Friday, October 1, 2010

Countdown: Queens of England

This month's Countdown is Queens of England.  What is Countdown?  It's a feature I started for my blog in which once a month, I post a list of 5 books of the same topic, genre, country, or subject matter.  There's a 5 star read (which I thought was superb), a four star read (I liked it, but there was an issue), a three star read, (it's ok but had some issues and I'm not recommending it to 5000 people), a two star read (I didn't like it), and of course, the dreaded one star read (I hated it.)

5 star read:
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
First published in 2001.  Fictional account of the lives of Mary and Anne Boleyn.  Anne was Henry VIII's second wife and yes, one that had her head chopped off.  You either love it for the writing and the scandal and the juicy narrative of Anne Boleyn's sister, Mary or you hate it for its historical inaccuracy.  I loved it.

Four star read:
Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir
First published in 2006.  It is a fictional account of Lady Jane Grey who was placed on the English throne for 9 days.  She didn't want to be there, but royal connections and family placed her there in an attempt to prevent the rightful heir, Bloody Mary from taking it.  It didn't quite "blow me away" but I liked it.

Three star read:
The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes
First published in 1953.  Fictional account of Elizabeth of York who combined the white and the red roses of England and birthed a new dynasty.  Good story, but the first person narrative didn't work in this case what with Elizabeth being stuck in a monastry throughout pretty much the entire novel.  Everything exciting happening is TOLD to Elizabeth and something def got lost this way.

Two star read:
The Forgotten Queen by Haley Elizabeth Garwood
First published in 1998.  This is the only book by Garwood I didn't like.  Fictional account of the Empress Mathilda and her attempt to wrestle her throne from her cousin Stephen.  This was too preposterous for me.  Mathilda beds her cousin while acting like a petulant child and stomping her foot most of the time.  Nothing queenly about her at all.  And the love talk... ugh.

One star read: 
I, Victoria by Cynthia Harrod Eagles
First published in 1995.  Fictional diary/journal account of Queen Victoria.  Some people really like this one and I encourage everyone to judge for themselves.  For me, it was a DNF.  Victoria gets sidetracked way too much and goes on and on about palace decorations and her aunt's indigestion.  I don't like books made 200 pages longer with irrelevant details.


  1. TOBG is what got me started on historical fiction so I will always have a soft spot for it. And despite the inaccuracies, I still think it's a page turning story.

    Innocent Traitor - it says two star but given your format, I think you mean 4 stars. I really liked that one as well!

  2. Daphne, thanks for pointing that out to me! Typo! I fixed it. I'm embarassed tho. I re read it four times and somehow missed that.

    Funny, TOBG got me into historical fiction too! No joke. I picked it up at Media Play.. thought "hm..well it's on sale.." and was totally hooked on HF from that day on.

  3. Oooh, you've got a new countdown since the last time I looked. I like this feature.

  4. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl too. So far it is my favorite of her's.