Posted in 18th Century

review: A Respectable Trade

A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory Frances Scott, aging society lady, marries a wealthy merchant, Josiah Cole, who is in the business of trading sugar, coffee and slaves in Bristol. Shortly after their marriage the first set of slaves arrives, and Frances is given the task of teaching them to speak English and work as servants. She forms a bond with Mahuru, who was something of a medicine man in his native country and very intelligent. They begin an affair as Josiah gets himself deeper and deeper into debt with the Merchant Venturers. Finally events spiral down to a tangled but satisfying conclusion, all the while insinuating the class structure changes the world will shortly witness with the French Revolution. I read the audio version,…

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Posted in 15th Century Tudor Wars of the Roses

review: The White Queen

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory Imagine an Elizabeth Woodville who is not a vindictive harpy; a cold and calculating queen. Imagine a woman who set out to restore her deceased husband’s titles and lands to her sons and got caught up in a relationship with the king. She never set her eyes to the throne. She loved the king as a man and he won the crown and brought her into prominence. He made suggestions of appointments and marriages for her relatives. She was never over-reaching, except in a few instances where she was feeling vengeful for wrongs done to her family. She was a good and loving mother, a faithful wife and a dutiful queen. And if she ever started feeling a bit…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Wars of the Roses

review: The Red Queen

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory This highly anticipated second novel of the Wars of the Roses from Philippa Gregory, though perhaps not sensational, definitely does not disappoint in terms of intrigue, timelines and historical detail. Gregory’s Margaret Beaufort begins life having visions of Joan of Arc and so dedicates her life to what she believes is her calling. At first she feels her destiny lies in prayer and study, but after the birth of her son she focuses solely on his care and upbringing. Unfortunately (yet ultimately fortunately) she must hand him over to wardship all of his young life and so never forms a maternal bond with him. She does, however, manage to instill in him a sense of family pride–namely their Lancastrian…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Other Queen

The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory Mary, Queen of Scots is a newly arrived ‘guest’ of England’s Queen Elizabeth I at the home of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury and his indomitable wife, Bess. As told from three perspectives (George, Mary and Bess) this is the story of the many plots to free the Scots queen and the dwindling fortune and unraveling marriage of the couple unlucky enough to play host to ‘The Other Queen’. Mary, young and very ambitious, plays the innocent, but is in fact a non-stop schemer who cloaks her dishonorable behavior with her untouchable saintliness as a royal and, to a lesser degree, her Catholic faith. She is unwilling to accept that she is wrong in any of her choices, and–to…

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Posted in 15th Century Reviews Wars of the Roses

review: The Lady of the Rivers

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory The third installment of the Cousins’ War series, The Lady of the Rivers features a little known character at the forefront–Jacquetta of Luxembourg, mother of Edward IV’s queen, Elizabeth Woodville. Born the daughter of a French count and supposedly a descendant of the legendary goddess Melusina, she first married the Duke of Bedford, uncle to England’s King Henry VI. This marriage brought her wealth, power, education and an introduction to the dark arts. Though she is gifted with foresight, she doesn’t understand the vague visions that come to her and the few lessons her great-aunt taught her about fortunetelling and cursing remain nearly unused throughout the story. Instead, we follow the court of the childlike Henry VI…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Constant Princess

The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory I first read this book years ago when it was newly published and remember it as one of my favorite Philippa Gregory novels. I liked the character of Arthur and Catalina’s descriptions of her life in the palaces of Spain. I do remember thinking the depiction of Henry VII was… different. And I enjoy an unconventional telling, which Gregory always provides. Listening to the book being read aloud makes the repetitious prose less annoying. It actually sounds the way a person thinks–which is probably what the author intends–but reading it on paper it doesn’t have the same effect. The narrator has a pleasant and appropriate voice for historical fiction, with perfect pronunciation of foreign names and words. The story…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory I listened to this on unabridged audio and have decided Philippa Gregory’s books are much better read aloud than read to oneself. This one is even better than some of the others because it has 3 narrators: Jane Boleyn, Katherine Howard and Anne of Cleves, each doing a perfect job with their role. Jane Boleyn is calculating, haughty and stern, Katherine Howard is silly, breathless and flirty, and Anne of Cleves is sober, resigned and resolute. Jane Boleyn, Lady Rochford–infamously known for sending her husband to the block by giving evidence against him–was living with begrudging relatives when the Duke of Norfolk recalled her to serve Anne of Cleves. Ceaselessly scheming to further the Howard family’s interests, he placed…

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