Sunday, September 7, 2008

But I Diverge

I seem to be hitting the 14th or 16th century in England lately in my reading and the latest book in front of me is "Jane Boleyn" (by Julia Fox), an account of a lady-in-waiting who was in waiting all the way to the block.  This biography posits that Jane, Viscountess Rochford, sister-in-law to Anne Boleyn, has been given a tough deal by the writers of history.  Perhaps she was a scapegoat, but I see her as being in the wrong place, etc., especially the final place, where she followed Queen Catherine (pictured) after she was unable to save her.

The most human thing she did was lose her wits after being imprisoned, and as the former time had let to the deaths of her husband George and his sister Anne Boleyn, she must have been in intolerable suspense.  Her wits were restored under the care of those who needed a sane and calm Jane for the next steps in the process of bloodletting for the treason of the moment.  And Jane met her death nobly, in so doing with the best of them.

I didn't necessarily plan to read into the parenthetical centuries around the 15th that interests me the most, but that may be the path of reading.  I must get back to Henry VI, but my next book in line regards the Tudors as well.  Which epoch is the most violent? 

Friday, September 5, 2008

Darkness Yet Green

My total absorption with Anya Seton's "Katherine" led me to read "Green Darkness". I would like to put some disordered thoughts about this absorbing novel here. Though a century after the Battle of St. Albans, and Henry VI's capture, this novel is largely set in a time period equally as turbulent - 16th Century England.

It was a violent time - when practice of one's religion was by royal fiat which changed from ruler to ruler in England - one either practiced the faith in favor, or secretly practiced the faith out of favor. Abruptly, with the accession of a new ruler, the faith in favor would change and some could profess openly what they had hidden and others suddenly had to hide what they had previously professed openly - a situation that affected viscerally every person in the realm.

In this narrative, the royals (Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth with a cameo by Lady Jane Grey) are offstage for the most part, although there are appearances. Their impact, however, on the kingdom they rule is all too present and center stage.

Two characters in this novel that opens in 1968 and telescopes back to the troubled 1550's come to the point of rejecting the strictures of religion altogether. A logical outcome for them, and I won't say how it played out here in case anyone reading this wants to read this work. The presentation of reincarnation comes through as a vehicle for redemption. In reaching from 1968 back to 1559 and back again, the story elicits hope that tragic situations can be resolved in better times. In darkness is the green seed for the future.

I almost liked this one as much as "Katherine", bold praise.