Sunday, June 22, 2008

Review: The Lord of Greenwich by Juliet Dymoke, Plus a Harley Update

First, since we're on day 5 of Waiting for Harley, I've decided that my karma is so hopelessly bad that there's no point in posting nice things about Richard III. (Bear in mind that the books were paid for on May 14.) Instead, I'm giving in to my Inner Tudor and am plastering the walls with images of Henry VII. (Cackles evilly.) Anyway, while waiting for my poster putty to dry, I thought I'd do a quick review of The Lord of Greenwich, a historical novel by Juliet Dymoke.

The Lord of Greenwich is about Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, a younger brother of Henry V. It follows his career from his youth during the declining days of his father, Henry IV, to the the period after his wife Eleanor Cobham's trial and public penance on witchcraft charges.

I don't think this was one of the best Juliet Dymoke novels I've read, but I did enjoy it for the most part. I thought that it captured Humfrey's complex personality well. The last chapters, where Humfrey has lost his wife and his political power, and has only his learning and a few faithful friends for solace, were quite moving.

Where the novel had problems for me was in the middle section, which felt extremely rushed and which could have used some editing. At one point, for instance, we're told that Humfrey's first wife, Jacqueline, is being held captive. Several pages later, she's apparently been set free, since Humfrey makes a reference to trying to persuade her to leave, but what precisely happened is never explained. Then, we're suddenly told that Humfrey's marriage has been annulled, but we're never told who was seeking the annulment. Neither of Humfrey's wives, in fact, is drawn all that well, which is a shame, because it would have been interesting to know more about them.

On the plus side, this is a fairly neglected period in historical fiction, and the novel did make me want to read more about Duke Humfrey. Jean Plaidy has written Epitaph for Three Women, which deals with Eleanor Cobham, Joan of Arc, and Katherine of Valois, and Hilda Lewis has written I, Jacqueline, about Jacqueline of Hainault, but those are the only novels I know of that deal with Duke Humfrey or his wives. Anyone know of any others?

P.S.


He's the man!!

5 comments:

Brian said...

There is a very old novel that features Eleanor Cobham. It's called Shadow King by Claude du Grivel, published in 1952. I read this when I was but a bit of a lad, and enjoyed it so much that I spent many years vainly seeking a copy until Abebooks came to my aid. It's still a fun read, but being older and wiser I can find faults in it, historical and otherwise. Eleanor is the villain(ess) of the piece and a grade one industrial quality lady dog!

Humphrey also features in one of my all time faves, The Heron's Catch by Susan Curran, but only as one of the supporting cast. Same era though. A highly recommended read.

Carole said...

Humphrey is something of a villain in the two fiction books I've read on his sister-in-law Katherine of Valois: The Queen's Secret by Jean Plaidy and The Crown in Candlelight by Rosemary Hawley-Jarman. Oh and I'm forgetting A Royal Ambition by Iris Gower - none of them have any time for Humphrey - not surprising, I suppose, in books where Katherine is the main character.

Carla said...

What's the Society's excuse for the late delivery? Have they got one, or is it just variations on "manana"?

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks, Brian and Carole! Will check some of those books out.

Carla, it's a long, tedious story. Pity that the books, which I believe are published by the Society, aren't POD--that would save a lot of storage and order fulfillment problems.

JaneConsumer said...

The gaps you describe in transition from one event to another is something I noticed in the 2 books I read - numbers 3 and 4 in the series, regarding the reigns of Edward II and Edward III, respectively. I'm a fan of the era, but not an expert. I was thankful for the knowledge I had so that I could fill in the gaps. But I'll always wonder if I missed something.