Sunday, February 25, 2007

Caroline, the Queen

I've been writing more than reading lately, but I haven't neglected Plaidy entirely, having recently finished Caroline, the Queen, about (you guessed) Caroline, queen to George II. This is a continuation of Queen in Waiting, reviewed in my last post.

This will be a rather cursory review, because the book's not all that fresh in my mind. It's entertaining, which is remarkable considering that no one in it, including Caroline herself, is particularly sympathetic. That's probably one of the reasons the book is amusing, actually--it's fun, in a way, to see people whom one doesn't like fall out with each other.

There's a certain amount of drollery here, particularly when George II writes to Caroline to get advice as to how to win over various potential mistresses. (He can't imagine why his wife would find this off-putting.)

I'm at a bit of a loss as to what Plaidy to read next. I've been in a thirteenth-century mood lately, so I may try to resume The Battle of the Queens, though I put it down previously and didn't have the urge to finish it. I read The Queen from Provence last year. As I recall, I found it decidedly a mixed bag, but I may give it another whirl.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Queen in Waiting

I finished Queen in Waiting today. As I mentioned before, this historical novel, published originally in 1967, is the story of Caroline of Ansbach, wife to the future George II, before she became queen.

(By the way, this book, like its predecessor, has a very tasteful cover--some well-dressed men and women standing in front of a grand house with a Grecian sculpture in the foreground. I'm really missing the tacky clinch covers that grace some of my Plantagenet Plaidys.)

This book starts out rather gloomily, with Caroline's spiritless mother, Eleanor, making a disastrous second marriage that nearly results in her being poisoned. Fortunately, smallpox saves Eleanor by widowing her a second time, and with Eleanor's decline and death soon following, the story switches to the much more interesting figure of Caroline herself. We follow Caroline into her marriage with George Augustus, whose father is destined to become King George I of England. In what would apparently become a Hanoverian family tradition, George I and George Augustus hate each other heartily, and their jockeying for power once the family moves from Hanover to England forms most of the plot of the novel.

Caroline is an intelligent, shrewd opportunist who is quick to take advantage of George I's unattractive personality by ingratiating herself with the people. Though George I succeeds in getting control of some of Caroline's children, Caroline is no victim like her mother; the fight never goes out of her. I also liked George Augustus's mother-in-law, Sophia, who is pleased when George Augustus takes up with an English mistress: "It should improve his English," she tells the furious Caroline. Sophia is one of several cheerfully cynical characters here.

There are some repetitive moments; we're reminded way too often that George I has locked up his wife because of her love affair.

Amusingly, once the Hanoverians move to England, Plaidy reminds us of their heavy German accents by having the Prince and Princess of Wales speak sentences such as these: "Ve vill think of something, my tearest." This usually works well enough, but it tends to undermine Plaidy's more dramatic moments.

All in all, though, this novel left me looking forward to more dysfunctional family fun with its sequel, Caroline, the Queen.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Blog? What Blog?

It's been a while, hasn't it?

I've been reading Queen in Waiting, about Caroline, wife to the future George II, who, as the novel's title implies, is waiting for George I to hurry up and die so she can be queen. (Except that Hurry Up and Die Already probably wouldn't have gone over too well with the publisher's marketing department.) It's an enjoyable read about the Hanoverians, and so far I haven't had the difficulty I had when reading a later novel in the series, The Third George, where memories of "Blackadder" kept intruding.

Anyway, more to come.

Here, in the meantime, is Tanzanite's take on Plaidy's Norman trilogy. Evidently this wasn't one of Plaidy's finer moments, but when one's quite prolific I suppose that a few duds are inevitable.