Royal Mistress

New book review of Anne Easter Smith’s Royal Mistress, in which I display more of my vast knowledge of the British monarchy, and prove that 90% of it’s from historical novels.  (The remaining 10% is from researching interesting parts of historical novels, and wandering off into Wikipedia. Thanks, technology!):

I was interested in Anne Easter Smith’s Royal Mistress because I loved one of her previous novels, Daughter of York I’m branching out a little bit from Tudor historical novels into War of The Roses historical novels, and I’m getting interested in Edward IV. Mostly because of Daughter of York, actually.

I was interested in Anne Easter Smith’s The Royal Mistress because I loved one of her  previous novels, The Rose of York. I’m branching out a little bit from Tudor historical novels into War of The Roses historical novels, and I’m getting interested in Edward IV. Mostly because of The Rose of York, actually.

The Royal Mistress tells the story of Jane Shore, a London merchant’s wife who catches the eye of King Edward IV. Of course, he’s married to Elizabeth Woodville (and possibly also Eleanor Butler) but that doesn’t stop him from pursuing Jane. Or, any other attractive ladies, for that matter. I have no idea how he managed to get anything done.

Jane is a likeable character, remaining honest and optimistic throughout all of twists of fates. She suffers through an unpleasant arranged marriage with William Shore, a merchant in London like her father, but the marriage ends when Edward discovers Jane. The marriage ends, historically, with an annulment on the grounds of impotence. In this novel, William actually is unable to perform his, ahem, husbandly duties, although I’d always just assumed that William was bought off by Edward, and traded the end of his marriage and an embarrassing annulment for wealth and royal connections.

Her long-lasting romance with the king follows, bringing her new wealth, prestige, and awkward run-ins with the queen. She gains a reputation for kindness to Londoners. With Edward’s death, and the unsettled years that follow, she loses her protector and her wealth and influence. She keeps her beauty and good nature, though, which quickly finds her new protectors at the royal court, and when Richard III’s strict morality (and revenge for her past liaison with Edward) sends the law after her, she even finds her second husband while she’s in Ludgate jail.

Jane’s lifelong friendship with Sophie, beginning when they’re young girls from textile families in London, is one of the nicest parts of the story, and shows how Jane doesn’t let the wild reversals in her fortune change her.

The only weak spot — and this is a minor weakness is a great historical novel — comes in Jane’s fondness for writing couplets and rhymes about her situation. Although much loved by other characters, I didn’t find these funny at all.

Overall, this is a great story, with careful details from the era and warm, realistic characters.

I received this book from the publisher to review.

Originally written for a section of Yahoo! that’s been canned. Freelancing is awesome. 

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