Have you seen me?

It's finally happened.  Someone has kidnapped author Philippa Gregory's editor.  There really can be no other explanation for the content of her latest book, The Lady of the Rivers, the final installment (we hope) of her Cousin's War series of historical fiction about the influential women during England's Wars of the Roses.

Now we understand that the people who took part in the Wars of the Roses were numerous and convoluted.  Really convoluted.  And everyone had the same damned name.  So admittedly, it's hard to keep track of who is who.  Gregory chose to solve this problem by inserting everyone's full legal name and title every time she mentioned them.

Every. Single. Time.

So you can imagine the dialog that resulted.  For example, here is Jacquetta speaking to her oldest and dearest friend, Margaret of Anjou - a woman who has known Jacquetta for years....

"I think that Richard, Duke of York, is the only man to successfully hold French lands since my first husband, the Duke of Bedford."

Well of course Margaret would know that Richard was the Duke of York.  He is Margaret's greatest enemy at court and they've hated each other for years, for the love of Pete.  And of course Margaret would know Jacquetta's first husband was the Duke of Bedford.  Jeez Louise.  

In a similar vein, one doesn't need to reference your brother-in-law's title when speaking to one's husband....trust us, he KNOWS his brother is the Duke of whatever.

And this kind of redundant, see-Jane-run dialog persists through out the entire novel.  It's enough to drive a reader mad.

Truthfully, we can't blame Gregory too much for this nonsense.  It is, after all, an editor's job is to fix things like this.  So ultimately, we can only reach one conclusion:

Any information leading to the safe recovery of said editor will, we are certain, result in a huge reward.


  1. I doubt there will be a huge reward! After all, that would be a huge cut of all her fabulous author earnings. She laughing all the way to the bank!!! Mwahahahahaha!

    It does seem to happen. There are a few other big name authors whose editors have disappeared over the years too. Yes, Janet Evanovich and Diana Gabaldon I am looking at you!

    Maybe the editors are there, but they are just too scared to, you know, edit.

  2. I tried historical fiction from that time period (by another author) and it read the same way. I haven't been tempted since.

  3. @ Marg....I think you're right. Once an author reaches a certain income point, the editor doesn't much care. Well, they do care when sales drop, which is what happens when the writing takes a dive. Then an editor comes in to rehabilitate, LOL.

    @ Bermudaonion....ugh, that's too bad you've had such a horrible experience with historical fiction from this time period. I don't blame you for avoiding it now! There are some good ones out there, though...I promise to pass them along to you when I find them. ;)

  4. The problem is that sales don't seem to drop enough for years! Despite the fact that Janet Evanovich has written the same book every year for about 10 years, people still buy them and they still automatically go to the top of the bestseller lists!

  5. I'm sure it is annoying … but to newbies like me, I would appreciate the help!

  6. @ Jenners....oh no, my dear. You are far too sophisticated. Even needing "help" to keep the characters straight can be written in a much more natural way. I love getting help from the author too, especially in a time period like this, but dialog isn't the way to go about it.

    There is one popular historical fiction author who described it thus: she called it the "You know, Bob...." syndrome. She made a valid point and offered some really great, natural-feeling ways to give the reader the same information in a much less irritating fashion.

    It was really kind of neat to read. She described something that I knew irritated me in books, but I'm not savvy enough to know how a writer could avoid that particular pit-fall. I feel more enlightened now, LOL.

  7. The same book every ten years. LMAO Very accurate description of those Stephanie Plum novels. I loved them at first and around number 7, I realized I was laughing at the same stuff every time... I didn't spend another dime on them.

    Excellent point here too: "Maybe the editors are there, but they are just too scared to, you know, edit." That really made me think.. when they get so big, do they get treated like gods and the editors don't dare anger them?

    Me, I have an editor who finds tons of stuff. I barely recognize my work when she is done. But the more stuff she finds, the more the work improves and I can honestly say, she does her job. Maybe I should refer her.. but I don't want to lose her!

  8. Where oh where was the monitor warning prior to reading this post? The other commenters have an excellent point, eventually the big bucks and sales negate everything else and who gives a rat's behind what us mere readers think as long as books sell.

  9. Have faith, Marg....look at what happened to John Grisham. He's changed his tune!

  10. LOL! I've given up on Philippa Gregory. I loved The Other Boleyn Girl, but the rest of the series went downhill from there and I didn't enjoy the other few of her books I've tried. Sorry to hear your suffering - I think it would drive me mad!

  11. The whole full title thing didn't bother me, but the frequent repetition of phrases did, especially in the first half of the book, I listed some specific instances in my review.

  12. I just went to amazon.com to look at the reviews for this book - check out the first 2-star review that was posted yesterday -very similar to your posting from two days ago. I might be reading too much into it but I thought it was interesting.


  13. Oh I so much look forward to your posts about Philippa Gregory books. They always give me a good laugh. Thanks for the wonderful book critique entertainment!

  14. @anonymous....you're very kind to let me know. Just so you can rest easy: I wrote the Amazon review as well. I'm so glad, though, to know there are vigilant readers out there! Hopefully if we all keep our eyes peeled like this, we'll cut down on the number of "stolen" reviews which is a pet thing of mine!

  15. @Alyce -- that woman has done me in. I've got to find some better historical (hysterical?) fiction....

  16. Great post. Just goes to show how important an editor can be to a writer's success. Even the best needs them.


Fire away!