Is anyone else enamoured of European history? I am. I love all things royal and European history is so full of the pageantry of monarchies. I find it passionately interesting although I am certain I would have hated to be a peasant in 17th century France, England, Russia or Italy. I am a big fan of religious freedom and indoor plumbing.
Lately I have been enjoying the PBS series Six Wives of Henry VIII. It is narrated by British historian David Starkey, an acclaimed expert on all things Tudor. Mr. Starkey really manages to bring to life the whole court of Henry VIII with many juicy details about the various machinations and intrigues that seemed to occur constantly.
Inspired by this series I have begun reading Jean Plaidy’s novels again. I read a few as a teenager and at that time I also passionately consumed her gothic romances written under the pseudonym Victoria Holt.
Last week I totally devoured Queen Of This Realm about the Tudor wives.
Which was really enthralling. Plaidy wrote meticulously researched fictionalized accounts of the life and times of the British monarchs. She was an immensely popular and prolific author in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Deservedly so.
Since I was then in a Tudor kind of a mood I moved on to Philippa Gregory’s The Boylen Inheritance. This was a really good read focusing on Anne of Cleves,Henry’s fourth wife, and Catherine Howard his fifth as well as Jane Rochford sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn. Jane testified against her husband George, Anne Boylen’s brother and Anne at their trial. She testified that they had an improper relationship, a fact generally believed to be untrue, in order to preserve her title and estates. The title is a reference to how each of these women paid for Henry’s obsession with Anne Boylen and her ultimate downfall. Gregory really brings to life how completely unhinged Jane Rochford is in a everyday way. She functions and excels in court life but her hatred of so many people, her dead sister-in-law in particular, bespeaks of a severe break in mental health.
Unfortunately for her it does her no good. Like so many women in the court of Henry VIII she loses her unhinged head.
Having had enough mayhem I moved on to the rather stodgy story of Queen Victoria. Victoria Victorious: The Story of Queen Victoria by Jean Plaidy was a great insight into the longest reigning monarch ever to rule England. Believe it or not she was not always so stodgy but was a fun loving young girl who enjoyed dancing half the night. Her husband, Prince Albert was the "early to bed, early to rise" type who encouraged her to put away her playful side and consider her duty. They had a quite a happy marriage and nine children before he died at the rather young age of 37. The novel is really well written and so interesting.
Can you see why my kitchen floor is dirty? I’ve been reading and reading.I took advantage of some time last week when we had no internet or phone, not to clean or organize or plan but to indulge in some enjoyable summer reading.
I ran out to B&N this weekend (all by myself :)) and picked up some books for our vacation beginning on Saturday. I have enjoyed Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles mystery series for a while now and I found one I had not yet read Lavendar Lies. Is there anything more pleasurable than discovering a new book in a series you enjoy? Then based upon Elizabeth’s recommendation I decided to try her Beatrix Potter mystery series. And since I have been recently wallowing in the Victorian era I picked up one of her books written as Robin Paige with her husband Bill Albert. The series is set in Victorian England, a time period I love to read about, and is a mystery series. Anyone who knows me knows I have been an obsessed fan of the mystery genre since my first Nancy Drew all those many years ago.
Do you think I am going to have a lot of time to read in a cabin in Maine with seven kids and my parents? With a lake, white water rafting, fishing (stop smirking ~I do fish~even bait my own hook), and hiking. We’ll see.
Tomorrow I will be buying batteries for my camera and then I will take some pictures of the Maine notebooks I am putting together for the children to use on our vacation. I’ll include all of the sources and books I’ve been using.
Have a wonderful evening.
Oh, I love all things royal too!! Thanks for all the book recommendations. Phillipa Gregory writes many good historical fiction.
Alice Gunther says
I love books about history and royalty too, Mary Ellen!
Just before heading off to CA I leant MacBeth Elena Maria Vidal’s books, Trianon and Madame Royale.
Thanks for the book recommendations!
Linda Muse says
I’m another of those enamored of all things British and Royal. Thanks for the good bibliography of things I wish I could read and watch! Maybe next year when I go to the States…..
I have a friend who is royalty obsessesed — I’m glad to add new ideas to her gift list. Thanks Mary Ellen.
Oh this is a fabulous list!! Thank you so much for sharing it MaryEllen!! Love it! Blessings!