European Royalty discussion

62 views
European Royalty Group Reads > Courtesan: Book 1

Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Please discuss Book One: 1533 (Chapters 1 - 14) here.


message 2: by Sara (new)

Sara Terpilowski Just joined the group... excited to start the first monthly read! So far, I am a little ways in to Book One... I'm a big fan of Henry VIII and the Tudors in general, but I've not read much about the French kings of the age. So far, it's interesting to me reading about historical events of the 1500s from another perspective. One complaint I have so far with this book, though, is that it reads more like a straight romance novel than historical fiction. Is anyone else getting that vibe? I'm hoping it picks up a little bit, but I'm getting slightly irritated by the extreme romanticism... not to mention about twenty references to Diane's "alabaster skin". Barf.


message 3: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments I'm going to try this one, but from what I've seen at the reviews on Amazon Sara's impressions are spot on.


message 4: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments I just found this picture of Diane (and from the cover of the book) on the web, http://www.wga.hu/art/c/clouet/franco...


message 5: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Welcome to the group Sara! I just started this yesterday, so I'm only a few chapters in (not too much happening yet). I was pleasantly surprised by some of the little historical details (mostly descriptions of the clothes) because I was expecting a lot of fluff based on things I've read about this author. I don't think I've gotten far enough to be irritated by alabaster skin comments yet (stuff like that tends to bother me as well - Twilight comes to mind).


message 6: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moody | 544 comments I'm not very far yet - came here hoping for some encouragement to keep reading! It's boring so far. There's SO much description, and so little actually happening. Maybe if I spend a decent amount of time wading into it I'll like it more?
Hopefully I'll get some time to read today. Maybe on the elliptical machine in the gym.


message 7: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments I think this is about to hit the wall for me. How many times can Anne Heilly (sorry, I know that last name is wrong) be described as shrill? I finally lost it when Henri and Diane were shaking hands and chatting it up with the cook. I've got some quotes that I think will end up on the purple prose thread. Sara was right on - this is just romantic fluff. I should have heeded Misfit's warning when we were voting on this! Also, nothing in this story so far seems very accurate (although Mandy is right - nothing is really happening yet).


message 8: by Bettie (new)

Bettie Sara wrote: "I think this is about to hit the wall for me. How many times can Anne Heilly (sorry, I know that last name is wrong) be described as shrill? I finally lost it when Henri and Diane were shaking ha..."

whahaha - I was strongly warned off this. No time is wasted in formulating an opinion for oneself so dust yourself off and get yourself a comfort read.


message 9: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Sara wrote: "I think this is about to hit the wall for me. How many times can Anne Heilly (sorry, I know that last name is wrong) be described as shrill? I finally lost it when Henri and Diane were shaking ha..."

I'm a bit further along and doing OK with it but it is slow. I think the only thing holding my interest is that I don't know much about this period in French history.

I'm not sure about this relationship between the two and the age difference. Was that really the case?



message 10: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 96 comments I believe Diane was quite a bit older.


message 11: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Misfit wrote: "Sara wrote: "I think this is about to hit the wall for me. How many times can Anne Heilly (sorry, I know that last name is wrong) be described as shrill? I finally lost it when Henri and Diane we..."

From what I previously read (and okay, my source is Plaidy, who I generally trust, but I haven't done research to back this up), there was a pretty drastic age difference between the two, but the relationship was set up by Henri's father Francois. The king was a little concerned that Henri didn't seem to know how to have a relationship with a woman, so the king asked Diane to become Henri's "friend". The king didn't expect them to fall in love, he just expected Diane to teach Henri a thing or two (I guess so he'd be ready for his wife). I'm pretty sure that's why he picked a widow. They did end up having a loving relationship, but that's not how it started. This whole bit with her giving her colors to an 11 year old and remembering him vividly is a tad creepy.


message 12: by Misfit (last edited Jun 22, 2009 03:37PM) (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Well according to Wik,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_de...

"When he finally was returned to France as a 12 year old, she was ordered by Francis I to act as a mentor to him and teach him courtly manners."

So did Haeger purposely age the character to make the relationship palatable? Or did it begin much later than is given in this novel?

Note, the ummm love scenes were a bit cheesy IMO. If I had a book screaming at me to pick it up this one would be flying. It still might.


message 13: by Tanzanite (new)

Tanzanite | 76 comments I read this a couple of years ago and liked it for a couple of reasons: 1) I knew very little about this period in French history and 2)even though a little cheesy at times, it was nice to see a real, loving relationship that lasted for years - although at first with the age difference, it was a little creepy (the former prosecutor in me kept thinking "can you say child molesting?"!)


message 14: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Misfit wrote: "Well according to Wik,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diane_de...

"When he finally was returned to France as a 12 year old, she was ordered by Francis I to act as a mentor to him and teach..."


Well, I spent 30 minutes leisurely crafting a rant about this book, complete with quotes, when my computer died. Go figure! Anyway, here are the cliff notes:

I think the author probably did age Henri for modern readers. I especially think that after the scene with Francois and the 13-year-old. Nowadays, of course people would freak out, but I don't think a king in the 1530s would care that he was sleeping with a 13-year-old girl (especially that king).

Diane was stupid and naive with that Jacques guy IMO. He never seemed nice or gentlemanly, so why she thought he should defend or rescue her is beyond me. I wanted to slap her and send her back to the country!

Anyway, my other post would have been much better, but not much I can do about it!


message 15: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moody | 544 comments "Well, I spent 30 minutes leisurely crafting a rant about this book, complete with quotes, when my computer died. Go figure!"

Oh! I hate it when that happens!

I'm glad other people feel the same way I do about this book! The last one I hated everyone else seemed to like!
I'm going to read some tonight, and if I still can't like it, I'm moving on. Too bad, though - I actually bought this one! My library didn't have it. Now I know why, lol.



message 16: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments I've just bailed, at least for today, it's getting to be more and more like a romance book and some of the prose is _almost_ qualifying for the purple prose thread. I'd like to know more about this period but not sure if I can continue.

Note, I just started parted II before I put it down. Unless I missed the boat I had the impression Henri was more like 16/17 when he did the whoopee with Diane. However, in Part II it's two years later and his older brother is only 18. That leaves him what 15 at best? Eewwwww.


message 17: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Misfit, I was having problems trying to figure out the ages as well. I wonder if she did that deliberately because of the "eewwww" factor. I'm not sure how much you can learn about the period from this book, so it's probably not a huge loss if you don't finish.

Mandy, I feel your pain! I bought the stupid thing on my Kindle. I think the only way I'll be able to finish this is if I do it with the idea of criticizing it as opposed to enjoying it because it's hard to get through otherwise. At least I can attempt to have a good laugh.

As it is, I started a Gossip Girl type book today. Still fluffy, smutty romance with teenagers, but at least it never tried to be anything else!


message 18: by Emily (new)

Emily | 53 comments I am new the group as well and this will be the first book I start with you guys. Just got the book and plan to start reading tonight!


message 19: by Mandy (last edited Jun 23, 2009 08:19AM) (new)

Mandy Moody | 544 comments I have Time and Chance sitting on my dresser. It's begging to be read. If I start now, I can finish it before I need to start Gone With the Wind...

I don't HATE The Courtesan, I just don't like it.
I'm most of the way through book 1 and I still can't find anything redeeming about it.
I find it SO hard to quit a book, though. I don't know if I'll actually be able to do it.


message 20: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 96 comments If you have Time and Chance waiting for you, I'd dump The Courtesan!


message 21: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moody | 544 comments Okay, so as for actual discussion about the book...

It's SO repetitive! We get it; Diane's skin is alabaster, Anne's voice is shrill, the King wants Milan, Henri is unloved. Move ON.

Does anyone else hate that our heroine's in these books are always so much more hygienic than their counterparts? I can't even count how many historical novels I've read in which everyone else bathes 2-3 times a year and masks their smell with perfume and pomander balls, while our heroine takes baths FAR more often - to the chagrin of her servants, of course.
Do authors think we won't be able to identify with a woman who doesn't bathe? LOL

Knowing how young Henri was when he and Diane became involved is definitely leaving a "yucky" taste in my mouth.

I've read so little about French history. This is whetting my appetite. Wonder if anyone can recommend something good about the early reign of Francis I? It sounds like it would be interesting to read about.


message 22: by Susan (last edited Jun 23, 2009 08:31AM) (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 96 comments I have Leonie Frieda's biography of Catherine de Medici, which is quite well written from what I've read in it so far. She does note that Diane had a penchant for applying "large quantities of very cold water on her face and body" as part of her beauty regime, so she probably did bathe more than other women of her time.


message 23: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments I agree with Mandy I doubt I'll get back to it either. I think she'd have done better to start the novel later in Henri's life and then put in some flashbacks to build the back story. This is dragging on waaaaaay too long.

Dumas might have something. I have a Listmania stored at home that lists his books in order and might have something. I'll check later today and report back. It would be nice to find more novels on this period.


message 24: by Laura (new)

Laura | 99 comments I'm new to this group as well and this is my first group book read. I can't say that I'm hating the book but I'm not loving it either. I agree with many of the comments that it is repetitive. I get that Henri is an angry young man. I get that Diane is the older woman (if 30 can be considered old!). While modern day me is creeped out by the age of Henri when the relationship started, that was the norm. People got married young and died young. Once I put that into perspective I could get past Henri's age. As I haven't read a lot about this period, I'm going to stick with the book. I'd like to see what happens when Catherine de Medici appears and Henri becomes king.


message 25: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Here's a link that a poster over at historical fiction online came up with (thanks Andrea),

http://www.dianedepoitiers.sharibeck....


message 26: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Welcome Emily and Laura! Glad you're reading with us (even if it's not the best book in the world). The only thing that may keep me reading is to see what happens when Catherine de Medici arrives.

Ha ha, Mandy, I agree about the cleanliness issue. In a world full of dirty people, the main characters always love to wash up! Although going to what Susan said, I also read somewhere that Diane liked cold water baths or something like that, so I think she may have been one of the few who did bathe regularly. I love that the heroines always smell good too (hair, breathe, skin)!

I thought Plaidy's trilogy about Catherine de Medici was decent (not great, but certainly better than this book). That trilogy covered a lot of the French court including Francois, Diane and Henri. The books are Italian Woman, Madame Serpent and Queen Jezebel (not sure of the order).


message 27: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments I posted over at HFO to see if we could get some clarification on the age issue, etc. and CW Gortner had some great answers, http://www.historicalfictiononline.co...

I'm thinking I'm going to wait for his next book and give up on this one.


message 28: by Sara W (last edited Jun 23, 2009 05:50PM) (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Misfit wrote: "Here's a link that a poster over at historical fiction online came up with (thanks Andrea),

http://www.dianedepoitiers.sharibeck...."


Omg, after reading that, you realize how much potential this book had! I mean, the stuff that really happened was really interesting! The Plaidy books are pretty similar to that site (although they kind of drag on - two books would have been sufficient).


message 29: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Misfit wrote: "I posted over at HFO to see if we could get some clarification on the age issue, etc. and CW Gortner had some great answers, http://www.historicalfictiononline.co......"

Thanks for the post! I actually have not gone to that site before even though I've heard about it here a lot - it's really awesome!


message 30: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Sara, it's an excellent site especially with the authors who participate there. I could be wrong, but I think CW's next book is on Catherine de Medici and what I've read so far in this book has really whetted my appetite for something with some real meat on the bones.


message 31: by Jayde (new)

Jayde (rosegarnet) | 13 comments Ok, so I was GOING to start this book (I know i'm kindof late), but after hearing all of you talk about it, it sounds like I'd be better off reading something non fiction that had no fluff (and although not really any plot) and actual facts.. My question is does it go straight back to the shelf or shall I attempt it?


message 32: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments Tough question Rose, although the subject matter Diane/Catherine has intrigued me and I'm going to search out other books on the period. CW's won't be out until next summer. There is this one coming out soon, [image error] as well as one written by Princess Michael of Kent, The Serpent and the Moon Two Rivals for the Love of a Renaissance King by Princess Michael of Kent . I'm pretty sure the Serpent and Moon book is biased but I ordered a used copy on the cheap just for fun. The Devil's Queen has been ordered by the library so I'll try it when it comes in.

Any other suggestions?


message 33: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moody | 544 comments "Sara, it's an excellent site especially with the authors who participate there. I could be wrong, but I think CW's next book is on Catherine de Medici and what I've read so far in this book has really whetted my appetite for something with some real meat on the bones. "

I feel the same. The research I've done online makes Henri, Diane and Catherine far more interesting than they are in The Courtesan - and that's from some pretty dry internet articles! Hager sucks.

However, I've stuck with it thus far, so I'll probably finish it.
I find it so hard to stop reading a book.

I finished book 1. It had an appropriately tragic ending.
Poor Diane! "She had not realized until she looked at him just then, how great a sacrifice she was about to make for France."
Bleck.
And Henry - so hurt that he HAD to take out his anger on Catherine's "small, chaste body"
"He had not been gentle, as if he could force the memory and the pain of Diane further back in his mind, with each violent, jabbing thrust."

It's SO cliche. The reader is supposed to think "Oh! Their both in so much pain! They should just give in and LOVE each other, no matter the difference in their ages!"

Part 1 was a bust. On to part 2.
Is anyone with me? Anyone???


message 34: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 696 comments LOL, I just responded over at the other thread. I'm counting on you to convince me to try again.


message 35: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments After I finish my Gossip Girl-type book, I may try to pick this one up again (or I may move straight into Gone With the Wind). I suppose I could always just breeze through this one since I paid for it.


message 36: by Sara (new)

Sara Terpilowski I finally finished Book 1... It rarely takes me so long to finish a book once I've started it, but I got so irritated that I went ahead and read another book on my reading list before tackling this one again, ha. I did actually purchase this one, but I can already see that it is going in the pile to bring to the secondhand store once I'm done with it. And I will read the whole thing. I just hope it picks up at least a little bit when Catherine gets involved. See you guys in the Book 2 thread!


message 37: by Emily (new)

Emily | 53 comments I think because I have such a low expectation of this book after reading everyone's reviews I ended up getting through book 1 pretty quickly. On top of that I did not hate it. It is a very easy and fast read which is minimally engaging. It is certainly not a great book but I am enjoying reading something light for a change!


message 38: by Jayde (new)

Jayde (rosegarnet) | 13 comments Sara wrote: "After I finish my Gossip Girl-type book, I may try to pick this one up again (or I may move straight into Gone With the Wind). I suppose I could always just breeze through this one since I paid fo..."

..Call me shallow Sara, but you mentioned a Gossip Girl type book, so i have to ask; what are you reading!?


message 39: by Jayde (new)

Jayde (rosegarnet) | 13 comments By the way, thankyou Misfit, I'll be trying out those suggestions!


message 40: by Sara W (new)

Sara W (sarawesq) | 2153 comments Rose wrote: "Sara wrote: "After I finish my Gossip Girl-type book, I may try to pick this one up again (or I may move straight into Gone With the Wind). I suppose I could always just breeze through this one si..."

Hee, well, I read all the Gossip Girl books recently, so I moved on to the next series by that author called It Girl (kind of a spin off dealing with one of the younger characters from the Gossip Girl books - Jenny Humphrey if you've read them or watched the show). I'm not sure people have heard of the It Girl series, but most people at least are aware of Gossip Girl, so I just call it that type of book.


back to top