Top critical review
Could have been amazing if it weren't for these 10 problems...
on 22 April 2015
An interesting plot, though a little slow to begin with. It could have been an amazing book if it weren't for the following:
1) Americanisms. E.L. James fell foul to this too with her British lingo in her Murrica-set trilogy, but I digress.
2) Surviving and recovering from Apoplexy/a stroke in the 1500s. Granted, Hal does die from this later, but I still can't believe he completely recovered from paralysis brought on by a stroke. Yes, the left side of his mouth remains a little drooped, but that's about it.
3) Surviving a caesarian and proceeding to have more children. Jane Seymour died from this, Cecily should have too, especially at her young age of under 20 (I put it at 15/16).
4) Mary-Sue protagonist. Cecily is too perfect. She's beautiful, innocent, pure, never does anything bad, everyone loves her even the antagonist, an she's even nice to those she hates, plays the lute really well, sings really well, clever... Getting orphaned at 8 and the drama/tragedy of the story do not count as a way to balance things out. When she committed adultery, I was cheering just for the fact that she'd sinned, not because of who she did it with.
5) Gary-Stu Father Alec. He's handsome, young-looking even at fifty so he and 28-year-old-or-something Cecily can get it on, nice, kind, forgiving... The couple are obviously made for each other as they're almost inhuman. Alec at least shows more realism in that he gets drunk/angry/sarcastic etc.
6) Gary-Stu Hal. Nice, kind, handsome...basically the same as Alec just different vocations. He looks young so that it isn't too awkward when he marries Cecily, and so that she can fall in love with him and have his babies. He punishes himself for years by wearing a hairshirt for drunkenly raping a woman (Mirabella's mother). Turns out it wasn't rape - the woman consented and seduced him! Happy days! Hal's one sin is erased so he and Cecily can easily make babies as mentioned.
7) "He quit the room." "She quit the apartments." Complete and utter repetition of someone quitting a place, often used to conclude paragraphs or chapters. Someone leaving the room is a weak way to end in itself, but for them to always, ALWAYS "quit" the room is unbearably tedious to read over and over again.
8) Time confusion. Sometimes it's clear as to what date it is and all, but I struggled earlier on with how old Cecily and Mirabella were. For instance, I cannot for the life of me work out how old Cecily was when she gave birth to Harry, meaning I don't know how old he is when the book ends, but I'm guessing twelve. It's just implied to be other ages, like 9 or 10 or whatever. The same goes for her second child, Kristina.
9) NAMES. For the Tudor era, some of the names are awfully out of context. Back then, you'd never find a Lady Ashley (first name), but you do here. I highly doubt they would shorten names back then, like Hal and Harry from Harold, but maybe they did? My main concern with this is adding a shortened name with their courtesy title, like Lord Hal. We don't call seriously Alan Sugar "Lord Al" or "Lord Shuggs". Also, I think Kristina would have been spelt Christina back then, as a K isn't English and patriotic enough. Most of the other names though are fine.
10) It isn't set in the Tudor court. The title is misleading.
Those are the 9 setbacks. Other than that, I did enjoy the plot, and the writing style. I really liked Mirabella and Grace, they were the characters with the most depth, although Mirabella did go a bit wierd and crazy... I also think it could have suited a different time period better - say, Victorians or something.