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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

The Sunne In Splendour - Sharon Kay Penman The only thing that I regret about this book is that I waited so long to read it. After reading this and Penman's Henry II & Eleanor trilogy, I have decided that I must devour all of her books and have a stack of them that I have now purchased. Penman brings these historical characters to life in a way that few others can. I cried in multiple chapters and still have what-ifs running through my head about this tragic end of the Plantagenet reign. I have to keep reminding myself, this all happened 500 years ago . . . you know what happens. It didn't matter, I still cried. Much as with her Devil's Brood novel where I mourned for each of Henry & Eleanor's children (and Henry himself) as they met their demise, I couldn't help hoping that she had somehow rewritten history and it was all going to turn out differently. Which brings me to the second thing that I love about Penman, she does not rewrite history. Other authors take literary license and twist things around to make them supposedly more interesting or shocking. Penman clearly does impeccable research and really tried to write the story as it could have happened. Obviously, there are many areas where gaps need to be filled, personalities created, and assumptions made, but this author brings people to life in a way that we believe they really could have been. She does not make the mistake that other authors make thinking that something about history needs to be changed to make it more interesting. The story of the Plantagenets is so tragic, romantic, and compelling. She respects that & realizes that nothing needs to be changed about it. Nothing that anyone could make up would compare to the true history of this family. Even though this novel was 944 pages long, I felt like it could have gone on even further and would not have been too much. This is the best book I have read about the Wars of the Roses, one of the best books I have read about anything. Penman goes into just enough detail of the battles that the reader can imagine being there and understand what was at stake for people of this period without giving so much that it becomes a military history. The real mastery in this novel is the character development. I feel like I now know Richard III and wish I could have been there to help him or comfort him in some way . . . or to take care of those damn Stanley's for him! You need to read this book.