Thursday, June 17, 2010

Some June Reading

While I'm pondering my next blog topic, I thought I'd stop by to mention a couple of books I've recently read. (As I haven't started writing my T-novel yet and am awaiting edits for my Margaret of Anjou novel, I've had some more leisure reading time lately.)

First, I just finished G. W. Bernard's Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions. Bernard, as many probably know, takes the tack that Anne Boleyn was guilty of adultery with some of the men who were accused with her. Though I still have my doubts, I thought the author presented his case well and considered alternative explanations, and he didn't presume to regard his thesis as definitively proven.

Although the book has garnered the most attention for its stance on the allegations of adultery, Bernard also examines such issues as the treatment of Mary Tudor and Anne's religious beliefs. I thought the latter chapter was particularly interesting. All in all, I found this to be a thought-provoking book, and certainly a worthy contribution to the Anne Boleyn shelf. (For a couple of reviews by those more knowledgeable about these matters than me, see here and here.)

I also picked up C. W. Gortner's The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. Having read my fair share of historical fiction that caricatures Catherine as a villainess, I enjoyed this novel, which is told in the first person by Catherine. I did find myself wishing that some of the supporting characters were portrayed in more depth, and there were matters about which I was curious, such as the historical nature of Catherine's relationship with Gaspard de Coligny, that I wish the author had discussed in his author's note. Still, I thought Gortner did a good job of portraying the complex issues of the time without oversimplifying them or boring the reader, and I recommend the book. (It will be the July book of the month over at Historical Fiction Online, and since the author is a member there, I'm sure he'll be up for answering questions.)

FTC disclosure: both of these books were purchased on my own dime. (Actually, I batted my eyes at my husband and sighed longingly to get him to buy me the Gortner book at Barnes and Noble. Yup, I'm a book 'ho.)


Anerje said...

I was really disappointed with Bernard's book. He uses sources that have been discredited, (the French source/Lady Worcester)and also, in one part, he states his opinions have been shaped because there's 'no smoke without fire' and the gossip that surrounded Anne. Even his questioning of the dates of Anne's supposed adultery is flawed. I also didn't like his reasoning that because Anne had not been born into royalty, she wouldn't have had the 'respect' for royalty not to commit adultery.

Elizabeth said...

I just bought C.W. Gortner's book as well and am looking forward to reading it here soon. I have always thought that many writers will cast Diane de Poitiers in the sympathetic light while casting poor Catherine down into the dust, so I am excited to see it written from her point of view.

Daphne said...

I may give the Bernard book a shot at some point. I agree with you about the Author's Note in Gortner's book, but I really enjoyed the story!

Jenny Girl said...

I think I'll have to check out Bernard's book. Anne continues to bring about strong emotions hundreds of years later. I don't think she committed adultery either; flirted maybe but not adultery. Flirting was probably enough.

Haven't read Gortner's d'Medici book yet, but am glad to read he presents her in an even handed light.