European Royalty discussion

European Royalty Discussions > What have you read lately?

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message 1: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments What European royalty books have you read lately? What European royalty books are you planning to read?

The last one I read was Gay Lord Robert by Jean Plaidy. It's about Robert Dudley and his relationship with Elizabeth I. It was alright. I read a couple of books dealing with Elizabeth beforehand, so I think I should have taken a break from that subject before reading this book. Actually, now that I think about it, I think the last one I read was Katherine by Anya Seton about Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt. It was good, but it was long, so certain parts dragged on a bit.

I've been looking through this Lines of Succession book which is really interesting. It deals with (and shows) all the royal family trees in Europe. It's a little hard to follow though because the tables are small, and each one refers you to about four or five other tables.

I plan to restart my plunge into Jean Plaidy's books with her trilogy about Catherine de'Medici. I also will be reading Rose of York: Love and War whenever it chooses to arrive.

Anyway, just thought I would get some sort of discussion going!

message 2: by MBP (new)

MBP | 33 comments I just finished Dear Heart, How Like You This by Wendy J. Dunn. I really had mixed feelings about it: I liked the idea of the story of Anne Boleyn as told by Thomas Wyatt, and some of it (especially toward the end) was very gripping. I did have some issues with the author's overly flowery writing style, with sections of the book that seemed like filler, and with poor editing.

message 3: by Michele (new)

Michele (michelenell) | 11 comments I have found an intersting blog. I have not read extensively on it yet the ones I have read have been great short reads. I recommend checking out:

I personally enjoy the photos. It always makes someone more real to know what they look like.

message 4: by Tisha (new)

Tisha | 72 comments I'm currently reading The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. Its a pretty good book and told from the perspective of Anne (writing a letter to Elizabeth) and the king's confectioner, Lucy Cornwallis. (random, but interesting to get a servant's view of all the happenings during this time).

The story changes time and assumes you know the history already, so not recommended for a first look into Anne Boleyn's story.

message 5: by Erin (new)

Erin (11eleven) | 3 comments That's funny, I recently started the same book, The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. But I found it boring and rambling and I gave it up after about 80 pages. The first "Anne letter" was so boring that I ended up skipping ahead to see if it got any better. Lucy's side was more interesting but still didn't hold my attention at all.

message 6: by MBP (new)

MBP | 33 comments I just read The Queen of Subtleties too, and I really had mixed feelings about it. I thought the idea of combining Anne's story with that of Lucy Cornwallis was a good one, but the threads didn't quite mesh well (maybe in part because the dates switched along with the narrators, so that you'd have Anne in 1536 followed by Lucy in 1528, etc...) Just telling Lucy's story might have been more effective; I was intrigued by this independent, self-made woman's story, and wanted to hear more of it.

I thought Anne came across as even more of a bitch than usual. The only times I felt any sympathy for her character were when her dog died, and when she expressed love and concern for Elizabeth through her letters.

I also found the author's use of language jarring at times, like Anne calling Catherine of Aragon "Fat Cath" and other names. I understand the issues around language usage in historical fiction (authors can't recreate exactly how people spoke in the past, so colloquial expressions are just as legitimate as the elegant or near-archaic language often used for historical characters.) The language used in this book seemed overly rude or vulgar to me, like the author was writing for the shock effect.

message 7: by Tisha (new)

Tisha | 72 comments I am with you on the date changes. One of the reasons, i mentioned that it would be confusing for anyone that doesnt know the story. It threw me off a bit, but because i DID know the story, i was able to recognize that the time frame changed.

As for the language, I agree. It was a bit too modern. And yes, seeing it from Anne's perspective did make her seem even more selfish and I'm sure was intended.

message 8: by Erin (new)

Erin (11eleven) | 3 comments You know MBP, now that I think about it, the author's language use was another turn off for me. I like them to at least attempt not to sound like they could be living in present day.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 374 comments Erin, that can be the biggest turn-off for me: too modern language.

message 10: by Tisha (new)

Tisha | 72 comments I just started reading The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers after picking it up today. Its a hefty 950 page book, but covers the whole span of his reign and all 6 wives. I am particularly interested in this book, because it is from HIS perspective which we dont see in any of the other Tudor books.

message 11: by Amber (new)

Amber M | 2 comments Tisha,
I think you'll like the book. I enjoyed it alot. And its different to read a book from a historical characters point of view, even if its fictional. A lot of the author's explanations for his behavior make sense. Enjoy the book.

message 12: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments Boy it's quiet here! What are people reading right now? I just started Stealing Athena, and I'm halfway through a non-fiction book about medieval civilization. I'm also going to try to squeeze in the second Twilight book before it's due back to the library.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads (SusannaG) | 374 comments I'm (re)reading In Search of the Trojan War, and also reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

message 14: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments I LOVE Jonathan Strange, as you know. Fantastic.

I'm reading Mary called Magdalene by Margaret George. I read part of her Cleopatra book awhile ago, but it was a hardcover from the library and was just TOO heavy for subway reading so I never got to finish it! Someday... But I really am enjoying this one a ton.

Also, I'm reading The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde. Fforde writes two somewhat similar series - the Thursday Next series and this one, known as the Nursery Crime series. This is the first book in the Nursery Crime series. Basically, the main characters are detectives who are investigating crimes within literature or with literary characters (this one is the death of Humpty Dumpty). They are very funny, tongue-in-cheek, and full of fun allusions. The first Thursday Next book, which I also loved, involved a crime in Jane Eyre. Lots of fun. Main difference between the two series is that in the Thursday Next books, the detectives actually jump into the books to solve the crimes, whereas the nursery characters just live among normal people in the Nursey Crime series.

I have 4 or 5 books coming to me from the library in the near future - Stealing Athena, Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood, Dorothy Dunnett's The Game of Kings, and Naomi Novik's His Majesty's Dragon. I'm doing a bunch of historical fiction and science fiction lately, as you can tell... :)

Also, this comment just about turned into a novel, so later posters can count this as well. :)

(PS: anyone from Brooklyn? I'm thinking about swinging by the Brooklyn Book Fair on this Sunday if anyone wants to transcend computer space into real space.)

message 15: by Donald (new)

Donald (donroc) | 49 comments Researching Amsterdam in the 17th century.

message 16: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments What's the Brooklyn Book Fair (I mean, besides the obvious, being a book fair in Brooklyn)? I would definitely be interested in checking it out with you Emily, but my husband and I are going camping this weekend, so I'm not sure when we will be back in the city. What time are you planning on going? Where is it located (once again, obviously Brooklyn, but that borough is big!)?

message 17: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments It's in Brooklyn Heights, right off the 4,5,2,3,R and close to the A,C. So how can you beat it? Check out the website at I think it goes from morning until late-ish afternoon. Tons of panels and everything - it was really fun last year. Message me if you decide to go!

message 18: by MichelleCH (new)

MichelleCH (lalatina) | 55 comments Of course the book fair is happening when I'm NOT in NY. It's so not fair (no pun intended):)

I will have to remember this for next year.

message 19: by Laura (new)

Laura Just for a change, I am reading Runaway by Alice Munro.

message 20: by Sera (new)

Sera | 246 comments I'm reading The Mother Dance and Belong to Me. I just finished Blindness and The Flight of the Romanovs. All of these have been great!

I'm going to read Stealing Athena next, I think. How is everyone enjoying it so far?

message 21: by Tamara (new)

Tamara | 1 comments I'm currently reading The Pirate Queen (Queen Elizabeth I, her pirate adventures, and the Dawn of Empire) far so good.

message 22: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments I'm enjoying Stealing Athena so far. I know nothing about any of these people, so that helps me!

How was the Brooklyn Book Fair Emily?

message 23: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments I somehow killed my back late last week and couldn't go to the Book Fair on Sunday because I was having trouble walking too much. :( Sad times!

I can't wait to start Stealing Athena. My husband used to pick up my library books for me, but now he's started work during the day. How inconsiderate! :) So it's sitting there, waiting for me on the shelf, lonely...

message 24: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments hee hee, poor sad little book!

message 25: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments Well, luckily he has about 4 friends with him... I really need to get to that library!!

message 26: by Angie (new)

Angie | 34 comments Just found you guys...glad I did. Robin Maxwell does some great titles, Queen's Bastard (Elizabeth and Dudley have a son who is raised by another family), Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (Elizabeth finds or is given I forget a diary that her mother kept), Virgin (about young Elizabeth). I also loved I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles (a fictional memoir).

message 27: by Sara W (last edited Sep 17, 2008 04:42PM) (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments Welcome to the group Angie!

Stealing Athena: A Novel by Karen Essex

Ok, I'm just experimenting with the new link I see below this comment box (the "add book/author" one) - I'm assuming it should show the book cover of Stealing Athena above (which happens to be the book I'm reading now).

message 28: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments Aahhh, clever little tool!

Stealing Athena: A Novel

Sorry that you guys are my guinea pigs (I told it to add the link this time to see what it does).

message 29: by Angie (new)

Angie | 34 comments Thanks for the welcome. Stealing Athena sounds good. I'm going to be up for some historical fiction after I'm done with House of Leaves.

message 30: by Sera (new)

Sera | 246 comments Angie, I just purchased House of Leaves. Let me know how you like it.

message 31: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Ashtarasky) | 9 comments I'm reading Robin Maxwell's The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn. So far it's pretty good. I've read a lot about the Tudor family so I was a bit bored at first but Maxwell does a great job at developing Elizabeth's character so you can really empathize with her. I have to say that I really spoiled myself though because I started getting into this genre by reading Sandra Gulland's trilogy:The Josephine Bonaparte Collection: The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and The Last Great Dance on Earth. Can I just say I am STILL obsessed with these books and I finished them a month ago! The trilogy is a compilation of Josephine Bonaparte's diary from childhood all throughout her life. I'm still excited about it! I think I'm going to read Gulland's new book Mistress of the Sun: A Novel after Maxwell's. Has anyone read it yet?

message 32: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments I really want to read the Josephine trilogy. I haven't read any books by Sandra Gulland yet (or Robin Maxwell for that matter).

message 33: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments I want to read the Josephine trilogy as well - looks so good! I'm currently working through the first of the Lymond books by Dorothy Dunnett. As a lot of the reviews say online, it was tough going for the first little bit (I was so lost) and then it just all fell into place and now I'm obsessed. Love it!

message 34: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Ashtarasky) | 9 comments I highly recommend it! I want them to make a movie out of it! So addictive. LOL.
I've never heard of the Lymond books....are you really enjoying them? I'm going to look into them.
Thanks for the recommendation!

message 35: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments I am really enjoying them, and I think I saw them recommended on this site by Donald, if I'm remembering correctly. The first 50 pages or so were kind of a whirlwind, but now I'm really enjoying it.

message 36: by Alisa (new)

Alisa That Josephine trilogy does look interesting...the only thing I've read about Josephine Bonaparte was a beautiful description of her in Jeannette Winterson's novel, The Passion.

Right now I'm reading a biography of Madame du Barry (mistress to King Louis XV) by Joan Haslip. Has anyone read anything about her? It is interesting, especially after reading so much about King Henry and his wives/mistresses in the Tudor court, where virginity was such a virtue...According to this biography, young Jeanne was more of a willing prostitute, groomed to be mistress to the king. She was even required to marry someone else (a sham marriage, of course) before she could officially become the king's mistress. She did lead an interesting life!


message 37: by Angie (new)

Angie | 34 comments There is a very juicy book call Sex with Kings that gets into pretty much all the famous (or infamous) women who ruled the king the way he ruled his court. Very good if you are into all the court intrigues.

message 38: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (CatherineDelors) | 36 comments Alisa,

I haven't read Joan Haslip, but Madame du Barry did not need to marry anyone before becoming Louis XV's mistress (the standards for sleeping with the King were rather low from a social standpoint, because at the time he resorted to prostitutes.)

But Madame du Barry needed to marry someone whose nobility dated from before 1400 to be presented at Court, which was quite a different matter. She also needed a "presenting lady" which in her case was quite an issue, because no Court lady would act that part. The King finally found a down-on-her-luck noblewoman, the Countess de Bearn, to undertake that part for a tidy sum of money. Still then, Madame de Bearn balked and pretended to be sick a couple of times before eventually going through with it.

For a little blurb on presentation at Court, see this:

message 39: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (Ashtarasky) | 9 comments Ah yes she was in the Sophia Copolla movie Marie Antoinette. They showed her as being wild, colorful and a little mean. Great clothes though. LOL
I'm going to add this book for me to read. Is it good?

message 40: by Alisa (new)

Alisa According to Haslip's book (which I realize isn't the last word on du Barry) she was fair and lovely and wore pale colors to enhance her porcelain complexion. And she doesn't necessarily come across as mean, though Marie Antoinette certainly didn't like her. She was an outsider, accepted by few people at court. She is portrayed a bit differently in the movie, perhaps partly because the movie was closer to Marie's point of view. I think the clothes were my favorite part of the movie, so outrageous and beautiful!

message 41: by April (last edited Sep 25, 2008 06:34AM) (new)

April | 23 comments Thank you, Alisa, for mentioning Joan Haslip! I always love a new author!
I love your blog you linked, Catherine! Thanks!

message 42: by Emily (last edited Sep 25, 2008 08:30AM) (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments I just started Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and it is REALLY good so far, if anyone wants a really clear, factual picture of the man and his ill-fated ladies.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

message 43: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (CatherineDelors) | 36 comments Thanks, April! Madame du Barry, due to her position as the King's mistress, was very powerful at Court. She wasn't isolated at all, on the contrary she was the head of a political faction.

And true, Marie-Antoinette resented her tremendously. Her mother, Empress Maria Theresa, tried to tell her to be nice to the woman, but it was a pill she had quite a bit of trouble swallowing. Then Louis XV died suddenly, and Madame du Barry was exiled overnight.

As for the Coppola movie, I agree that it is very pretty, with its candy colors and fun music. But from the standpoint of historical accuracy, it is really lacking. Marie-Antoinette wasn't at all like that, and neither was Madame du Barry.

message 44: by Catherine (last edited Sep 25, 2008 12:01PM) (new)

Catherine Delors (CatherineDelors) | 36 comments And I am going to try adding my book too, to see if it works!

Mistress of the Revolution

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

message 45: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (CatherineDelors) | 36 comments Yeah! it worked. Thanks for the tip, Sara.

message 46: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (SaraWEsq) | 2153 comments Geez, I haven't been able to check this site in a few days since I've been working and not online nearly as much as usual, and it's been busy here! That's awesome!

Ha ha, yeah, that little add book feature is fun! I love the added splash of color. And by the way, I absolutely love your wealth of knowledge Catherine! I went to add your book to my to-read shelf, but I already had it there, so this time I'll hopefully remember to read it in the near future.

I read someone's non-fiction book on Henry VIII's wives, but I can't remember if it was Weir or Fraser. I want to read David Starkey's sometime, although I don't know what more he could add (after enough time between Tudor books, it is nice to come back to it and refresh my knowledge though).

I've really wanted to read that Sex with Kings book. There is also a Sex with Queens book (not sure which came out first).

message 47: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Delors (CatherineDelors) | 36 comments Thank you, Sara!
And Michelle, I did read Mistress of the Sun (and interviewed Sandra for my blog, I think I already posted the links on another thread.) She describes it as a "historical fantasy" and there's this fantastic aspect to Louise's life, in particular her relationship to horses.
I believe that may have surprised some readers of the Josephine B. trilogy. Sandra, in her interview, talks about the importance of magical thinking in the 17th century. Quite different, of course, from the rationalist outlook of Josephine's time.

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

message 48: by April (new)

April | 23 comments Oh I loved that one too, Emily!
I picked it up right after I read every Philippa Gregory novel I could find. I needed a good dose of reality and I'm glad I started off with that! ;)

message 49: by Emily (new)

Emily (Ohmagichour) | 181 comments Haha - April, I completely agree with that sentiment! I think that's the best thing about historical fiction - it satisfies your craving for engrossing (sometimes dramatic) reads and leaves you craving truth and reality.

message 50: by Cera (new)

Cera | 12 comments Hi there! I was rating books by Maurice Druon (who during the 1950s wrote a series of novels about the royalty of 14th century France -- fortunately available in English translations!) and that led me here. Glad to meet you all!

Right now I'm reading non-fiction about Europe right before WWI; I just finished Tuchman's _The Proud Tower_ and am almost done with _Royal Sunset_ by Gordon Brook-Shepherd -- a really fascinating read if one can find it at a library. He sometimes lets his own personality get too much in the way of the history, but he's pretty entertaining.

Next on the list is _The Guns of August_ by Tuchman, and probably Cynthia Asquith's WWI diary.

I saw someone is reading the Lymond books -- I read the first 2 and loved them, although it did take me a while to get into the first one.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Stealing Athena (other topics)
Mistress of the Sun (other topics)
The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (other topics)
The Josephine Bonaparte Collection: The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B., Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and the Last Great Dance on Earth (other topics)
The Six Wives of Henry VIII (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Naomi Novik (other topics)
Sharon Kay Penman (other topics)
George R.R. Martin (other topics)
Steven Saylor (other topics)
Doris Kearns Goodwin (other topics)