I love history. I cannot believe it when people say it’s boring or useless or ‘they hate it’… to me that stinks of bad teaching, not bad subject… I mean, how can you not be interested in ‘stories’? in people? in what happened to people? that’s what’s history is all about after all…
Currently I’m up to my neck in Richard III, my first Shakespearean history play… and that meant an accelerated and not particularly thorough foray into the whole War of the Roses and subsequent messy aftermath… oh boy. It’s a rather confusing affair. It doesn’t help AT ALL that so many characters in this play have the same bloody (literally in most cases) name!! C’mon William… two Richards, two Elizabeth, two,or three, can’t work it out Edwards… I’m seriously confused, not to mention that one is supposed to know who were the Lancastrians and who were the Yorkists. Nope. All I’m getting is a lot of plotting, cursing, and murders, that’s about it.
But I’m digressing, what I wanted to say was that I love a good historical novel and in recent years I have absolutely loved the ‘Shardlake’ series written by CJ Sansom. Stupendous. They way he manages to recreate the tudor period is second to none. You can actually SEE the places and the people he describes, magnificent. And accessible. All the books are LONG but they fly by and I’m genuinely sorry when I get to the last page, every time.
Matthew Shardlake is a lawyer (and you learn so much about how things are run in those days, in a non boring way) and he seems always to find himself into some sort of trouble/misadventure/helping out people/solving crimes… If you’re interested here are the titles in order; it helps to get to know the character and to place the events in proper chronological order: Dissolution, Dark Fire, Sovereign, Revelation, Heartstone, Lamentation and the final one Tombland. You won’t be sorry.
This last one is not set at or around the Royal Court we’re in Tudor England, but a couple of years after the death of Henry the VIII… when Edward VI (or course another Edward ) is too young to rule so his uncle – yes you got it – Edward Seymour rules as the protector, when the country is in the grip of a total unrest… there are religious tensions between the old Catholic religions and the new Protestant one, a young Elizabeth and her supporters, and most of all there are rebellions in the country side…
The unlikely hero, the hunchback, clever lawyer is once again caught in the middle of history whilst trying to solve a murder. I am not going to spoil the story, but it’s a fascinating and interesting setting for a story: history from the people point of view… unexpected.
Now I can only sit tight and hope for another one.