Review: To Hold the Crown

To Hold the Crown, by Jean Plaidy

Regular readers will already know that A Reader's Respite has a love affair with historical fiction author Jean Plaidy.

It's Plaidy that we turn to when we crave a good comfort-read.

This novel is Plaidy's take on the story of the marriage between King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York: the marriage which effectively ended the War of the Roses by uniting the houses of York and Lancaster.

Not the most flattering portraits, are they? I'd lop off the head of the painter if it were me.

Like her other historical fiction novels, To Hold the Crown will never be compared to, say, a Sharon Kay Penman novel. Plaidy, rather, exists in a class of her own: solid writing and a good historical foundation make her stories feel comfortable.

Kind of like your favorite pair of old sneakers.

The story of Henry and Elizabeth has been written about numerous times, but I still think Plaidy does it best. You won't find any heros or villains in this story. Instead you'll find human beings who make mistakes and are trying to do the best they can with the tools they have. Plaidy is the consummate professional: she presents each character in a fair light, flaws and all, and allows the readers to draw their own conclusions, as opposed to leading you to those conclusions.

Those of you who are still tracking down the infamous Princes in the Tower will find an interesting idea as to their ultimate fate within these pages. Plaidy, as always, is plausible and sharp as a tack.

What didn't I like? The darned new cover chosen by Three Rivers Press!

The picture of a woman's bare shoulder and obscured face required a second glance every time I looked at one of those "what do you see?" photos that psychologists are always foisting on us (or is it just me?):

What do you see? Old crone with a kerchief on her head or a pretty young girl looking over her shoulder?

For now, I'll forgive Three Rivers Press simply because they are reprinting so many of Plaidy's historical fiction novels.

If you haven't read one, do so soon. And if you've read Sandra Worth's recent novel, The King's Daughter, you'll recognize that the subject matter is the same. For my money, I recommend Plaidy's version for a more complete and perhaps a more realistic look at the lives of Henry and Elizabeth.

Title: To Hold the Crown
Author: Jean Plaidy
ISBN-13: 978-0307346193 (pbk.)
416 pages
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Date: October 7, 2008
Originally Published as Uneasy Lies the Head in 1982

Looking for another opinion? Look no further, I found one for you:

Devourer of Books


  1. I have never read anything by this author. If I were going to pick one up, which should be my first?

  2. I Love this review, Michele! I'm crazy for Plaidy novels and like you, I think she's right on the history. Her characters really come to life; which always makes it an interesting and 'comforting' read. Thanks:)

  3. Oh gosh, Sandy! Jean Plaidy is actually a pen name for Eleanor Hibberts who wrote something like 2 billion novels in her lifetime, LOL. You might also recognize her pen name of Victoria Holt (gothic romance type stuff? very good).

    Any-who, I loved her Plaidy books because I love historical fiction so much. She wrote a bajillion books on the different royals, go to this website ( to check them out. You really don't need to read them in any order....but reading one will naturally lead you to reading others.

    For example, Henry VIII's two sisters, Margaret and Mary, were heavily featured in this book, so I just found a Plaidy novel on each of them at the used bookstore yesterday...bought 'em both since it seems natural to keep reading about them.

    Careful what you start, though, LOL!

    Ms. Lucy - we must be kindred spirits! I, too, just love her. I think someone just started a blog related to all of her historical fiction works...I'll see if I can track it down and post it!

  4. I'm not crazy about the cover either. In the other picture, I see the pretty young girl looking over her shoulder.

  5. Splash...
    You've won an award @ my blog

  6. I've read about 25 of Plaidy's novels and I didn't think this one was one of her best. I still haven't found a good book about Elizabeth of York and Henry VII, although I have a couple more books about them on my TBR pile.

  7. This one didn't knock my socks off, but it was far far better than Worth's book on Elizabeth.

  8. Kathy - so far, this has been the only new cover that I haven't liked. I kept seeing something that wasn't there. Figures.

    Book Resort - yay! Thank you! On my way to pick it up!

    Daphne and Misfit - which of her h.f. books have been your favorites???

  9. Michele, I have to fess up, although I read a lot of Holt books when I was a young teen oh so many years ago, I've only read this and an attempt at The Vow on the Heron (it made the list). I did read My Enemy the Queen under the Holt name and enjoyed that. I think Daphne's Plaidy experience is much better than mine :)

  10. I loved this book! Also, just wanted you to know I have given you an award on my blog:

  11. I like the king and queen pictures because of the design and colors.

    Morgan Mandel

  12. Totally don't see the pretty young girl looking over her shoulder!

    Yep, I am focussing on the important point of the post! LOL!

  13. Thanks for linking to my review, I think 'comfort read' is a perfect description for Plaidy, love her. What is it about this book that prompts 15th century portraits?

  14. Misfit - I'm in this habit of buying any used Plaidy books I see at the bookstore and as a result, I have a few duplicates...I'll get in touch with you and mail a couple to you...they're fun reads.

    Alabama Book Worm - doncha just love these? Thanks for the award -- I'm on my way to pick it up!!

    Morgan - I think the border painted around the portraits are gorgeous. I always wonder, though, how accurate the actual portrait are.

    Marg - all I see is the old woman,'s not just you!

    Jen - not sure, LOL. Loved your review, though!

  15. Great description of Plaidy's books. My own favorites are her books about Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. I rather like her Georgian series too.

    Each time I see this Plaidy cover, I think I'm seeing a helmet with some sort of plume hanging from it. I have to look twice to realize it's a woman.

  16. Ahhh. I haven't read this one, but I know what you mean about picking up a Plaidy. Very comforting and a good one for easing out of the Quiet Room.

    Plaidy is the best. And I'll be sure to track this one down.

    You know, all I see is the pretty girl; I can't find the crone. Hummm. I'll try again later.

  17. Oh I despise the cover and was so mad that they changed it from the other format!! But, if it's Plaidy I don't really care what the cover is, just give me the story!

    My favorite Plaidy's are The Loves of Charles II, Victoria Victorious and The Rose Without A Thorn.

  18. Well I do have a Victoria Holt novel to read so I guess I will be reading one of hers-I didn't realize they were the same person. I'll have to look into the Plaidy books though.

  19. I wish we'd get the covers for Plaidy's books like they have in the UK. Those are gorgeous.

    Michele, thanks for the offer. I'll be at the Alaska/Horizon freight dock this weekend picking up a new kitty if you're in the area.

  20. I've never read anything by this author but this sounds fantastic. It's on my TBR list. Thanks for the great review.

    I totally see a pretty young girl looking over her shoulder in the crone dammit!

  21. Great Review. I wil have to pick this one up!

  22. I accidentally let a couple of Plaidy novels get away from me...never read her before. I'll be on the lookout for her novels.

  23. Susan - her Georgian series is on my list to read this year...I've heard great things about it. It's nice that you always know what you're getting with a Plaidy novel, huh?

    Beth - I think the fact you see the young girl is supposed to mean that you're young-at-heart. All I see is the old crone, which speaks volumes, LOL.

    Amy - hey sweetie, I just picked up the Victoria one and want to read it before I see the Victoria/Albert movie you keep talking about!

    Dar - I really enjoyed the one Holt novel I read, for what it's worth. She was a fantastically versatile writer!

    Misfit - what's that? a new kitty???? You'll have to post some pictures for me! I'll be out at SeaTac, but not until late late Sunday night, so I doubt you want to go down that donkey road to hell, LOL. I'll email you for an address if nothing else and get another Plaidy out to you. It's called spreading the love, ha.

    Nely - another young-at-heart person, eh? Count your blessings that you still see the young girl!!

    William and Bybee - if you happen to pick up one of her novels, drop me a line and let me know what you think of them...I'd be curious to know!

  24. Michele, you're right no way I'm going down that late Sunday night road. New kitty - its been a one cat household since a sudden loss late last summer. A six year old Chartreaux in need of a new home just popped up and he's coming in from Idaho Saturday. Misfit the kitty cat has no idea what's in store for her weekend.

  25. I don't like the cover either. I had to enlarge it just to figure out for sure what was on it!


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