THE HOOPLA LITERARY SOCIETY
“I think books should have secrets, like people do. I think they should be there as a bonus for the sensitive reader or there as a kind of subliminal quavering. I don’t think that the duty of the twentieth-century fiction writer is to retell old stories only.” John Updike, The Paris Review, 1968
It’s always good as a reader to stretch your boundaries, try something new or revisit a foe to find a friend.
When I was at school, history seemed to be all about memorising the kings of England and the periods in which they reigned, Australian history talked an awful lot about convicts and modern history pretty much meant WWI and WWII.
I confess I found all of this tedious in the extreme. I transferred this loathing to anything with the word history in it, fact or fiction.
But today I am going on the public record to say that I am converted. Having read bestselling novelist and historian Philippa Gregory for this week’s column, I can now say that not only can history be fascinating but reading about the Kings and Queens of England can also be riveting. It just goes to show that the proof of the story is in the telling.
History, new and old, or history being made, there’s plenty of news in books this week. Here’s what caught my fancy.
The Kingmaker’s Daughter, Philippa Gregory
“It is those great enemies, my father and Margaret of Anjou, side by side. This is the great union; her son and I will merely enact with our bodies this plighting of our parents. First she puts her hand on a fragment of the True Cross- the real cross brought here from the kingdom of Jerusalem- and even from the back of cathedral I can hear her clear voice reciting an oath of loyalty to my father. Then it is his turn. He puts his hand on the cross and she adjusts it, making sure that every part of his palm and his fingers are on the sacred wood as if, even now, in the very act of swearing their alliance, she doesn’t trust him. He recites his oath, then they turn to one another and give each other the kiss of reconciliation. They are allies, they will be allies till death, they have sworn a sacred oath, nothing can part them.”
Anne Neville is the daughter of the Earl of Warwick, the kingmaker and the most powerful man in England. When Anne is 14, he marries her off to Margaret of Anjou’s son Prince Edward as part of a plan to facilitate the young prince’s rise to the position of King and to fulfill the Earl’s life-long ambition to see a Neville woman crowned Queen of England.
However, they are barely married when the young prince dies in battle, as does her father, and Anne finds herself dependent on the mercy of her sister’s husband George, brother to the current King. She is kept a virtual prisoner as George eyes off her incredible wealth until the third brother, Richard Duke of York rescues Anne and marries her.
As the wheels of fortune turn, she does become Queen as the wife of King Richard III.
However, these are turbulent times and there is no certainty for anyone, even a kingmaker’s daughter. After the death of her father, Anne is haunted by his decisions and fearful of his political enemies. There are whispers she is not legally married and Anne’s position as Queen is undermined by insecurity and secrecy.
Philippa Gregory is an historian and writer of the best selling novels the Tudor Court series and her current series The Cousins’ War where she takes the reader back to times of the Plantagenets. It is a fascinating look at the period through the eyes of the women, who though technically powerless, use their wealth if they married well, their offspring, their favours and their wits to influence the nation.
They are the mothers, daughters and wives of the political elite and Gregory uses her extensive knowledge of this period and women’s history to offer the reader a fresh perspective. These are histories for those who savour intrigue and the kind of high stakes politics that can see you Queen one day and dead by poison the next. I was fortunate enough to spend an hour with Philippa Gregory and found out exactly how one goes about writing gripping historical drama. You can read our interview here. BUY THE BOOK
Women on Top
No this isn’t an article about sex, well actually, it kind of is. This week Forbes magazine announced its list of Top-Earning Writers and the final 15 makes for interesting reading.
Muscling in on the likes of Stephen King and James Patterson are, yes you guessed it, E.L. James, Suzanne Collins and J.K. Rowling. The first two authors are better known by their series’ titles, Fifty Shades of Grey and The Hunger Games, and given their books have been topping the charts week in and week out for yonks, it’s really no surprise that they’ve made some serious dosh.
At one point, E.L. James was making $1.3 million per week for the Fifty Shades series from the books alone. Now the movie rights have been sold, she’s netted another $5 million.
The real surprise is J.K. Rowling. This time her inclusion on the list is a lot less about the Harry Potter series and much more about the $8 million advance she received for her first adult novel, The Casual Vacancy due for Australian release in October.
For all that, James Patterson is still Number One with earnings of $94 million last year, followed by Stephen King with $39 million, Janet Evanovich $33 million, John Grisham: $26 million and children’s author Jeff Kinney, $25 million. Stephanie Meyer still made it into the list at #13 earning $14 million on the back of her Twilight series but I bet she wishes she had a slice of the fan fiction income generated by Fifty Shades.
|Page 1 of 2||next >>|