Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The First, and Possibly Last, Post in Which I Mention a Hedgehog

Like my new blog colors? I thought the old ones were a bit hard on the eyes.

Over the weekend, my daughter watched the movie Mean Girls, about high school cliques, and we adults were allowed to join in. It's a funny movie. Anyway, one of the clique leaders had a habit of saying "Shut up!" to express incredulity.

So as I'm doing yet another post on Jean Plaidy, I'll pause to allow the blog reader a moment in which to say, "Shut up!" and I'll assume that he or she couldn't possibly mean it literally.

[Pause]

This Plaidy novel is called The Third George. Like some of Plaidy's works about the Plantagenets, it doesn't focus so much on the title character as on the goings-on of his reign, at home and nationwide. There's a lot of such goings-on here-—political infighting, family scandals, the American Revolution, the Gordon riots, George's declining mental health, the Prince Regent's predilection for actresses—-but especially toward the end of the novel, all of the episodes feel strung together, without a unifying theme. This approach is echoed in the novel's point of view, which jumps around madly in all directions. We spend time inside the heads of Charlotte, George, Sarah Lenox, assorted politicians, George's mother and siblings, and even Fanny Burney, but just when we're getting to know a character and to take an interest in him or her, it's time for a new point of view.

The dialogue is mostly expository. "'I fear,' said George, 'that this scandal of the Grosvenors and Caroline Matilda's tragedy has upset you far more than anything ever has before, eh?'" is a typical example. The liveliest dialogue, as a matter of fact, is not an actual dialogue at all but an episode where Sarah Lenox tells her troubles to her pet hedgehog, Sukey. I would have liked to have seen more of Sarah and Sukey, actually, but Sukey makes only the one appearance and Sarah only a couple of others. Pity.

So should you read this historical novel? Well, it's interesting enough if, like me, you don't know much about George III's family—it got me Googling to find out more, at least. For the Prince Regent, however, I think I'd just stick to Blackadder.

And no more Plaidy reviews for a while. I promise.

7 comments:

Carla said...

Yes, I do like your new blog colours! The dark background was hard to read, and this one is much nicer.

Did you see the film The Madness of King George? I thought it was really good. No hedgehog, though. (I won't ask if you're familiar with the Hedgehog Song from Terry Pratchett).

Was this one of Plaidy's later novels? I've seen someone say that they thought the earlier books were the best and the later books got a bit dull by comparison, perhaps because she was churning them out one after another after another.

Marg said...

So is that only no Plaidy books, or no Holt books or any other name either!!

I do like the idea of using Blackadder as the source of historical information though!!

Sounds like a plan!

Sarah said...

The books in Plaidy's Georgian series aren't among my favorites. A lot of it has to do with the characters' dialogue, as you mentioned, and also the stereotypical, rather silly portrayals of the monarchs in question. Their German accents are exaggerated to excess, and the effect makes it appear as if they weren't too bright. And George III seems to end most of his sentences with "eh." The women, generally, are portrayed in a more well-rounded fashion.

Gabriele C. said...

I agree, dark script on light background makes for a better read than white script on black.

Hehe, I think that's a book I don't need to buy or chase all over the library world. My TRB pile is high enough already. :)

Susan Higginbotham said...

I'll have to find The Madness of King George. It was one of those films that sounded interesting at the time but I just never got around to.

This is copyrighted 1969, which surprised me because this novel reminded me of some of her later Plantagenet novels, which have a similar meandering feel to them.

In fairness, I think this book, especially the later parts when the Prince Regent was an adult, was spoiled for me by Blackadder. I kept expecting Baldrick to come in to announce that he had a "cunning plan," and I was sorely disappointed when no one else took up the slack for him.

Margaret Evans Porter said...

Lady Sarah Lennox really did keep a pet hedgehog. And a pet fox, and a squirrel also, but they unfortunately expired and the hedgehog provided consolation for the loss. I tend to remember pets of historical figures...especially the unusual ones!

Never have got round to reading Plaidy's Georgians. In my formative years I think I overdosed on her novels covering earlier reigns, coming to a dead stop at Charles II and Lady Castlemaine!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Plaidy mentioned the fox and squirrel. I remember Lady Sarah from the PBS series The Aristocrats a few years back, and I was quite disappointed when she faded out of the Plaidy book after her hedgehog scene. I'll have to take a look at the book the TV series was based on. (Stella Tillyard, right?)