[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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[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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[book review] Anna Castle: Murder by Misrule

cover-murder-by-misrule

Subtitled – ‘when Bacon goes bad‘.

Back in those heady green and salad days of my teaching career, I devised a mark-scheme for a favourite class which was, improbably, based on foodContinue reading “[book review] Anna Castle: Murder by Misrule”

[book review] Clare Asquith: Shakespeare and the Resistance

asquith resistance cover

Past a certain stage in studying literature, you begin to understand, perhaps better appreciate, the fact that texts are crafted entities.

(I choose ‘entities‘ deliberately, firmly believing texts have their own independent post-publication existences: a subject for another time, perhaps)

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[book review] Tracy Borman: The Private Lives of the Tudors

borman tudors cover

 

Tracy BormanThe Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 2016)

A salutary warning for would-be 21st-century celebrities?

Francis Bacon calls it correctly, as he so often does:

Men in great place […] have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self. [a]

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[book review] Josephine Tey: The Daughter of Time

tey hospital bed man
No, Inspector Grant, you can’t get a hunchback from reading about it …

Is this the ultimate ‘cold case’?

The Daughter of Time arrives with some hefty baggage in terms of its critical reception.

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[book review] Catharine Arnold: Globe

arnold cover

Catharine Arnold, Globe: Life in Shakepeare’s London (Simon & Schuster:  London, 2015)

 

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