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Wednesday, June 05, 2013

My review of Royal Mistress: A Novel by Anne Easter Smith

About the book:

From the author of A Rose for the Crown and Daughter of York comes another engrossing historical novel of the York family in the Wars of the Roses, telling the fascinating story of the rise and fall of the final and favorite mistress of Edward IV.

Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore—but her heart belongs to another. Marriage doesn't stop Jane Shore from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain and friend, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows his King will find her irresistible.

Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as that of Jane Shore and Will Hastings, hang in the balance.

This dramatic tale has been an inspiration to poets and playwrights for 500 years, and told through the unique perspective of a woman plucked from obscurity and thrust into a life of notoriety, Royal Mistress is sure to enthrall today’s historical fiction lovers as well.

My review:

This was an interesting, though quite long, novel of about 500 pages. The omniscient point of view took some getting used to, but once I got the hang of the author's writing style, I found it effective. I liked how the author inserted many issues that are still common to women today into her novel set during the reign of Edward IV. Some things may never change this side of heaven. I appreciated how she inserted the realism of the times when it came to faith, prayer, and culture. At the same time, the characters were not above cursing at appropriate times. None of the language felt gratuitous to me, though there were some terms that sensitive people would find offensive.

There were realistic scenes in the book that fit the plot. Nothing seemed over-the-top in my opinion, and though there were some pretty descriptive scenes, much of the intimacy was implied. The story focused on her relations with three historical men, so there had to be intimacy as part of the story. I felt pity for Jane in her first marriage. I could see how she felt cheated. Then to have the King of England requesting her... well, she didn't have much choice in that. The other other two liaisons made sense as well, especially to a grieving woman who didn't want to live on the streets.

Jane was a likable character and not portrayed as a slutty woman, or manipulative. I liked that she was just a normal woman in unfortunate circumstances that would be easy to sympathize with. There was a scene where Jane finally reconciled with her father that evoked a lot of emotion in me. It was very well done. I was so glad to see Jane happy after so much tragedy and to finally get the baby she longed for and the legitimacy she craved. Then to find out it happened for her in real life and is recorded in history, well, that was especially touching. All in all, this was a good book.

Royal Mistress: A Novel was published by Touchstone Books and released in May 2013


Annette said...

I read and reviewed this book as well. I thought it was an interesting read. I felt invested in the story because of Jane Shore's character. Although, I did not care for the sexually explicit scenes. I found that part to be a bit sensationalistic.

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