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If you like hokum, you might like this, if you don’t, you might not.
on 14 October 2014
At the time of writing, Amazon want to know if reviews are from ‘verified purchases’. I shall show I have read the book by making references to the 2013 paperback edition.
And I quote from p119, “Laughing, he whipped the cork from the bottle and thrust it towards John, the sharp alkaline savour surging through his head like a shot, clearing and nauseating at the same time. There was a collision, liquid slopped, its sour taint filling the room, at last dispelling the rich scent of love’s conjoined juices that had ruled to that point.”
If that gets you going, especially the last sentence, then you might enjoy 394 pages (p3-396) of similar. There is also ‘clunky’ dialogue (and I’m sorry, but I’ve forgotten to note the page number), eg “Do you remember when ... ?” as a crude device for a long explanation, rather than a more realistic “yes”.
The hero has (I kid you not) been round the world with Drake and fought in the Armada, fought alongside Essex at Cadiz, had private audiences with Queen Elizabeth and seen her naked, met William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe, helped WS finish “Hamlet”, been an actor, got a lady pregnant, cost her her entire estate, run away, and yet she still loves him (!), been branded as a murderer, and incarcerated in the tower for treason. Oh good grief.
Further, just to tick a PC box, he’s of mixed race. Are we due in a sequel for a remarkably historically inaccurate revelation of bisexuality, which everyone will be just fine with ?
Spoiler alert. In the end, he negotiates a ridiculously open contract do to what he wants, despite all the ‘secret police’ aspects of Elizabeth’s reign, gets the above girl, is awarded his own coat of arms, and the happy couple are miraculously gifted an entire replacement estate.
I readily admit to not being an Elizabethan era expert, but isn’t all that just a bit too much to believe ? Escapism is one thing, but ridiculous levels of hokum are another. Despite it being well-known that the clothing was difficult to get into, a Queen’s maid, having a bit on the side with our hero, apparently gets dressed quickly (p162). And what is a Queen’s maid, on pain of exclusion from the court and possibly even death, doing having a bit on the side without Queen Elizabeth’s permission (p159) in the first place ?
According to the author’s notes, p400, the novel deals with themes of the new overtaking the old. Sorry, missed those completely, despite having a 2:1 in English.