Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Italian Woman--A Link

Here's an in-depth review of Jean Plaidy's The Italian Woman, done on the Royalty Reviews blog. Another one to search out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Plaidy Penmanship

Ever wondered what Jean Plaidy's signature looked like? Here's a site with an example.

Very nice and legible.

I'm going through a Plaidy-less period at the moment, but I should be rectifying the problem soon.

Monday, May 14, 2007

What's In a Title?

Looking at the back matter to The Queen's Secret, I've noticed that some of the upcoming Plaidy reissues are getting new titles:

Myself My Enemy, about Henrietta Maria, is going to be entitled Loyal in Love.

The Pleasures of Love, about Catherine of Braganza, is becoming The Merry Monarch's Wife.

William's Wife, about Mary, wife of William the Orange, is becoming The Queen's Devotion.

What do you think of these new titles? I think Myself My Enemy was somewhat better suited than the new title for the Henrietta Maria book, given the mood of the book, which is that of someone looking back on her mistakes and regretting some of her actions. Still, Henrietta Maria was certainly loyal. I did think that The Pleasures of Love was somewhat misleading for the Catherine of Braganza book, since poor Catherine is one of the few people in the novel who isn't enjoying the pleasures of love all that much. (And there is the difficulty of walking into a bookstore and demanding The Pleasures of Love; unless one hastens to mention Jean Plaidy, goodness knows what the clerk might pull up on the computer.)

William's Wife is definitely a dud of a title, but I'm not sure The Queen's Devotion is much of an improvement. It has a certain yawn-inducing quality to it. Given that one of Sarah Churchill's nicknames for William was "Caliban," I would have called it Caliban's Wife. But alas, no one ever asks me about these things.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Queen's Secret

Here's a timely Plaidy review: The Queen's Secret, reissued recently. It's about Katherine of Valois, queen to Henry V and secret wife of Owen Tudor.

Katherine tells her story in the first person, beginning with her miserable, insecure childhood in France with her mentally ill father and her corrupt mother and ending with her forcible separation from the love of her life, Owen Tudor.

Plaidy's depiction of Katherine's childhood and its effects on her as a woman gives her a certain psychological depth, and though Katherine is ultimately helpless to prevent her fate, she preserves a certain dignity and strength about her that keeps her in the reader's sympathies. Plaidy also is good at conveying the mixed feelings that Katherine has as a French princess married to an English king, a situation that makes her position in both countries difficult.

I did find the structure here--it's one of those novels where the narrator looks back upon her life as she prepares for death--a bit limiting. Although we know from history what was to become of Owen Tudor and Katherine's children after her death, the novel leaves their stories unresolved, so there's still a sense of being left hanging when the novel ends.

From what I've read after reading this novel, little is known about how the relationship of Owen Tudor and Katherine came about. I thought that Plaidy's version of it was plausible and that Katherine's willingness to risk all for love showed an appealing, and believable, reckless streak in her character.

All in all, a worthy addition to your Plaidy shelf, either in this spanking new version or in one of the older ones.