Sunday, April 06, 2008

Goat-Lovers Unite!

If you like photos of bebe goats and hamsters and other assorted pampered pets -- as well as kick-ass spinning and knitting -- check out Mindy's new blog.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to catch up with the monthly book reports.

March Book Report: A Tudor Trifecta

Okay, you're gonna laugh, but it was a Tudor Trifecta last month. A couple of different people recommended The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregoy. Now I recall seeing this book at Borders but passed it by, thinking it was a mindless throbbing-member/bodice-ripper. But when more than two people said it was pretty good, I decided to check it out.

The book is a fictionalized biography of Mary and Anne Boleyn, sisters in Tudor England who both became the mistresses of King Henry VIII. Although Henry's queen Katharine is a faithful and devoted wife, she has failed to give birth to a son that would ensure the succession of the Tudor Line. Henry has a wandering eye and frequently takes Katharine's ladies-in-waiting as his mistresses including first Mary and then Anne. Henry manages to get his marriage to Katharine annulled, breaking with the Catholic Church and starting the Anglican Church to make it happen. He marries Anne Boleyn and has her crowned queen. However, Anne also fails to give him the son he so desperately needs. The book ends with the beheading of Anne, based on (probably) trumped-up charges of witchcraft and incest, just as Henry is turning his attention to Jane Seymour...

Although I know that this book is only based on history, and that even the historians do not agree as to what the "historical truth" is (for example, Gregory suggests that Anne Boleyn slept with her brother because she so badly wanted to give Henry VIII a son, and had concluded that Henry was too old or unhealthy to father one), it was still a greatly entertaining read.

Conveniently, Gregory wrote a sequel called The Boleyn Inheritance which picks up just after Jane Seymour dies in childbirth. This book follows Henry's brief marriage to wife No. 4, Anne of Cleves; his annulment of their marriage; and his marriage to No. 5 Katherine Howard (yet another nubile lady-in-waiting). Poor Katherine, who was quite young, ended up on the chopping block, which is where the book ends. Again, although not necessarily true to history, or what we can glean of it, the book was fascinating and entertaining and if nothing else, I now know more about the Tudors then I ever imagined I would.

I was kind of annoyed that there was no sequel to the sequel, because I was wondering about Henry's last wife, Catherine Parr. Lo and behold, I was shopping at Target and saw a book titled The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carrolly Erickson. Sure enough, it was a fictionalized account of Henry VIII and his last wife, Catherine Parr, the only one who outlived him. It wasn't as well-written as the Gregory books, but it did satisfy my anal-retentive need to finish out the saga of the wives.

I then ended up watching Elizabeth - The Golden Age on cable On Demand. I enjoyed the movie, although it was a bit more melodramatic than I expected. The costumes and scenery were amazing, and Cate Blanchett is a truly wonderful actress. Since Elizabeth I was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, it was interesting to learn a bit more about her life after reading about her parents' ill-fated marriage (again, taking into account that the movie was fictionalized and not always 100% accurate).

After Tudorama, I breezed through Fatal Remedies, by Donna Leon, the latest in her Guido Brunetti series set in Venice.

14 comments:

Knittah said...

An excellent, although fictionalized, version of the life of Henry Tudor is The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George. For a historical biography of all six of his wives, check out Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. Incidentally, the charge of incest against Anne Boleyn was part of the "crimes" which led to her beheading. There's no historical evidence that it is true.

Not that I'm really into Tudor history or anything.

mindy said...

I've passed by The Other Boleyn Girl a few times, too- so I may have to check that out now. And then the others. Then Knittah's suggestions. I love book reports.

Lisa said...

knittah said it all...I am a bit of an admitted tudorholic. They are the books I would recommend too, particularly the Margaret George book. Ironically I am currently reading Leon's Aqua Alta :) I have a bit of a crush on the Commisario.

Genuine_Lye said...

Oh, god, my mom is going on a Tudor kick lately. Everything Tudor, all these non-fiction books-I love history and all, but I'm beginning to loathe the very sound of King Henry the AGHHHH I CANNOT FINISH THAT SENTENCE! NO MORE TUDORS FOR ME!

Elizabeth: the Golden Age is pretty sweet.

Teresa said...

My husband and I enjoyed watching the The Tudors miniseries. Here in Canada it aired was on CBC but you can rent Season 1 on DVD. It was highly enjoyable miniseries - the only thing is that Jonathon Rhys Myers (coach from Bend it Like Beckham) is King Henry VIII, which physically is not a good match (not as large as the King was) but he is a wonderful actor.
http://www.cbc.ca/tudors/
We also enjoyed this way more than Elizabeth the Golden Age.

Pam said...

For a biography of all 6 wives, I really enjoyed "The Wives of Henry VIII" by Antonia Fraser. I read it right after finishing "The Other Boleyn Girl" and enjoyed the contrast between the fiction and non-fiction versions of the Boleyn story. Also, The first Elizabeth movie starring Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth I"?), from about 8 years ago is much better than "The Golden Age". Just as dramatic (and I'm sure, fictionalized), but somehow more intense and riveting.

Deborah said...

The absolutely wild part about that time in history is all the men that were granted divorce or killed the wives for producing girls. Of course we now know the sex is determined by the man. From everything I have ever read about that time it wasn't easy to be a woman to say the least!

Anonymous said...

I did the same thing, but as I recall I read 3 books by Gregory. Don't remember the name of the third one but I really got caught up in the saga. Then I also watched Elizabeth - The Golden Age. Great fun but I'm REALLY glad I don't live in those times.

Judy F

Carol said...

It's hard not to hate King Henry -- he was such a self-indulgent lech. I know he was a creature of his times, but still... if Henry kept it zipped and just made Mary his heir from the beginning, everybody would have been a lot happier. Especially all the people Mary ended up burning at the stake when she was a dysfunctional adult.

CrazyFiberLady said...

I'm about 10 pages from finishing off The Other Boleyn Girl (will do so on the train tonight) and ordered the Boleyn Inheritance this morning. I too walked by the books a number of times and am seriously sorry I did. What a surprisingly great read. I even put the knitting away on the train so I could spend my commuting time reading. Thanks for your reviews on the books and the tip on the last one.

Carol said...

I second the viewing of The Tudors miniseries. It's showing on HBO if you're not Tudored out. Rhys Meyers is yummy as Henry.

Anonymous said...

Phillipa Gregory also wrote an entertaining/loosely based on history biography of Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon. The story is told from her perspective: her childhood in Spain; her marraige to Henry's older brother; her subsequent marraige to Henry. Of the trilogy, I thought this one was the most interesting. You might want to check it out.
Kendra

Marin (AntiM) said...

If you ever run across Susan Kay's "Legacy" in a second-hand store, I'd recommend it. One of my favourite historical fictions and about Elizabeth I.

Megan said...

I just saw a pattern from Knit So Fine (the wrap dress) on Ravelry, and now I am SO excited for it to come out! When is the release date again? For some reason I feel like it is June, but that seems entirely too far away!