I received this book from Netgalley for an honest review. This is the first time I have read any books by Mercedes Rochelle, but it won’t be the last!! I must say, she has an impeccable talent for providing in-depth research bordering on a non-fiction style, flawlessly with the necessary elements of fiction. The dialogue was natural; she gives you well-rounded characters, fleshing out these historical figures so that you feel as if you are actually standing in the room with them in their time period. One of my favourite Shakespearean plays is Henry V, and I adore the Hollow Crown series, so this book expanded the story of that time period with perfection. I will definitely be adding the rest of this series to my TBR list. I highly recommend this book!!
There is a good thing about getting sick. You are forced to lay in bed or on the couch and binge watch some really great shows (plus do some writing if your brain can focus out of the fog of pain).
I must say, I am completely and utterly enamored with the portrayal of these Shakespeare plays on BBC. And I came across them quite by accident a while ago, while researching some things on Shakespeare for my novel, The Prince of Denmark. Needless to say, my husband thought I lost my mind when I jumped up from my sickened state yelling, “Hurry up, buy this for me! I just found this on Amazon and I need this now!!”
He did, and we spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday night watching the series The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, which covers the plays Henry VI, Part One and Two, and Richard III. We were both speechless after watching them.
I thought I would post the brief synopsis of the series for anyone who reads this and is looking for a 16th-century story told about 15th-century history. When Shakespeare wrote these plays the history was only about 200 years old. My husband said it would be like writing something today about the history that happened in the early 1800s. Interesting, huh?
Here is the synopsis:
These three screen adaptations, Henry VI in two parts and Richard III, tell the story of The Wars of the Roses, an exceptionally turbulent period in British history. Shakespeare’s plays are filmed in the visually breathtaking landscape and architecture of the period. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugh Bonneville, Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, Sally Hawkins, & Sophie Okonedo, these exhilarating and emotionally charged films feature some of Shakespeare’s most eloquent and powerful language.
Don’t even get me started on how I feel about Benedict Cumberbatch. And he plays Richard III…. need I say more? As well as, Judi Dench and Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham of Downton Abbey plays the Duke of Gloucester and Lord Protector of Henry VI).
In other words, history synopsis goes like this: Henry IV seized the throne, thus the throne of England passed to his son, Henry V, and on to Henry VI; but there were other claimants to the throne who had better right, such as the Duke of York who claimed right not only through his father but his mother, as well; and the Duke of Somerset who claimed right through the third son of Edward III, his great-grandfather). Although, Henry VI still had right from the same third son of Edward III (his great-great grandfather). So, the throne switched from hand to hand over 40 years. Much to-do about a red rose and a white rose, a lot of blood spilled, wars fought, back-stabbing women, ambitious men, and all for the one English throne. Take a break from “Game of Thrones” and watch the history of the real-life game of thrones!
And here is the link on Amazon if you are interested in buying (which I most heartily recommend!!)
In these uncertain times, we are all looking for great leaders.
When I wrote a novel about Australians in the World War One (WWI), I discovered that there are many different interpretations of good leadership.
It’s a bit of a cliché in Britain that the WWI leaders let their men down. You might remember the joke from Blackadder Goes Forth about an attack being ordered because General Haig wanted to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.
It’s not quite the same for us downunder. We still revere John Monash, William Birdwood and Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliott – we saved our greatest disgust for their superiors from Britain, fairly or unfairly. For the Australians, good leadership was essential to any success, because alone of all the combatant nations in the conflict, ours was an entirely volunteer force. Leading volunteers is different. I had to research how various styles of leadership look in fiction, before I could convincingly create effective characters in my own novel.
I checked out Shakespeare’s great leaders. The Bard knows that simply naming a man ‘leader’ is not enough. Look how he portrays Richard II and King Lear: they fail to act their kingly parts and come to sticky ends. Richard III and MacBeth use their power for personal gain with the same result. Gathering treasure for yourself would be fine for a leader in Alexander’s Macedonia, but not in Shakespeare’s day, or ours. Coriolanus, even while leading from the front, separates himself from his emotions and becomes too distant from his followers. He ends up despising them, and they rise up against him. Again, he comes to sticky end.
However, Henry V is successful and heroic. He can relate to ordinary people as well as high-caste advisers, and he links his emotions with his responsibilities. Henry V has confidence in himself and instils it in others (‘once more …’). He instigates change and takes the long view rather than the easy road. He doesn’t lie, even in dire circumstances. Most importantly, Hal can invest dreadful situations with coherence and meaning (‘we few, we happy few …’). I needed somebody with this kind of leadership in my novel.
Maybe it’s what the world needs now.
About the author
Clare Rhoden is an author and book reviewer living in Melbourne Australia. Her historical novel The Stars in the Night follows the adventures of one South Australian family through the First World War. The novel was based on her PhD studies into leadership in Australian WWI narratives, and was inspired by the experiences of her grandparents who emigrated to Adelaide in January 1914.
Clare has also written a dystopian trilogy The Chronicles of the Pale, inspired by the worldwide refugee and climate crises. Strangely enough, dystopia and WWI seem to go well together.