Barb's Reviews > The Queen's Lover

The Queen's Lover by Vanora Bennett
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Mar 05, 10

bookshelves: gave-it-a-try-and-then-gave-up, vine, new-in-2010
Read in March, 2010

I loved 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman' by Vanora Bennett. It was so well done, the characters were well drawn, the relationships realistic and complicated, the story was fascinating and the writing was good. I thought it was a really solid and well researched work of historical fiction and I looked forward to reading more from this author. Sadly I haven't found another novel by her that has even come close to the writing in 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman'.

I also read Bennett's novel 'Figures In Silk' published in May of 2008 and I found the contrast between the two works rather shocking. The story in 'Figures In Silk' was so contrived it was ridiculous and the writing was awkward, stumbling and just plain weird with sentences often having three semi-colons.

This novel has much of the same strange sentence structure with what I would describe as an overwhelming effort to elevate the semi-colon to the popularity of the period. Here's an example:

'She pronounced the Welsh words strangely, but he was surprised and flattered that she'd even tried to reproduce the unfamiliar name; flattered, too, that she was describing his lineage with such respect, when he'd got used, almost, to being all but invisible among Englishmen; to sitting below the salt; to being ignored.'

There was also an inordinate number of ellipses used. I found eight on one page. And honestly I love ellipses... I use them a lot when I'm e-mailing, chatting and posting on-line. But the overuse of commas, semi-colons and ellipses in this work of fiction was distracting and annoying. I just doesn't present the writing in the best possible light, it gives it a very unpolished and somewhat careless and casual feel to it.

I thought the story was interesting and I wanted to learn more about Catherine of Valois and Owain Tudur but after having suffered through the entirety of 'Figures In Silk' I cannot subject myself to this particular style of writing again, especially 578 pages of it. I was hoping that Bennett had returned to the solid writing she presented in 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman' but sadly she has not.

I would encourage anyone who is a fan of historical fiction to read 'Portrait of an Unknown Woman'. You might enjoy this if you are someone who isn't distracted by an overabundance of unnecessary punctuation.
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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message 1: by Pat (new) - added it

Pat Ok, I have to read it. Please...Please let it be edited properly. I want a book like "Portrait of an Unknown Woman" again.


message 2: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit If it's offered on Vine or the library gets it I'll try it too. I agree about the editing - hopefully that's improved.


message 3: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb I have high hopes for something like 'Portrait' as well. I will have to borrow or Vine it because there is no way I will pay for it.


message 4: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Tanzanite and Suzanne both gave this book four stars (the UK edition under another title). Did anyone ever compare the ARC to the published edition and see if all those typos ever got fixed?


message 5: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb My copy wasn't an ARC but the actual hardcover copy. Typos or no it was not good.


Tara Chevrestt I don't have any typose in mine. It is an ARC. So far, no typos.


message 7: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Barb wrote: "My copy wasn't an ARC but the actual hardcover copy. Typos or no it was not good."

Mine was an ARC and way over the top with typos. Run on sentences, duplicated sentences, commas and semi-colons in very weird places and more. Pretty bad, especially as it had already been published in the UK.


Tara Chevrestt Wow. That's awful. I had an ARC for Figures in Silk and it was all right too. My only complaint with the arc I am reading now is the pages are falling out! I have had about 5 pages just fall out. Having a hard time keeping it all together. LOL


message 9: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Am I correct that this book, Sunne in Splendour by Penman and the Queen's Secret by Plaidy all feature approximately the same people and issues. How do they compare? I am never going to read all three.....I want the facts right AND I want to enjoy the reading. I know, I am very hard to please. Which of you have read 2 or 3 of these?


message 10: by Tara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tara Chevrestt That would be Misfit. LOL. This is my first about these particular people but I don't think it is accurate. We have been having a discussion about its implausibility. (I can't spell)


message 11: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit I don't know about the Plaidy book but Penman's Sunne in Splendour is about a different period - her's covers Edward IV and Richard III.


message 12: by Chrissie (new) - added it

Chrissie Thanks Misfit and Tara I cannot spell either. So many words are just sort of similar in English , French and even Swedish that I mix them all up. Who cares, we are not writing a thesis here. Vhat is important is that we get our ideas across.


message 13: by Tara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tara Chevrestt Hit my first typo!! The baby's name changes page to page.. Harry to Henry..Henry to Harry.


message 14: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit Tara wrote: "Hit my first typo!! The baby's name changes page to page.. Harry to Henry..Henry to Harry."

Is Harry being used as a nickname?

Chrissie wrote: "Thanks Misfit and Tara I cannot spell either. So many words are just sort of similar in English , French and even Swedish that I mix them all up. Who cares, we are not writing a thesis here. Vhat i..."

That's true.




message 15: by Tara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tara Chevrestt Not that I know of. She will be thinking of the baby and in her thoughts his name goes from one to other so I don't think it was an official nickname. Weird.


message 16: by Misfit (new) - added it

Misfit After slogging through two of her books I just don't know if I can bring myself to try Portrait. The use of commas, colons and semi colons is definitely OTT.


message 17: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb Portrait was well written.
The campaign to elelvate the semi-colon started after that book was written.


message 18: by Hannah (new)

Hannah Barb wrote: "Portrait was well written.
The campaign to elelvate the semi-colon started after that book was written."


Good review Barb.
I love ellipses too...I do it way too much...I can see how it would get distracting...especially in a novel...


message 19: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb Thanks Hannahr
;0)


message 20: by Jody (last edited Mar 06, 2010 05:15PM) (new)

Jody "This novel has much of the same strange sentence structure with what I would describe as an overwhelming effort to elevate the semi-colon to the popularity of the period."

LMAO! Barb, your reviews make better reading than a lot of the books that make it to publication :)



message 21: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb Hah! Thanks!
:0)


message 22: by Barb (new) - added it

Barb I just spotted this workshop being offered at the Empire State Book Festival:

¡The Punctuation Show! (How to Use Tiny Symbols to Make Meaning Without %$^* Up)

I found it amusing
:0)


message 23: by Jody (new)

Jody :)


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