I polished off Jean Plaidy’s Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill today. It’s a vast improvement over Diane Haeger’s The Secret Wife of King George IV, and also an improvement over Plaidy’s The Third George, reviewed by me in April. (Blogger's having a snit, or I'd post the link.)
Like the Haeger book, this tells the story of Maria Fitzherbert’s marriage to Prince George—or part of the story, anyway, as the novel ends immediately before George’s marriage to Caroline. Though the viewpoint shifts between various characters, the focus is mainly on George and his misadventures, at least until the last third or so of the book, when it shifts to the dysfunctional royal family as a whole. (So dysfunctional and featherbrained is this bunch, in fact, that I found myself longing for the Plantagenets, who seem like a breath of sanity by comparison.)
Plaidy’s prose is a little less stiff than usual, perhaps because with George III talking to trees, a Madam von Schwellenburg talking to her pet toads (“’Herr Prince vos up to no goot’”), and everyone taking snuff, it’s hard not to have a little authorial fun. My only real complaint, in fact, was with the abrupt ending. I’ll have to wait until the next book in the series, Indiscretions of the Queen, which naturally is not available in my local library, to see whether George ever comes back to Maria and whether Queen Charlotte ever throws her snuffbox at Prince George. So bring it on, Amazon!
Speaking of Plaidy, I see that her early Plantagenet novels are being reissued, with stylish new covers. I especially like the one for The Prince of Darkness. Despite the fact that King John is the main character, the cover depicts a rather worried-looking woman, presumably in flight from Nasty John. There’s also a nice headless man cover of Richard the Lionhearted and a new headless woman cover for Murder Most Royal; this, of course, is about Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn and thus is most apt.
Trying to decide what to read next. I checked out Helen of Troy but couldn’t get myself in the mood for it; I think I’ll wait for the paperback. I started Hilary Mantel’s A Greater Place of Safety (the French Revolution from the revolutionaries’ side) but don’t know whether I’m going to be up for 750 pages of people who thus far haven’t proven very likable. But there’s plenty on the shelf, so I’m sure something will find me.