Fire Bad, Tree Pretty* written by Philippa Gregory

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Title: The King’s Curse
Author: Philippa Gregory
Publisher: Touchstone
Date of Publication: 9 September 2014
Number of Pages: 608

Rating: 1 star

Disclaimer: Copy provided free by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Summary: The final novel in the Cousins’ War series, the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries, The White Queen, by #1 New York Times best-selling author and “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory tells the fascinating story of Margaret Pole, cousin to the “White Princess,” Elizabeth of York, and lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon. [Goodreads]

Review: In my last review I touched on the current debate about the length of books. In general, I am in favour of them provided they have had a good editor and every word progresses the story. When it comes to The King’s Curse, however, I find myself changing my mind. This book is about 200 pages too long and could have been far more interesting if we the reader weren’t being told which title belongs to which character at multiple points in the story. The same can be said for the unnecessary and repetitive descriptions of courtly protocol. There is no need for the reader to be told about curtseying and bowing and respectful speech every time two people interact.

The first person narration is tedious. I’m sure Margaret Pole was far more interesting than Gregory writes her. The historical accuracy that some reviewers mention is dubious at best and tarnished at worst by Gregory’s own leanings. It is disheartening to read about the “evil” Tudors and their desire to overthrow the Plantagenet dynasty. The way Gregory writes, one could quite easily be duped into believing that the Plantagenet’s never attempted to control a large power base the span of England and France. How quickly Gregory seems to negate Henry V. I do not expect historical referencing in a fictional book, however, I do expect that the historical context and the facts be adhered to. Unless you shift the entire setting into an alternate reality, there is no excuse for laziness.

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Once upon a time I really enjoyed Gregory’s work. The work felt more engaged, whole, finished, polished. When you read something like The Queen’s Fool, you could almost feel Gregory’s excitement at writing. Now, I feel indifferent – as does the writing, the tone and the style. I feel I’ve wasted a number of hours on a book that gave me no enjoyment and on the subject of curses, I was surely under a spell when I clicked “request” for this title.

*many liberties taken with the title

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