Monday, 14 February 2011

"The Other Boleyn Girl" (review)

In 2008, my housemate Beth returned to our house in Oxford late one evening from a trip to see the new movie, The Other Boleyn Girl. I hadn’t yet had the opportunity to see it, and wasn’t even sure I was going to – I’d read the book and that was traumatic enough. I could still remember the perfectly-arched eyebrow of savage incredulity which my high school friend Patricia reserved for anyone who suggested she read it... Anyway, Beth knocked on my bedroom door and I opened expecting to see her with her customary can of hairspray in her hands, maniacally spraying all around her. (It was the only way we had figured out how to repel the nuclear-sized spiders which seemed to inexplicably infest our college house.) As I opened the door, I was greeted by a shell-shocked Beth. Naturally, I assumed that we were once again under siege from Arachneus, King of the Spiders, and his eight-legged army and I quickly reached for my deodorant. This time, however, I was wrong. “Oh it’s bad...," she said, "The Other Boleyn Girl... it’s so, so bad... it’s.... it’s bad, Gareth. It’s just really bad. I can't even... I'm never getting those two hours back.”

A breathlessly gleeful phone-call from my friend Emerald a few days later confirmed Beth's review: “Gaz, you’ve got to get down to the nearest cinema and see it immediately. It’s the worst thing in the history of cinema! It’s the most gloriously stupid thing you’ll ever see! I mean, it’s just... no, I mean, oh my god, you have got to see it!” When I did go to see it, with another friend, Emily, it was reassuringly every bit as ghastly as I had been promised. Half-way through, Emily leant over to me and whispered, both confused and contemptuous: “Is this a joke?”

Sadly, Emily, no, it wasn’t. Or, at least, it wasn’t an intentional one.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

An interview with Christopher Gortner, author of "The Tudor Secret"

Early this week, I reviewed Christopher Gortner's novel The Tudor Secret, which you can read here, and I'm delighted to post this interview between Christopher and I discussing his new book and its inspirations. My thanks to the author.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

"The Tudor Secret" by Christopher Gortner

“There are moments that define our existence, moments that, if we recognize them, become pivotal turning points in our life. Like pearls on a strand, the accumulation of such moments will in time become the essence of our life, providing solace when our ends draw near. For me, meeting Elizabeth Tudor was one of those moments.” 

I received a review copy of The Tudor Secret on a Friday morning and I had it finished by Saturday evening. I also had a lot to do that weekend, almost none of which got done.

The Tudor Secret is Christopher Gortner’s third novel and like his previous two works, it is set in the sixteenth century. His first, The Last Queen, was set in Spain; his second, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, in France. This time round, Gortner turns his attention to England in the sweltering summer of 1553 when the teenage King Edward the Sixth has disappeared from public view, amidst rumours that his chief minister, the Duke of Northumberland, is hiding the young king away from the public’s gaze in the hope of clinging onto power for himself. The king’s two sisters – thirty-seven year-old Mary and nineteen year-old Elizabeth – are understandably suspicious, particularly Mary, a devout Roman Catholic who is next in line to inherit the crown if Edward dies without children. Taking it upon herself to discover the truth, Princess Elizabeth journeys to London and it is here, in the sprawling Palace of Whitehall, a palace once built for her executed mother, that she first meets Brendan Prescott, a young equestrian working for the duke of Northumberland, the princesses’ apparent arch-enemy. From this fateful meeting, The Tudor Secret spins a truly addictive adventure story around the mystery of Brendan’s own identity and Elizabeth’s attempts to outwit whatever it is the duke is planning to do.
Related Posts with Thumbnails