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.
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 it....like 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.)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Date: October 7, 2008
Originally Published as Uneasy Lies the Head in 1982
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Devourer of Books