Posted in Articles

Versions of Romeo & Juliet Throughout History

When you think of Romeo and Juliet, what first comes to mind: Shakespeare’s play, the 1968 film adaptation or one of the many beautiful paintings featuring the lovers? Or, perhaps, you recall sitting in high school English, Drama or Literature trying to decipher the archaic language while pretending to find the hidden meaning of it all. Before reading O, Juliet, becoming intrigued and doing further research, I had little knowledge of the legend at all. In fact, I assumed Shakespeare’s was the original. How wrong I was! This research has really opened my eyes to much, not just Romeo and Juliet related, but with the life of Shakespeare, or the person who may have published under the name Shakespeare… but that’s another story (and thoroughly…

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Posted in 15th Century Articles Tudor Wars of the Roses

Richard III and the Princes in the Tower Novels

There are three “Princes in the Tower” novels that have intrigued me over the years: To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell, Figures in Silk and Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett. All three make use of a background character’s view of events, some fictional–such as Bennett’s Isabel Lambert and Maxwell’s Nell Caxton–and others who were indeed on the fringes of the court during the era–Elizabeth of York, Jane Shore and Meg Giggs. While To the Tower Born and Figures in Silk are set during the era, Portrait of an Unknown Woman is indeed a Tudor novel set in the 1520’s, but has roots that lead back to 1485 via Thomas More, known for slandering Richard III in his book The History of…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Wild Irish

The Wild Irish by Robin Maxwell In 1593, Grace O’Malley, Mother of the Irish Rebellion, famously met with Queen Elizabeth I of England with a petition to set her son free of Elizabeth’s English-Irish governor and a few other concessions. Robin Maxwell takes this historic event and turns it into a retelling of Grace’s life, from a young girl sailing on her father’s ships to a woman of 60, hardened by war, grief and endless fighting. ‘The Wild Irish’ is an apt title for this novel, as there is no sugar coating the gory, harsh treatment of the Irish within their own rival clans and later the English to the Irish, and vice versa. While it’s easy to commiserate with Grace, there is such incivility…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: Virgin: Prelude to the Throne

Virgin: Prelude to the Throne by Robin Maxwell I knew I’d like this one, as I’ve liked all of her novels. She has a distinct writing style that includes plenty of drama, yet stays true to the facts. The story begins with the death of Henry VIII. Elizabeth is relieved when she is sent to live with the Queen Dowager, Catherine Parr, at her residence in Chelsea. Elizabeth receives a new wardrobe, the best tutors and the adoration of her beloved step-mother. But it all comes crashing down with the arrival of Thomas Seymour, newly appointed Lord High Admiral. He sweeps Catherine off her feet and secretly marries her, risking the disapproval of the Regency Council, and perhaps more importantly the man running the government…

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Posted in 15th Century Art History Reviews

review: Signora da Vinci

Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell First of all, I have to say it – this is my favorite Robin Maxwell novel! Yes, even more than O, Juliet I’m afraid! I’m so glad to have saved this one for last, and though I was on a tight schedule to get it read, I savored it for 2 more days than I had to. I planned to get it read by December 31st, so that it would be on my 2009 list, but I couldn’t rush it. I read it slowly and deliberately and finished it up on January 2nd. Back in 2002, when I worked for Borders, the company was preparing a huge campaign to promote The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown and asked…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Queen’s Bastard

The Queen’s Bastard by Robin Maxwell One of the great rumors surrounding Queen Elizabeth I is whether or not she had a bastard child or children. There have been several books written on the subject and many theories abound, including the historical figures Edward de Vere, William Shakespeare and one Arthur Dudley, who was notated in Philip, the King of Spain’s state papers. Robin Maxwell takes the character of Arthur and forms a very plausible and adventurous story of his life. The masculine details in this book are so genuine and authentic. I’m always amazed when an author of the opposite gender can so deftly relay the thoughts, feelings and mannerisms of the said character. There are minute details of animal husbandry and manege (the…

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