New Books

I was taking a mid-afternoon Barnes & Noble.com break, when the list of the hour's best selling books struck me. The top four were:
  1. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
  2. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I by Julia Child
  3. The White Queen by Philippa Gregory
  4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
What I found so interesting was that they were all associated with movies in some way or another. The Lost Symbol is the newest in the DaVinci Code series. ...French Cooking is the subject of the newly released Julie & Julia. Philippa Gregory found the spotlight with The Other Boleyn Girl. The Time Traveler's Wife is also a newly release romantic flick. What does this mean? I really have no clue. Maybe our imaginations are stunted and need the visuals of film to go along with our books. Maybe film does an admirable job in sparking interest in topics that had since been covered in dust. Maybe I'm babbling.

I will admit this little story though.
One cloudy evening, I was bored in the little college town I was working in at the time. Deciding to venture out into the world, I haphazardly made my way around the streets and eventually over to the movie theater. What was playing when I arrived? None other than The Other Boleyn Girl. With nothing better to do, I snuggled into the mostly empty theater with my popcorn somewhere in the back and was never the same. The Other Boleyn Girl tuned my eyes to the first season of The Tudors at the video store, which I managed to watch nearly the entire season in one night while baking banana bread. I was finally led to the internet to settle discrepincies, which lead to even more discrepincies, which led to books and videos and everything else in between. I was appalled by the time I finally got around to reading The Other Boleyn Girl because I knew better by then, but it did what I assume was its job: it perked my interest enough to make me want to know more. Voila! Here we are today.


Tudor's Catherine Parr Announced

The buzz about town is that Joely Richardson from Nip/Tuck has landed the role of Catherine Parr for the fourth and final season of Showtime's The Tudors. Good match?

I'm an entire season behind without Showtime, so I'm still eagerly awaiting the announcement of the Season Three release date. It's going to be quite awhile before I find out if Richardson fills Catherine's dutiful sixth wife shoes.


Queen of Hearts

I ran to the Post Office earlier this week, and much to my glee, found this lovely pair of stamps: the King and Queen of Hearts. Interestingly, the Queen of Hearts in a deck of cards is sometimes rumored to be none other than Elizabeth of York, Queen Consort to Henry VII and mother to Henry VIII. She is even said to be Anne Boleyn at times, but I think that's stretching it. The flowers, however, do remind me of the Tudor rose. Could the U.S. Postal Service be riding the waves of Tudor-mania? We may never know, but it is surely more fun to pay bills now.


Summertime Blogging

The lack of posts so early on has left my blog-conscious heavy. Perhaps it's warm weather and summertime social calendars that disallow frequent posts. While I did spend the weekend at the beach, Marquess of Pembroke was on my mind. (I pray for the days to return when pale was beautiful for the sake of those that go from lobster back to translucent. I had to take a mid-day aloe break to relieve my poor skin.) The delay is not so much clear skies and rhythmic waves, but a clouded vision of what to do next, the organization of my Tudor thoughts.

In my premier post, I mentioned creating a time line on a roll of butcher paper, and I was only semi-facetious; I do have the paper sitting in the garage, just waiting for a project. Chronological organization could be the most useful format for anyone that happens by, and I'm 90 percent certain this is the path that I'll loosely base things on. I'm one chapter away from finishing The Children of Henry VIII. (I must say, the title drives me crazy. Lady Jane Grey is included, as she should be, but wouldn't one call it The Heirs of Henry VIII? Elizabeth isn't even covered past the death of Mary.) Once it's completed, I will resist the urge to continue on with Elizabeth's story and go back to the beginning to bring about the fruition of my time line desires.


Family Trees

I possess a gene, possibly passed through my family tree, that causes unhealthy adoration for birthdays. I love birthdays, and today is mine. While home for a birthday weekend with the folks, I went to the local book retailer to find a present for myself, as previously pondered upon. While they did not have Henry's love letters (that will have to be a web purchase, I suppose), I did pick up two light-hearted royal reads. My mother, who was shopping with me, must secretly fear that my affinity to dry, historical nonfiction is carrying too far into my late twenties and encouraged me to reshelf the volume on Henry's wives that would have added nicely to the other volume I already have on the same topic, but by a different author. (Nevermind that her preference in reading material is medieval romance -smut- complete with lords, ladies, and the like. Could this be another family gene, only slightly mutated to crave the real scandals and sexual escapades? Perhaps.) I listened to her motherly advice and couldn't be more pleased with the results.

A Treasury of Royal Scandals
by Michael Farquhar and Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr have both been delightful. Doomed Queens has fabulous illustrations. The whole feel of the book is absolutely wonderful, from the paper to the inside cover art complete with reaper-like skeletons dancing about. Oh, these little details give me so much joy and titillate my design sensibilities.

I'm about half way through ...Royal Scandals. The accounts within make Henry's escapades pale in comparison (though he receives his fair share of the spotlight) and serve as a nice reminder of all the debauchery that carried on once upon a time. I'm developing a theory that Katherine of Aragon's stubborn reluctance to leave Henry could have been a strand of her family's DNA causing madness and obsession, shown best in her sister, Juana the Mad. Oh, wouldn't that be interesting? I shouldn't let my imagination run away like this, or maybe I should.

Farquhar's family trees in the beginning of his book are just what a birthday girl craves, covering from William the Conqueror to the current royal family in England, along with France's Valois line and Katherine's Spanish Habsburg family tree. It's an intertwining mess of history, so neatly placed in little boxes for us to view. It's worth the buy just for that in my opinion.

Ah, aren't birthdays grand?


Lunch Time Love Letters

Being nearly finished with The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir, my mind wandered about last night, wondering what book I would read next. Henry's love letters to Anne seem like a rather interesting topic and possibly great beach-reading since they stand as such a strong testament to their passionate beginnings, especially considering his dislike for penning a note. This led me to wonder whether Henry wrote any letters to Jane.

Would you believe that the Tudor fates were on my side? Having just worked on my "On My Bookshelf" list to the right, I had a stack of books to my side, opened The Six Wives of Henry VIII, flipped through a few pages, and voila! I found my answer! It was almost too easy.

Weir writes that only one letter to Jane survives:

My dear friend and mistress,
The bearer of these few lines from thy entirely devoted servant will deliver into thy fair hands a token of my true affection for thee, hoping you will keep it for ever in your sincere love for me. There is a ballad made lately of great derision against us; I pray you pay no manner of regard to it. I am not at present informed who is the setter forth of this malignant writing, but if he is found out, he shall be straitly punished for it. Hoping shortly to receive you into these arms, I end for the present
Your own loving servant and sovereign,

Not exactly blush worthy. Perhaps Anne had more public support at the time of her death than some historians would like us to believe. At least, Jane may not have been the breath of fresh air Henry believed. Interesting. I'll have to look into this more and believe I will pick myself up Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn as an early birthday present to myself.

Weir, Alison. The Six Wives of Henry VIII. New York, NY: Grove Press, 1991.


Coronation Day

Like many, when Tudor-mania exploded on the scene from one side of the pond to another, I was instantaneously hooked. The intrigue! The drama! The rumors! From movies and television to endless pages in books, web searches, and Henry VIII documentaries on youtube, I've spent an ungodly number of hours trying to figure it all out. It began, of course, with the enigmatic Anne Boleyn (doesn't it always?), continued to all six highly-individualized wives, and now the unlucky heirs. I recently found myself at a party curiously eyeing a professor-friend's bookshelf that contained several volumes on the Reformation. Social skills be damned!

After bearing the polite smiles of those I hold dear while enthusiastically delving into a Tudor rant of one sort or another, I've decided to take my questions, inquiries, and learning to the web. I'm a novice, wanna-be historian at most, but there must be those out there on the same curious path. If you have ever downloaded an English royal family tree and proceeded to color-code the generations with your ten pack of highlighters or harbored a deep seated desire to spread butcher paper across your living floor to make your personal timeline of Henry's reign, then I am so glad to have met you.