[book review] Dan Jones: The Hollow Crown

jones book coverDan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, (London: Faber & Faber, 2015)

Dan Jones’ muscular account begins with Catherine de Valois’ marriage to Henry V in 1420, and ends in 1541, with the brutal execution of Margaret Pole (at 67) by Henry VIII; the final remnant of the Plantagenet dynasty to be mopped up by the Tudors.

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[book review] Anthony Burgess: A Dead Man in Deptford

burgess dead man cover

I’ve been known to use A Clockwork Orange as a way of accessing Shakespeare: if you can decipher Burgess’s prose in that, my reasoning goes, Shakespeare should hold few terrors for you – simply apply the same skills.  That’s a dazzling novel.  So I approached A Dead Man in Deptford with some excitement and expectation, stoked by one of the most visually arresting book covers I’ve seen in years.

I wasn’t disappointed.

 

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[book review] Shirley McKay: Fate & Fortune

Fate and Fortune

Shirley McKay, Fate & Fortune (Edinburgh:  Birlinn Ltd, 2010)

This second Hew Cullan mystery begins two years after the events of the first.  It is 1581: Hew has returned to St Andrews on the death of his father, a man rendered a stranger to him through time and distance. 

 

 

 

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QotW (#84): 29 July 2019

armada gods breath
‘God blew and they were scattered’

You almost feel sorry for the Spanish …

Today marks the day when the undeniably mighty Armada, reeling from a night attack by fireships and blocked from retreating down the Channel, was pummelled by English ships and scattered northwards by storms.  Unable to regroup, they tried – and many failed – to get home the hard way, via Scotland and Ireland.

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[book review] Elizabeth & Mary

dunn coverDying in 1587, just as Shakespeare probably got going, Mary Queen of Scots has been a peripheral figure in my reading, writing and teaching over the past few years.  Perhaps unjustly.  In her book, ‘Elizabeth & Mary:  Cousins, Rivals, Queens’, Jane Dunn fascinatingly posits that one queen can only be defined by contrast to her rival.

 

 

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(QotW) #83: 22 July 2019

It’s easy to forget that Shakespeare pre-dates social media …

 

pacino de niro heat
‘No matter what, you will not get in my way …’

‘We’re sitting here like a couple regular fellas.  You do what you do.  I do what I gotta do.  And now that we have been face-to-face, if I am there and I got to put you away?

(pause)

I won’t like it.  But, if it’s you, or some poor bastard whose wife you’re going to turn into a widow, brother, you are gonna go down.’ [a]

What if Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots had met … ?

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QotW (#82) Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them

eye of sauron

Consider Frodo Baggins

As comfortable middle age approaches, he’s broadly minding his own business, apart from the desire to perhaps go on a few more foreign holidays.  Sure, he’s a little eccentric, and keeps a more eclectic circle of friends and acquaintances than many.  But fundamentally a ‘nice, well-spoken gentle-hobbit‘, as Gaffer Gamgee might say.  Looking forward to not much more than another 50-60 years of smoking his pipe on the doorstep of Bag End; hiking through the Shire at night; writing; and keeping out of the way of those dreadful oiks, the Sackville-Bagginses.

Adventures?  No thank you.

All is well, until that meddling magician, Gandalf arrives …

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