
Through page 100: I don't quite see how you can possibly give spoilers for this novel. Right at the beginning the reader is told what will happen. The Danish King Christian VII, born 1749, was found to be crazy. A royal physician was called in to "protect" and care for him. This physician was the German doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee. It was he who along with Christian brought the ideas of the "Enlightenment" to Denmark. Laws were passed supporting these theories. What did the "Enlightenment" stand for? It was an attempt to bring freedom of thought, tolerance and liberty into government. It supported beliefs in reason and empiricism witnin medicine, physics and mathematics. Struensee held his position as the Royal Physician for four years from 1768-1772, after which he was tortured and beheaded. He had an affair with the Queen Caroline Mathilde. This was a convenient excuse for removing him from power! You see, before Christian, the Danish Kings were weak in power and the Danish Court were the ones who in fact held the reins. Christian was very young when he became King. If he wasn't crazy from the start, he certainly had to be brought to this state by those responsible for his uppbringing. I am telling you, the description of how this was brought into effect is hair-raising! I guess what is fiction is the exact words and the personification of the characters..... The author does this so well that you never doubt a smidgeon! The elegance of the author's words is astounding. When revealing the facts he is short and precise. When describing the love affairs you are there too. The prose is wonderful. I guess the translation is too, because I am reading the translated version, by Tiina Nunnally. I will give you a taste by quoting from pages 99-100 when Struensee first meets Christian:
Their first encounter was extremely odd.
The King was staying at the mayor's residence. One evening when he asked for the courier Andreas Hjort, he was informed that the man had been recalled home. No explanation was given. The courier's action was described as inexplicable but might have been prompted by illness in his family.
Christian suffered a recurrence of his peculiar spasms and then began furiously demolishing the room, throwing the chairs and breaking windows. With a oiece of coal taken from the embers in the fireplace he wrote Guldberg's name on the exceedingly beautiful silk tapestries, although deliberately misspelling it. During the tumult the King's hand was injured and started to bleed, so that Struensee's first task on the journey was to bandage the monarch's hand.
The new Royal Physician had been called in.
His first memory of Christian was this: the quite slender boy was sitting on a chair, his hand was bleeding, and he was staring, straight ahead.
After a very long silence Struensee asked kindly:
"Your Majesty, can you explain this sudden...anger? You don't have to, but..."
"No, I don't have to."
After a moment he added.
"They tricked me. She's not anywhere. Even if she is somewhere, that's not where we are going. And if we do, they'll take her away. Perhaps she is dead. It's my fault. I must be punished."
Struensee writes that at the time he didn't understand (though he did later) and that he simply and quietly began bandaging the King's hand.
"Were you born in Altona?" Christian then asked.
"In Halle. ButI cam to Altona at an early age."
"They say," Christian continued, "that in Altona there are nothing but freethinkers and men of the Enlightenment who want to smash society into rubble and ashes."
Struensee merely nodded calmly.
"Smash!!! The existing society!!!"
"Yes, Your Majesty," replied Struensee. That's what they say. Others say ir's a European center of the Enlightenment."
"And what do you say, Doctor Struensee?"
The bandaging was now done. Struensee was on his knees in front of Christian.
"I'm a man of the Enlightenment," he said, "but first and foremost a doctor. If Your Majesty so desires, I will leave my post at once and return to my normal medical practice."
Christian regarded Struensee with a newly sparked interest, not in the least annoyed or disturbed by the man's almost insolent bluntness.
I took the time to give such a lenthy quote because I believe the prose will appeal to some readers and not to others. You determine. I think you also see from this quote that this is a work of fiction for portions cannot be known facts. The author has umade his own suppositions. Tere is no author's note at the end. ...more
I started this 5 days ago. I was worried from the start that it would not be my cup of tea. For five days my head is telling me: Be patient! Don't beI started this 5 days ago. I was worried from the start that it would not be my cup of tea. For five days my head is telling me: Be patient! Don't be rash. Give this book a chance. You know those books that you cannot put down? Well this belongs instead with those books that you cannot motivate yourself to pick up. That is how it has been for me. Now this is only my opinion, and I am pretty darn sure that I am the "odd ball out" here! Why? Well because generally I do not like crime stories, but I thought with this one I would get history too. You do. You also get a mixture of different character types, different cultures.
Here is an excerpt about Cambridge, the town itself:
Believing it to be her business to investigate the murderer's territory and see something of the town, she was surprised but not displeased, to find that Brother Swithin, busy with a new influx of travellers, was prepared to let her go without an escort and that, in Cambridge's teeming streets, women of all castes bustled about their business unaccompanied with faces unveiled.....The town opened itself wide like a flat flower to catch what light the english sky gave it. (page 119)
Compare Cambridge to Salerno in southern Italy. I would have been happier if the story took place there, but then of course it would be a different story all together:
Adelia was clawed by homesickness. Most of all for Margaret, that loving presence. But also, oh, God, for Salerno. For orange trees and sun and shade, for aqueducts, for the sea, for the sunken Roman bath in the house she shared with her foster-parents, for the mosaic floors, for trained servants, for acceptance as her position as medica, for the facilities of the school, for salads - she hadn't eaten green stuff since arriving in this God-forsaken, meat-stuffing country.
Truly, I am trying to present a fair unbiased review. I am bending over backwards to point out the positive along with the negative. However, there aren't that many lines worth quoting........
The central theme is about Christian children who are being killed in Cambridge during medieval times. The year is 1170. The Jews are accused. Who else would be accused, even though they are all hiding to escape the hatred of the Christians? They are in fact imprisoned. So how can they be killing the kids? And the deaths of the children are gruesome. They are sexually assaulted. their eyelids are torn off. Not a pretty sight. But Henry II doesn't believe the Jews are guilty and he certainly doesn't want them all imprisoned because then they cannot work and pay their taxes. To him! He needs their money! The murderer must be found so the Jews can go home, back to work so they can pay taxes. And for some reason the King of Sicily is involved too. He has sent three to investigate the crime. One is a Jew, Simon. One is Muslim and then theire is the doctor who is to study the corpses and help figure out who the murderer is. This is Adelia, and she is a woman, trained in Salerno, but still a woman, when woman were not accepted as doctors! Not in England. So the premises are very interesting. So why am I bored? This one does not pull me. It neither gets me mad nor delights me. It doesn't move me at all.
There is humor. Adelia is so darn headstrong; it is downright amusing. Would one have such a person in the 1100s? Of course it is possible, but not that likely. However it has taken me 137 pages to care about her, to laugh with her sometimes. You cannot help but admire her stubborness. She will find the murderer, if it is the last thing she does.
So what is wrong? This reads like fiction from start to finish. No, I cannot say that since I have only read through 137 pages. From start through page 137, it reads like fiction. I do not think the style will change. You get a feel for a book right from the beginning. Rarely does that "feeling" change. The plot can take intersting turns but that is not the same as how the book portrays the individuals. So if you adore fiction oaver all else, this might be right up your alley.
And most people are curious to know who the bad guy is. Who is the murderer? Since this isn't a true story I simply cannot get terribly involved. The story does not feel real. Now that I thik is a serious fault. I don't like short stories, and yet I loved Babette's Feast. Dog Tails: Three Humorous Short Stories for Dog Lovers had me laughing from start to finish! So why is this author incapable of making me enjoy a novel of historical crime? I try to stretch into different genre, that is why I keep trying books that are not what I usually read. You know, I like reading historical memoirs and about different cultures. I will continue to try and stretch my horizons, but not with this book. I am closing this book - leaving it unfinished. It is not for me. It might be just perfect for you. Vivez la différence! I can always pick it up later and give it another try. If I continue reading it now I will just get more and more annoyed and frustrated.
ETA: I later read The Life of Elizabeth I, one of her non-fiction books. I found it much better. I gave it four stars! Amazingly enough it was the nonETA: I later read The Life of Elizabeth I, one of her non-fiction books. I found it much better. I gave it four stars! Amazingly enough it was the non-fiction book that drew me in, where I totally empathized with the characters.
So what do I like (and not like) about Innocent Traitor? I like that in a relatively short book one gets a quick summary of Tudor history; Henry VIII, his wives and progeny, are quickly summarized so you can understand how Lady Jane Grey came to be queen for nine days. There is a clear family tree in the front of the book. What are the themes? Religion, more specifically Protestantism versus Catholicism, faith and power and personal gain. Royalty too. I am not religious, and I do not have faith, and I prefer reading about people from the lower classes, so the chances I could like this book are pretty slim, but I wanted to have a basic understanding of the Tudors. It says on the cover, “If you don’t cry at the end you have a heart of stone.” I guess I have a heart of stone.
So what went wrong? Alison Weir published ten books of historical non-fiction before writing this, her first book of fiction. She knows the topic and she says in her author’s note, “Most of the characters in this novel really existed, and most of the events actually happened. However, where the evidence is scanty or missing, I have used my imagination.” She then clarifies where in the books she has done this. That is exactly the kind of historical fiction I look for. Still, this did not work for me. The author also says she tried to penetrate the minds of her characters, and that is where the problem lies, at least for me. I kept thinking, this character would not do that, she would not say that! The author did not get me inside the head of Lady Jane Grey. I felt that she did exactly what she was told…..until the day she became Queen. Her thoughts and actions were to me unbelievable. Neither could I comprehend the faith she had. Everyone else around her was motivated by personal gain, her parents in particular. I could not believe that her mother came to regret her own behavior. No, I could not empathize with the characters because the author did not succeed in making me see through their eyes. Neither did I find genuine the words the author put in the characters’ mouths. They were too modern. In addition, there was absolutely no humor in this book!
If I read another book by this author it will be non-fiction.
The book was OK, and by GR rating that means it should be given two stars, so that is what I am giving it. Only two stars!
(ETA: Nurse Ellen is the one and only character I empathized with.)
Through page 50: Will I understand who is who? Will I like reading about the Tudors?
YES, to both questions. Wow, I am impressed at Alison Weir's writing skills. She knows the details so well that she can interweave them in a fascinating and engaging manner. Nurse Ellen is fantastic. I need her as much as Lady Jane Grey does! She so well understands how to explain sex and such to a small child and how to explain more as the child matures. Beautifully written. Relationships are expertly depicted! I am astonished and impressed. I don't like reading about royalty, but this I very much enjoy. Because even royalty are real people with feelings. Please continue in this manner. There is a map and family chart that is simple to comprehend, for a quick glance now and then. What a surprise. ...more
No, this is not a book I enjoy. I have read 267 of 972 pages and have decided to quit. I know the historical facts are correct so I have been forcingNo, this is not a book I enjoy. I have read 267 of 972 pages and have decided to quit. I know the historical facts are correct so I have been forcing myself to continue to learn about the Restoration period in England, the plague, London’s Fire, clothing, food, customs and manners. Yes, all that is here. Still, I did not enjoy it. The beginning was fun because Amber felt like a young, spunky girl determined to get what she wanted from life… and Bruce did blow her over! That was all fine and dandy, and they went off to London together. Then he disappears, and he had told her he would be leaving so he is no rotten schmuck. Don’t worry; this is all so soon in the book it is not a spoiler. It is just that I don’t like Amber at all anymore. Prison and thievery and marrying for personal gain, well, I just don’t like her anymore. OK, I could follow her footsteps to learn about the events at the end of the 1600s. It is just that I don’t care for any of the characters; in fact I dislike all of them. I would only recommend this book to those who particularly enjoy plot oriented novels because the characters just do not draw you in. Maybe I am too picky, but I want more than just plot. I want characters that feel real, some bad, some good, at least one for whom I can feel empathy. Nope, this is not my thing. I am going to stop here. I tried.
Remember, my one star doesn’t at all mean this is a bad book. It just means it was not for me. You have to decide for yourself what you are looking for in a book.
I have finished the book and want to say very clearly that this is a wonderful book. For me the the latter half is much better than the fNO SPOILERS!!
I have finished the book and want to say very clearly that this is a wonderful book. For me the the latter half is much better than the first, but you need the first to get acquainted with the characters. I did come to empathize with Catherine. It just took me a while. My sole reservation about this book is that love is poorly portrayed. This is not a romance novel. It is full of action and murder and poisoning and family bruhaha. You think you've got family problems. Forget it. Your problems are a piece of cake compared to the Royal House of France during the 1500s. Nevertheless, you will recognize disfunctions that can occur in any family.
I praise the author for explaining clearly a difficult time period and for his ability to bring this time period to life. If someone should mention the Bartholomew Massacre or the Huguenots or the Guise family or Mary Stuart or Diane de Poitiers or Henri de Navarre and Queen Jeanne d'Albert or Philip II of Spain, Francçois I and II or Nostradamus and many many others, after reading this book, you will understand who they were and what they did and why. Heavens, I forgot Gaspard de Coligny. Don't forget him!!! The Tudors and the Bourbon family, yes they are part of this too. So if it takes a while to know all these people, be a little patient, at least more patient than I was. The author does a magnificent job of teaching you all this. You do not even need a pad of paper and pencil. It does not matter to me that the romance portrayed in the novel did not work for me. I promise you, by reading this book you will learn a lot, and you will enjoy the exciting history that it portrays. Other books will be much more interesting having read this first. So four stars it is.
There is an informative author's note at the end. The author's interpretation of the known facts is convincing, and I appreciate that he takes the time to explains his interpretation to the reader.
Wow, Part Three is action packed! I sure am glad there is a family tree in the front. How many Henris are there?! The kids grow up quickly and are married off, always to promote political ties. That is history. Historical romance is really not my cup of tea, and there is too much of that here. I feel the same when the theme concerns occult beliefs. Some of the episodes are so terribly predictable. The different historical events are presented in a quick and neat manner. Not terribly much depth..... I hope the book improves. On to Part Four.
Through Part Two: Naked as a Babe (page 101) Having read through part two, I am quite disappointed. I have no complaints with the presentation of the historical facts. My complaint is that I do not believe the emotions expressed by Catherine. I am told she loves France and King François and that she feels physical attraction to her absentee husband Henri, but the author has not made me believe that these emotions could really exist. Below I will give specific reasons for my thoughts.
As a young woman of fourteen when she first arrived in France Catherine emphasizes how she misses home, Italy. In one sentence she says she has these Italian companions to give her comfort in the strange new land. Yes, France is beautiful, and she sees this from the start, but everything is in comparison to the art and beauty she has experienced in Italy. Here, look at this description of Fontainebleau:
I recognized François's passion for everything Italian. He had sought to re-create a vision of my land that I no longer held, one of supreme artistry and extroverted exuberance, and he was so delighted with my interest he even took me on a personal tour of his chateau, pointing out the oleander-dusted grottoes that echoed courtyards of Tuscany and bathing chambers that boasted heated floors and mosaics like those of ancient Rome. (page 46)
(Isn't it grammatically correct to write François' rather than Françcois's?) As the years go by and she never becomes pregnant, rumors abound. They are not complimentary. She is not accepted by the French people. She is ostracized and very much disfavored. Sorry, but where does this love of France come from?
Catherine supposedly feels a strong, immediate friendship with her husband's father, King François. Their love for each other just happened in the twinkling of an eye. Such can occur, but sometimes the prose is just too overblown. The reader is given only one episode, a day of hunting, where the two really interact. Oh yes, there is that tour of Fontainebleau. The reader is told that the two felt great affection and love for each other, but I haven't seen it grow. On his deathbed, Cathrine reflects:
How could I live in a world where he no longer existed? (page 95)
Catherine supposedly feels physical attraction to her husband, a man she never sees and who has humiliated her countless times. Her husband's mistress realizes that Catherine must bear a child. If she doesn't she will be thrown out and replaced by another who will. This could be ever so troublesome for the mistress, Diane de Poitiers! So she gets involved and makes sure that heirs are produced. She taught them exactly what to do, down to "providing them with a chart detailing the best positions for conception" (page90) !Can you imagine anything so horrible? She is standing in the dark corner of the romm while they have sex. Do you believe that Cathrine would think the following?
...I stole every bit of pleasure I could in the process, acting the bawd for my husband and his mistress, for she'd told us that only the heat of our ardour would ripen my womb. (page 90)
It is those first words of the quote which I find unbelievable.
I do not feel that at this time the author has shown me, the reader, believable emotions. I am disappointed. Due to these false emotions I feel like I am reading a light novel. I will continue and concentrate on the historical facts. Maybe the characters will turn around too. I hope so.
Through Part One: The Tender Leaf, (page 33) I have only read part one, but yes I like it. The author has included a family tree and a map, which are helpful. Also the chapters are dated, so you can keep straight in your head when the historical bits really did occur. History is explained clearly. It is interwoven into the sory, so it never becomes "a lesson". It is just useful to know so the reader understands why the characters make the choices they do. It is not heavy reading, just fun! And you learn at the same time. :0) What I particularly like is that you see how childhood experiences of Catherine de Medici, who is called Catarina in the book, are shapping her character. She is only thirteen by the end of part one. You know already that she has the ability to speak diplomatically although her emotions push her to scream. She can control her temper. She does not enjoy the "silly curtsies, fluttering hands and coy glances" (page 28) demanded by society and she abhors dancing! Lastly she learns from the past - she will not be duped. So the author has made me empathize with Catarina's childhood difficulties. I like her very much.
Lastly some lines make you think twice, as this one:
Remember, whatever he says, you're more important to him than he is to you. (page 29)
This is said by Lucrezia, Catarina's maid servant, just before Catarina is called into a meeting with Pope Clement VII, her uncle. What does this sentence say? To me it illustrates the close relationship between the two, and it exhibits strength and self-reliance. I am sure this is a forewarning of what is to come.
Before reading: I have to check this out. I am adding it b/c I so loved The Last Queen by Gortner....more
After 172 pages I have decided to dump this.I do NOT enjoy reading it and I have given it a fair try. I am often hesitant toward autobiographies, partAfter 172 pages I have decided to dump this.I do NOT enjoy reading it and I have given it a fair try. I am often hesitant toward autobiographies, particularly when they are historical fiction. An autobiography cannot, by definition, provide an impartial view on the events that occurred. Margaret George is an author known for her thorough research, but in that which is not known she has made suppositions that I cannot accept. In my mind it is very clear that Henry was motivated by power. He was a king and it definitely was his job to increase England's (and his own) glory, strength and power. Why did he split with the Pope? Divorce was not allowed. When Catherine's father, King Ferdinand of Spain, did not support Henry against the French as had been agreed, it is not so strange that he questioned his wife's allegiance. In addition she did not give him a male heir. Henry's choices were motivated by a search for power. This is a power game, nothing else. I object to George putting these words into the text:
I would take my place on the Continental stage, to pursue England's lost dream of conquering France in its entirety. Perhaps that was what God truly required of me; perhaps it was here that I had failed Him. As King, there were certain tasks that I must undertake, as surely as a knight at Arthur's Round Table was given them, and to shirk them meant shame and cowardice........
Perhaps when I conquered France, God would turn his face toward me. I became more and more convinced of it. .......
My advisors and Council, by and large, were not convinced. Of my desire to redeem myself with God they were unaware; but they were against war with France. Father had spoiled them with his lack of involvement in foreign entanglements, and like any privileged state, they had got used to it. (page 145)
There is no proof of such a supposition. He used the church for his own purposes; I do not see him as being religiously motivated. He is motivated by a search for power.
This book is a diary written by King Henry, with added notes by his jester, Will Somers. These notes are meant to explain, round out and fill in the King's statements. But tell me why are they never funny if he is the court jester?! These "notes" add nothing, they merely disrupt the text.
In addition, it is mentioned by Somers that the song Greensleeves was sung. Although it is today discounted, it has been thought that King Henry wrote it for Anne Boleyn. King Henry hadn't even met her yet.
And Catherine of Aragon was married to Henry's older brother Arthur first...... It is stated she is a virgin!
Although I am not stating that Margaret George is fictionalizing the known facts, I question all too often her suppositions, and there is no humor!
Even if there is a family tree at the front of the book it isn't that simple to keep track of all the characters. Do you know why you have to call people Duke or Marquis or Earl of for example York or Exeter or Cambridge? That is because all the men are called Henry or Edward and the women Mary or Catherine or Anne. This is a way of keeping track of who is who.(ha ha) I would have appreciated a map of these places.
If this book is not going to get me inside the heads of the leading players in a believable manner, I might as well just read a book of non-fiction or go to Wikipedia. Once I started questioning what I was being fed, I spent more time reading Wiki than reading the book!
There was one, and only one, little sparkle in the first 172 pages of the book, and that is when Henry fell head over heels in love with his brother's wife Catherine.....but soon that disappeared and was replaced with his drive for success and power. 932 pages of this is just not my cup of tea. I warn you, you have to love the Tudors to be drawn to this book!
No, this book was not even OK! I ran to Wikipedia every time I could. I expect more than one little sparkle in 172 pages....more
This is not a book for me! I didn't finish it, and I do not intend or picking it up again. It is simply not my kind of book. I have read 164 pages. IThis is not a book for me! I didn't finish it, and I do not intend or picking it up again. It is simply not my kind of book. I have read 164 pages. I really do not enjoy reading it, so why should I continue?! ...more
Finished: I am VERY glad I read the book. However I am also glad that it is done. So how can I give it more than three stars. The author brings to lifFinished: I am VERY glad I read the book. However I am also glad that it is done. So how can I give it more than three stars. The author brings to life the medieval era. After reading the book you truly know the character traits of the main historical figures. I cannot emphasize this enough. They become true friends/foes. They are real, no one-sided portrayals. No good guys and bad guys, just real people with good and bad qualities. Boy did I come to like Henry II! And King Stephen before him, a king with a heart and a good military leader but the chivalry so central to medieval warfare is so bizarre b/c it often prolongs the suffering and devastation of the masses. Life in Wales is invitingly described, which makes me want to read Here Be Dragons by the same author. I am also torn b/c I want to know more about Henry and Eleanor d' Aquitaine. Around page 700 of 900 the book really picks up! Couldn't the preceding 700 pages have been edited? The question is whether I would have really come to understand warfare in the Middle Ages. I have very mixed feelings about this book!
Read pages 234 of 909: So far I think this book does not have the pull of Gortner's The Last Queen. It is historucally very accurate, and it is made clear what is fact and what fiction but I am getting bogged down by the civil war occurring in England. OK, it did happen and history is history but a little editing might of helped! It is hard to get through. In addition I am getting bogged down by the continual bickering between Maude and Geoffrey, and actually I am also a little tired of hearing how wonderful Stephen's and Matilda's marriage is. I also find it difficult with the names - there are just so many people having the same names. Many of the main historical characters are delineated in family charts at the front of the book. Otherwise I would be lost! What I do like is that Penman has for the most part drawn the characters so they come alive. Currently I feel terribly sorry for Maude and Geoffrey's son Henry! Stephen's good and bad sides are well depicted, but other characters are less nuanced. Maybe this will change as the story progresses. The history is clearly depicted and not hard to follow. I appreciate that....more
Maybe. I have read A Place of Greater Safety by this author ane really liked it, but I need to read other nbooks on the subject first. I need also toMaybe. I have read A Place of Greater Safety by this author ane really liked it, but I need to read other nbooks on the subject first. I need also to see what others say. I need to know more about Henry VIII. Can I deal with the politics of Cromwell when I know so little? Hmm - just maybe. Or later. I do not doubt that it is well researched or well written.
Kirkus says, "Although Mantel's language is original, evocative and at times wittily anachronistic, this minute exegesis of a relatively brief, albeit momentous, period in English history occasionally grows tedious. The characters, including Cromwell, remain unknowable, their emotions closely guarded; this works well for court intrigues, less so for fiction. Masterfully written and researched but likely to appeal mainly to devotees of all things Tudor."