Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Star of Lancaster

Now that Victoria Victorious is off my plate, I'm back reading my Plaidys with a vengeance. Yesterday, I finished The Star of Lancaster.

I greatly preferred The Star of Lancaster to Victoria Victorious. For one thing, The Star of Lancaster is written in the third person, which avoids the somewhat blinkered perspective that bothered me in the Victoria novel. The other thing is that I simply found the events in The Star of Lancaster more gripping than those in Victoria Victorious. It seemed that more was at stake for the people involved.

The Star of Lancaster opens near the end of Richard II's reign (his story is told more fully in Passage to Pontefract) and ends with the death of Henry V, so it covers a lot of ground in a short space of time. Despite this, the novel didn't feel rushed to me. It seemed to cover all of the important events of the time, not in depth, to be sure, but not once-over-lightly either.

Though most of the events are seen from the viewpoint of Henry IV and Henry V, Plaidy also gives a great deal of attention to the women in their lives. She also takes us inside the French court.

The downside? Plaidy's prose here is, well, prosaic; chapters that should be gripping, like that dealing with Agincourt, are somewhat plodding. On the other hand, a while back I tried reading Rosemary Hawley Jarman's Crown in Candlelight, which covers many of the same events, and found I just couldn't get through it, between the visionary Welshwoman who kept popping up when I hoped she had gone away and the style, which could be called lyrical or purple, depending upon your point of view. Given a choice between them, I'd choose Plaidy, but it largely comes down to a matter of taste, mine being for uncluttered prose and Welshwomen without visions.

Next on my Plaidy list? I'm getting through The Passionate Enemies, about Stephen and Matilda, at a rapid pace. Plaidy's novel does revolve around the now-discredited notion that Stephen and Matilda were lovers, but as there's far more going on in the novel than their brief affair, it's proving to be quite interesting.


Alianore said...

I could never get into Crown in Candlelight either - or any other of Jarman's novels. Purple prose is right.

Daphne said...

I bought several of Jarman's books a while back on ebay but haven't gotten around to reading any of them yet. You and Alianore are not making me feel very good about the purchase!

I'll be interested to see what you think of The Passionate Enemies and how it stacks up to some of Plaidy's other works. I didn't think it was one of her best.