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Book Discussions > The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman

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message 1: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Discuss the book with other group members here.

message 2: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments There are no words to express my admiration for this book. I found it totally engrossing until I got to the days just before the battle of Bosworth Field. Because I had become so absorbed into the story, I had to put the book down and read something else for a while; I simply could not bear to have Richard die so senselessly.

I read Kendall immediately afterward and had the same reaction since both Kendall and SKP deal with the same set of facts from much the same point of view.

Also, as soon as I forced myself to finish Penman I started at the beginning again. I did that three times before I could make myself stop compulsively reading this book. Thank goodness it is on my Kindle and I have copiously annotated it so that it is at my hand most of the time. (I am still adding notes, silly me!)

Did any of the rest of you have to read it again and again? Or find yourself hating to come to the tragic end?

message 3: by MAP (new)

MAP | 181 comments I finished it in 5 days (and 3 of those days I had a final exam) and then started over again and it's pretty much all I read for about 2 weeks, just going back to different points and reading things I'd missed the first time.

message 4: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
I absolutely loved this book and will read again in the future. The ending at Bosworth, its so hard coming to the end of a book where you know the worst is going to happen. Same with Helen Hollick's Harold the King at the battle of Hastings.

message 5: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I kept thinking about Greek tragedy and its conventions. And expecting catharsis which did not come. I have read that Harold should not have lost at Hastings and Richard should never have lost at Bosworth. Life is unfair.

Penman mentions eyes so much in this book. She reads emotions and meanings into eyes more than any other writer of my experience.

message 6: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
And this was Penman's first book! Did you know the trivia about the first draft being stolen out of a car and lost forever and she had to rewrite it?

Her dialogue is exceptional, especially in her latest, Devil's Brood. She has Henry II, Eleanor and Richard down cold. Fabulous book, and an excellent series.

message 7: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments I am looking forward to diving into more Penman soon. And only wish more of her writing was available in Kindle editions.

I had heard about her misfortune (?); it reminded me of the time Gibbons' maid used his only copy of the manuscript of "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" to light the fire in his study. He had to do it over as well and myth has it that the new version was greatly improved. Do you suppose the same thing happened with Penman? LOL

message 8: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Good question, although how anything could be better than that. I guess it's good authors now have computers and back ups, isn't it?

message 9: by Laura (new)

Laura Misfit, we have already discussed this book at European Royalty group....

message 10: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments I wish Penman would make this the beginning of a series and write two or three more books about the Tudors. I wonder what she would do with Elizabeth of York? And my friend Richard Duke of York!?

message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments I like to re-read parts of this--not so much those dealing with Richard but those dealing with some of the minor characters, like Edmund Beaufort, who really come alive in the few scenes in which they appear.

message 12: by Ikonopeiston (new)

Ikonopeiston (Ikon) | 385 comments Penman handles the Beaufort brothers with great skill, bringing out their differing characters strongly.

I found her main invented character, Veronique de Crecy, also very well drawn and wished we might have had much more of Cecily Neville. I would have liked to know what training instilled in her such stoicism.

message 13: by Jenn (last edited Jan 28, 2009 05:41PM) (new)

Jenn (jenn_reed) | 42 comments I thought Penman gave life to Edmund Plantagenet so that he was more than just a footnote in history...merely the brother of Edward IV. It was horrible how he was cut down on that bridge by Clifford. The two Edmunds were two of my favorite characters even though one was on the Lancastrian side.

I would like for her to write one about Margaret of York. I'm sure it would be a master piece like so many of her other works.

message 14: by Darkpool (new)

Darkpool | 91 comments Totally agree re Edmund. This was the first R3 book I ever read (back in '84,) so I didn't know the story at all. I was totally devastated when Edmund was killed as it was such a shock.

message 15: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
I can't recall Edmund at all from the novel, although its been a few years. Off to Wik to research.....

message 16: by Jenn (last edited Jan 29, 2009 11:06AM) (new)

Jenn (jenn_reed) | 42 comments It's early in the novel. Edmund was at the Sandal Castle incident, where they sallied forth right into a Lancastrian ambush. It was the same place where Richard, Duke of York met his end. Edmund and a knight, can't think of his name, ended up being trapped on a bridge and Clifford brutally murdered Edmund. It was a very raw and shocking moment in the novel.

There is a chapel on that very bridge dedicated to him.

message 17: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Thank you Jenn, I remember now.

message 18: by MAP (new)

MAP | 181 comments Ok, so this is random, but I just created two questions on the never ending quiz about Sunne in Splendour. One is "Which English king is this book about?" and the other is "Who wrote The Sunne in Splendour?

Of course, for the first one, everyone is picking Henry VIII because it's the only king they've ever heard of, and for the second, they're picking Philippa Gregory because it's the only author they've ever heard of.

And now people are voting that these aren't good questions simply because they're too ignorant to know/look up the answer! Pssshhh, sorry folks, but you not getting it right =/= it being a bad question.

It also goes to show that we need to get the word out about the utter awesomeness that is The Sunne in Splendour.

message 19: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
ROFL, that is priceless. Clearly there are too many books out there on the Tudors.

message 20: by Brian (new)

Brian (brianwainwright) | 149 comments I'm currently in occasional correspondence with Sharon K Penman, who, thanks to Elizabeth Chadwick, is reading my books. It has given me the chance to tell her how much I admire her work. In truth, I'm in awe of her talent.

The Sunne in Splendour is the R3 book 'to beat'. That is, if anyone ever writes a better one about him, it'll be the best. Though I think her books about the Welsh princes are superb and superior even to TSiS.

message 21: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
It's amazing how many people compare every other book about Richard back to Penman's. I am not so patiently waiting to have yours to compare it to....

Wait until you read her Henry/Eleanor books. Devil's Brood was just fabulous, loved loved the dialogue.

BTW, a great place to chat all things historical fiction (and Susan and Elizabeth post there as well) is

message 22: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Moody | 17 comments It's fun to go back and read these threads!
I'm a little more than halfway through The Sunne in Splendour now.
I'm loving it, but...
I'm a little disappointed in the portrayal of Elizabeth and her family. It seems so shallow. I'm sure part of that is because I'm reading a biography of Elizabeth Woodville right now, too. I'm also instinctively sympathetic to women who have been demonized by history...I just doubt that they could have been THAT bad, kwim?
Still, it seems very out of character for SKP to write a character so one-dimensional. This is the woman that challenged history's view of King John, yet for Elizabeth Woodville she seems to have no sympathy. It bothers me a bit. Did anyone else feel that way?

message 23: by Jenn (new)

Jenn (jenn_reed) | 42 comments I think that Margaret d'Anjou is portrayed much the same way. Though I have to admit that I didn't feel much sympathy for Elizabeth until later in the book.

message 24: by Barb (new)

Barb | 145 comments Funny, my memory of SKP's portrayal of EW is that of being sympathetic, I felt sorry for her in SIS.

message 25: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
It's been about 4-5 years since I read Sunne and it being the first book I'd read on the period I knew next to nothing about the Woodvilles, so I wouldn't have picked up on that.

message 26: by Susan (last edited Oct 02, 2009 07:47AM) (new)

Susan (boswellbaxter) | 418 comments I did find it unsympathetic, especially in retrospect after I read up on Elizabeth, though I liked the novel. For instance, both Edward and Richard are shown as being deeply affected by the death of their father and brother Edmund at Wakefield, and the incident haunts Edward in particular throughout the novel and explains much of his actions. When Elizabeth's father and brother John are murdered at Warwick's order, Elizabeth's grief is treated by the author as little more than a mindless desire for vengeance.

I think the picture of Elizabeth here was very influenced by Paul Murray Kendall's biography of Richard. Given that, it's commendable that Penman gave Elizabeth at least some redeeming characteristics, because Kendall gives her none whatsoever--she and Margaret of Anjou are the Evil Queens.

message 27: by Robin (new)

Robin | 142 comments I loved this book. When I finally bring Mt. TBR down in size I want to read it again. I would love for her to write more about this time period...she does it so well. :)

message 28: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hannahr) Hi everyone! Thanks for the group invite, Misfit.

I'm about 1/9th of the way through SiS and I'm enjoying it very much. Have just gotten to the part about Edwards's marriage to Katherine Woodville and how furious Warwick is about it all. I've been pulling out some of my English history reference books to check on people in the book, as it's been a while since I read anything on the Wars of the Roses. I know I'm going to hate reading about Bosworth field, as I am a pro-Ricardian and think Richard's gotten a bum historical rap.

message 29: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Hi Hannah, glad to see you're enjoying it. Don't forget to check out the bookshelf and/or book threads for further reading ideas on the period.

message 30: by Carl (new)

Carl Brooks | 1 comments I too am a Ricardian and think that much of "history" is a Tudor invention to justy Henry VII and his less than robust claim to the throne. I think this propaganda made people forget that he was an usurper who really had no right to the title of King.

As for SiS, I loved it. This was the first I read by Penman and after this I read every other title she wrote about the Plantagenet family.

message 31: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Hi Carl, glad to have you here.

message 32: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer (paintsandwords) | 1 comments I just finished TSIS for the second time (the first was back when it was first published). I was so totally bereft at the end of it that I didn't know quite what to do. I have other historical novels in my TBR file, but I couldn't bring myself to start another in the same genre or same time period. So now I'm reading Julia Child's "My Life in France" ... to get my mind out of the funk I found myself in after finishing TSIS.

I'm often bereft at the end of really good books, sorry to see them over and sad that there isn't more. But the feeling I had at the close of this one was not only for the end of the book, but also so overwhelmed at the tragedy of Richard's death and the unfair hand that history has dealt him.

I, too, found myself continually putting the book down towards the end. I whizzed through most of it, but couldn't bring myself to finish it ~ knowing what the end would be, but wishing it would be different.

message 33: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
I know what you mean Jennifer. It's so hard with books on R3 to come to the end and it always ends up happening the same.

message 34: by Robin (new)

Robin | 142 comments Misfit wrote: "I know what you mean Jennifer. It's so hard with books on R3 to come to the end and it always ends up happening the same. "

I feel the same way. You know what's coming but at the same time you wish the ending would change!

message 35: by Jenn (new)

Jenn (jenn_reed) | 42 comments I was depressed for awhile. I was never moved by a book like that before; I tend to stay more toward the historical (non-fiction side) these days.

message 36: by MAP (new)

MAP | 181 comments I really liked the ending for its focus on Elizabeth of York. It really got me hankering for some more about her life, esp post-marriage to Henry VII. So far, I haven't found a great history book or fiction.

I think it would be awesome if SKP did a follow-up with Elizabeth and Henry VII. But it's been so long, I doubt she will. Still, her vision of Elizabeth is my favorite. A good mix of Edward IV, her mother, and the quiet, gentle woman she seemed to be known for during her reign.

message 37: by Joan (new)

Joan Szechtman | 401 comments I have to say that it was Penman's book that inspired me to do some research that led me to write my book. And, I was so bummed that Richard was killed at the end, I had to come up with a way to "save" him without changing history (I'm not a big fan of alternate history).

message 38: by Cel (new)

Cel Jel | 7 comments Anyone who has loved Sunne in Splendour may enjoy reading the Justin de Quincy books which are Mysteries. The series has come to a stop at the moment as Sharon Kay Penman's publisher has said he only wants to publish the historical novels. There are some of her fans that would really like to see the next Justin book, it is at an interesting stage, Sharon has let us know that she has the outline for the book sketched.

If you read them and like them please join the Justin de Quincy fan club on Facebook. We are hoping to get large enough numbers to encourage the publisher to rethink his reluctance.

message 39: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) So, I just joined this group and I have to comment on this thread because I'm currently reading Sunne In Splendour and it has totally changed my mind on Richard. I absolutely LOVE this book. I'm getting so into it!!! (I almost started bawling when John Neville was killed in battle!!!)

I used to think that Richard was this evil man who killed his nephews etc. I'm now finding it incredibly hard to believe that he would do such a thing. Also, I'm discovering more and more how much I can't stand Henry VII (I began my dislike of him when I really started delving into Tudor history). SKP brought so many of these characters to life for me. I haven't been this emotionally invested in a book for so long and it sucks because I know what's coming at the end and I don't want it to!!!

message 40: by Cel (new)

Cel Jel | 7 comments Aly, if you are on facebook and have not yet found it there is a Sharon Kay Penman fan club. Well worth joining to get to talk to others who love SKP

message 41: by Joan (last edited Feb 19, 2010 11:56AM) (new)

Joan Szechtman | 401 comments I've been avoiding facebook, but maybe it's time for me to bite the bullet. Cel, I've just started the Justin De Quincy series and I love what I've read so far. Another reason for me to sign up.

Aly, my first intro to the real Richard was SKP's The Sunne in Splendour. Aside from it being a great read, it also prompted me to investigate the historical Richard, and led me to writing what started as a short story to now three books about him (1st one is now published). The next book I read about Richard was Paul Murray Kendall's Richard the Third. I can't recommend a better follow-up book than Kendall's if you want to read more about him for two main reasons: it's accessible to the non-historian (such as myself), and its extensive bibliography. Another book I recommend is Bertram Field's Royal Blood (see discussions of Royal Blood on this board).

message 42: by Cel (new)

Cel Jel | 7 comments Joan, if you are loving Justin de Quincy - Sharon has told us her publisher does not want to publish any more of them. So one of her followers on facebook has started a "Fans of Justin de Quincy" page. We hope if there is enough interest the publisher may change his mind. So if you do join fb, also look at it. Thanks for the extra suggestions for reading.

message 43: by Aly (new)

Aly (Alygator) Great!!! Thanks, Joan!!! I don't know that much about the Plantagenets, but I definitely want to know more!! Especially about Richard and his brothers. I never really wanted to know more until I started reading this book and now I'm understanding certain things about Tudors because of their predecessors. And I want to know more!! History can become such an obsession so quickly LOL

message 44: by Misfit (new)

Misfit | 1139 comments Mod
Aly wrote: "Great!!! Thanks, Joan!!! I don't know that much about the Plantagenets, but I definitely want to know more!! Especially about Richard and his brothers. I never really wanted to know more until ..."

Aly, isn't it fascinating when you learn how That Upstart Henry Tudor first came on the throne? The Plantagenets are a most fascinating family and well worth hunting down anything and everything you can read. Somewhere here at GR there's a list of historical fiction on them. Let me know if you can't find it and I'll hunt down the URL later. It's still early and I'm just waking up :)

message 45: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Q (jenny_q) | 2 comments Hi, just catching up on this thread. Great conversation!

Ikonopeiston - Oh yes, I reread scenes and passages from this book for weeks afterward! That's one of my hallmarks for a 5-star review, when a book gets to me so much I can't stop thinking about it and picking it up and rereading it. BTW, I also felt this way about Here be Dragons, which I read first.

Mandy - Excellent observation about Elizabeth Woodville's portrayal. I hadn't even thought about it until you mentioned it and then I thought back through all of her books and couldn't think of another female character she was as unsympathetic toward. She even makes Rosamund Clifford sympathetic! The only part where I felt any sympathy for Elizabeth was when she found out about the plight troth. But I got over it.

MAP - Judging from her comments on her blog, I doubt SKP will write about the Tudors! But she is hard at work on Lionheart. You should visit her blog; she gives frequent updates and shares research tidbits.

message 46: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthajw) | 15 comments Has anyone got their hands on the 30th anniversary UK edition of this book (officially released today)? I am seriously coveting it!

message 47: by Joan (new)

Joan Szechtman | 401 comments I recently returned on that tour with Sharon and we all got the opportunity to get a signed book from her. The tour for me was incredible. I have a lot of personal issues to take care of and still hoping to go to the AGM next weekend, but will try to post something soon about the trip.

message 48: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthajw) | 15 comments Very jealous, Joan!

message 49: by Elaine (last edited Sep 20, 2013 04:03PM) (new)

Elaine | 8 comments Joan wrote: "I have to say that it was Penman's book that inspired me to do some research that led me to write my book. And, I was so bummed that Richard was killed at the end, I had to come up with a way to "s..."

Joan ,I read this book and absolutely loved it. I, like a lot of others here didn't want it to end and of course was wishing for a different outcome than the one I knew was coming. It was Penman's book that made me a fan of Richard III and brought me to this group and to your books, which I haven't read yet but are on my TBR. I still have to buy them but really look forward to reading them.

message 50: by Oshun (last edited Sep 20, 2013 04:21PM) (new)

Oshun | 47 comments Mandy wrote: "It's fun to go back and read these threads!
I'm a little more than halfway through The Sunne in Splendour now.
I'm loving it, but...
I'm a little disappointed in the portrayal of Elizabeth and her ..."

I recall the book being sympathetic to the woman, but not the situation. Elixabeth was not characterized as Evil or beyond sympathy. The situation with the Woodvilles was characterized as a destabilizing factor throughout the reign of Edward IV--two different things. I recall the relationship between Edward and Elizabeth as being warm and convincing.

It was certainly different from the hyper-romantic attitude in the magical/fantasy version in The White Queen, which a lot of the time was like fingernails on a chalk board for me and actually took away from sympathy for Elizabeth Woodville for me more often than not.

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