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Liam (Dublin)

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The Spanish Bride: A Novel of Catherine of Aragon
The Spanish Bride: A Novel of Catherine of Aragon
by Laurien Gardner
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not bad . . . but not great either, 14 Jan. 2007
I must admit I was disappointed in this book. I thought the premise of a novel for each of Henry VIII's wives was a wonderful idea. And don't get me wrong - Katherine of Aragon is my favourite of Henry VIII's wives, and I've no fondness for the king himself. And yes, it was a good idea to tell the story through the eyes of one of Katherine's ladies - Estrella - so as to avoid rehashing a story told many times before.

However, the problem is (for me anyway) Estrella is simply not a compelling character. I found her dull as dishwater, and I simply couldn't understand the constant references throughout the novel to her 'fiery' nature - I didn't see a trace of it! I just wasn't interested at all in her little romances with courtiers, I don't think they added anything whatsoever to the book.

Also, I found the scene where Henry informed Katherine he wanted a divorce ridiculous - it all happens so suddenly. He more or less walks in and says 'it's over'. I think Henry himself is portrayed rather unfairly. He was no saint - that's an understatement - but at one point Estrella speculates that Henry 'wouldn't hesitate' to kill his daughter Mary, which I think is something he never, ever would have considered.

I gave the book 2 stars, not 1, because it's not entirely without it's redeeming features; a sympathetic story, reasonable characters, but it lost a lot of points not only for what I mentioned above, but also for some historical inaccuracies, particularly regarding dates. I wouldn't reccommend it, unless you want to buy absolutely every novel ever written on the subject.


Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King
Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King
by Lady Antonia Fraser
Edition: Hardcover

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another triumph for Fraser!, 14 Jan. 2007
This book, a study of King Louis XIV of France and the women in his life, including his mother, Anne of Austria, his wife Marie-Therese of Spain, his two sisters-in-law, Henriette-Anne of England and Liselotte of the Palatinate, his granddaughter-in-law Adelaide of Savoy, and of course his mistresses, Louise de La Valliere, Francoise-Athenais de Montpesan, Angelique de Fontagues and Francoise d'Aubigne, Madame de Maintenon. Then there's the mistress who never was, Marie Mancini.

As ever, Fraser tells a wonderful story - this is history at it's best. One of her best skills as an author, in my opinion, is the way she treats her characters as human beings; she is sympathetic to Louis being biased. She doesn't overlook his faults, but she isn't pessimistic about him. The characters come alive spectacularly, even though it's a non-fiction book - by the end, we feel as though we know Louis, Liselotte, Adelaide and the others. The Sun King has always been a compelling characters - I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to find out more not only about him, but about the women in his life!


Charles II: The Power and the Passion [DVD] [2003]
Charles II: The Power and the Passion [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Rufus Sewell
Offered by Springwood Media
Price: £16.99

37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Restoration Drama, 2 Jan. 2007
Having just watched this DVD again, I've been capitvated anew by how good it is. Everything, from the music to the costumes to the acting, is magnificent. Rufus Sewell skillfully portrays the character of Charles II - cynical, witty, essentially good natured but determined not to go on his 'travels' again. The supporting cast are wonderful too, especially Shirley Henderson as Catherine of Braganza, Helen McCrory as Lady Castlemaine and Rupert Graves as the Duke of Buckingham. The spirit of Restoration times - that is, self indulgent pleasure seeking interspersed with religious mania - is captured beautifully.

I have a few little complaints to make. I feel that James, Charles's brother and eventual successor, is treated rather unfairly. Yes, James was very stubborn and not too intelligent, but in the drama he is constantly defying Charles and is often borderline disrespectful to him. As a believer in the Divine Right of Kings, James wouldn't have acted like that. Also, it would have been nice to see James's daughters, Mary and Anne, featured, or even his second wife, but I understand that time constraints probably made this unfeasible.

Diana Rigg puts in a good performance as Henrietta Maria, despite her English accent. There are some slight chronological inaccuracies however - for example, Charles's brother Henry was dead long before Catherine arrived in England. These are all minor points however, and are the only reason I'm giving 4 rather than 5 stars. It's a wonderful, exciting drama and is for the most part true to history.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 30, 2010 12:18 PM BST


A Royal Affair: George III and His Troublesome Siblings
A Royal Affair: George III and His Troublesome Siblings
by Stella Tillyard
Edition: Hardcover

20 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely woeful!, 20 April 2006
I love reading about the House of Hanover, and I had very high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations. In fact, it's down right bad! It's this sort of writing that turns people off the Hanoverians!

Stella Tillyard just can't make her writing compelling. There is no incentive whatsoever to read on. The book is listless, to say the least. I had hoped that not only George III, Princes Edward, Henry and William and Princess Caroline Matilda would be covered - I wanted to read more about Princess Augusta, mother of Queen Caroline, and also the other two daughters, Elizabeth and Louisa, and the son who died aged 15, Frederick William. Instead, we get to hear all about Edward, Henry and William, whose lives, though potentially interesting, are really no different than the lives of George III's sons in the next generation, bar the 'unequal' marriages Henry and William made. When hearing all about the 'fast' life Edward led, one gets the feeling that one's heard all this before, about a million different princes of that era. As for Caroline Matilda, her plight is sympathetic, but it's handled in such a drab way, it's hard to really care.

In short, this book was a disappointment. It's because of books like this that people think the Hanoverians were a boring family!


The Stuart Princesses
The Stuart Princesses
by Alison Plowden
Edition: Paperback

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jem of a book!, 18 Sept. 2005
This review is from: The Stuart Princesses (Paperback)
This is a wonderful little book. Plowden concentrates on the surviving princesses of the House of Stuart - Elizabeth, the Winter Queen; Mary, Princess Royal; Princess Elizabeth; Princess Henrietta Anne 'Minette', Duchesse d'Orleans; Mary II; Queen Anne.
The writing in this book is vivid, colourful and it is easy to read. The Winter Queen emerges as a wonderful, colourful character, as indeed do all the other princesses. Certain other members of the House of Stuart stand out as the supporting cast - Charles I, Henrietta Maria, Charles II, James II - they are all studied well.
It is good to hear the rather unknown stories of Minette, Elizabeth and Mary, Princess Royal.
My one complaint is that Mary II and Queen Anne, especially Anne, are not covered in as much detail as the rest, but this is a minor point, since all the other princesses are highly interesting characters. A must have for anyone interested in the Stuarts!


Windsor and Habsburg: the British and Austrian reigning houses 1848-1922
Windsor and Habsburg: the British and Austrian reigning houses 1848-1922
by John Van der Kiste
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a disappointment, 17 Feb. 2005
I have to say that I expected more from the great John Van der Kiste. This is more a political book than any sort of biography. More time is given to Empress Elizabeth than emperor Francis Joseph, which is a shame. Elizabeth comes across as a neurotic, irritating woman with no sense of duty. Crown Prince Rufolf's suicide is given barely a paragraph and we only meet Emperor Charles towards the book's close. Archduchess Sophie, Francis Joseph's mother, is given very little attention, as are his daughters. Despite van der Kiste's efforts to make us think otherwise, it is clear that Anglo-Austrian relations in the 1900s had no direct bearing on the first world war. Still, you might be interested in this kind of thing so i'll give it two stars.


The Lost Prince [DVD] [2003]
The Lost Prince [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Daniel Williams
Price: £5.30

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spectacular, 15 Feb. 2005
This review is from: The Lost Prince [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
The Lost Prince is a spectuacular and moving drama charting the life of the little-known Prince John, son of King George V and Queen Mary. We see John and his brother George growing up in the Imperial splendour of Edward VII's court and see the changes that take place during the First World War. John, an epileptic, is kept away from the public eye with his devoted nurse, Lalla (portrayed wonderfully by Gina McKee). John is increasingly isolated from the world, and when the war begins his parents have no time for him. Only his brother George, and his adoring grandmother Queen Alexandra (Bibi Andersson - a wonderful and accurate portrayel) remember him. His parents, King George V and Queen Mary, are very stressed and are forced to pretty much abandon him. As Lalla struggles to remind them that John is a real prince, the Romanovs are murdured and the war in Europe ends. I challenge anyone to watch this and not feel sad at the ending. The drama had wonderful actors - Miranda Richardson is the very embodiment of Queen Mary, Tom Hollander is convincing as George V, and the contrast between him and his father, Edward VII (Michael Gambdon) is clear from the start. Great Stuff!


Edward The Seventh [1975] [DVD]
Edward The Seventh [1975] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Annette Crosbie
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £59.99

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and Compelling Drama, 9 Dec. 2004
This is a spectacular production that has held up well considering it is 30 years old. Annette Cosby's performance as Queen Victoria is fabulous, considering that she depicts Victoria from her early 20s to her early 80s! Timothy West makes a good Prince of Wales, and the supporting cast is very good. Christopher Neame is compelling and beleivable as Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Felicity Kendal warms our hearts as the charming Princess Vicky. A must buy for all royal lovers!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2011 2:05 PM BST


Winter's Heart: Book 9 of the Wheel of Time: 9/12
Winter's Heart: Book 9 of the Wheel of Time: 9/12
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book - explosive climax!, 18 Nov. 2004
I've heard people say that 'A Crown of Swords' was the last great Wheel of Time book. While I admit that 'The Path of Daggers' was a disappointed, 'Winter's Heart' is a treat. Perrin appears in the first few chapters of the book but it not much seen after that. We spend most of our time with Elayne and Nynaeve (in Andor, trying to consolidate Elayne's claim to the throne) and Rand, Min and Cadsuane (pottering about all over the place). While some section on Andoran politics can be tedious, things get more interesting when Elayne is confronted by danger - and also shares some intimate time with Rand. Rand then goes to hunt the rebel Asha'man, Nynaeve, Min, Lan and Alivia accompanying him. Needless to say, the ever-present Cadsuane (bossy and imperious as ever), soon shows up in Far Madding, and things take an exciting twist. Even if you're disappointed so far, the last chapter 'With the Choedan Kal' is spectacular enough to delight any loyal Wheel of Time fan. Jordan has still got it!


A Crown Of Swords: Book 7 of the Wheel of Time: 7/12
A Crown Of Swords: Book 7 of the Wheel of Time: 7/12
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another superb Robert Jordan WoT installment!, 8 Nov. 2004
A Crown of Swords picks up where Lord of Chaos left off. Rand al'Thor, The Dragon Reborn has been worrying about Forsaken Sammael for some time. It is in this story that he finally decides to confront him. Meanwhile, Nynaeve, Elayne, Mat, Thom, Juilin, Aviendha and Birgitte head to Ebou Dar to find the Bowl of the Winds and make the weather right again. A number of new characters are introduced - the sultry Queen Tylin of Altara and the mysterious and bossy Cadsuane Melaidhrin. We get to hear more of Sevanna and the Shaido Aiel, mostly from Sevanna's point of view, and Sammael and Graendal both make numerous appearences. Despite being slow in some places (Perrin is STILL the most boring wheel of time character, and Faile the most annoying), A Crown of Swords is an able successor to the great lord of chaos. But don't get it until you have read the 6 preceding books!


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