Fascinating. I'll start by saying that I know very little of this period of history - beyond the legends (myths?) of Henry VIII. And, knowing very litFascinating. I'll start by saying that I know very little of this period of history - beyond the legends (myths?) of Henry VIII. And, knowing very little about royal history and little enough about British history I felt like I jumped into the middle of the story. The scholarship seems solid, though, and was well-told so I feel like I could move forward or backward into history and make sense of it.
Penn's history of the reign of Henry VIII (and it's more of a history than biography) is dense but engaging. He is clearly a storyteller and has made all the research into a page-turner. I'll admit that it was hard to keep track of all the characters. So many names and all the ever-changing titles and relationships made me wish for a list of characters or chart of relationships. You know the author must have made one for himself while writing this... Still, despite that I was able to follow the story. And I do know this is nonfiction but the Penn is a storyteller. i read a review disparaging this aspect of the book but i disagree. Penn reminds me of the American nonfiction writer Adam Hochschild. Like him, he is able to make a cumbersome history into something you would want to read and not another dry dissertation written for other historians.
Now, can anyone recommend something of similar quality and appeal about Henry VIII or Richard III?...more
I quite enjoyed this book. It was sweet and appropriately sad and nostalgic. There is inherent suspense in a story told through letters because you'reI quite enjoyed this book. It was sweet and appropriately sad and nostalgic. There is inherent suspense in a story told through letters because you're never "there" when the action is occurring or you're waiting to hear how some aspect of the story turned out. It's used very well in this book. It was funny, made me tear up and made me angry at the loss and horror of war. The author was exceptionally good at creating the many different voices of the correspondents. Each character becomes very real through the details and language of their letters. My only complaint was the romantic aspects. They took me away from the parts of the story I wanted to hear. The main character seemed to lose her vim and charm in romance. And, ** spoiler ** does a thirty-two year old woman really act like a teenager, agonizing over every perceived advance or slight? Wouldn't a woman who had come through war, had become a successful author and was supposedly sophisticated Londoner show a bit more gumption if the chance with the love of her life were on the line? In the end, the love story is not very suspenseful. It all comes to a satisfying, though obvious, conclusion. Read the book - but read it for the letters and the history of Guernsey during the War....more
Wicked fun read. Very quick, rollicking detective/lawyer story. Good dialog and if the story was a teeny bit far fetched it was all for good entertainWicked fun read. Very quick, rollicking detective/lawyer story. Good dialog and if the story was a teeny bit far fetched it was all for good entertainment. Even the characters seemed to enjoy it!...more