Saturday, May 23, 2009

'Blood Royal' by Vanora Bennett: Hostorical Fiction At It's Best

I am not sure how many of you are aware that I have been an avid historical fiction reader since I was a teen. I think I 'cut my teeth' on authors like Jean Plaidy. Historical Fiction continues to be my preferred leisure reading of choice. The next question might readily be "why". "I learn from it of course" is my answer. I have never read a piece of historical fiction that has not spurred me on to wanting to read the 'real' history behind the work. I was a history minor in school and history is a constant fascination to me. I have always been most interested in Bristish History. Although an ancestor of mine was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, American history does not hold me in it's the threall in the same way that Bristish History does. I am proud of my Irish lineage but think that I must surely have been a Brit for many lives!

One of my favorite writers these days is Vanora Bennett. She has a background in reportage. Her short bio includes "... spent several years working abroad, covering political,military and religious conflicts in unstable countries". I devoured Vanora's two previous books; "Portrait of an Unknown Woman" & "Figures In Silk". By an unheard of bit of wonderful luck, thanks to Ms. Bennet herself, I managed to get a first copy of her new book "Blood Royal". Would that I was in London though as I would have had a 2 for 1 entrance to Hampton Court with the purchase of the book. For a person who once enjoyed writing about unstable places in the world I think that Ms. Bennet hit historical "pay dirt" in writing about the period in British and French history that directly preceeded the famed Battle of Agincourt. Seldom has there been a more turbulent period in British history than when a mentally ill King Charles VI was on the French throne with his Bavarian born Queen Isabeau, who by all accounts, was a good regeant & a strong, thoughtful ruler in Charles' 'absence'. The malady that Charles suffered from left a large mark upon the history of that time. One of their daughters, Catherine of Valois, was married off to the British King, Henri V. This royal marriage gave birth to a future King of England, Henry VI who would never see his royal father. Shortly after marriage and the birth of his son, King Henry V died from an unknown illness contracted at the Siege of Meaux. This then leads into the love story part of this history. Catherine, now acting as Queen Mother during her son's infancy became another pawn. - She had to resist being married off to one or another Duke or Lord. Despite the close scrutiny under which she lived, Catherine entered into a love relationahip with Own ap Maredudd ap Tudor of Wales - who had been, for all accounts, a steward, under Henry V. Catherine's life, as portrayed both in the book and in true historical fact, appears to have been one of duty and honor. One cannot help but cheer for this unlikely alliance and for the bits of happiness and joy that Catherine must surely have found with her 'Welshman' - who was granted the rights of an Englishman in 1432. After Catherine's death Owen was imprisoned for an unknown reason and was released. Owen became an early death in the War of the Roses (1455-1487); advanced in years at this point he led the Lancastrian force into battle at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross - he was executed for his part in this siege.

"Blood Royal" is one of those books that I begin to savor half way through to prolong the book. I hate it when an enthralling book reaches the end - leaving waiting for the next book by this talented author to be published. Once you have read one of Vanora Bennett's books I am sure that you will want to read them all and that, once you have finished reading them all, you too will be waiting, near with bated breath, for her next release.

Well done Vanora Bennet! Wonderful, historically accurate, completely engaging work ! PLease hurry to finish your next book!


Deb said...

Thanks for the tip - the genre is one I've come to late in life...which means more for me to enjoy NOW. You may already know about the author Margaret George but if not, quick to the library for "The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers", my first favorite.

For our side of the Pond try, "Cold Mountain" by C. Frazer and "On the Occasion of My Last Afternoon" by K. Gibbons.

beadbabe49 said...

thanks for the tip...I like historical fiction too and her books look quite interesting. Always nice to find a new author through word of mouth!

Sandy said...

I read Jean Plaidy too and have an unofficial minor in history in college.

La Tea Dah said...

What an interesting post! I also love historical fiction and English history is always THE BEST! Thank you for the head's up on the Vanora Bennett books. I sometimes have a hard time finding 'enough' to read --- and our little library doesn't have a large selection, but will order me anything I'd like to read --- I just need to know title and authors. If you have other 'must read' authors and titles related to English historical fiction, please let me know. Actually, I devour long, dry, and boring to some biographies on English royalty with zest! I know it must have something to do with 'roots'.

I hope all is well with you and you are having a wonderful and relaxing holiday week-end. We are here, if you count cleaning the garage as wonderful and relaxing!

I hope you are feeling alright.


Judy H in NC said...

Oldest daughter has been reading my romances since she was about 12 and loves the historical ones. The results....she knows about manners and "rules" from different periods in time and helped her ace a few period theater pieces. Who knew romances were so educational!

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