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review 2014-07-26 23:06
[REVIEW] Italy and it's Monarchy by Denis Mack Smith
Italy and its Monarchy - Denis Mack Smith

Is it over? Is it truly over?

 

Tedious, drudging and very boring. An entire month and ten days trying to digest this. I almost cannot believe I managed to finish it. The things one does for the sake of research I tell you.

 

I was expecting something akin to a juicy scandal or information about the Savoys alas all I got was a lot of politics, which might interest someone else, but it wasn't what I was looking for.

 

It drove me bonkers that the author mentioned last names randomly, without context or the actual full name so you knew who the hell he was talking about. Wikipedia was my friend here. It would’ve been more practical to have at the beginning of the book a cast of characters so you know who was who.

 

Basically, the reason the House of Savoy is no longer in power is because they didn't prepare the heirs at all. All they knew how to be were military men and not a one had a clue about how to govern. Whenever I read any of these royal fuck ups (like seriously Mussolini shouldn't have lasted more than a few weeks), it made me want to jump back in time and knock some sense into them.

 

The author did the best he could to present an unbiased study of the Savoys and their policies but it didn't stop it from being a complete drag to read.

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text 2014-07-06 18:11
Reading progress update: I've read 168 out of 413 pages.
Italy and its Monarchy - Denis Mack Smith

Vittorio Emanuele III seems, at this point, like a balanced monarch. Dreading to see how he screws this up.

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text 2014-07-05 20:26
Reading progress update: I've read 164 out of 413 pages.
Italy and its Monarchy - Denis Mack Smith

Omg, this is taking me FOREVER to get through. It's tedious as heck.

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text 2013-08-27 09:00
Review: Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
Queen's Gambit: A Novel - Elizabeth Fremantle

Queen’s Gambit gives the reader a very in depth look at Henry VIII’s last queen, Katherine Parr. So much controversy is associated with the other wives that Queen Katherine’s more reticent personality sometimes gets glossed over as being of less significance. Queen’s Gambit shows that Katherine Parr had a quiet power and dignity that not only outlived 3 husbands and a tragic past but could withstand even the changeable moods of this dangerous king as well as navigate a court filled with those who would use her for their own ends or set her up to be disposed of.

Queen’s Gambit explores the many faceted personality of this often overlooked queen. Katherine Parr was highly educated, moreso than many women of her time, she held her own political opinions but was savvy enough to when it was safe to speak of those opinions, she had a natural affinity for healing herbs, and the way she interacted with those of differing social statuses was fascinating. I also liked that her relationship with Seymour showed that she was also a woman who only wished to love and be loved despite that other’s ambitions would pull her in another direction. 

Fremantle does an amazing job bringing to life, in vivid detail the atmosphere of Tudor England at the end of Henry’s rule. The reader is able to experience the corrupt Tudor court through the eyes of maid, nobility, and other people of the court. It was very easy for me to lose myself in the story, from the dialog to the steady pacing to the writing, Queen’s Gambit was thoroughly enjoyable. If I can nitpick anything at all to find fault with it would be that sometimes I felt overwhelmed with detail, but overall, I found the amount of detail mostly added life to the story. 

I would compare Queen’s Gambit favorably with historical novels I’ve read by Jean Plaidy and Alison Weir who are two of my favorite authors in this genre. I would say that this novel is less dramatized and more solidly based in research than some of the more popular Tudor fiction I’ve read recently. I would recommend it to any and all fans of historical fiction and fans of the authors I mentioned above. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in this trilogy

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text 2013-08-25 09:02
Review; The White Princess by Philippa Gregory
The White Princess - Philippa Gregory

I love this series but this is probably my least favorite book of this series so far. I can usually count on any Philippa Gregory book to be well written and entertaining even if, as so many say, they are only loosely based on actual history. Gregory's books usually highlight all of the secrets, scandal, and struggles of the monarchy and they make me want to find out more about these fascinating and often tragic rulers. 

The White Princess focuses on the court of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York at what Henry believes is the end of the Cousin's War. For some reason, this time, I was underwhelmed by the characters. It seemed that all of the dynamic players in this saga were mostly secondary characters in The White Princess. Henry's devout and powerful mother Margaret and Elizabeth's wily and resourceful mother Elizabeth were the real forces to be reckoned with. Henry and Elizabeth were very much overshadowed their more charismatic parent and ended up sounding ineffectual and even rather pathetic. My inability to connect with or empathize with Elizabeth diminished my enjoyment of her story. 

One thing that I noticed about Gregory's characters is that, when writing about the relationships between two sisters, they seem to always be shown as extremely antagonistic with the sisters being barely cordial to one another yet still loyal to their house. I found this to be true with Anne and Mary's relationship in The Other Boleyn Girl as well as with Anne and Isabelle in The Kingmaker's Daughter and actually remarked on the similarities between the two in my review of The Kingmaker's Daughter. I was a little disappointed to see this same theme repeated in The White Princess. 

Overall, The White Princess is good, it's not great, and definitely not what I was expecting. My friend who is a huge fan of The Cousins War series and has been dying to read this newest book even said that each time she begins reading The White Princess, she ends up falling asleep. I'm hoping the next book (will there be another in this series?) will be much stronger and more what I've come to expect from Gregory.

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