Friday, September 15, 2006

Another Plaidy to My Credit, This Time with Toads

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.

4 comments:

Alianore said...

Like the new Plaidy covers. Hope some of her other Plantagenet novels are re-released soon - I'd like a copy of Follies of the King, her Edward II one.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Yeah, I'm looking forward to seeing what they do for the cover art on that one! I love my paperback copy of the Edward III one, The Vow on the Heron--Edward III embracing a hot-looking blonde with a Farrah Fawcett hairdo and in a pink dress with a plunging V-neck. Edward III is helpfully depicted with a crown, but the blonde is unidentifiable--can't tell whether she's supposed to be the Countess of Salisbury, Joan of Kent, or even Queen Philippa. Edward III's way too young in the picture for the babe to be Alice Perrers.

Gata said...

Wow, can't believe there are other Plaidy readers out there! Well, the reissues were the first indication. I started reading her books in 2000, which catapulted me into an obsession for history and historical novels. She had some career. I love how she was able to place herself into the shoes of each historical figure - as soon as you sympathize with a king you also agree with the guy trying to knock him off the throne. Will have to devote a whole blog to her someday.

I read Helen of Troy (the Margaret George version) and it kept my attention, though I felt certain questions went unanswered. I suppose ancient history/mythology will always leave something to the imagination.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks for stopping by, Gata! I like some of Plaidy's stuff a lot and am looking forward to receiving the next book in the series. There are quite a few Plaidy readers who post over on the bulletin board Historical Fiction.org:

http://www.historicalfiction.org/

I'll probably try the Helen of Troy book again when I'm feeling more attentive.