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?
Posted by Shannon at Tuesday, June 09, 2009