Posts Tagged ‘Jean Plaidy’

Library Thing Early Reviewer

March 18, 2008

I was informed today that I was lucky enough to win another LibraryThing Early Reviewer book called “The Venetian Mask” by Rosalind Laker. It will be available in stores March 25th but evidently is a reprint, not actually a new release. It is historical fiction, or possibly historical romance, with a strong theme of friendship. I have to finish Botany of Desire and read Water for Elephants before my book club next Friday, but I will get it read and reviewed for you all as soon as possible (depending on when the publisher gets it to me) so that you all can wait for my review to decide whether or not to buy it.

I just realized that this book is being released by Three Rivers Press, which also has been doing the reissues of Jean Plaidy‘s books. Maybe they’ll put her new book up for Early Reviewers later this year!

Victoria Victorious – Book Review

March 11, 2008

Victoria Victorious cover“Victoria Victorious” is one of the the longer of the Jean Plaidy books I have read. Now, this makes some sense as Queen Victoria is still the English monarch with the longest reign. However, the length, composition, and flow of the novel reminded me greatly of “Queen of This Realm,” Plaidy’s novel of Queen Elizabeth.

Indeed, Victoria herself seems to be inviting a comparison between her life and reign and that of Queen Elizabeth I. There is a scene near the beginning of the novel where Victoria is young and is playing with her dolls. One of her dolls is a doll of Elizabeth I and Victoria shows a strong amount of disdain and dislike for her, calling her “that doll” or “that Queen.” The emotion seems to be one almost of fear, fear that Victoria cannot live up to Elizabeth, that she can never be as great as Elizabeth. I know very little about Queen Victoria other than what Plaidy presents, but as far as Plaidy’s writings on both queens, it seems Victoria’s fears came true.

There are two things that stand out about Queen Elizabeth, particularly in Plaidy’s “Queen of This Realm”: the first thing is that, above all, Elizabeth is determined to keep the love of her people; the second is that she shall be King as well as Queen and will be ruled by no man. These political determinations of Elizabeth’s serve her well and keep her crown relatively safe on her head. Victoria’s crown seems to be safe only because by that point in British history, the monarch has become largely a figurehead and few outside figures care to challenge her right.

By no means did Victoria keep the love of her people. She had, I believe, 7 assassination attempts, although evidently not all of them were in earnest. Nor did she seem to care to keep the people’s love. Whenever they turned against her, Victoria turned back against them, railing about their stupidity and willingness to be led. Actually, it seemed that it was Victoria who was willing to be led…

I had high hopes for the Queen when I was reading about the girl. When she was younger, Victoria seemed able to stand up for herself and what she thought right, most tellingly to her mother and her mother’s…whatever he was…John Conyer. Once she is Queen, however, Victoria seems to simply float merrily on behind whatever man has earned her trust, be it Lord Melbourne, Benjamin Disraeli, or Prince Consort Albert.

Honestly, this was probably my least favorite of all of Plaidy’s books I have read. However, I do not think that this was necessarily because of failings on her part. First of all, it may be possible that I simply prefer to read historical fiction with a greater historical distance from the present, I constantly found myself trying to figure out the lineage to the current British royals, and perhaps that simply is not as interesting to me. Second of all, the events in Victoria’s queenship seem to come out from nowhere and disappear back to nowhere; however, this seems to be more of a function of her not having a particularly good head for politics, nor being particularly interested in it, at least as Plaidy writes her. Third, I fairly disliked both Victoria and Albert, as well as many of the people around them. Unlike regular fiction, where it is not typically well received to write thoroughly unlikeable characters, historical fiction is trying to convey the lives of real people, many of whom are quite unlikeable. It may simply be that Plaidy found Victoria unlikeable and wrote her thus, without simply giving in to the rumors about her.

Overall, this book seemed a good introduction to the reign of Queen Victoria – no matter how obnoxious and smug I found her husband to be.

Buy this book on Amazon: Victoria Victorious: The Story of Queen Victoria

New Jean Plaidy Reissue

February 28, 2008

I found out today that there is a new Jean Plaidy reissue coming out called “To Hold the Crown: The Story of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York”. In other words, the beginning of the Royal House of Tudor!

I’m wondering, though, if Three Rivers Press is renaming some of the books as they come out (although I haven’t noticed it with any of her other reissues I have), because I cannot seem to find this book on anyone’s list of her prolific works. If anyone has any idea, I’d love to know!

Beginning “Holding Her Head High”

February 25, 2008

I received “Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History” by Janine Turner as an early reviewer copy from LibraryThing at the end of last week. I was in the middle of Jean Plaidy’s “Queen of this Realm” about Elizabeth I at the time, so I just started it today. I have to say, I am not currently impressed. I read the publisher information before requesting the book, and so far I do not feel like it describes this book very well at all. Strangely enough, this hasn’t made me want to stop reading. Quite to the contrary, I want to plow through this book as soon as possible in order to confirm or disprove my theory about how this book is going. Plus, my obligation as an early reviewer is to write a review, and I want to be fully informed for my review. I have been noting this I am having issues with. At this point I do not think that this is going to be a BAD book, but I think that I am going to be disappointed because it is not what it was advertised to be. I think they are going to have to re-market this book to get anywhere with it.

Anyway, more on this when I finish and write a full review!

Edit: The review is up here.

Bibliophile Confessions

February 25, 2008

For the past two years or so about 60% of what I have been reading has been historical fiction (the other 40% has been made up of best-seller list-type fiction, historical non-fiction, and issue-based non-fiction, such as the Omnivore’s Dilemma, and some of my old favorites). It all started with a “hey, why not” sort of decision to pick up Philippa Gregory’s “The Other Boleyn Girl at Borders. I was a history major who loves to know things for the sake of knowing them, and who had not studied that time period at all (other than 4th grade, or whenever I learned about Henry VIII beheading Anne Boleyn).

I was completely mesmerized by the story I had never learned, of Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister, who was Henry’s mistress before her sister was his queen. Because I picked up the book during finals week, my roommates resorted to hiding my book so that I would work on my papers and study for my finals. Once I finished that book, I went on to the rest of Philippa Gregory’s books (at least the ones touching on the Tudor court, I have yet to muster interest in her other books).

Being a history major I was quite aware of the power of point of view even in scholarly histories, not to mention in fictionalized history, so I began reading around the time period, in order to get a more complete picture – or at least to draw my own conclusions from the varying points of views of different authors. In doing this I was drawn into Jean Plaidy’s work, as she has been quite prolific on English royal history, especially in the Tudor times.

Lately I have been TRYING to branch out, some historical fiction about Marie Antoinette here, non-Tudor historical fiction by Jean Plaidy there. This is all relevant because it touches on two of the reasons I started this blog:

  1. I would like to encourage people to read more historical fiction. Actually, I would like to encourage people to learn more history, because I think that there are fantastic lesson, both suggestions and warnings, that are applicable to the modern day no matter what time period or geographic region you study. In addition, history helps you understand your own cultural heritage, as well as that of others. I believe that historical fiction is a very accessible way to be drawn into history. Many people reading historical fiction will be drawn into either reading historical fiction around the subject, or even researching the veracity of the story itself. Even if you only stick to the historical fiction, though, you can broaden your scope and understanding of history.
  2. I would like to expand my own scope. I could probably be happy reading primarily Tudor history and Jean Plaidy novels for a long time, although the Plaidy novels might entice me to read around other time periods in English or French history. However, I sort of doubt that many people would be interested in reading this blog if that is 90% of what I talk about. Plus, I think expanding my scope would make me a more well-rounded person. I hope that, in the course of this blog, I will make a concerted effort to broaden my horizons (even if only to a greater diversity of historical fiction), and I hope that people will give ME recommendations of books that they have enjoyed and I might enjoy as well.