The Golden Longing

   Posted by: Lynne Foley   in Bookworm

Francis Leary, The Golden Longing, published by James Murray, 1960 (no ISBN)

This book consists of potted biographies of Joan of Arc, René and Margaret of Anjou and Richard III.  Leary’s sympathy for his subjects is obvious.

The most striking feature of the book is the mix of facts with fiction for dramatic purposes.  A reader unfamiliar with the dramatis personae could have a difficult time distinguishing between the two although from time to time, Leary provides footnotes for some of his statements.

He had no liking for the medieval period, and there is rather too much emphasis on blood and death – the least attractive feature of the book.

René’s story is dealt with in six pages, then the story of Margaret commences with her gliding into a room, “a dancing gleam of sun, bright flowing hair…”   Margaret’s story ends abruptly, with her flight to Scotland after Towton.

In the section on Richard, Leary believes he was a sickly child but dismisses the alleged deformity as a Tudor myth and that the saintly authority of Sir Thomas More has given weight to pamphleteering.

Some of Leary’s statements are quite startling.  Commenting on Richard’s denunciation of “horrible adulterers and bawds” he continues that Richard considered Jane Shore “the cause of all this treachery, sin and death…  He tried to destroy the image of her in his mind by a public shame…” and more of the same implying that Richard was sexually attracted to Jane.  His failure to marry off Elizabeth of York to scotch the plans of Henry Tudor means that Richard was interested (despite his public denial) and that with the defeat of Tudor in battle the nation might look favourably upon the union of uncle and niece.  Also, his categorical statement that Henry, having found the bones of the princes, reburied them.

Leary believes Richard was the author of the murders of his nephews and “dagger-plucking and sleepless”, he was never able to atone for it.

For those who like history panted with a broad brush and don’t mind the fictional interludes and a tendency to romantic, flowery language this book would still be of some interest as would the appendices.  Long out of print, this book is only available second-hand.

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One comment

Mike Stone

I read The Golden Longing many years, ago, and clearly remember that Leary named Buckingham, not Richard, as the murderer of the Princes.

March 29th, 2012 at 23:14

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