Friday, January 26, 2007

William's Wife

William's Wife, told by Queen Mary, spans the time period from Mary's childhood to the day that she recognizes that she has contracted a fatal case of smallpox.

I found this novel readable and reasonably interesting, but I can't put it on the same level as The Queen's Favourites (Yay! I remembered the "u") or The Haunted Sisters. The book covers most of the events that are in the other two novels, particularly The Haunted Sisters, and Mary's perspective on these events simply isn't compelling enough to merit her first-person retelling of them. If Mary had a distinctive narrative voice or was more given to making sardonic comments about her contemporaries, it would be a different matter, but unfortunately the prose here is a bit plodding and repetitive. Mary also is a more competent and able person in The Haunted Sisters than she is here. All in all, her personality in this novel is rather muted.

William's character also suffers here. In The Haunted Sisters, he's reasonably complex, not all that likable but not a villain either, and he is genuinely fond of Mary, albeit poor at demonstrating it. (Indeed, the real-life William seems to have been deeply attached to Mary, at least during the latter part of the marriage, and was visibly grieved when she fell ill.) In this novel, though, William's simply an insensitive jerk whom one wishes Mary (or better yet, Sarah Churchill) would give a swift kick.

All in all, a middling Plaidy.

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