Wednesday, October 7, 2020

June's Reads Reviewed- Part 1

June's Reads Mini-Review Roundup

This was a quick read about a time and people I don't know much about, and so for those reasons I enjoyed this book a lot. I'm sure much was skipped over, but that's okay. I got the highlights, and I got them in a way that I could follow along with events without feeling lost while also forming attachments with the characters.

Well, maybe "feelings" is more accurate than attachments. I learned that I don't like Anne of Holstein very much. She came across as stubborn and silly, and while I sympathized with her plight regarding her children, I don't love the way she went about handling that situation. I  also don't love all the ways she undermined and went against her husband and the story didn't give me any justification to make me get on board with Anne (nor did a few hours of internet research after finishing the book). I did discover a newfound respect for James I that I hadn't appreciated before. In my reading prior to this book, James I has always been a name waiting in the wings, a peripheral shadow to Elizabeth I's story. In this book, he came alive and his struggles in Scotland and then in England made me feel for him.

While I wasn't blown away, I enjoyed this book enough to want to check out more of Lynda M. Andrews' books. Another bonus? While she wrote James's dialogue phonetically and usually I hate that, the author actually pulled it off pretty well.

I've been enjoying the diary-style book lately because they tend to be quick, easy reads that make me nod along in kindred spiritedness. So, I looked for more of this type and came across the Provincial Lady series. It did not disappoint. Super short chapters and a relatively low overall page count made reading a breeze. The Provincial Lady is always somewhat stressed, which makes this not quite the relaxing escape Elizabeth von Armin's diary books provide, but the very mundane nature of her escapades and annoyances makes for a charming read. I definitely don't blissfully wish I was her and I'm not noting down Words of Wisdom, but the Provincial Lady seems like just the kind of lady I'd enjoy getting a coffee with and kvetching about mutual acquaintances and irksome social gatherings.

Anne BoleynAnne Boleyn by Norah Lofts

Let's get the not-so-good out of the way first: the author gives Anne a likely 6th finger. I know, it's not a big deal, but for some reason this always annoys me. Okay, moving on. Everything else was wonderful. I'm not bothered by the author's references to a "whiff" of the witchy and supernatural surrounding Anne and Elizabeth Woodville. Okay, so maybe this isn't exactly serious, but I find it a fun twist to indulge in mentally (like "believing" in ghosts for the sake of enjoying a good ghost story...while not actually believing in ghosts).

The Wars of the Roses: England's First Civil War

I've owned this book for about five years, so I'm glad I finally read it. It starts all the way back with Richard II, which was on one hand nice because I'm less familiar with Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V, but on the other hand less nice because when I read Wars of the Roses books it's because I want the drama and flair of Margaret of Anjou, Margaret Beaufort, Edward IV, Richard III, Elizabeth Woodville, Warwick the Kingmaker, and the treacherous Duke of Clarence. So, I "slogged" through about 250 pages of history I wasn't particularly interested in reading about.

On the bright side, it wasn't actually a slog. I enjoyed the way Trevor Royle covered the Richard II - Henry V years and I found myself caught up in the narrative. The writing was easy to read, though on the drier side of things. Not because the content was boring or went on tangents, but mostly because it lacked heart. It was easy to pick up and read a chapter, and then just as easy to put the book down for a few days.

Disappointingly, when I finally did get to Henry VI, the whole pageant of characters fell flat. This was one of those history books with a male-focus, which is fine except I felt robbed of getting to read about Margaret of Anjou, Margaret Beaufort, and Elizabeth Woodville. They're such dynamic characters in history and here they were covered, but largely skimmed over and with no sense of drama, passion, or excitement. While more time was spent on the men, even they suffered from this soulless approach.

Perhaps that's a better, more serious approach to history? I don't know, but I do know that I'm the type of reader who likes my history in technicolor. So, overall, okay and a good overview of the time that goes into enough depth that this isn't a skim, but it lacks heart.

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