30 day book challenge – day 18 – A book you wish you could live in.
I don’t want my answer to every one of these questions to be Harry Potter, so I’m going to set aside the fact that I am still waiting for some big hairy guy to come and tell me that I am a witch….
… so my next choice would be Henry VIII’s Tudor Court from Philippa Gregory’s Tudor series (and specifically, The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance).
I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense. After all, Henry VIII’s court was a dangerous place after he separated from Katherine of Aragon. This was a King who was prepared to tear up everything that his country had ever known to marry the object of his obsession, Anne Boleyn. It was a game changer – nothing was sacred any more and no one was safe.
But Philippa Gregory just brings this time period to life so vividly. All of the darkness, the sexiness, the games, the politics, the high stakes and the manoeuvring for favour are brought out in spades. I can picture myself living in that court, gossiping in dark corners about the King, living with the danger and uncertainty. There is something exciting about that.
And from a historical point of view, Henry VIII’s actions in separating from the Catholic Church have resonated through the ages. To this day, a monarch is still forbidden from marrying a Roman Catholic (although I believe that there are proposals to change this). To live at that time would be to witness history in the making.
Henry VIII and his six wives are well known tales, taught to every child in school learning British history. However, Philippa Gregory really brought these stories to life in a way that a history lesson in school never could. I really enjoy her focus on the female characters, and her portrayal of Katherine of Aragon standing at the head of the English army to quell the rebellious Scots is a one of my favourite moments in these books. Just to clarify, that is because she is a woman leading an army, not because she is quelling the Scots!
Perhaps they are not 100% historically accurate all the time, but she has done her research well and uses what she has learnt to create something that feels tangible and real, and makes me feel as if I am part of it when I read her books. I have never attempted historical fiction myself although I would love to give it a go – I think it would be a real challenge to strike the right balance between letting your research provide detail and context to the story, without allowing it to dominate the story so that it reads like a textbook. Philippa Gregory strikes this balance absolutely perfectly – for me she is really the Queen of historical fiction.
- Review: The Constant Princess (The Tudor Court #1) by Philippa Gregory (eatreadexplore.wordpress.com)
- Reading Bite: Philippa Gregory (emilyslifebites.wordpress.com)
Posted on September 15, 2013, in Reading and tagged 30 day book challenge, Anne Boleyn, Catherine of Aragon, Constant Princess, Harry Potter, Henry VIII, Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory, The Boleyn Inheritance. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.