Anna's Reviews > The Sunne in Splendour

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
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Jan 07, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-in-2010, historical-fiction, 5-stars, plantagenet, war-of-the-roses, chunkster
Read from January 18 to February 06, 2010

I've become hooked on Richard III. We all know what he's accused of, but until recently, I've never given much thought to his defence. After reading various accounts of him and his contemporaries, I've realised that history, based on Tudor propaganda, could have very badly betrayed him.

The Sunne In Splendour covers his entire life from the age of about 7. In a 900 page book, the first third read like an increasingly interesting history lesson, but then the more personal story-telling side kicked in and it became engrossing.

The author has clearly done an amazing amount of detailed research into Richard's life. Whilst I suspect she over-romanticises him at times, she reasons well. She portrays him as a loyal man, a trusted brother, a beloved husband and a skilled leader on the battlefield. From what I've read elsewhere, this seems a very believable view of him. Her account of the missing princes mystery, the key point for his portrayal in history, is both logical and believable.

She brings Richard to life so vividly, and I was moved by his death, I mourned him. I actually feel very riled that history may have got him horribly wrong.

This is the best historical fiction book I've read to date; a fascinating, detailed and thought-provoking look at one of Englands most controversial men. I am most definitely on his side!
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Comments (showing 1-50 of 112) (112 new)


Anna Jemidar, Rio and Orsolya, I can't find where we were last discussing the possible digging up of R3, so thought I'd put this update here.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetec...

Exciting!


message 2: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane Oh wow! Please keep updating on this thread...I'm fascinated.


message 3: by Jemidar (last edited Sep 12, 2012 12:30PM) (new) - added it

Jemidar Anna wrote: "Jemidar, Rio and Orsolya, I can't find where we were last discussing the possible digging up of R3, so thought I'd put this update here.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetec......"


Saw that but hadn't got around to posting it. Was distracted by Kate's dresses which have all been horrible!


message 4: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah I heard about this on the news a few weeks ago when the digging started. So cool! I hope it turns out to be him.

And I second Jane, please keep us posted on latest developments please.


message 5: by Pat (new)

Pat Alas Shakespeare was one of most prominent proponents of the Tudor myths...check out his 'history' plays.

My absolute favorite novel about Richard III is Josephine Tey's mystery, The Daughter of Time


http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/77...


Anna An update from yesterday's press conference:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetec...

Looking more and more likely that it's him :-)


message 7: by Jemidar (new) - added it

Jemidar Ha! Even I didn't believe the bit about him being a hunchback but it looks like that may be true after all! Devout Ricardians will not be pleased. Wonder what else is true that the revisionists deny?


message 8: by Hayes (new)

Hayes Jemidar wrote: "Was distracted by Kate's dresses which have all been horrible! "

Egads, woman... all that money and you're still shopping at H & M?

The shoes are worse, however!


Bettie☯ I still swear by Ian Mckellan's version...

Fantastic thread going on here.


message 10: by Hayes (new)

Hayes Ian McKellan's version was the best, wasn't it. I would like to see that again.


message 11: by Jemidar (new) - added it

Jemidar The Ian McK version is on my list of things to watch :-).


message 12: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane Anna wrote: "An update from yesterday's press conference:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetec...

Looking more and more likely..."


Oh that is wonderful. The excitement shows on the guy's face in the video when he's about to reveal the spinal abnormalities.


Bettie☯ Hayes wrote: "Ian McKellan's version was the best, wasn't it. I would like to see that again."

That final scene, making like Alien III (or was it IV), superb!

I am looking forward to the university book on this dig.


message 14: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah This is absolutely cool, and an archeologist's dream come true!

Hopefully, National Geographic will do a special on this much like they did for the saxon gold that guy found a couple of years ago in a farmer's field.


message 15: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah If it does turn out to be him, I wonder if the re-burial will be a public event?

Anna, if it is, you need to get over there and be our roving reporter!!
:D


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

This just came up in my msnbc newsfeed yesterday. I'm glad you've already posted it, so now I'll follow your updates.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48995408/...


message 17: by Karla (last edited Sep 13, 2012 07:14AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karla An article I read last night said that an documentary is being filmed about the dig and search for R3's body. Another article mentioned that a female skeleton was also found broken apart at the joints??!? In all the hubbub over Richard, I hope some attention is paid to those remains. I'd love to know if the joint dislocation was pre- or post-mortem and who the poor woman might be.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

They mention the young woman in the article on msnbc. She was found under a different section of the church. I do hope they report back on her story, too.


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

That's a pretty impressive family tree!


Misfit I've been following this as well. So exciting. I loved the announcement, I swear the speaker wanted to jump up and down with the excitement. Just who else could it be?


message 21: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah Simran wrote: "I just hope they pick a nicer spot for the poor guy :)"

I know, right?

I'm sure there will be a dignified funeral and tomb. Richard III is still a very popular fellow after 500+ years.


message 22: by Hannah (last edited Sep 13, 2012 07:53AM) (new) - added it

Hannah Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Another article mentioned that a female skeleton was also found broken apart at the joi..."

OK, now it just got 10x more interesting, if that's possible.


message 23: by Jemidar (new) - added it

Jemidar Simran wrote: "I didn't know there was a living direct descendant of his...wow !"

There's still a few Plantagenents kicking about. There's one in Australia who would be the current King if their line had continued.


message 24: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah Misfit wrote: "I swear the speaker wanted to jump up and down with the excitement. Just who else could it be?"

haha, sorry to be gross, but I'd be peeing my pants if I was on this excavation! What a great discovery if it turns out to be true.


Misfit haha, sorry to be gross, but I'd be peeing my pants if I was on this excavation! What a great discovery if it turns out to be true.

I'd be doing the same. Who else could it be?

So who started the hunchback rumors? Was that from Henry VII's media boys or was that Shakespeare?


message 26: by Karla (last edited Sep 13, 2012 08:11AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karla Hannah wrote: "OK, now it just got 10x more interesting, if that's possible."

Inorite??? They used the term "disarticulated" which, from the definition, sounds like the skeleton isn't dismembered, but more like she had been...racked?

Can't wait to hear more about THAT.


message 27: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Inorite??? They used the term "disarticulated" which, from the definition, sounds like the skeleton isn't dismembered,..."

It's probably going to be one of those cases where they know what happened to that poor woman, but not why, or who she is. Another historical mystery.


Karla She was a beautiful young woman who fell in love with Richard, disguised herself as a boy and followed him to Bosworth, they had a mad night of passion pre-battle, and then she was brutally tortured by Henry VII himself. Then some kindly old friar who was her foster daddy snuck away with the body and buried it in the church.

It's so obvious. ;)


Misfit Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "She was a beautiful young woman who fell in love with Richard, disguised herself as a boy and followed him to Bosworth, they had a mad night of passion pre-battle, and then she was brutally torture..."

Please write it before one of the Richard Sue authors do. Please.


Karla Does anyone remember which book it was that had Richard's "deformity" esplained away as merely being overdevelopment of one arm from weapons practice? I swear I read that in one HF or another, but can't remember what the title was.


Misfit That's sounding familiar here as well.


message 32: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane Misfit wrote: "I've been following this as well. So exciting. I loved the announcement, I swear the speaker wanted to jump up and down with the excitement. Just who else could it be?"

I would have given anything to have been there when they discovered the back deformity, the head wound and the arrowhead. I bet they were crying and high-fiving like a bunch of NASA geeks at planetfall.

Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "She was a beautiful young woman who fell in love with Richard, disguised herself as a boy and followed him to Bosworth, they had a mad night of passion pre-battle, and then she was brutally torture..."

Oh yes, write that one NOW. I'd buy it.


message 33: by Karla (last edited Sep 13, 2012 10:01AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Karla Misfit wrote: "That's sounding familiar here as well."

I'm pretty sure it's either this one or the Sandra Worth book.


message 34: by Hannah (new) - added it

Hannah Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "She was a beautiful young woman who fell in love with Richard, disguised herself as a boy and followed him to Bosworth, they had a mad night of passion pre-battle, and then she was brutally torture..."

This is AWESOME, Karla.

I'd read it, too!


message 35: by Caz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Caz Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Does anyone remember which book it was that had Richard's "deformity" esplained away as merely being overdevelopment of one arm from weapons practice? I swear I read that in one HF or another, but ..."

I'm pretty sure that's in The Sunne in Splendour. I haven't read the Sandra Worth one yet, so I suppose it could be in there too...


Karla I came across a post on a listserv that says Paul Murray Kendall is probably the source for that theory, so I guess it was bound to show up in one pro-Richard novel or another. Whatever HF I read it in, it struck me as kinda farfetched.

If it's in The Sunne in Splendour, chalk that up as a mighty 2 things I remember from it. :P


Jackleen I find it interesting that both injuries that have been identified on this skeleton, if it is Richard, are an arrow in his back and and an cleaved skull at the back of his head. This, to me, clarifies how he died and reinforces the idea that he was killed by his own side or those he believed were on his side. Friends at your back, enemies in front. There has always been the suggesion that his manner of death was dishonourable and a trick.


message 39: by Jane (new) - added it

Jane Jackleen wrote: "Interesting video of the dig."

Wow - keep those links coming!


message 40: by Hayes (new)

Hayes That was really interesting. Thank you.


Misfit *pouts*

Can't watch video at work.


message 42: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna Thanks for the video, Jackleen. To think that the blurred object the woman is holding is probably R3, wow!


Jackleen Anna wrote: "Thanks for the video, Jackleen. To think that the blurred object the woman is holding is probably R3, wow!"

Your welcome. With all the things that are on the net, why did they blur bones?

The same DNA sample from the Canadian family that they will use to identify Richard the III could be used to prove or disprove if the two skeletons found in the tower are the princes or not.

Article http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/...

In this article, the writer states that it is thought that Richard moved the two princes to safety on the continent to protect them. I wonder where they got that information!


Jackleen This is a interview of the archaelogist who found the skeleton http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/khd--ri...

I do not know why but the previous link of the article does not give you the whole article. I copied the important sentence here.

'There is some evidence that Richard may have smuggled his nephews to safety on the Continent.'

What evidence?


Karla Anna wrote: "To think that the blurred object the woman is holding is probably R3, wow!"

I was going to say something glib about the mere touch of his remains making her pregnant, but I won't. :P


message 46: by Jackleen (last edited Sep 15, 2012 01:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jackleen Doing a little exploration of the Richard III and the Princes in the tower and I came across this in Wikipedia:

n 1789, workmen carrying out repairs in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, rediscovered and accidentally broke into the vault of Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth Woodville, discovering in the process what appeared to be a small adjoining vault. This vault was found to contain the coffins of two mysterious, unidentified children. However, no inspection or examination was carried out and the tomb was resealed. The tomb was inscribed with the names of two of Edward IV's children: George, 1st Duke of Bedford who had died at the age of 2, and Mary of York who had died at the age of 14; both had predeceased the King.[16] During the excavation for the royal tomb house for King George III under the Wolsey tomb-house in 1810-1813 two lead coffins clearly labelled as George Plantagenet and Mary Plantagenet were discovered and moved into the adjoining vault of Edward IV's but at the time no effort was made to identify the two lead coffins already in the vault.[17]

Link- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princes_...

I have not come across this before. Who is in the extra coffins? Perhaps a complete royal cover-up from the beginning.


Dawn (& Ron) Hannah wrote: "If it does turn out to be him, I wonder if the re-burial will be a public event?

Anna, if it is, you need to get over there and be our roving reporter!!
:D"


I second this idea!

What an amazing subject. Can't understand why some people think history is boring! This is captivating stuff.


Misfit Oh I know. Don't know why I hated it so in school.


message 49: by Hannah (last edited Sep 16, 2012 04:16PM) (new) - added it

Hannah I think sometimes it takes a special teacher to bring history "to life", as it were. Alot of us were probably taught our history by memorizing dates and important events (B.O.R.I.N.G). Thankfully, I was an avid reader even as a child, and read some awesome historical books that made history come alive.

I pity people who don't enjoy all the arcane tidbits and trivia that history provides, and who don't get excited about a discovery like this one - how much they miss.


message 50: by Pat (last edited Sep 16, 2012 04:35PM) (new)

Pat In the case of Richard, his biography suffered because the Tudors won. History is written by the victors...the old adage goes. And so we have what historians refer to as 'the Tudor myths'--I love Shakespeare's history plays but they are, alas, the strongest literary vehicles of that mythology...and probably served as propaganda for the crown in their time.


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