Posted in 12th Century Reviews

review: The Lion of Justice

The Lion of Justice by Jean Plaidy This is the story of Henry I of England, The Lion of Justice, and his wife, Edith Atheling (later called Matilda of Scotland). It begins with Henry’s brother, William Rufus on the throne, and recounts his uninspiring reign. With Rufus’s mysterious death, Henry claims the throne of England before his eldest brother, Robert the Duke of Normandy, returns from crusade. Matilda, young and convent bred, was very learned in books, languages and politics, but not in worldly matters and was not ready to face the reality of her husband’s philandering. This sore point is one of the focuses of the story, with Henry’s rivalry with his brother, and later his holdings in Normandy the main theme. While this…

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Posted in 19th Century Europe First Line Friday Victorian

First Line Friday: 01/13/17

“That solemnity which etiquette, decorum and decency insisted should prevail could scarcely hide the excited expectation in the Palace of Kensington on that June morning in the year 1837.” THE QUEEN AND LORD M by Jean Plaidy On the morning of 20th June 1837, an eighteen-year-old girl is called from her bed to be told that she is Queen of England. The Victorian age has begun. The young queen’s first few years are beset with court scandal and malicious gossip: there is the unsavoury Flora Hastings affair, a source of extreme embarrassment to the queen; the eternal conflict between Victoria and her mother; and, the young queen’s hatred of Sir John Conroy, her mother’s close friend. Then there is the Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne –…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews Tudor

review: The Lady in the Tower

The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy This is the book that started my obsession with Jean Plaidy–the first of her novels I read and my absolute favorite characterization of Anne Boleyn. Eight years have passed, and reading it again I stand by my initial delight in finding an admirable protagonist in Anne–after having been introduced to her by Philippa Gregory, with her not-so-flattering portrayal of Anne as a great intriguer with temperamental dominance. In The Lady in the Tower, Anne is imprisoned in the Tower of London, recounting her life in its entirety in an effort to distract herself from her present state. She details her early life at Hever, the years spent in the court of France, and her relations with James…

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Posted in 17th Century

review: The Murder in the Tower

The Murder in the Tower by Jean Plaidy Set in the court of James I of England, this is the story of Frances, Countess of Essex, and the path she took to rid herself of her husband so that she could marry the king’s favorite, Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset. Written in classic Plaidy style, many would not enjoy this novel because it’s lack of flowery prose. As usual, however, there is plenty of political intrigue and the characters dispositions and motives are perfectly portrayed. The book description tries to make it more mystical than it is; the witchcraft is entirely explained by a normal sequence of events, though the characters see what they wish to see in the circumstances. If you’ve read The Wise…

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Posted in 17th Century Restoration Reviews

review: The Merry Monarch’s Wife

The Merry Monarch’s Wife previously titled The Pleasures of Love by Jean Plaidy ‘But when I consider the truth of her heart Such an innocent passion, so kind, without art I fear I have wronged her, and hope she may be So full of true love to be jealous of me O, then ’tis I think no joys are above The pleasures of Love.’ Charles II Convent bred Catherine of Braganza was not prepared for the shock of Charles II’s licentious court when she set sail to England to become his queen. Her romantic ideal was accurate, but for the fact that she wasn’t the only woman loved by King Charles. He loved and respected her, but he could not give up his other loves…

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Posted in Reviews

review: The Third George

The Third George by Jean Plaidy Fifth in the eleven book Georgian Saga, The Third George covers the intermediary life of England’s King George III—after his liaisons with Hannah Lightfoot and Sarah Lennox, just before his marriage to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and ending with his first serious mental episode, which required the Prince of Wales to take over as Regent. During much of the first portion of the book George is ruled by his mother and her lover, Lord Bute. Young and desirous of becoming a good king, George is tossed between his ministers for years, from the Great Commoner, William Pitt to Lord North, to Pitt the Younger and Charles James Fox. Charlotte was kept out of affairs of state and constantly pregnant, resulting…

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Posted in Reviews

review: The Princess of Celle

The Princess of Celle by Jean Plaidy This story begins with a family of brothers, of whom one will inherit the family titles and fortune: Hanover, Celle and Osnabruck. When it falls on the one brother least eager for the responsibilities, Duke George William, he passes it on to a younger brother with a few concessions — the main one that he continues his bachelor life and never marries, as there can be no rivals to the brother who takes on the family affairs. As life would have it, during George William’s travels he discovers the one woman he would settle down with, and she won’t have him any other way than through a respectable ceremony. A civil agreement is drawn up and George William…

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Posted in 19th Century Reviews Victorian

review: The Queen’s Husband

The Queen’s Husband by Jean Plaidy The third of the four-book Queen Victoria series (The Captive of Kensignton Palace, The Queen and Lord M, The Queen’s Husband, and The Widow of Windsor) The Queen’s Husband is a detailed account of Prince Albert’s childhood, youth in Coburg and marriage to the Queen of England. I chose to read this particular book because I wanted a feel of Albert’s character and this Plaidy delivers in great detail. Affected by the early loss of his beloved mother, and without another to quite fill the void, Albert turned out apathetic and awkward toward the opposite sex. Even so he was very handsome and courteous, which won the young and fiercely independent Victoria over upon their first meeting. Though not…

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Posted in Articles

Mothers in Literature: HF Version

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I have selected three mothers from literature I have read, each decidedly different from the other. We have an exemplary step-mother of ten, a well-intentioned, but delusional doting mother of five, and a grandmother bent on scheming and revenge. The latter may not be what’s expected of a holiday post, but let’s be honest: in fiction, there are very few protagonists with perfect parents. In fact, it’s fairly common for writers to use a dysfunctional home life as the catalyst for interesting characterizations. Along with the social team at RedEnvelope (who were an inspiration in writing this post), to my own mother, Carol, who instilled in me a love of reading, I dedicate the following trio: mother, step-mother and grandmother,…

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Posted in 15th Century Articles Wars of the Roses

Eleanor Hibbert: Letter about Jane Shore in The Goldsmith’s Wife

Just days after the announcement that confirmed Richard III’s remains were found, I received this correspondence (purchased from a document seller on eBay) between Eleanor Hibbert (Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Ellalice Tate, Anna Percival) and a reader from the University of Illinois English Department on Jane Shore, and along with her a mention of “the enigmatical Richard III”. This prompted me to compare my 1950 edition of The Goldsmith’s Wife with my 1979 edition, in which an Author’s Note had been added. Did this inquiry have anything to do with the curious addition to later printings? Re-reading the Author’s Note, it does not seem as though she had added any further thoughts relating to Mr. Harner’s questioning,…

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Posted in 14th Century 15th Century Reviews

review: The Star of Lancaster

The Star of Lancaster #11 in the Plantagenet Saga by Jean Plaidy One of the idiosyncrasies of Jean Plaidy’s writing is her style of encompassing mini-stories within the main story, weaving them all together. This she has done with The Star of Lancaster, covering an aging John of Gaunt, his rising son, Henry IV of England, and the short lifetime of the great soldier-king, Henry V. As usual the story covers a handful of women close to male protagonists: Mary de Bohun, wife of Henry IV and mother of Henry V; Isabella of Valois, Queen of England and second wife of Richard II; Joanna of Navarre, Queen of England and second wife of Henry IV; Isabeau of Bavaria, Queen of France; and Katherine of Valois,…

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Posted in 16th Century Reviews

review: The Young Mary Queen of Scots

The Young Mary Queen of Scots by Jean Plaidy This is one of three Young Adult novels by Jean Plaidy in Max Parrish’s “The Young” Series. As in her novel Royal Road to Fotheringhay, Plaidy begins with Mary, Queen of Scots at the age of five. Scotland was in danger of being invaded by the English, who wished the young, fatherless Queen to be taken to the court of Henry VIII and eventually married to Prince Edward. However, she was whisked away to the island of Inchmahome and later sailed to her mother’s homeland, France. Instead of an English alliance, she was betrothed to the dauphin—the delicate eldest son of King Henri II and Catherine de Medici. Life at the French court was enchanting, except…

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