Friday, March 19, 2010
Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy
"One powerful King...two tragic Queens. In the court of Henry VIII, it was dangerous for a woman to catch the king's eye. Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were cousins. Both were beautiful women, though very different in temperament. They each learned that Henry's passion was all-consuming--and fickle.
Sophisticated Anne Boleyn, raised in the decadent court of France was in love with another man when King Henry claimed her as his own. Being his mistress gave her a position of power; being his queen put her life in jeopardy. Her younger cousin, Catherine Howard, was only fifteen when she was swept into the circle of King Henry. Her innocence attracted him, but a past mistake was destined to haunt her.
Painted in the rich colors of Tudor England, Murder Most Royal is a page-turning journey into the lives of two of the wives of the tempestuous Henry VIII."
(from the publisher)
Jean Plaidy (real name Eleanor Hibbert -- 1906-1993), was one of Britain's most popular and beloved historical fiction novelists. She is often referred to as the "queen of historical fiction," or the "godmother" of historical novels. I read and enjoyed many of her gothic romantic suspense novels that she wrote using the nom de plume Victoria Holt, and she also published under the name Philippa Carr, among others.
Murder Most Royal is one title from Plaidy's Tudor series; while I admit it's not the best book I have read on the subject of Anne Boleyn, it was an interesting tale comparing and contrasting the two executed wives of Henry VIII and the events which shaped their destinies as queen and their tragic endings. Plaidy devotes a good deal of the story to the internal thoughts of Henry VIII as he battled with his political advisors, church leaders, and his own conscience over matters of his marriage, the necessity of a male heir, and his methods of eliminating one wife for another. Ran a bit long in parts, and the story did not always flow smoothly, but still, the tale of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard's execution is always chilling and haunting.
I think everyone who enjoys historical fiction will find something of Plaidy to enjoy. Her books cover a wide range of historical topics and there are several series to explore: Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Queens of England, Queen Victoria, the Borgias, de'Medici, just to name a few.
I'm looking forward to reading Plaidy's The Loves of Charles II next with Barbara, the Countess of Castelmaine; Louise de Keroualle, and Nell Gwyn. I became fascinated with Restoration England and Charles II after reading Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor, one of my favorites.
You can go here to explore all of Plaidy's titles.
Title: Murder Most Royal
Author: Jean Plaidy
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Original copyright: 1949/2006