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Murder Most Royal by Jean Plaidy aka Eleanor…
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Murder Most Royal (1949)

by Jean Plaidy aka Eleanor Hibbert

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I am normally a fan of Jean Plaidy's historical novels, but Murder Most Royal, about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, took me an age to get through and nearly put me off reading altogether this month, because I was determined to finish this before starting another novel. Honestly, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' book The Dark Rose, about the fictional Morland family, covers the same historical timeline and personalities with more interest and liveliness than Plaidy managed!

Readers wishing to learn about the Court of 'Enery the Eighth and (three of) his six wives in a fictional format might find Plaidy's novel informative, because her style - ever formal and plain - straddles the history textbook and Victorian potboiler. She covers all the pertinent details about Henry the power-mad polygamist, who invented the Church of England to better dispatch his unwanted wives, Anne Boleyn the 'wanton witch', and Catherine Howard, Henry's 'rose without a thorn', but does so in a plodding parody of her usual historical works. Great chunks of exposition and amateur psychology are interspersed with dialogue peppered with verrily archaic language, which tends towards parody on occasion. Granted, I prefer Plaidy's straightforward account to Philippa Gregory's controversial theories in The Other Boleyn Girl, but there must be a happy medium.

Disappointing. ( )
  AdonisGuilfoyle | Jan 14, 2012 |
Jean Plaidy once again works her magic in this lovely tale of the two most ill fated queens married to Henry VIII. If you are a Tudor fan, and have never read anything by Plaidy, this is definitely a great one to start with. I dreaded the times when I was forced to put it down, I would have happily read the book in one sitting if I had the chance.

To read the rest of my review, please visit:
http://www.dorolerium.com/?p=1402 ( )
  dorolerium | Jun 19, 2010 |
What do Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard have in common? Not only were they the two wives that Henry VIII had beheaded for infidelity, they were also cousins. Their relationship, although not close, does make them ripe for comparison and logical for an intertwining of their stories.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, but also somewhat disappointingly, the majority of the book dealt with Anne, not Katherine. Katherine did get the some pages here and there during Anne’s ascendance and reign, and of course had the end to herself, but I would have liked to see a bit more of her.

Plaidy seems to treat both Anne and Katherine very evenhandedly. Anne has her faults and lets her power and fear go somewhat to her head, but she is not someone who deserves her execution. Katherine is a naive and sexual human being who essentially doesn’t know better than to dally with men in her grandmother’s house, but she isn’t the conniving nymphomaniac purposefully cuckolding Henry as other books sometimes describe her.

Like “To Hold the Crown,” this was one of Plaidy’s better, more flowing works. In some of her books the writing gets somewhat stilted and is more old fashioned, but that isn’t the case with “Murder Most Royal.” All you Tudor historical fiction fanatics, give this book a try. ( )
  DevourerOfBooks | Mar 11, 2009 |
A good read, but about 200 pages too long. While the descriptive writing is good, it bogs down along the way. I found that I muddled through and then simply scanned to the end.
  Whisper1 | Jan 23, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0330201549, Paperback)

At the decadent French court of King Francois, the young Anne Boleyn grows into an enigmatic and striking woman, a temptation to many courtiers. But whilst Anne's ambitions are high, she has learned from her sister's unfortunate reputation. Unlike Mary, Anne refuses to become even a King's mistress. So when Anne returns to the English court of Henry VIII, it is the King who is led a dance by this mysterious young beauty. Before long Henry is lured away from his stale marriage to Katharine of Aragon. But the new Queen Anne is not loved by the people, and it is only a matter of time before Henry's patience runs out...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:34 -0400)

Rich historical details vividly capture the splendor, treachery, and intrigues of Tudor England in a novel that intertwines the stories of Anne Boleyn and her younger cousin, Catherine Howard, both of whom found tragedy as the wife of King Henry VIII.… (more)

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