Wednesday, 14 November 2007

The Concubine by Norah Lofts

'All eyes and hair' a courtier had said disparagingly of her - and certainly the younger daughter of Tom Boleyn lacked the bounteous charms of most ladies of Court. Black-haired, black-eyed, she had a wild-sprite quality that was to prove more effective, more dangerous than conventional feminine appeal. The King first noticed her when she was sixteen - and with imperial greed he smashed her youthful love-affair with Harry Percy and began the process of royal seduction...But this was no ordinary woman, no maid-in-waiting to be possessed and discarded by a king. Against his will, his own common sense, Henry found himself bewitched - enthralled by the young girl who was to be known as - the Concubine...

This is a beautifully told story of one of the most fascinating women in British (indeed, the world) history, it is probably not necessary for me to write a full review as it is a story we know only too well, some books paint Anne in a bad way but, here at the end I don't think anyone could feel anything but, sadness at Anne's end, no matter what your opinion on why she was brought to treason.

I was a little apprehensive at reading this at first as I was not overly impressed with Norah's book on Henry's first wife, Katherine of Aragon that said because this is a story I am familiar with and frankly, can never read enough about Anne Boleyn I devoured every word, and this is possibly one of my favourite novels on Anne.

Fans of Philippa Gregory may not be so thrilled with this book but, I think books should be read on their own merits and not compared to others for similar tellings, although I know it is all too easy to compare but, you can tell the expertise of Norah's storytelling and as much as I love Philippa's books this for me excelled hers in all ways but, they are quite different and so long as you read this not expecting a PG type telling I am sure anyone fascinated with the Tudor era will love this.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor

It's actually amazing that book written so long ago has taken me so long to read, and was even made into a film in 1947! And even more astonishing is the fact that this book was even banned when it was first released. This is such a huge book (972 pages) but, didn't seem that way at all and was extremely engrossing, I almost missed my stop on the train a couple of times!

As a heroine I did find Amber a touch annoying at times but, that didn't detract me from the story at all. This is such a highly loved book that I almost feel naughty saying anything other than praising this level LOL but, anyway I was disappointed that I didn't feel the book described this era of history as much as I have read in other historical fiction. Altough that bing said when I got to the part of the plague and great fire I thought that as greatly descriptive.

The story is predictable enough with Amber rising from a prisoner at Newgate prison to becoming Charles II most favourite mistress but, her relationship with Bruce for me was far more interesting, although sometimes quite iritating there were times I did quite feel for her.

The actual story I am not going to go into in much detail in case anyone else hasn't read it - I can't be the only one - and I think this is one of those books that everyone has to read at some point, especially if you love Historical Fiction. I adore any fiction assocated with the time of Charles II ad its one of those periods in history I would love to have lived in, sadly there is a shortage of historical fiction for this period.

The sad thing about this book was that no sequel was ever written after this, the ending really does give you food for thought as to what might have happened next but, after 60+ years I guess there won't be another which is a huge shame.

Friday, 2 November 2007

The Kings Pleasure by Norah Lofts

Katharine of Aragon is a proud Spanish beauty who became Queen of England. From the moment of Katharine's betrothal to Arthur, Prince of Wales, she looked upon herself as the future Queen of England.

But, Arthur died just after their marriage and it was as the wife of his brother, Henry VIII, that she went to her Coronation. This delightful, richly tapestried novel tells of her life with Henry - the many happy years; the birth of their daughter, Mary Tudor; her popularity with the people and, above all, her constant and unswerving love for the King.

But after nearly twenty years, Henry - his eyes affixed firmly on the ambitious young Anne Boleyn - repudiated their marriage, submitted Katharine to the humilations of a 'trial' and banished her from his life.

This majority of this centres around Katherine's marriage to Henry, I was a bitb disappointed as I was hoping it would have more of her marriage with Arthur but, that said this was a very enjoyable read, Norah has definitely done some pretty good research here.

Obviously, there can be comparisons to Philippa Gregorys book of this period but, these are so different, I so did not dislike this book I just found it much different from other Tudor fiction, I didn't feel the atmosphere of life back there, this book asn't so descriptive and I didn't feel I got to know the characters as well.

Probably its wrong to make comparisons as thats easy to do, I felt this was more like a non-fiction book written as a novel if that makes sense, well I know what I mean LOL

Overall an interesting read just don't expect anything like Philippa Gregory, Jean Plaidy et al.