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My first introduction to historical fiction was Gore Vidal's Julian, a book which I have re-read three times. And as a bloke I initially stuck to historical fiction written by blokes. Ken Follett and Conn Iggulden among others.
Then I found Hilary Mantel. I started with A Place of Greater Safety and have now read most of her works.
I had never contemplated Philippa Gregory. I think there is a little scuttlebutt about her work which I fell prey to. The titles and some of the covers of her books look more Mills and Boon than serious historical fiction.
The King's Curse is my first Philippa Gregory novel and I am mightily impressed. The narrator, Margaret Pole, is such a calm observer of one of the most unique periods of English history. From the perspective of a Plantagenet, the early years of the Tudor reign can be seen from one who rides the wild vicissitudes.
The character of Catherine of Aragon is finely crafted. The tragic first marriage with the gentle Prince Arthur is truly heartbreaking. The strength of Catherine shines through and her legacy is well represented.
King Henry VIII is also well covered, from his spoilt childhood to his infamous reign, we gain a human perspective from two extraordinary women, Margaret and Catherine.
Finally, as an audiobook I must commend Bianca Amato's narration. This is a vast task, covering over 24 hours. She is memorable in her depiction of the characters and the consistency of the narrator's voice.
This will be the first of many Philippa Gregory novels for me.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about The King's Curse?
Great story, despite the author's penchant for needless superlatives and "oh"s every so often, it's always fascinating to imagine the narrator's viewpoint and I forgive Philippa Gregory because she is foremost an historian!
What aspect of Bianca Amato’s performance might you have changed?
Oh please somebody school Bianca Amato in English pronunciations! Mispronouncing things like "Berkshire" is pretty unforgiveable. Also no-one in England says "orf" anymore, not since my grandmother died. Just consult a native. FYI other mis-pronunciations include Magdalen College, and Chapuys (amongst many more). Sorry, pet hate :)
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Would you listen to The King's Curse again? Why?
I enjoyed the rich and warm tone of Bianca Amato's voice - but there were some jarring pronunciation errors which really interrupted the flow for me. It wouldn't have taken much to check the pronunciation of place names like "Beaulieu", which is pronounced "Bewley", or Cambridgeshire, where the first syllable is "came" and not "camm". It was distracting, too, to keep hearing "courtiers" pronounced as if it rhymed with "more tears" rather than the British pronunciation which rhymes more with "haughtier". Such a shame, as otherwise the reading was excellent.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful