Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Too Much Richard III, and The Spanish Bride

Yes, I keep changing the title of this blog. But the idea of doing lists when I'd really just like to rattle on about things was getting too confining, and it's a woman's prerogative to change her mind.

Though I liked the novel, I've put down The Broken Sword for the time being--I'm suffering from a surfeit of Richard III fiction. There are only so many solutions to the Princes in the Tower mystery, after all, and once you figure out whether a novelist is going to make Richard III a bad guy or a good guy, you pretty much know how the rest of the novel is going to go. Bad guy--sighs of relief at the end, Richard III kills princes. Good guy--mourning at the end, someone else, or no one, kills Princes.

What I'd like to see is more Wars of the Roses novels "starring" the other major players during that time--Warwick the Kingmaker, for instance, or the Duchess of York, or William Hastings. I'd particularly like to see a novel about William Hastings, because he was treated so badly in a recent pro-Richard novel I read. In it, he had a virgin peasant girl abducted, taken to a brothel, and drugged so that he could rape her. The narrator stated that this was a common practice for him. There's no historical evidence for this that I know of--Hastings, like his friend King Edward IV, was known as a womanizer, but that's hardly the same thing as being a serial rapist. The episode seemed designed solely to make Hastings such an unsympathetic character that the reader wouldn't hold it against Richard later when he executed Hastings without trial on very dubious grounds. So I think Hastings is very much in need of a novel (and for that matter, a biographical study). Maybe I should try it, if no one else will!

Anyway, I've switched to The Spanish Bride by Laurien Gardner, which I understand is a pseudonym for various authors doing a series of books on Henry VIII's wives. This one is about Catherine of Aragon. So far, I'm liking it--it switches back and forth in time, giving the reader a nice perspective on how the aging characters (the narrator, who's fictional as far as I know, is one of Catherine's ladies) have changed over the years. After that, I just might go wild and move into the 16th century, or perhaps out of England altogether for a little while.

What I'm drumming my heels impatiently awaiting these days is the publication of Ian Mortimer's biography of Edward III. I like the one by Michael Packe, but it'd be good to see another one as well. And it'd also be nice to see one on his queen, Philippa.