Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Do not buy this book

As a historian I have poor view of historical novels, although there are exceptions -Anya Seton's Katherine would be one example, and there is the supreme exception of Maurice Druon's marvellous series The Accursed Kings (if you have not read them, make a point to do so) . Basically it is a genre I tend to avoid. However today whilst spending some idle time in Waterstones here in Oxford I glanced at Philippa Gregory's The Red Queen, which was in the sale at half price.

The novel, by an author who boasts a Ph.D, is supposed to be about the life of Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII, in the years leading up to his victory at Bosworth in 1485. It is quite awful, and lookd as if it took all of a weekend to write. It is banal and cringe-inducing and should be avioided at all (or most) costs. The author has written a number of best-selling historical novels, but on the basis of this I would flee from them in academic horror. You have been warned. If you want to know about the great LadyMargaret, read a proper biography.

1 comment:

Stephanie A. Mann said...

I certainly agree with you about this novel, and also some previous works by Philippa Gregory. I purchased and read "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Queen's Fool"--more fool me! and found them to be written according to a pattern and template I think she repeats in her work. It was when I looked at "The Constant Princess" in which she depicts Katherine of Aragon lying about her marriage to Prince Arthur, that I knew Gregory is not an author to be trusted.