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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Review: The Last Plantagenet by Hazel Bird

The Last Plantagenet - Hazel Bird

I was excited to find this novel focused on the life of Margaret Pole, daughter of George of Clarence and niece of Richard III and Edward IV. Unfortunately, this novel is not well-known for good reason. While the historical accuracy is admirable, it is not so much a novel as a historical text told through stilted dialogue.


The reader is introduced to Margaret as a child hearing of her father's execution for treason. While this seems like a turbulent time that would be ideal for storytelling, it fell flat and failed to captivate. I carried on only because I had been so eager to begin this book that I could not bear adding it to the DNF shelf.


Most of this novel's plot occurs through Margaret being told something. She overhears gossip or a messenger arrives . . . she is never part of the action. Though it should have been simple to make this story exciting - Margaret was aunt to Henry VIII, good friend of his first wife, and governess to the future Queen Mary - it never was. I persevered, hoping that it would become infused with the drama of the era. Sadly, it did not.


The most admirable elements of this novel were the dedication to historical facts including a wide cast of historical figures and the fact that the author put the focus on Margaret rather than one of her more prolific family members. It was a worthy attempt that fell short of the mark.