Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Those wild and crazy Tudors

Suzannah Dunn's The Sixth Wife (HarperPress UK, Jan 2007) will be the second novel about Katherine Parr to be published within a short time, though Carolly Erickson's The Last Wife of Henry VIII appeared only in the US (and, for now at least, it seems that the Dunn is UK only). From the press release, which shows a new take on Henry VIII's last spouse:
Catherine, Duchess of Suffolk, is Kate Parr’s best friend. An unwilling witness to the dowager queen’s late-blossoming love, she harbours nagging suspicions of Kate’s handsome, ambitious new husband. But as Cathy is drawn deeper into the web of politics ensnaring her oldest friend, it gradually becomes clear she has her own dark tale to tell. For if Thomas might betray his wife for power, then sharp, canny Cathy might betray her for passion.

I am very amused. A few months ago, on Susan's blog, the title of Jean Plaidy's 1971 novel Gay Lord Robert was discussed. We debated possible title changes if it were reissued. A search through Amazon UK reveals that it will be reissued next June, by Arrow. The new title is simply Lord Robert. Kind of a cop-out considering the alternatives, but understandable.

Lastly, this blog received its 10,000th visitor yesterday. I should have promised a contest or free book giveaway or something, but since I neglected to do that, I'll simply say thanks for stopping by, everyone.

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:11 AM

    Only Lord Robert? Bummer. One really thinks someone should have shown some imagination there. (Glares at cat sitting on antique-ish bookcase)

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  2. It isn't terribly interesting, no.

    Just had a cat-on-bookshelf incident here, too, resulting in my taking the glass vase of dried flowers from atop the 6' bookcase and moving it somewhere else.

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  3. Dunn's novel on Katherine Parr sounds intriguing! Katherine was a writer herself, you know, and was one of the first woman authors ever published in England under her own name. Interesting how Henry was so often drawn to the intellectual type of lady, although he hated it when they disagreed with him.

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  4. Anonymous2:38 PM

    It's a pity so few historical novels deal with the scholarly aspect of Katherine's character. The only one that I've seen come close is Mary Luke's The Ivy Crown, and I don't remember it mentioning her writing, only her interest in discussing religion.

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  5. Dunn's approach to Anne Boleyn was rather modern (see Geraldine Brooks' review from the Washington Post review posted on Amazon), so I'm a tad wary of this one. I did enjoy Mary Luke's The Ivy Crown.

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  6. Susan, that is a shame that more novels do not focus on Katherine's literary endeavors. Heroines who write are always fascinating!! According to Alison Weir, Katherine was quite outstanding among scholars in general, and her books lay a lot of the groundwork for the "New Religion" in England. She was such an honorable person, too, and really tried to put aside her love of Thomas Seymour when she married Henry. I will always admire her for how she tried to be a mother to Henry's children. Which is why what happened with Elizabeth and Seymour all the more devastating for Katherine, and especially for Elizabeth.

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  7. Yes, Sarah, Ivy Crown does sound better.

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  8. I can't believe that they didn't take one of our other options up for the title of the Plaidy book!

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  9. Lol, when it comes to operas, of Henry's wives only Anne Boleyn seems to have struck a composers' fancy (Donizetti, Anna Bolena). And of the next generation, Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scotland (Donizetti, Maria Stuarda, Il castello di Kenilworth and Roberto Devereux, Rossini, Elisabetta regina d'Inghilterra).

    Maria Stuarda has a nice duet between the two rival queens, not historical, but who can blame the composer for having some fun with a bitch fight (German playwright Friedrich Schiller does it, too).

    But a woman who tries to forget her love and make her marriage work, is not opera material, lol.

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  10. Plain Lord Robert, how unimaginative. But maybe it's thought that most of the people who'll buy it will be those who already know of it or already like Jean Plaidy, so having an intriguing title isn't so important.

    I wonder if Henry's ego wanted an intellectual woman to agree with him and tell him how clever he was? That would fit with the story of how Catherine Parr got his favour back, by telling him that she only argued with him so she could profit from his greater knowledge (!) and take his mind off his sore leg.

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  11. I'm sure you're right, Carla, to most readers the title won't matter too much - other than it's Plaidy and about the Tudors. I wish they would reissue some of her more obscure novels, like Defenders of the Faith, but that period's not exactly marketable these days (if it ever was).

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  12. Sarah, what is "Defenders" about? I never heard of it, but I am beginning to discover that she was a more prolific writer than I ever imagined. I was addicted to Plaidy/Holt/Carr in highschool, and while in London I found many of her books that I could not get in the States. Those were the days before the internet and Amazon.com.

    Carla, I agree with you about Henry and his attraction to intellectual women. I also wonder if witty repartee and lively debate was not a sort of loveplay for him....Even Katherine Howard, whom everybody dismisses as a slutty idiot, she must have possessed a lively wit albeit without deep scholarship. Her conversation must have entertained him; he really fell in love with her and he only seemed to fall in love with bright women. But there is much about the reality of Katherine Howard's situation that we will never really know....

    Gabriele, I think that there must be something about decapitation that lends itself to grand opera.

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  13. I'll confirm this with my copy once I get home - but I recollect it's about two cousins and their struggles to avoid the wrath of the Spanish Inquisition. Parts are set in England, so technically it is Tudor-era, but it's not about royalty/the nobility.

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  14. Spanish Inquisition "Black Legend" stuff? OK, I'll pass on that one!!!

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  15. Hello and a note from Arrow books - we're reissuing Defenders of the Faith and The Scarlet Cloak (along with the Lucrezia Borgia novels Madonna of the Seven Hills adn Light on Lucrezia) in June 2009. We'll also be reissuing the last six titles in the Plantaganet series in the same year. Vanessa

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  16. Vanessa, thanks very much for the update. It's good to hear those titles - especially Defender and Scarlet Cloak - will be available once again.

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