The riveting story of Margaret Pole, daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, and was one of the few surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty after the Wars of the Roses. Plantagenet, once carried proudly by Margaret like a crown upon her head, is now, at the end of the 15th century, the most dangerous name in England....
©2014 Philippa Gregory (P)2014 Simon & Schuster UK
My first introduction to historical fiction was Gore Vidal's Julian, a book which I have re-read three times. And as a bloke I initially stuck to historical fiction written by blokes. Ken Follett and Conn Iggulden among others.
Then I found Hilary Mantel. I started with A Place of Greater Safety and have now read most of her works.
I had never contemplated Philippa Gregory. I think there is a little scuttlebutt about her work which I fell prey to. The titles and some of the covers of her books look more Mills and Boon than serious historical fiction.
The King's Curse is my first Philippa Gregory novel and I am mightily impressed. The narrator, Margaret Pole, is such a calm observer of one of the most unique periods of English history. From the perspective of a Plantagenet, the early years of the Tudor reign can be seen from one who rides the wild vicissitudes.
The character of Catherine of Aragon is finely crafted. The tragic first marriage with the gentle Prince Arthur is truly heartbreaking. The strength of Catherine shines through and her legacy is well represented.
King Henry VIII is also well covered, from his spoilt childhood to his infamous reign, we gain a human perspective from two extraordinary women, Margaret and Catherine.
Finally, as an audiobook I must commend Bianca Amato's narration. This is a vast task, covering over 24 hours. She is memorable in her depiction of the characters and the consistency of the narrator's voice.
This will be the first of many Philippa Gregory novels for me.
"Irritating if you're english!"
Great story, despite the author's penchant for needless superlatives and "oh"s every so often, it's always fascinating to imagine the narrator's viewpoint and I forgive Philippa Gregory because she is foremost an historian!
Oh please somebody school Bianca Amato in English pronunciations! Mispronouncing things like "Berkshire" is pretty unforgiveable. Also no-one in England says "orf" anymore, not since my grandmother died. Just consult a native. FYI other mis-pronunciations include Magdalen College, and Chapuys (amongst many more). Sorry, pet hate :)
"A Fly In the Ointment"
I enjoyed the rich and warm tone of Bianca Amato's voice - but there were some jarring pronunciation errors which really interrupted the flow for me. It wouldn't have taken much to check the pronunciation of place names like "Beaulieu", which is pronounced "Bewley", or Cambridgeshire, where the first syllable is "came" and not "camm". It was distracting, too, to keep hearing "courtiers" pronounced as if it rhymed with "more tears" rather than the British pronunciation which rhymes more with "haughtier". Such a shame, as otherwise the reading was excellent.
"The King's Curse"
Interesting. Overlong. Okay.
Any other Philippa Gregory.
The weird swooping onto the occasional word for no apparent reason; the absolute launch she took every time she had to say the name 'Plantagenet'. Just a very strange performance all round.
I am a huge Wars of the Roses buff and a massive Richard III fan, so I will always feel slightly negative to the Tudors. The other problem with it is that of course we know how it ends - one of the problems with any historical novel, of course, and perhaps one of the reasons why it annoys me when people suddenly get a 'feeling' as they gaze at the Boy King Harry that All Will Not Be Well. There was no sign of that when Henry VIII took the throne. But people Got Feelings. I also feel that as this is part of a series there was no real need to constantly explain who everybody was in relation to everybody else - if you've read the series you will know and if you have even a modicum of interest in the subject then you will still know. A lot of it felt like padding.
This is perhaps a little bit negative-sounding, and that's not really what I mean. It's a perfectly enjoyable book with flaws, but all books have flaws. It's not easy to find something new in a historical setting and especially one that has been flogged to death like the Tudors (when I think of those glorious Plantagenets just waiting to be written about!), so kudos indeed to Ms Gregory for coming at it from a slightly different angle. There is nothing wrong with this book; it just didn't grab me. Having said that, the actual 'King's Curse' was an interesting thought, and certainly it's something that could explain a great deal.
"The Best Of The Series."
Interesting, enlightening and perceptive.
I'm tempted to compare it to "Wolf Hall". Although the writing styles are different, both books chart Henry viii's rapid decline from golden king to ruthless paranoid dictator.
Margaret Pole's description of Cromwell, "a stocky man", fighting with guards as he attempts to resist arrest.
Yes, the final moments when Margaret pole is on the scaffold; until that last secon, I'd hoped there would be a repreve.
I downloaded this book not expecting very much, as I thought it would be about yet another strong woman who was reduced to windging. I'm glad to say however, that I was proved wrong. Like all the other novels in the Cousins' War series, "The King's CURSE is written in the first person. Events are seen through the eyes of Margaret Pole, who is the last surviving member of the Plantagenet dinasty. Although she is an unreliable narrator, it is clear to see that Margaret Pole is not merely fanatical, but a woman forced to use her wits in order to survive in a world where everyone seems to be expendeble.
"Interesting mix of fact and fiction"
The characters are interesting and I like the mix of fact and fiction
I found the outlining of the characters and their desperate fight for survival in such unpredictable and dangerous times makes an excellent storyline
neither but it did make me grateful I do not live in Henry's court !
I love this book....in fact I think I will read it again. It gave such an insight into Henry and what he did . Very sad ending.
"Great story (not so great narrator)"
A great telling of the life of Margaret Pole. The author really captures the conflict of a story about an extraordinary woman who is often quite unlikeable
I'm sorry that I have an issue with the narrator: she has a beautiful tone and perfect enunciation but the oddest pronunciation of very commonplace names and places. Surely someone listened to it before it went out? It's such a shame because it did get a little irritating
"what a woman! what a life!"
enjoyed all 24 hours of it.
if only I could hear it for the first time again.
"A pity ...."
I really enjoyed this story by Philippa Gregory but found constant irritation due to the narrators inability to pronounce various words correctly - such ad courtiers, Berkshire, Latin, plover and enquiries! Not difficult words i think you will agree! Her voice was rather boring too which spoilt the story, I should have read the book as it is an excellent story.
"Excellent novel, perfectly narrated."
As with all Philippa Gregory books this is researched incredibly well with a believable, gripping storyline wonderfully woven around the known history.
Bianca Amato is the perfect reader offering a flowing narration that perfectly portrays the nuances of the characters.
Really enjoyed this from the outset, listening at every opportunity & finishing in just a few days. Perhaps the best of Philippa Gregory's stories.
The author's note at the end of the story was good however I would have preferred to hear this at the start to set the scene and let me know the premise for the book.
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