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Posts Tagged ‘Jean Plaidy’

After a very limited sleep and going back to work today, I’m not 100% sure this post will be any better than it would have been yesterday. Still, needs must and all that, so here goes…

Book 18 – The Goldsmith’s Wife, by Jean Plaidy (one of my Grandma’s old books). This is a fictionalised account of the life of (Elizabeth) Jane Shore, one of the most famous women of King Edward IV’s court, lover not only to the King but also (after his death) to his stepson and one of his most trusted advisers. It explores how her beauty and warmth captivated the powerful, and took her from a respectable, if stultifying marriage, into the glamour and sensuality of the Court.

Plaidy takes some liberties with the accepted history of both Jane’s first marriage and her later relationships, but the narrative flow of the story is an intriguing picture of a woman both warm and beautiful; someone who used her power with the king not for her own sake but to petition for pardons for those who had fallen out of favour.

However, there is one relationship that Jane forms that fundamentally changes the readers perception of her wisdom and goodness, which seemed to be abusive. I don’t know if this was Plaidy’s plan but based on the known history it was one of many ways to explore the relationship and this choice didn’t fit with the character or the rest of the story particularly comfortably.

The story generally paints a number of the male characters in a negative light, but surprisingly paints Richard III as a victim of circumstance and false history. I wonder how she would feel about the finding of his remains and his reinterment…

I do enjoy Plaidy’s books, and they’re great holiday reads, but this one didn’t connect as well as some. The time period isn’t one I know much about, the abusive relationship was a narrative choice I can’t really get behind, and the ending was much sadder than the evidence suggests was the case for Jane. Still, it did give me a way into a period of history I really ought to try to learn more about!

Book 19 – Coffin’s Ghost, by Gwendoline Butler (one of my Nan’s old books!). This is the story of John Coffin, Chief Commander of the Second City of London Police, in a fictional world where London has been split into two cities. As Coffin recovers from an attempt on his life, the arms and legs of a woman are found on the doorstep of his old home. The story follows this and a number of other crimes being investigated, and how they cross and tangle each other.

This was an unusual read. I wasn’t too keen on the style early on and even by the end there were choices made by the writer that irritated me and took me out of the story. The big reveal was almost mundane, considering the clue crumbs that were dropped through the story, and it didn’t work for me particularly well.

However, I enjoyed the core of the book. The characters were generally interesting and sufficiently twisted and complex that I had absolutely no idea who the dead woman was, or who had put her there. The unreliable nature of the police officers was a great storyline, because there was never any confidence in what they were saying – any one of them could have been a liar, or telling the absolute truth – there was no way of knowing.

There was some heavy-handedness about pushing certain ideas, which made me doubt them, and I did think I knew who had committed one of the crimes stated quite early on, but despite my disappointment in the ending I left this book thinking it was an educational read, genre-wise.

This is one of a series of books with the character, and if I find another I will certainly read it!

So there you have it – 2 holiday reads, neither in any way taxing, but both bringing entirely different styles to the table!

Until next time – happy reading,
EJ
ūüôā

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This week’s choice was influenced by book 4¬†and a hankering for some good, old-fashioned, historical romance.

Book 6 – Daughter of Satan, by Jean Plaidy. ¬†The daughter in question is Tamar – a child forced on her mother by the devil, wild and full of magic in 16th Century England. ¬†The day¬†her mother is caught by the ‘witchpricker’ and hanged as a witch, Tamar’s true parentage is revealed – but she still believes the Devil is inside her. ¬†She is wild and beautiful, intelligent and loyal, and the subject of both adoration and hatred. ¬†When the risks of being caught and tried as a witch – or named as a Puritan – become too great, she and her family sail for the ‘promised land’ of New England, only to be just as unsafe amongst the Puritans of New Plymouth.

Reading this book, which came from the inheritance shelves, I was transported back into childhood: Jean Plaidy and Victoria Holt (who were the same person) books were constantly cycling around the house and I have a signed first US edition of a Jean Plaidy that I bought as a teenager.  Her books spurred on my love of all things Elizabethan, and even as an adult, when I visited beautiful Kenilworth Castle it was with memories of courtly intrigues that I had read in the pages of her books.

I am telling you this so you know this post will inevitably be tinged with nostalgia and romance Рbut I do love a Plaidy.  This book has everything you need from a historical romance set in that time: religious bigotry, witches, danger, passion, anger, violence and a beautiful maiden. The violent, ruthless and lecherous rogue as love interest pushes my ability to suspend disbelief a little Рand yet I can well imagine that people could have acted that way without punishment or even a sense of guilt.  The loyal nature of Tamar, with her lifelong friendship of Annis and her protection of her loved ones, is the heart of the story and despite knowing what mistakes she is making along the way it is hard not to hope for the best for her.

Intertwining the story with historical details – the Spanish Armada, and the subsequent starvation of the seamen who saved England from the Inquisition; the growth of Puritanism; the arbitrary cruelty of the witch hunts – all imbue the book with a sense of danger and loss for the protagonists. ¬†They also serve to make Tamar’s decisions more realistic, for a more modern reader.

I can’t help but be full of pleasure¬†about reading this book, and revisiting a little corner of my childhood. ¬†It’s as evocative as finding an old toy I¬†used to carry everywhere.

Happy reading,

EJ

ūüôā

 

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