Sunday, January 14, 2007

A brief and unintentionally amusing weekend interlude

While en route to the laundry room this afternoon (exciting weekend here) I got distracted by my Robert Hale bookshelf. Has anyone else read Janet Kilbourne's Where Nobles Tread? I hadn't made note of the subject before, but it's an obscurish historical novel about one of Queen Isabella's ladies-in-waiting who becomes torn between two men, the devilishly irresistible Piers Gaveston, favorite of Edward II, and Gaveston's enemy, William Darcy.

I debated reading and reviewing it as part of my "obscure books" series but don't think I can get through it in its entirety. The opening scene is... memorable. I can't decide if Gaveston's being portrayed more like a reject from Saturday Night Fever (he and his "tanned, muscular body" make their entrance wearing tight-fitting hose, a rich purple tunic, and a white, sequined shirt, the latter two of which are open to the waist - exposing a silver medallion dangling against his manly chest) or some refugee from Woodstock (because of his long, flowing black hair). Isabella is a sharp-tongued harridan who moans in detail about her unhappy marriage to her new lady-in-waiting two minutes after meeting her. And Edward is tall, handsome, and generally royal in appearance, but the bigger problem is that he knows he's "just plain damn lazy and always would be" (p.25).

I'd say it degenerates from here, but there is no high point to the novel, really. Example dialogue consists of "Die, you filthy traitor!" and "You dirty bastard... all you can think about is his body, isn't it?" I understand the author was a mere seventeen when it was published, and it shows... but despite her young age, she writes quite imaginative sex scenes.

Several copies are available on ABE. Start shopping now. For now, I think I'll be heading back to Princes of Ireland.


  1. Anonymous1:53 AM

    Oh dear. Just when I start to think that there can't possibly be any more novels on Edward II I haven't discovered yet, here's another one...;) I'll probably cave in and get this, although it does sound pretty awful. I laughed out loud at the description of Gaveston - he does sound very seventies, doesn't he?

    Thanks for the tip on the Alesia de Lacy novel, by the way - I've ordered a copy. Also, yet another obscurish novel on Ed II called Lady of Valour, which looks as though it might be as rubbish as this one!

  2. Anonymous8:02 AM

    Sarah, you have no consideration for my debit card! But thanks for the tips.

  3. The interesting thing is that this young woman's previous novels (as quoted on the jacket) were highly praised by major papers in the UK at the time (early '70s). I haven't read them. Maybe they're better. The timeframe may explain Gaveston's medieval disco outfit, sort of.

    Maybe one of you will be able to stand to do a more complete review!

    I've never heard of Lady of Valour - probably a good thing.

  4. Anonymous10:37 AM

    Sarah, that is one of my major pet peeves--that these heroes who basically do nothing more than sit around all day, ride a horse here and there, and play cards in a club--are so damned "tanned and muscular"! How did they get that way? They didn't have gyms. In reality, they'd be pasty white and doughy. More than likely what we now call "fat."

    The mideval disco outfit is cracking me up...I can completely picture it.

    I had a bit of a problem with that with my dissipated hedonist pirate hero, but. I figured he's also a seaman, so I made sure he was constantly going aloft. :)

  5. Anonymous11:12 AM

    But I like the flowing black hair. :)

    That one sounds so awful it might be fun. "Die, filthly traitor," lol. Makes one wonder if she listened to opera while writing her dialogue. I have sentences like that slip in sometimes, but I know better and edit them out, I do, forsooth.

  6. Anonymous11:43 AM

    I have a pamphlet by the author of Lady of Valour, Alama Harris, about Queen Isabella in which she suggests on page 8 that the Black Prince was Isabella and Mortimer's child. It's downhill from there.

  7. I was kind of curious how Gaveston got all tanned, myself.

    Some authors do get creative with royal genealogies, don't they? wow.