Monday, June 29, 2009

BOOK REVIEW: My Enemy the Queen, by Victoria Holt

Here’s a story that webs the lives of Elizabeth I, Lettice Devereux (granddaughter of Mary Boleyn), the Earl of Leicester and finally the Earl of Essex (Lettice’s son)…

In reading this novel, it would seem that Elizabeth had few other interests besides the Earl himself firstly, other young gents, and finally, power. She was portrayed as being ruthless, self-centered, vain, quite nasty, frivolous, superficial and vehemently jealous and possessive. Gee what wonderful traits for a monarch.

Lettice, was actually not any better. This one was portrayed as scheming, devout of morals, sexually insatiable and having very few other interests at heart. Boy did this one need a hobby!

The Earl of Leicester was a man hungry for power, endowed with incredible chameleon prowess when it came to keeping himself latched onto the Queen. Oh, yes, and if one can get past his penchant for murder- I suppose you can call him quite gallant.

The Earl of Essex, being another bird of a feather, had noone else in mind but himself. Totally arrogant, unyielding, a womanizer and royal disturber- this Earl totally enraptured the Queen.

What can I say… absolutely irresistible characters! Talk about an entertaining read. I especially enjoy when Plaidy, oops, Victoria Holt, uses the first person. It’s carried superbly in this novel. There were times when I thought the story dragged a bit (I mean how many shallow details can you read about in just one paragraph?)

So what made this book so interesting for me? Basically, there wasn’t much to the story except the intricacies of the characters’ relationships towards eachother. In one way or another they were all linked like a magnet to the Queen. Despite the fact that I loathed her completely in this novel, in the end, Elizabeth still shone majestically.

Lettice only began to grow on me towards the end, where I finally sensed she could actually care for someone other than herself. Before that I couldn’t quite understand her love-hate need for the Queen.

The Earls were quite secondary in this novel. Their representation only strengthened their humiliating choices to serve and revel in foreplay to an end they could never attain. The ultimate prize for all those concerned : Queen Elizabeth; magnificently unattainable to all.

Another enjoyable read.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Fan Question: Who's your Movie Star?

Ok…On today’s Friday Fan you get to pick your favourite Plaidy novel and –
Hollywood is ready to shoot a movie based on this very book, so you get to pick the actors!

Tell us Which book and Who’s your pick for the Plaidy Lady, Detrimental Lady and Plaidy Hunk??

Not too long ago we read the King’s Confidant…who do you see as Sir Thomas More? (Is Tom Hanks too Da Vinci?)


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Touch Base Thursday

I'm almost finished: page 389 of 441!

Here's my excerpt:

"... Gloriana, as the poet Spenser had called her. It was her victory. She was England."

How is your reading going?

Wordy Wednesday- and- Mystery Birthday!

Wordy Wednesday is about the extraordinarily strange, difficult, no longer used or never-even-heard-of words found in Plaidy novels…

Today, rather than post some of these I just wanted to ask your opinion on 2 (of the many) that I found in My Enemy the Queen.

I did not know that this was used to refer to severe diarrhea(sorry)…even after having had a few children. Just wondering if this is now a medical term- or if it’s even used nowadays…

Also, I haven’t been able to find a definition for this one: Noble Impe. Anyone have any idea? It’s on page 295.

NOW- Back to having some fun…

On this WORDY WEDNESDAY Can you guess the Birthday Boy WHO had a WINNING –WORTHY WAY WITH WORDS?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Guess the Plaidy novel!

"From his earliest boyhood, John Smith wanted to go adventuring over the sea. He followed his dream through Europe, even to fighting the Infidel and serving a cruel Turk as a slave. Yet all that time he knew that something else awaited him, over the seas yet again. This destiny led Captain John Smith to the new colony of Virginia, where he was to find joy and bitterness, fulfillment and disaster, where he was to be a distrusted Paleface and a demigod, and where he was to be saved from death by the beautiful, half-wild Pocahontas."

Can you name the title of this Plaidy novel?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Fans

Friday Fans want to know:

Where does Jean Plaidy fall on your list of favorite authors? Is she your absolute favorite, top 3 or perhaps one you read only occasionally?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Touch Base Thursday!

Hi everyone! Sorry for posting this so Internet was down the wohole day:(

But it's not all bad- something good did come out of it...I finished My Enemy the Queen!!

I don't recall if I mentioned this before, but it took me a while to get into this one. That's maybe because I've been so busy these past couple of weeks that I just kept stealing a page here and there. And, with me, that's never a good thing when I start off a book this way. But I finished it!

But now, honestly, I'm all Henry-Elizabethed-out...I've got to read something different.

How about's your reading going?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordy Wednesday Wordsearch

We have a little puzzle for this Wordy Wednesday! See how many words you can find, and then see if you can find the secret word. The first person to name the secret word wins a copy of Lilith by Jean Plaidy!

Word List:

secret word hint: means enthusiastic expression of approval

Monday, June 15, 2009

Detrimental Plaidy Lady: Lady Jersey

So here’s the story of another detrimental lady that takes almost center stage in Plaidy’s ‘Indiscretions of the Queen’. This detrimental was no other than the conniving Lady Jersey, born Frances Twysden (1753 – 1821).

If we stick to the saying that ‘the apple doesn’t fall...,’ I guess it would be no shock to learn that she was the daughter of a disreputable bishop- or that at the young age of seventeen she eagerly married Georges Villiers, 4th Earl of Jersey, who was twenty years her senior. And- that throughout her marriage, Lady Jersey kept herself quite busy flaunting and romancing with numerous members of the English aristocracy.

Her affair with the Prince of Wales began when she was almost thirty years-old, but she would only become Senior royal mistress some twelve years later (by then she was also a grandmother). In the meantime though, she opened her home as the meeting place for high society gambling and her salon was renowned for being the ‘in’ place for social rendez-vous; such a classy gal!

Lady Jersey was quite the schemer as well. She was personally responsible for encouraging the Prince of Wales to marry Caroline of Brunswick. Knowing very well that Caroline would never appeal to George, Lady Jersey was in fact securing her place at Court. She had even managed to lure George from his ‘supposed’ wife Maria Fitzherbert.

Lady Jersey kept her position and the right to run the Prince’s life as she pleased. Her sole purpose was retaining position as she destroyed everyone else’s. Her scheming was such that she even managed to win Queen Charlotte’s favour and trust (convincing the Queen that anyone was better than Caroline-gasp!)

Finally in 1803, she was replaced by a new grandmotherly figure in George IV’s life. But this did not limit Lady Jersey; she found great pleasure in pursuing her lurid diversions which continued even after the death of her husband. According to her, she had had a wonderful marriage producing ten children. Lady Jersey really did live a ‘fruitful’ (or should we say, detrimental) life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Book Review: Indiscretions of the Queen

Poor Caroline of Brunswick! Did she really not know any better? Could she have maybe toned things down a notch…be a little less eccentric maybe? Regardless, I doubt that would have changed George’s mind in any way…Caroline was doomed from the beginning.

The story of Caroline of Brunswick and her sad marriage of convenience to George, the Prince of Wales- later King George IV of England, could not have joined two of the most mismatched people ever. The very eccentric Caroline was loved by the people of England, while the ever-so- perfect George despised and rebutted. All that the princess ever wanted was a loving family with lots and lots of children. The prince, on the other hand, was totally into himself and all he wanted was fame and to conquer every grandmotherly figure he set eyes on; at the exception of his loving Maria (the poor thing)!

Well, as it seems neither got their way as Caroline gave birth to a precious daughter which she was barely allowed to see- and George, after much ado, managed to lose Maria altogether.

I felt so much compassion for this kind princess and her overly loving ways with people. At the beginning I thought she was very odd, and frankly her issues with hygiene were a bit overwhelming…But after living through her story, I began to feel that there was so much more to this lady. Within that flamboyant self, there actually thrived a simple and pure soul. There was no malice in this lady who used humor to hide her sorrow.

I was particularly touched by the way she helped poor families and how she loved the children so. She built a school for disadvantaged children and opened up her home to all. It’s no wonder that everyone who got to know her on a more personal level also appreciated her goodness. People were able to accept her unusual ways in exchange for her company and friendship.

Although I found the book stalled a bit towards the middle, some of the outrageously funny scenes made up for the anticipation of wondering where all this would result.

I enjoyed reading about Caroline’s life- what a strange royal indeed! And George III is one character I’m not about to forget any time soon. His kindness towards Caroline (the only Royal who actually displayed some compassion) was a times very touching. He was very endearing and sincere in his concern about his family as well. Although he was portrayed as being some sort of an outcast for being unpredictable due to his bouts of mental illness, George was a vivid character who livened up much of the court scenes with his unusual ways and manner of speech.

Indiscretions of the Queen touches on very real basic human issues that are still important today: acceptance, image, deception and mental and emotional suffering…Much to ponder on, yet presented in a very light and uplifting read. Very enjoyable.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Fan Question

Which Plaidy series is your favorite?

Norman, Plantagenet, Tudor, Mary Stuart, Charles II, Stuart Saga, Georgian, Queen Victoria, Queens of England, Ferdinand and Isabella, Lucrezia Borgia, de'Medici, French Revolution or Spanish Inquisition

For a full list of titles, go here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Touch Base Thursday...So far??

I just read:

“Walter,” I said, “you know this to be false. I know it to be false. If you make a great noise about it, it will come to the Queen’s ears and she would blame you. You know how she will hear no ill of Robert Dudley.”

So this is where I’m at…and to be honest, I’m finally getting into it. Now I really want to know what will happen to Lettice and what did she mean about that day with her son meeting the Queen? I’m dying to find out how this will be relevant (if at all). Wonder what she was alluding to? Can’t wait to find out!

And you…Smartie (P)Ladies, where are you at?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wordy Wednesday giveaway results and this week's words

Lucy and I were able to get 2 more used copies of The Queen's Confession and so we've randomly picked ( 3 winners!

1st - Carmela (the version advertised)
2nd - Dar
3rd - Susie Tudor Daughter

Ladies, please send your mailing info to Arleigh at and I will try to get those mailed ASAP!

Now, on to this weeks words, which are all from The Queen of Diamonds, also about Marie Antoinette...

Subversive - tending to subvert or advocating subversion, esp. in an attempt to overthrow or cause the destruction of an established or legally constituted government.

Berline - an automobile with the front and rear compartments separated by a glass partition, as some limousines.

Modiste - a female maker of or dealer in women's fashionable attire.

Flunkeys - a male servant in livery.

Coquette - a woman who flirts lightheartedly with men to win their admiration and affection; flirt.

Capering - to leap or skip about in a sprightly manner; prance; frisk; gambol.

Perforce - of necessity; necessarily; by force of circumstance: The story must perforce be true.

Transmute - to change from one nature, substance, form, or condition into another; transform.

Postilion - a person who rides the left horse of the leading or only pair of horses drawing a carriage.

Superimposed - to impose, place, or set over, above, or on something else.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

INCIDENTAL PLAIDY LADY: Augusta Caroline Frederika Louise of Brunswick

Duchess Augusta Caroline Frederika Louise of Brunswick – Wolfenbüttel (Dec. 3, 1764- Sept. 27, 1788)

What a short tragic life this German princess led…Seems like the Brunswick sisters had the worse of luck when it came to marriage.

Augusta, Caroline of Brunswick's eldest sister ( often called ‘Zelmira’ by her family), is mentioned early on in ‘Indiscretions of the Queen’. Her upcoming marriage to Prince Frederick Wilhelm Karl of Würtenburg and the exciting notion of having a husband was a thrilling event. Caroline especially aspired to this and couldn’t wait to be the next one in line for marriage. Little did she know that her sister’s marriage would be doomed right from the start.

And, if you think Caroline had it bad- Augusta’s fairytale, (if one can even call it that) was a horrible nightmare. Prince charming turned out to be a brutal man who was repeatedly violent towards her. He made her life so unbearable that she escaped to find refuge within the realm of Empress Catherine II. To rid herself of the rogue, Augusta seeked help from the Empress because going to her family was useless. Her father could not understand her situation and refused her from getting a divorce.

The desolate Princess confined herself to the estates where she was placed in the custody of Wilhelm von Pohlman. Compare one brute to the other, this man was no different. Taking advantage of his position, he apparently forced himself upon her repeatedly- she soon became pregnant with his child.

Poor Augusta went into premature labor and suffered severe complications…The coward, for fear of letting out his secret of having fathered and illegitimate child, left her to die without providing her with medical care. She hemorrhaged to death. Her family was notified of her death and told that she died from a bursting blood vessel. The truth only came out later when her eldest son had the whole mystery investigated.

Here ends the tragic life of another ‘injured’ princess of Brunswick.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

review: The Queen of Diamonds

The Queen of Diamonds

By Jean Plaidy

The affair of the diamond necklace rocked the monarchy of France and precipitated the French Revolution. The insanely gaudy and expensive diamond necklace was originally intended for Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, but his death came before the completion of the necklace. At almost 2,000,000 livres, the cost was more than anyone could afford -- apart from royalty. The jewelers Boehmer and Bassenge had hoped the new Queen, Marie Antoinette, would buy it and save them from bankruptcy, but she refused stating that the money was better used to equip the military.

Cagliostro, a charlatan working for a secret society, finds himself traveling to Paris on a mission. On the way he meets the Cardinal de Rohan who, out of favor at court, dreams of being a political power behind the throne as well as a favorite of the Queen, for whom he harbors tender feelings. In a series of events that seem to come together almost as if there was divine intervention, a couple joins the party of conspirators, and each participant has his or her own intentions of advancement.

Jeanne de la Mott-Valois is descended from an illegitimate son of Henri Deux, and this she flaunts to any who will listen. As a result she earns a small pension from the crown, but she craves much more. She is a very clever con artist who dominates her soldier husband and schemes to turn their existence from poor plebeians to high society. She becomes the Cardinal’s mistress with extortion in mind, and soon a seed is planted in her mind by Cagliostro: Why shouldn’t she become friends with the Queen, or appear as though she has? Together, with the jewelers who are near ruin because of the diamond necklace, they could convince the Queen to buy the necklace.

With tempers in France running high against the monarchy, the King and Queen cannot afford a fresh assault on their reputations, but this is exactly what happens when it is known that there was a plot involving the Queen. Through no fault of her own, Marie Antoinette loosened the stone that toppled the monarchy of France.

With each character with his or her personal agenda in mind, this is truly a historical mystery and the first I’ve read of Jean Plaidy written in this fashion. Even so it is no less historically accurate and even more verbose than usual.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday Fan Question

Q: Are there any historical figures that you wish Jean Plaidy would have written about?

For me it is Lady Godiva. I am writing about her and would love to read her take on the 11th century countess.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's Touch Base Thursday! Where Are You At?

Hi everyone! How are you enjoying My Enemy the Queen? Personally, I haven’t gotten that far. Here’s where I am:

‘I would, of course, never have dared to bring Lady Dudley to Court. There would be more than a slap on the cheek if I did. I could see myself returning to Rotherfield Greys never to emerge again.’

(I suppose she meant the old tower that’s still there…?)

So far, I’m feeling a lot of anticipation…I want her to really get to the good part. But in a way I’m glad she’s explaining everything in such detail- slowly edging me on to read more…I’m getting hooked though.

What about you- how’s the read going?


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordy Wednesday Giveaway!

This week we are giving you a chance to enhance your vocabulary and your bookshelf! To be entered into a drawing for a (used) copy of The Queen’s Confession by Victoria Holt (Plaidy), you must list 5 words from a Plaidy novel that are uncommon, archaic or otherwise ‘literary’ to us language lovers.

The draw will be announced next week on our Wordy Wednesday post. Open to everyone!
More about The Queen’s Confession:

This is one of my favorite ‘Plaidy’ novels (yes, I know it was written under Holt). I felt it really allowed me to get to know Marie Antoinette as she may have been. It is written as though she is looking back on her life, and she admits that she was naïve and ignorant in a lot of ways, though she did strive to do right by her husband and the people of France. I highly recommend this book for Marie Antoinette and French History fans!

This is not the same cover as the giveaway copy – it is a small (mass market size) hardcover. I’ve never seen another Holt/Plaidy novel like it. It does, of course, have a man and woman embracing. Funny there is nothing of that sort going on in the book!

“The unforgettable story of Marie Antoinette, from her pampered childhood in imperial Vienna, to the luxury and splendor of her days as Queen of France, to her tragic end upon the scaffold in the bloodbath of the Revolution . . .”

Monday, June 1, 2009

review: Indiscretions of the Queen

I began this book slightly biased against Caroline of Brunswick, as I’ve read of her in other books and articles. Leave it to Jean Plaidy to turn one’s opinions around completely, and simply by telling the facts in an amusing and straightforward manner. I had a similar experience with her novel Madame du Barry.

Caroline’s life started in Brunswick, Germany where her father was Duke and mother was King George III of England’s sister. She and her elder sister were not brought up properly, mostly due to her mother’s negligence owing to her own sadness: a home where her husband’s mistress reigned supreme and several of the royal children had disabilities. Caroline grew to be wild, completely extroverted and indiscreet. She did, however, have a very kind heart and was not purposely hurtful toward others.

Once she became betrothed to the Price of Wales, she began to look forward to a new, exciting life in England. It was not to be; the Prince disliked her on sight and showed it in the most humiliating ways possible. As soon as Caroline carried the heir to the throne, he separated from her and tried his best to make her life miserable.

George IV was a despicable character in this book! He was completely selfish, taking and discarding mistresses (and wives) at his whim and thinking of nothing but fashion, etiquette and where he can find money to live his extravagant lifestyle. Marriage with a lady who was not Catholic was a necessity for both his popularity and his pocket, as well as the getting of an heir to the throne. Though he had 12 siblings, none of his brothers had produced legitimate children and his sisters mostly remained unmarried, and so he felt he must do his duty to further his dynasty. Unfortunately for Caroline, George chose his bride blindly.

Even though life had dealt her a bad hand, she made the most of her situation, entertaining friends and endearing herself to the English people through her charity and genuine affection for all children. The old King, George III, was her friend and many political figures flocked to her, as she was the future queen and much more popular than her husband. If only the Prince would have let her alone she would have been content with life.

Caroline’s story is uproariously funny at times and quietly sad at others. Her character is one who can inspire both exasperation and adoration – a strange combination. She was truly an admirable Queen of England.