MORE MADNESS OF HENRY VIII

In her new book, The Kings Curse, Philippa Gregory adds multiple chapters to the madness of the Tudor Court of King Henry VIII.  If you enjoyed her best-selling novel The Other Boleyn  Girl, you will be very much at home with The Kings Curse. The story comes through the voice of a new narrator, Margaret Pole of the Yorks, part of the Plantagenets, and considered a rival to the Tudor Throne.

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All of the great characters of the period are interwoven throughout the book.  The demise of Katherine of Aragon, the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn, Cromwell, Cardinal Wolsey and of course Henry VIII himself. Throughout the novel the crafty and devious Margaret Pole masks her disdain for the Tudors in an effort of save the lives of her sons and Henry and Katherine’s only living child,  Mary, the legitimate heir.  It is indeed the King’s curse, that he has no  legitimate son to continue the Tudor Dynasty.

Gregory’s research and attention to detail is impeccable and her literary style is fast paced. There is never a long wait at the starting line.

Other novels of this era you may enjoy are Katherine by Anya Seton and the entire C.J. Sansom series set during this period.  You can search these titles and The Other Boleyn Girl here at gordonsgoodreads.com

 

PHILIPPA GREGORY-HISTORICAL FICTION AT ITS BEST

The Other Boleyn Girl, written by Philippa Gregory and published in 2001, is among the very best novels written about Tudor England and King Henry VIII.  If you have not read this great novel place it on your must read list.  This true story about Mary Boleyn, the younger sister of Henry the VIII’s second wife Anne Boleyn, is remarkable in many ways.   The book enlightens the reader not only of the history of the period but it portrays an accurate glimpse into how women, even in their teens, were used as pawns for both power and pleasure.

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This is the story of Mary, the first daughter in the Boleyn family to be offered to a King in return for the hope wealth and power. So driven was this family that when Mary’s star began to fade in Henry’s ardor , sister Anne pushed her aside to eventually become Queen Anne.  Although you may know how that romance ended, believe me, the writing of Philippa Gregory will  capture and fascinate you through the final page. This story of two sisters and a King is also a study of the structure of society in 16th Century England. It is not suprising that Philippa Gregory is a recognized authority on women’s history.

Tudor England was  fascinating and this blog has focused on many enjoyable reads set in that period, including the  great British novelist C.J. Sansom and the Shardlake series. Another wonderful work of historical fiction written of an earlier period, Medieval England, is Anya Seton’s Katherine.

After reading the Other Boleyn Girl I ordered the  2008 movie through Netflix.  The movie does not come close to the book’s more intricate story line and I would strongly suggest that reading the book is a must before watching the film.  Once you have read the book it is worth watching.

 

 

C.J. Sansom-Masterpeice Mysteries-Historically Impeccable

C.J. Sansom, the fabulous British writer of the Shardlake Mysteries, is out with a new book, Heartstone which my bookseller placed in my hands just yesterday.  It reminded me to share with you my experience with this wonderful  series.

 

I have read and enjoyed  three of the Matthew Shardlake Mysteries. The first in the series is Dissolution, published in 2003.  Shardlake is a retired attorney turned investigator charged with solving  the murder of one of Thomas Cromwell’s commissioners during King Henry VIII’s  closing of all of the monasteries in England.  Sansom’s attention to historical detail is so excellent that the book could qualify as a historical novel! You will also meet  Shardlake’s able assistant Jack Barak.  What a team indeed! The characters Sansom developes and the localities he describes place you firmly in Sixteenth Century Tudor England. Sansom kindly publishes for the reader maps of the setting of the plot!

Move on to the  second Shardlake Mystery, Sovereign published in 2006.  Shardlake and Jack Barak are called upon to solve yet another murder this time within King Henry VIII’s  Court. They undercover a plot against the King Himself!  You will meet the fifth wife of Henry the VIII, Catherine Howard, and be plunged into a question of the legitimacy of succession to the English Throne! It only gets better and better.

Want more?  In Revelation,  published in 2008,  King Henry VIII is wooing his sixth wife Catherine Parr.  Archbishop Cramer is suspicious that Lady Catherine has reformist sympathies. She is also resisting the King’s affection ! Sansom’s physical descriptions of the King leave little wonder as to why it is a hard choice for Catherine. Add to the plot a young boy who because of his religious zealotry has been placed in the Bedlam hospital for the insane.  If he is released he will be burned at the stake as a heretic!  Enter Shardlake and Barak who while investing the murder of a personal friend discover a direct connection to the imprisoned boy!  One more Sansom mystery that will lead you page by page into the late evening, enjoying every minute.

There is a fourth in this series titled Dark Fire  ( 2004)but I am now so consumed with the opening pages of Heartstone that Dark Fire will have to wait. Sansom authored another novel, Winter in Madrid  (2006) set during the Spanish Civil War.  Some reviewers have called it a Hemingway without the romance! I have not read that work .

I commend C.J. Sansom to lovers of extremely well written mysteries and don’t discount the value of his accurate historical perspective. A painless way to discover the world of Sixteenth Century Tudor England and the life and wives of Henry VIII>