31 July, 2006

My Favourite Edward II Novels

Carla, Sarah and Susan (and a few others) have all written about their five favourite historical novels recently. I decided to do it slightly differently, so here are my five favourite Edward II novels, in no particular order:

1) Gaveston by Chris Hunt - see my review of it here. Although it drags somewhat in the middle, it's a beautifully-written account of Edward II's long and passionate affair with Piers Gaveston, with impeccable historical accuracy, vivid description and a tender love story.

Oh, and lots of explicit gay sex. ;)

2) The Queen and Mortimer by Brenda Honeyman. I've just written a review of this (the post below this one). A well-written, balanced account of Edward II and Isabella which depicts all the main characters very nicely.

3) The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham. The story of Edward's niece Eleanor de Clare, a woman whose life was so fascinating I'm amazed there aren't a dozen novels about her. Moving and tragic, but also full of gentle humour, it portrays the complex politics and personalities of Edward II's reign with complete historical accuracy. And Susan even manages to depict Hugh Despenser the Younger sympathetically, while not glossing over his many crimes - no mean feat.

4) The She-Wolf by Pamela Bennetts. One of the very few Edward II novels that skips the Gaveston years, and most of Edward's reign, and begins in March 1325 - shortly before Edward sends Isabella to negotiate with her brother the king of France, the beginning of the end for Edward. Isabella here is cruel, calculating, and full of hatred and bitterness for her husband. Just about the only Edward II novel where Isabella is not a sympathetic character at any time.
I'll be writing a review of this novel fairly soon.

5) Isabel the Fair by Margaret Campbell Barnes. Traces Isabella's development from a young, innocent bride madly in love with her husband, through gradual disillusionment with his incompetence and male lovers, until finally she can take no more and rebels. There are a few historical inaccuracies in the novel, but it's a well-rounded, sympathetic portrayal of the Queen, and Edward comes off fairly well too.
I'll also write a review of this one in the near future.

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