First, since we’re on day 5 of Waiting for Harley, I’ve decided that my karma is so hopelessly bad that there’s no point in posting nice things about Richard III. (Bear in mind that the books were paid for on May 14.) Instead, I’m giving in to my Inner Tudor and am plastering the walls with images of Henry VII. (Cackles evilly.) Anyway, while waiting for my poster putty to dry, I thought I’d do a quick review of The Lord of Greenwich, a historical novel by Juliet Dymoke.
The Lord of Greenwich is about Humfrey, Duke of Gloucester, a younger brother of Henry V. It follows his career from his youth during the declining days of his father, Henry IV, to the the period after his wife Eleanor Cobham’s trial and public penance on witchcraft charges.
I don’t think this was one of the best Juliet Dymoke novels I’ve read, but I did enjoy it for the most part. I thought that it captured Humfrey’s complex personality well. The last chapters, where Humfrey has lost his wife and his political power, and has only his learning and a few faithful friends for solace, were quite moving.
Where the novel had problems for me was in the middle section, which felt extremely rushed and which could have used some editing. At one point, for instance, we’re told that Humfrey’s first wife, Jacqueline, is being held captive. Several pages later, she’s apparently been set free, since Humfrey makes a reference to trying to persuade her to leave, but what precisely happened is never explained. Then, we’re suddenly told that Humfrey’s marriage has been annulled, but we’re never told who was seeking the annulment. Neither of Humfrey’s wives, in fact, is drawn all that well, which is a shame, because it would have been interesting to know more about them.
On the plus side, this is a fairly neglected period in historical fiction, and the novel did make me want to read more about Duke Humfrey. Jean Plaidy has written Epitaph for Three Women, which deals with Eleanor Cobham, Joan of Arc, and Katherine of Valois, and Hilda Lewis has written I, Jacqueline, about Jacqueline of Hainault, but those are the only novels I know of that deal with Duke Humfrey or his wives. Anyone know of any others?
He’s the man!!