Historical Romance Blog
History in Fiction and Film - Revealing the Truth and the Inaccuracies
While developing Historical Romance Review I started to wonder if I should add a field for each book or film which flags them as historically accurate. This opens a bit of a conundrum as when you start to dig into historical authenticity, the writer, in most cases, must embellish the truth to link together a cohesive story. While we know of the existence of certain events and people from the past we will never know the exact truth, gaps must be filled and the integrity of chroniclers questioned.
History records can also be interpreted differently. Sharon Penman's novel, The Sunne in Splendour gives her account of Richard III and what happened to his young nephews, the princes in the tower. Richard III is depicted as a man of integrity and honour, not the evil hunchback fleshed out by Shakespeare. She raises the question that Henry Tudor had his chroniclers, for political needs, paint Richard with a tainted brush, wicked, ambitious - a murderer, forever altering his character for centuries to come.
I have just been reading Jean Plaidy's, The Lady in the Tower, Anne Boleyn looks back over her life's events to determine when Henry turned from ardent admirer to bitter enemy. I found this an extremely interesting read, not so much for the story itself, which was very familiar, but in comparison to Philippa Gregory's novel, The Other Boleyn Girl.
While there are some parallels in the two novels the personalities of Mary and Anne are moulded differently and also what motivates their decisions and behaviour. The novelists have selected the version of historical events that best suits their story and made it into their own historical fiction sculpture. It made me think, how would I write about the two sisters and their lives?
Jean Plaidy's Depiction
Oozing sexuality with a simple innocence is Plaidy's Mary. She shames herself at the French court after giving herself to Francois, the French King, and then any man with a desire to bed her. Ignorant of the scandal she is creating Mary acts on her basic instincts however before she can disgrace herself any further she is sent back to England. Her sexual adventures continue as Henry becomes enamoured and she eagerly slips into the role of King's mistress.
This has a profound effect on Anne and she vows that she will remain virtuous and not repeat her sister's distasteful behaviour. Returning to England, Anne is a hit at court and with her exciting style and elegance Henry cannot help but notice her. He makes his intentions known to Anne however she is determined to hold on to her virginity until married even if the most important man in the land is beckoning. Anne does not take Henry seriously when he says he will put aside Katherine to marry her and her ambition is only inflamed when Henry starts to put actions into motion. The idea of wearing a Queen's crown grows on Anne and she starts to relish her burgeoning power.
Philippa Gregory's Depiction
Philippa gives us a more intelligent Mary, a girl who knows she must carry out her family duty and her natural warmth for people allows her to give the King pleasure without causing her too much distress. She has simple needs, and desires to be a mother and nurturer more so than a grand lady of the court. She is not so capable of the loose behaviour depicted in Jean Plaidy's book.
Anne, instead of being virtuous is cold and calculating, sibling jealousy and the thought of wearing a crown drive her mercilessly towards her goal. Spurred on by her greedy family, she leads the King along, believing if she succumbs to being his mistress, or a whore like her sister, she will never realise her dream of becoming England's Queen.
So was Mary a simple wanton or a motherly nurturer?
Was Anne virtuous to the extreme or ruthlessly ambitious?
I guess to answer this I would have to step back and do my own research and evaluate the question for myself... even then can we ever be really sure of what we are reading is an accurate rendition of the truth?
How do historians come to their conclusions?
What do you think?
In The Company of the Courtesan - Novel - Blog
I have been doing quite alot of reading lately however have been rather remiss in writing reviews. I do have a good excuse though; the possibility of developing RSI from too much mouse clicking has made me avoid the computer. I have read The Devil's Brood, To Defy a King, A Coat of Arms and In the Company of the Courtesan. The latter novel had me completely enthralled as I have not read much historical fiction about Europe other than England's favourite enemy - France. Today I was furiously googling the sacking of Rome, Charles V, The Holy Roman Empire and the Medici family and found it all very intriguing. Very odd to think The Holy Roman Empire was not actually in Rome and mainly comprised of Germans...
I really enjoyed the novel 'In the Company of the Courtesan', the writing was brilliant, characters entertaining and the plot weaved a venetian web of mystery and suspense.Follow this link for: Full Review
The Venus of Urbino by Titian
The Secret of Moonacre - Movie
Imagine watching shooting stars through a crystal roof, lying within the muraled walls of a round tower, on a soft bed of feathers, warmed by a fireplace sculpted in the shape of a seashell and waking to the mouth-watering aroma of freshly baked cookies and warm milk. This is the bedroom of Maria Merrywether (Dakota Blue Richards) in the fantasy film 'The Secret of Moonacre'.
A fantasy of delights enhanced by stunning cinematography, exquiste costumes and a beautiful musical score. A burping nanny and whizzy-woo munchkin chef add laughter and zest, a curse, a struggle, love, hope and friendship. Mythical animals enchant the screen and looming in the background is the magical, glowing moon.
A lovely tale which can be enjoyed by young and old... maybe one for the Christmas stocking?
Enid - Movie
Review - Enid (Movie)
Has anyone watched the movie about childhood storyteller Enid Blyton and been completely gobsmacked? Before I viewed this film I was unaware of Enid's life, I only knew her as the shining star who created such wonders as a magical tree that was the passage to unique lands and a flying chair with the power to grant a child's wish. The revelation of her life and personality came as a shock and if you would like to maintain the warm and fuzzy memories of your Blyton reading days, you probably shouldn't watch this film. In retrospect, even though I was quite blown away, I was definitely entertained by Enid's behaviour and mystified yet again by the mystery of human nature.
Time and Chance
Henry's feud with Thomas Becket is a great example of conflict between the monarchy and the church. Excommunication is the weapon of choice for Becket, while Henry is continually conjuring up schemes that will try to bring Becket back under his control.
Looking forward to now reading Devil's Brood and continuing the journey with Eleanor!
Read Review for Time and Chance...
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