Posts Tagged ‘tudors’

Fact, Fiction, and Phillipa Gregory

April 8, 2008

I just found a very interesting essay/statement on Phillipa Gregory’s website about the fact and fiction in her novels about the Boleyns, the Howards, and the Tudors. She includes some of her research as well as her process. It is quite an interesting perusal for anyone who has read her books.

Queens of England – Book Review

March 14, 2008

Queens of England coverQueens of England by Norah Lofts is a comprehensive overview of every Queen of England beginning with the wife of William the Conqueror and going through Queen Elizabeth II. It was a remarkably easy read, considering it comprises about 900 years of English royal history. It was also a very engaging read, I learned about many queens I had never heard of, the wives of many kings I had never heard of.

The book, however, definitely had an agenda. While it didn’t ruin the book for me, it definitely dampened my enthusiasm for the the work a little. When I noticed the chapters on each queen start to get much longer shortly before the reign of Queen Victoria (as many pages on Caroline of Brunswick as Elizabeth Tudor? And as many on Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as Mary Tudor? Really?), I thought that I detected a 19th and 20th century bias. By the time I reached Elizabeth the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II, I realized that a ‘recent history bias’ wasn’t quite what the issue was. The book actually seems to have been written as an apologetic for the modern institution of the monarchy, to establish the long history of English royalty and in doing so argue for its continuation in the person of Queen Elizabeth II.

Lofts directly addressed some specific criticisms against the Queen and in fact attacked what she referred to as the “Age of Criticism.” This aspect of the book made the last two chapters my two least favorite of the book. The book had some other issues as well.

First, Lofts definitely assumed a fair degree of prior knowledge with British history, she would make off-hand comments referring to other events or the fates of the princes and princesses who were the progeny of whatever queen was currently being discussed. As the book was clearly written for a British audience (to whom else would she need to defend the continuation of the monarchy?), perhaps that was actually a fairly safe assumption and, while I was often confused, the nonchalant references sometimes made me simply want to know more about the subjects.

Second, there seemed to be some significant editing errors. There were absolutely sentences, sometimes whole paragraphs, of which I could not make heads or tails no matter how many times I tried. Often these sentences or paragraphs seemed to be flatly contradictory, so I would generally just skip them and read on.

Lastly, I simply wanted more information about many of these women! Some had as little as two pages, including a picture.
However, even with these problems, Queens of England is a book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in royalty, the history of England, or just of the lives of women throughout history.

Buy this book on Amazon: Queens of England

The Other Boleyn Girl – Movie Review

March 1, 2008

Tonight I dragged my fiance to see The Other Boleyn Girl, the movie based on the book of the same name by Philippa Gregory. Here’s the short, non-spoiler version of the review: it is entertaining. If you like historical fiction, but know little to nothing about this time period, other than the fact that Anne married Henry VIII and lost her head, you will probably quite enjoy this movie. If you have read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl, some parts will slightly annoy you, but overall you will probably like it. If you have studied that period in England, or if you have read a lot of historical fiction around that period in England, you will still mostly enjoy it, but be extrememly annoyed by a lot of it. Essentially, the movie seemed to stick with the book where the book most differed from the historical record and veer from the book where the book most stuck with historical record, making for a rather un-historical film. Sure, the basic history’s there, as my fiance pointed out: Anne, Mary, and Henry are all there; it is set in England; Anne dies. If you would like to see some of my specific issues with the movie (and potential spoilers) please click the link to read the rest of this entry. The story was already about power, sex, betrayal, and religion, why bother changing it? (more…)

The Other Boleyn Girl: NY Times Movie Review

February 29, 2008

The New York Times published their review of The Other Boleyn Girl, the movie based on Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction novel of the same name.  I very much enjoyed the book, despite a few historical inaccuracies – for instance, Mary wasn’t just the sweet girl, caught up in her family’s scheming as in the book, she had QUITE the reputation at French court before she returned to England, the King Francois is said to have called her the “English Mare” (think town bicycle).   The reviews of this movie, however, have been not so good, and this one has been no exception.  I am dragging Brian along with me to see it tomorrow night for a “date night,” so I will add my two cents sometime on Sunday.  I hope it is one of those cases where I do not agree with the critics…

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.

The Children of Mary Boleyn

February 25, 2008

I just found this on Philippa Gregory’s website, research done by a descendant of Mary Boleyn, through her daughter Catherine Knollys (née Carey), as to whether or not Catherine and Henry Carey were in fact the illegitimate children of Henry VIII, resulting from his affair with Mary.

Beginning of a Booktastic Journey

February 22, 2008

This is going to be my new journal of my reading life. This journal is prompted by my LibraryThing membership, and the fun book journals I have seen from other Library Thing Members. I plan to share what I’m reading, as well as my thoughts and feelings on those books here. I will post reviews for certain books (like the Early Reviewer book I snagged on Library Thing! Yay!) here as well.

I want to start out this blog with a piece of nostalgia. Back in college I had a roommate and friend who was an English major. She and I would go to the bookstore all of the time and I would always ask her, “hey have you read THIS?” Everytime that she replied, “no,” she would get an “Oh my gosh! You HAVE to read this!” When we graduated, she told me that what she really wanted as a graduation present was a list of all of the books that I thought she HAD to read. Well, that turned out to be an eight page list with 5 categories: Must Read or Never Speak to me Again; Must Read to be my Friend; Very Highly Recommend; Highly Recommend; and Also Recommend. This list is extremely out of date, as it is nearly 3 years old and I never updated it, there isn’t really even any historical fiction, to which I’ve been addicted for the past 2 years. However, I stand behind my recommendations 100%. Feel free to download it and take it for yourself.


Edit: My Early Review book showed up around 1pm. It is called “Holding Her Head High: 12 Single Mothers Who Championed Their Children and Changed History,” by Janine Turner. As soon as I finish my current historical fiction of Queen Elizabeth I, I will be reading and writing about that.