Archive for the ‘Bookworm’ Category

13
Jun

TROUBADOUR, by Isolde Martyn

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn

troubadour cover0001TROUBADOUR, by Isolde Martyn,
Published by Harlequin Mira, rrp $24.95.ISBN 9781489220370

Members of the New South Wales branch of the Richard III Society will have read and enjoyed our fellow member Isolde Martyn’s historical novels. Most of them have concerned real people from the period that interests us most: from Katherine Bonville to the Duke of Buckingham,  and women who play a role in Edward IV’s life – Elysabeth Woodville and Elizabeth “Jane Shore” Lambard. Her presentation of real characters and the events of their time in English history is always combines romance with impeccable research.
Now be prepared to take a step back a century or two  to a world of deception and danger, love and loyalty where the violence and cruelty of a religious war not only appals us, but sadly seems so terrifyingly familiar.
At the centre of it all are Adela, a lowly attendant to King John’s queen, Isabella, and Richart (note this spelling is correct) Lord of Mirascon in the far south of France. They first see each other at Corfe Castle where Richart is negotiating an alliance with King John to protect his land and his people.
Fleeing England and the king’s lust, Adela makes her way to France where she joins the entourage of John’s discarded mistress Lady Alys. She is on her way south,destined for a political marriage with Richart, but a unexpected fiery and vicious attack leaves only a few survivors who finally reach Mirascon where  Adela, still beautiful despite all the dramatic hardships, is acclaimed as Alys, the Lord of Mirascon’s bride to be.
No more plot lines from now on! But know you will meet both loving and evil kinsfolk, memorable historical characters, some traveling troubadours ( whose genuine songs are important)  and some delightfully clever characters you may well wish were your friends. How they all fare in fighting for what is right against the massive army leading Pope Innocent III’s crusade  against the Cathars or Albigensians is told with ruthless reality –so be prepared. It is can be uncomfortable, even distressing –but as the pages turn,  reason, dreams and  love bring hope.

Note: Thanks to Isolde who, as always, provides a list of characters, real or otherwise, and a welcome glossary of medieval terms and translation from Occitan (the language of Languedoc at the time).

26
Jul

Cardinal Morton’s Skull by Isolde Martyn

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn

We are pleased to publish on our web site the excellent article on Cardinal Morton by Isolde Martyn and the  possibility that Stonyhurst College may now undertake a reconstruction of Morton’s head.

Please click on the link below to read the article.

Morton  CARDINAL MORTON article

26
Jul

Thomas, Lord Stanley by Michael Iliffe

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn

We are pleased to publish on our web site the excellent article on the life and times of Thomas, Lord Stanley.
Researched and written by Michael Ilieffe. This article is well worth a read by anyone interested in history at the time of Richard III.

Please click on the link below (Thomas) to read the article.

thomas LS   Thomas Lord Stanley

19
May

Exciting new book from Felicity Pulman

   Posted by: Lawrence Osborn

the once and future camelot Felicity Pulman’s The Once and Future Camelot

‘They would do anything to be reunited with those they love, even if it means travelling beyond the boundaries of the world as we know it.’  Two women, descended from Morgan le Fay, but living almost 1000 years apart, share catastrophic visions of the future. When their lives collide in a garden in Glastonbury, they realise that only magic can save them. Felicity Pulman’s The Once and Future Camelot, sequel to I, Morgana, is published by Momentum/Pan Macmillan Australia, and is available through all e-book retailers.

The Virgin Widow by Anne O'brien Anne O’Brien, The Virgin Widow. Mira Books, Australia 2010. ISBN 9781741 1685767 (477 pages)

As a Ricardian of nearly a decade, I am familiar with the outline of Anne Neville’s short life, and the way her father “Warwick, the Kingmaker” used her as a pawn in his power dealing after losing the role of advisor to Kind Edward IV, and her eventual marriage to Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whom she had known since childhood.
This is a fictional account by Anne O’Brien, told in first person from Anne Neville’s point of view. It covers the few known facts but adds interpretations of the author’s own, most of which did not sit well with me. For instance, I have no reason to believe Margaret of Anjou or her son were utter monsters with an implied incestuous relationship. However, I realise that fiction allows the author to do as she pleases,
and if one wants facts one leans towards nonfiction. What pleases this author is to write in the genres of historical fiction and romance, according to popular book website Goodreads If I had realised any dialog from the romance genre would appear, I would have passed on reading it. In fact, wincing while reading through
these embarrassing scenes was a new experience for me as my usual reading matter never requires wincing.
As it happened, my husband and I read this one aloud together, discussing our impressions as we went. Neither one of us enjoyed this telling, but ploughed through it dutifully, as we felt we owed it to poor Anne Neville whose story is not often the main attraction. And we kept hoping the payoff would make it worth our while.

I believe it is generally an accepted historical fact that Anne escaped from her brother-in-law and legal guardian George, Duke of Clarence, and briefly lived in hiding as a serving woman in a tavern owned by Lancastrian supporters until tracked down and rescued by Richard. That episode is retold in this book by having Clarence himself banishing her to his own kitchens where she is only found and saved, by clever thinking on her part, from being sent to a cloistered convent for life so that he can claim all of her lands. The real story is much more compelling and I did not see why the author would alter it.

I am fascinated by what is known about Anne Neville, in that she was used by her scheming father to forge precarious alliances and that she had no say whatsoever  about marrying Eduard, the Prince of Wales, the Lancaster heir. Then just a few years later she married the man who probably killed him. Her mind and heart must have been scrambled in those days; not knowing whom to trust or believe. Your closest loved ones willing to use you, however they could, to their own advantage. It is so monstrous that I can barely imagine what her emotional life would have been like. Dying so young almost seems like a reprieve!

Many Goodreads readers give this volume high marks, so it may be enjoyable to some people. To me it was too slow, too bland, too embarrassingly ‘bodice—ripper cliché’ in some parts, and just far too long. I was yearning for it to be over long before it was, and that is rare in my reading life. My husband soldiered on reading
aloud, however, and it finally came to an end, seemingly arbitrarily, before her second husband was even made King.

We would not recommend this book to anyone except the most diehard Ricardian with no other book at hand. There are so many wonderful Ricardian books available that I would really have to say ‘don’t bother!’ That said, there was little revelling in graphic violence, vile language or detailed sex scenes, and I appreciated that.
Leslie McCawley

NOT LOOKING FOR RICHARD?Thanks to Philippa Langley and John Ashdown-Hill the phrase “Looking for Richard” became part of our lives and enthralled us through the search, discovery and final result. Then came the pride and emotion as we witnessed the re-interment – and acknowledgement of King Richard’s life in Leicester.

But what happens if you aren’t looking for Richard and he – and some historical connections – suddenly turn up when you least expect them, usually through a brief reference is a totally unexpected book.

I changed my mind about Richard’s character at the ripe old age of ten. I’d read the junior history books, seen the Millais’ portrait of those innocent little boys and even accepted the fact that in a pantomime The Babes in the Wood (at the Bournemouth Pavilion for the Dorset Group’s info) the wicked uncle wore black and had a hunchback. Hmm.

Then my sister and I saw a production of The Black Arrow at London’s Old Vic theatre and this was the cue for a major switch. This novel is subtitled A Tale of Two Roses and is set during the Cousin’s War. The young hero, Richard Shelton fighting for the Yorkists, becomes aware of a fierce encounter taking place. One of a small group of fighters is “so active and dexterous … so desperately did he charge and scatter his opponents … but so icy was the ground, one slip and his life would be forfeit.”

Young Richard of course comes to this man’s aid, the fight is won and he is “surprised to find in one who had displayed such strength skill and energy [was] a lad no older than himself – slightly deformed, with one shoulder higher than the other … The eyes, however, were very clear and bold.”

This is his first meeting with the young Duke of Gloucester, and after more fighting, Richard is knighted by the Duke for his valour, and finally, with the Duke’s royal consent, marries his love Joanna. RLS may well have been an early Ricardian …

A few years later, when reading one of English author Angela Thirkell’s delightful novels in which she picks up the descendants and places of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester novels, and sets them in the mid-1900s, I rejoiced to find Mrs Morland praising The Black Arrow.

“Why Stevenson thought so poorly of that book I shall never understand. All my boys loved it … And it was the only thing that made me really interested in Richard Crookback, until I read that book by that clever woman with three names, who proved that Richard didn’t murder the little Princes in the Tower and was a hero all the time and not a villain.”

Well, we all know the name of that book, don’t we? It’s probably on everyone’s bookshelves even after all the years since it was published in 1951.

Another book I loved at about the same age was Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown. Twelve-year-old Maddy, an aspiring actress, learns about a film being made about a castle near her home. The kindly Bishop who is a family friend, takes her for lunch (with meringues) to soothe her misery at being left behind while her sister and older friends start at drama academy. Afterwards they go for a walk near the castle and he tells her that the film is about the daughter of Arthur, Prince of Wales, and Catherine of Aragon. He has just found some old papers that reveal that “at twelve years old away she fledde, forsook her crown but saved her hedde”. Apparently there was a plan to put her on the throne after Henry VII died, but naturally Henry VIII would have none of it.

There are some pretty valid comments about the undesirability of this particular Tudor and his propensity for an axe and a block to dispense with those he no longer needed in his life!

Richard isn’t mentioned, but I liked the Tudor reference. And, of course, our 12-year-old finds out that the daughter of Arthur is being played by a well-known and glamorous actress and chaos inevitably ensues. Now guess who plays the role at the right age …

Ricardians who are also die-hard fans of detective novels will be familiar with the Inspector Lynley novels, by the American author Elizabeth George, a self-confessed supporter of the last Plantagenet king. Her references to him in many of her books give us enormous pleasure – as does the investigation through to pages to find his name! These are some of my favourites.

The Evidence Exposed:

This is a collection of three novellas, in one of which – I Richard – an interesting theory as to what happened to the Princes and, indeed, whodunit, is presented. With Philippa Langley’s new quest to discover an answer to the age-old mystery, you could appreciate the idea.

Well-Schooled in Murder

Sergeant Barbara Havers asks Lynley why the statue of Henry VII outside a school faces north, not south, towards the school entry.

“He wants us to remember his moment of glory. So he’s looking to the north, in the direction of Bosworth Field.”

“‘Ah. Death and treachery. The end of Richard III. Why does it always slip my mind that you’re a Yorkist… Do you spit on Henry’s tomb whenever you get the chance to slip down to the Abbey?”

He smiled. “Religiously. It’s one of my rare pleasures.”

Missing Joseph:

Lynley speaks to Deborah and Simon St James about the power of tourism: “Don’t people pay to see the Queen of Scots death mask?”

“Not to mention some of the grimmer spots of the Tower London,” St James said. “The Chapel Royal, Wakefield Tower.”

“Why bother with the Crown Jewels when you can see a chopping block?” Lynley added. “Crime doesn’t pay, but death brings them running with a few quid.”

“Is this irony from the man who’s made at least five personal pilgrimages to Bosworth Field on the twenty-second of August?” Deborah asked blithely. “… where you drink from the well and swear to Richard’s ghost that you would have fought for the Yorks?”

“That’s not death,” Lynley said with some dignity, lifting his glass to salute her. “That’s history, my girl. Someone’s got to be willing to set the record straight.”

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, is a recent publication I enjoyed. Set in an old, crumbling English manor, the heroine, living a lonely life there, is convinced that one night the resident ghost is around. The sound of footsteps, drifts of perfume and so on. According to local legend this is none other than Margaret of Anjou who stayed there on her way to join young Edouard, Lancaster Prince of Wales, at Tewkesbury, unaware that his death is imminent. It seems that the author assumed her readers would know exactly who Margaret was as there is no further reference to her back story, the Cousins’ War, or the fact that her companion would have been Anne Neville , the future queen and wife of Richard III.

The uncertainly and mystery about Richard has obviously struck a chord with many authors. One of those in the Golden Age of English Crime Writing was Dorothy L. Sayers who, in Have His Carcase has her noble detective Lord Peter Wimsey on the hunt for the killer of a young man whose body was found stranded on a rock off the Cornish coast. His quest takes him to the offices of theatrical agents where the photograph of the victim reminds one agent of someone who would have made “a good Judas”. “Or a Richard III,” says the other.

Then follows an interesting discussion of the guises Richard portrays in Shakespeare’s tragedy. The man who plots, the man who flies into tempers that, according these two, are as artificial as his love-making to Anne. As he leaves, Wimsey asks the Inspector who is with him what made them think of Richard III.

“Wasn’t he the fellow who made up his mind to be a villain?” to which Lord Peter confesses that he has “something on his mind and can’t seem get it out”. A nice cue to let you read on!

A further visit to a theatrical connection occurs in one of the other-authored sequels to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. In Sally Beauman’s Rebecca’s Tale we meet one of those seeking to find the secrets of Rebecca’s life, and an obscure reference leads him to the memoirs of legendary actor manager Sir Frank McKendrick, who recalls the charming young actress Isabel Devlin who had died shortly after leaving his company.

“I grieved for her. I should add that Miss Devlin’s daughter was also at this time a member of our little “band of brothers” … she was a most unusual and wicked Puck at a very early age and was of great use to us in boys’ roles. I remember her as a swaggering but subtle young Princeling to my Richard III … but we heard no more of her after her mother died.”

Unusual, wicked, swaggering and subtle could all apply to the later mistress of Manderley.

And Shakespeare’s Edward V recalls another childhood book, Noel Streatfield’s Ballet Shoes in which young Pauline’s portrayal of the role leads her on to the fortune that helps her family.

How many other books are there to prove that their authors found him just as significant as Ricardians? Information welcome!

 

The Black Arrow, by Robert Louis Stevenson, published 1888.

Three Score and Ten, by Angela Thirkell, Hamish Hamilton, 1961

Maddy Alone, by Pamela Brown, Nelson, 1945

The Evidence Exposed, by Elizabeth George, Hodder & Stoughton 1999. ISBN 0 34 075 063 0

Well-Schooled in Murder, by Elizabeth George Bantam, 1990. ISBN 0 553 401 167

Missing Joseph, by Elizabeth George, Bantam, 1993. ISBN 0 553 402 382

The Girl in the Photograph, by Kate Riordan, Michael Joseph, 2014. ISBN 978-0-718-17928-1

Have His Carcase, by Dorothy L. Sayers, Gollancz 1932.

Rebecca’s Tale, by Sally Beaumont, Little Brown, 2001. ISBN 0 316 858 137

Ballet Shoes, by Noel Streatfield, Dent 1936.

 

2
Sep

Digging for Richard III

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , ,

Digging for Richard III

Book Review:  Digging for Richard III

Mike Pitts, Digging for Richard III: How Archaeology Found the King. Thames & Hudson Ltd, 2014

 Note (2 September 2015):

This review of the first edition of  Digging for Richard III was originally posted in August 2014.  I have reposted it now, as a new paperback edition of this excellent book has just been published.  For this new edition, the text has been revised and it has been extended, too.  More about the paperback edition on Mike Pitts’ blog.  Highly recommended!

 

Please note this book had come out before the results of further research were published, and therefore does not contain any information on these issues.

Unlike many other recent books about the Greyfriars Dig, which led to the discovery of Richard III’s remains, Digging for Richard III was written by someone who was not himself involved in the project, which gives it a certain amount of impartiality.

Like a play the book is organised in five acts, the narrative building up to the dramatic climax in Act V. The first act sets the scene for Richard’s death in battle and burial at the Grey Friars in Leicester with a short review of the Wars of the Roses. Act II ‘Looking for Richard III’ tells the story of what led to the archaeological dig and giving background information on the key players like Philippa Langley and the research staff from ULAS. While some details of Philippa Langley’s pre-dig life have been circulated widely, the information about the archaeologists was new to me. It confirmed them to be an experienced team, who knew what they were doing.

Act III looks at the actual excavation resulting in exhuming the skeleton, which was found on the first day and would be shown to be that of Richard. It ends with the van carrying the remains leaving the car park.

Up to that point this was a co-project of the Richard III Society/Looking for Richard Project and the University of Leicester. Act IV marks the beginning of a new research project, one that will be exclusively carried out by scientist. The results of this research are then represented in Act V.

Mike Pitts also includes an analysis of the costs and who paid what. Considering how much misinformation is circulating on this issue, this is highly welcome. The original budget had been £33,000, of which the Richard III Society and its members had contributed a little more than half. However, once remains had been found that warranted further examination –examination, which was necessary to prove that the remains were those of Richard III – the budget had risen (by 31 December 2012) to £142,000. The additional funding came from the University of Leicester, which means that they paid for about 80% of the entire project.

The book closes with an Epilogue, which covers the actual site of the Battle of Bosworth and some of the other battles, which have since been fought over Richard. He also differentiates between history and archaeology, with archaeology making “the concept of history tangible and present, part of our lives.” [p.189] To be honest, I don’t see how any serious history is possible without evidence, be it archaeological or from old records.

This brings me to the one criticism that I have with this book. The author seems to have a rather undifferentiated view of the membership of the Richard III Society. For him, they are bunch of sentimental loonies, who won’t let any facts stand in the way of their pre-conceived idea of perfect Richard. While I can’t deny that some members do think like that, and possibly they are even the most vocal, they do not represent the membership as a whole, which is – like any group of people – very varied.

However, apart from this little niggle, I found Digging for Richard III a highly enjoyable and an informative summary of the facts of the project, without the speculation and assumptions, which some of the other books on the topic cannot leave behind. It tells the whole incredible story in a lively manner, without sacrificing the facts in the quest for readability. Sir Tony Robinson’s quote on the cover sums it up nicely: “An entertaining, knowledgeable and forensic examination of one of the most extraordinary archaeological digs ever!”

Listen to an interview with Mike Pitts about Digging for Richard here.

Review:  Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England, by Annette Carson

In England in the year 1483, King Edward IV died unexpectedly, leaving his son and heir of 12 years still in his minority and not yet of an age when he might rule in his own right. The next most powerful man in the kingdom was Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was already appointed the High Constable of England for life, and who now, following a series of complicated difficulties, was appointed Protector and Defender of the Realm by the Royal Council. What happened next has been the subject of argument and confusion for the past 500 years.

This small but wonderfully comprehensive little book sets out extensively and clearly what those two titles, Protector and Constable, actually stood for. The responsibilities and powers involved are thoroughly explained using a multitude of sources and citing the relevant precedents from previous years.

There are now many and varied suppositions regarding the actions of Richard, Duke of Gloucester during the short period before his acceptance of the crown in his own right. But the situation cannot be properly understood without first understanding the particular powers he held, what he had the lawful right to do and what was therefore expected of him.

The very important and relevant differences between the position of Protector, and that of Regent (a position frequently given under similar circumstances in other countries, namely France) are here clarified in some detail. What is even less well understood, and is here also explained, arte the legal powers and responsibilities held by the High Constable. Hence there have been frequent misunderstandings regarding the nature of Hastings’ arrest, and whether Richard was lawfully empowered to order that execution. There have also been misunderstandings regarding the duke’s duty towards his nephews, mistaking the title “Protector of the Realm” as some sort of glorified protector and baby-sitter of the late king’s heir. These mistakes are here corrected with strict accuracy and in simple language,

So here at last is a work of considerable academic interest, which offers us, detail by detail the fascinating facts which would have been already well understood at the time the events occurred but which has rarely been studied since. Now here each aspect is set out according to the documented evidence.

Even more interesting is Part II which is highly original and comprehensively explains just how these two mighty titles affected the events of May and June 1483. Understanding that momentous and controversial period cannot even be attempted without already understanding the powers uniquely held by Richard, Duke of Gloucester – and more importantly still – what the country subsequently expected of him.

To my mind, this books offers a further insight, for these mighty offices and the powers inherent within them go a long way towards explaining the medieval mind in general, the manner in which the people accepted and expected their lords to rule, to protect those they ruled, and how the extensive trust offered to a few was then constructed to benefit the many. The ultimate authority and prevailing decisions of the medieval government and royal council (often underestimated and even entirely overlooked today) are also highlighted here. These days such powers would be utterly unthinkable and rejected by all, but this book shows how the laws of the 15th century prove the very different attitudes which existed at that time. Many now criticise the past using the moral judgements of modern times. This is pointless. This absorbing book explains exactly why.

I not only recommend this very important little book – I actually consider it essential reading for anyone genuinely interested in that period of history.

Richard Duke of Gloucester as Lord Protector and High Constable of England, by Annette Carson

Published by Imprimis Imprimatur, ISBN 978-0-9576840-4-1
Price £8.50 + £1.50 (UK P&P) available from www.annettecarson.co.uk
112 pages, including 10 appendices of original documents, several previously unpublished

HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA CONFERENCE

Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference in Sydney – A Review

The weekend of March 20-22 proved a rewarding one for writers of historical fiction, whether their work was already established or still in embryo. It took delegates to the Historical Novel Society of Australasia Conference far beyond the bodice-ripper image to valuable considerations of topics and treatments and through historical ages in war and peace from the Normans to Anzacs.

The opening on Friday evening at the State Library of New South Wales combined cocktails and conversation with reunions with old friends and new acquaintances to meet. The welcoming address was followed by the launch of Unholy Murder, the third book in Felicity Pulman’s Janna Chronicles set during the civil war between Stephen and Matilda. NSW Ricardians who attended the 2010 conference at Cammeray will remember Felicity’s skill at extensive research when she was a guest speaker – and later became a Friend of the Branch.

The evening concluded with a fascinating round table debate on “What can historical novelists and historians learn from each other?”

On Saturday and Sunday the venue was Balmain Town Hall and after a welcome from HNSA Patron Kate Forsyth, Colin Falconer (When We Were Gods, Silk Road, Stigmata) spoke succinctly and entertainingly on The Anzac tradition of inspiration: imagining the past, claiming the present. This was followed by Peter Corris and Sulari Gentil recounting how their careers have progressed, their inspirations and how they tackle their subjects (and for those of you who might consider Corris’s indefatigable PI Cliff Hardy as not anyone of historical interest, just reflect that he has been around for 40 years and his world has changed dramatically).

A varied and delicious morning tea break led to three historical novelists revealing how they select the age about which they are writing and the research needed to bring characters, plot and period to credible life. The novelists were Juliet Marillier, known for her splendid historical fantasies, New Zealander Craig Cliff (The Mannequin Makers) and Isolde Martyn, former chair of the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society and author of award winning novels including The Lady and the Unicorn, and recently Mistress to the Crown and The Golden Widows.

Further discussion followed until lunch time including a discussion as to whether historical novelists can capture young readers at a time when the films such as Hunger Games and vampires dominate. In the afternoon the tales of World Wars 1 and 2 were highlighted, showing characters conquering or succumbing to the dramas around them. This was followed by readings of one-page submissions and how they could attract – or not – a publisher’s attention.

Dinner was held at the nearby Royal Oak Hotel, where the occupants of all the tables seemed to have much to talk about, encouraged by the good food and wine and company that made a memorable evening.

Sunday’s opening feature was fascination: two authors describing how they changed their already successful careers to become historical novelists. Toni Jordan was a molecular biologist before turning to write great contemporary fiction and then changing again to historical fiction. Posie Graeme-Evans was an exceptionally successful television director, producer and executive (McLeods Daughters and more) before taking the leap into writing about the past, the people and time slips that link them.

The following discussion was one to intrigue all Ricardians, What is it about the Tudors? And why are publishers so fascinated by them and opt for these times above other periods? Tudorphilia prevails and the panel for this had much to say. When asked about their favourite Tudor personality, the majority opted for Elizabeth with Anne Boleyn a close second. NSW Ricardian and frequent contributor to our website, novelist Barbara Gaskell Denvil, pointed out that the Tudors all came with a tag attached such as “Six Wives”, “Bloody Mary”, “Virgin Queen”. (Later she and I lamented that no-one put in a word for our favourite Tudor Anne of Cleves, surely as much a victim of Tudor propaganda as King Richard III.)

(I would have loved to have heard the other talks, but had to leave early to catch the coach for my five-hour trip home.)

The rest of the discussions included novels of fantasy, mystery and time-slips; the possibilities and perils of independent publishing; and agents and publishing representatives telling what they look for. I am told that the day ended – as all occasions should – with In Bed with History: sexy, saucy and sizzling bedroom scenes read with glee and gusto by Colin Falconer and Kate Forsyth.

It was a rewarding and interesting time, well organised with worthwhile speakers who spoke with knowledge and humour. It was the first conference that the Historical Novels Society of Australasia had held. I doubt it will be the last.

27
Aug

The King’s Dogge

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , , , , ,

The King's Dogge

Book Review:  The King’s Dogge

The following review is by Rob Smith of the New Zealand Branch and was first published in the August 2014 Ricardian Recorder. We thank Rob for his permission to post it here.

Nigel Green, The King’s Dogge: The Story of Francis Lovell, Troubador Publishing Ltd (2014) ISBN 9781783068425

This novel, written in the first person, portrays the life of the King’s Dogge, Francis Lovell up to Bosworth. A sequel is promised. A mixture of known historical facts and events coupled with the author’s vivid imagination results in, to my mind, a rather laborious narrative.

Lovell’s progression from his early days, to his service with Montague and Warwick and thence to their demise at Barnet is informative enough as is his consequent meeting with the Yorkist hierarchy and his entry into Richard’s service. Lovell’s service to Richard in Carlisle and the Border encounters with outlaws and the Scots are laid out but possibly over-emphasised. What I was to find throughout is the author’s tendency to concentrate on the minutia of lesser happenings while allowing other more significant events to be passed over lightly or ignored completely, perhaps relying on the reader’s knowledge to fill in the gaps. However, to be fair, this is a story about Lovell and if he was not involved in these events the author may consider it inappropriate to dwell on them.

What is interesting is Green’s portrayal of the various characters, not least Richard. The author’s Richard is a loyal brother but a vacillating, indecisive king and a pawn in the hands of a scheming Anne Neville who is determined to bring down the Woodville faction for what they did to her father, Warwick. She is shown as the power behind the throne. As Lovell rises to the top in Richard’s service he starts to question and has doubts about his King but remains steadfastly loyal to the end.

Buckingham, Hastings, the Stanleys, etc. are as we know them; Ratcliffe comes out OK but Catesby is shown as a fat, scheming, lawyer, self- serving from the outset as he climbs the ladder of influence, culminating in his engineering of the murder of the Princes (with Richard’s acceptance ), and his ultimate betrayal at Bosworth, being in league with the Stanleys and Northumberland conspiring beforehand in their treachery.

Incidentally, Tudor takes no part in the battle having been hidden away for his safety with decoys taking his place. Did Shakespeare get it right? …. “ I think there must be six Richmonds in the field/Five have I slain today instead of him” (Richard III Act V, Scene iv).

The King’s Dogge is an interesting portrayal of an important figure in Richard’s life but it lacks bite and requires patience and determination to reach the conclusion.