rameau's Reviews > The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory
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Modern documentaries tend have these bits with actors acting out the significant historical events punctuated with beautiful current pictures of the historical settings while the narrator drones on about the facts. This book reminds me of those documentaries.

It's obvious that Gregory knows the history and facts. The book is inundated with them. Unfortunately the fictionalising of said facts and historical events isn't a strength for her. I wanted to read more of those small details that bring characters alive and make them stand out in the crowd. I wanted to feel what they were feeling and know what made them tick. I didn't want one character narrating the sequence of man made events like she was giving a history lesson instead of telling the story of her life.

I really can't see this book being a satisfying read to anyone. The historians won't be satisfied with the narrow presentation of historical facts, causes and effects, and the non-historians won't find the plotting or characterisation adequate for a fictional novel. I know I didn't.

What really annoys me - as per usual - is the first person voice. This really should have been told through third limited and a gallery of characters giving each of them a voice however a small that might be. Even if one woman would be fortunate enough to survive and flourish under the circumstances she's so far removed from all the men who ended up writing that history that it ends up muted. Only the queens seem to have any voice at all and they, as you might well know, are the mothers of kings and thus important. Instead of empowering women of that dark time Gregory is stealing their voices.

The story is there, buried under witchcraft and alchemy, but the writing - I'm sorry to say - isn't. For the story alone I would read about Jaquetta's life, but I'd rather pick up a stack of dry historical articles with hard-boiled facts than reread this book.

I don't think I'll be reading The Other Boleyn Girl.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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Reading Progress

September 26, 2011 – Started Reading
September 26, 2011 – Shelved
October 11, 2011 –
12.0% "I think this is where the fantasy really kicks in."
October 11, 2011 –
32.0% "Is it just me or is this writing a little wooden?"
October 14, 2011 – Finished Reading

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