Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: My Lady of Cleves

Title: My Lady of Cleves
Author: Margaret Campbell Barnes
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc., 1946
Genre: Historical Fiction/328 pages
Source: Paperback Purchase
My rating: 4/5

Princess Anne of Cleves has been selected by King Henry VIII to become his fourth wife after the death of his third wife Jane Seymour after childbirth. The king had sent his German court painter, Hans Holbein, to paint three princesses for him so that he could choose one of them to become his new wife and to make alliances with a foreign country for political purposes. Hans falls in love with Anne of Cleves and genuinely paints a stunning portrait of Anne, and the King of England chooses her from the three princesses. However, he is not too happy with her when they meet in person, and immediately he decides she is not anything like the English women he is very attracted to - ones who are young, subservient, tell him all he wants to hear, always complimentary of him, and of course, beautiful. Anne is not anything like this.  She is already 24 and on the heavy side. She is dowdy, plump, and doesn't speak English well.  She doesn't like to dance or sing. And she does not kowtow to him. The king likens her to a "Flemish Mare". From the very first meeting, he forms a negative opinion of her, and notices the lovely fourteen-year-old Katherine Howard who is being pushed by her family to catch the king's eye and keep it. 

I enjoyed watching Anne's attempt to become an English queen. She takes the advice of the Archbishop Cranmer to be herself, be more relaxed, become a little more subservient to the king, and to really show what she does have to offer to the king: her love of children, gardening, and other qualities which could bring stability to the king.  This is a turning point in her relationship with the king, especially when he sees how kind and natural a mother she can be to his little son, prince Edward. At this point however, the Howard family and especially the Duke of Norfolk have seduced the king with the coquettish, cunning, and beautiful Katherine Howard, so that it is too late for Anne to gain favor with the king. 

I was intrigued by her relationship with the German painter, Hans Holbein. He fell in love with her when he first painted her portrait, but then set aside his feelings for her when she became Queen of England. He never expected that her marriage would be annulled. Even though Anne was known as sister to the king afterwards, she was not allowed to remarry or leave England. However, she was very happy with all the property and annual money the king granted her. Also, Anne retained her strong relationship to the King's daughters, as she became known to them now as their aunt instead of stepmother.

The author's version of these historical facts are brought to life with Anne, King Henry VIII and all the other characters from this time in Tudor England in a forthright and pleasurable manner. I really enjoyed this intriguing story of Henry VIII's fourth wife.

Monday, October 24, 2011

End of Read-a-Thon Meme

1.Which hour was most daunting for you?
At around 10PM I was feeling very tired, so I decided to take a nap, but it lasted until 3AM. I then got up and continued to read(listen) until 8AM.

2.Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
I spent most of my time listening to The Pillars of the Earth which was awesome even though this is a reread for me. But the narrator is phenomenal - John Lee. This is my first experience with his narrating. It won't be my last.

3.Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
I think it's already perfect.

4.What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?
The cheerleaders are excellent. It was so encouraging to read their cheers!

5.How many books did you read?
I didn't actually complete any book, but I made a huge dent in The Pillars of the Earth.

6.What were the names of the books you read?

The Pillars of the Earth - by Ken Follett; narrated by John Lee
  • listened for a total of 12 hours and 51 mins.
The Autobiography of Henry VIII - by Margaret George
  • read 21 pages.

7.Which book did you enjoy most?
The Pillars of the Earth

8.Which did you enjoy least?
I enjoyed both, but I had to drive for most of the day, so the audiobook was the apparent choice.

9.If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?
I would like to be a cheerleader next year!

10.How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I will definitely participate next year as both a reader and a cheerleader.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

I will be participating in this, my first, 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. I am really excited and hoping I will be able to stay awake. It may sound a little boring that I am hoping to finish the 2 reads that I have already started, but they are both great books, so I'm looking forward to completing them! If by chance that I feel like a change, I'm going to look for a shorter read.  These are the two books I plan on finishing and where I'm starting with them at 8AM.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII - Margaret George
  • starting on page 68 of 930 pages
The Pillars of the Earth (audiobook/reread) - Ken Follett
  • starting at 19 hours and 32 minutes of 40 hours 23 minutes total.

I have a lot of driving to do today so that will be when I switch to the audiobook.

This should be fun!