Are you ready for the Richard III rumble?
Yes, many of us really want you to do this, Mr. Armitage! Witness the following anonymous sentiment:
Source: Richard Armitage Confessions
A quick Richard III links update:
- Maria Grazia reviews the latest Philippa Gregory novel on the Plantagenet women.
- At the King Richard Armitage fan initiative, the latest press reports, PLUS: the battle for the body begins, with York starting a petition to locate it there.
The big event this week is the planned group read of Sharon Kay Penman’s The Sunne in Splendour, starting on Sunday night at 9 p.m., U.S. East Coast time, and continuing Sunday nights through February.
Directions for veterans of #ArmitageWatch are found here.
You can also participate via the Institute of Armitage Studies facebook page, here. You can sign up there for a reminder to come and chat on facebook, too.
If you want to sign up for Twitter in order to participate in the chat, but haven’t yet, an explanation of procedures is found at the bottom of this post. The tweetchat “room” for this event will be here.
Fanny plans a free form chat — so be prepared to tweet your impressions, or even a favorite quote from the first five chapters of the book.
First, the geekiness. Now you will see why no one wants to be in a reading group with me.
One thing I like to think about when I’m reading historical novels: the choices the author makes to communicate information about the characters and what those choices mean for our perception of the story.
For instance. This is a novel about war — between rival noble factions in England, the Yorkists and the Lancastrians, each of which seeks to put its representative on the throne — the so-called War of the Roses. We half expect a bloody beginning. Look at all those knights on the cover, blech. But the book opens on the eve of the Battle of Ludford Bridge — a rather anti-climactic battle, as the Yorkist forces realize their armies aren’t going to be willing to oppose King Henry VI himself, and a big chunk of them deserts. So their male leaders, including the father and brothers of the still small Dickon (the nickname for the future king) run before the Lancastrian Army.
The result of this choice: in the first five chapters of the book, the male characters we get to know well are almost all boys or very young men. Although the work is advertised as “A Novel of Richard III,” Dickon is only eight years old as the book opens. The real forces to be reckoned with are Cecily Neville, Richard III’s mother, who’s left behind by the Yorkist army to surrender Ludlow to the Lancastrians in the book’s opening pages, and Margaret of Anjou, queen consort and de facto head of the Lancastrian faction due to her husband‘s otherworldliness and frequent incapacity to govern (he was actually deposed for nine years in the middle of his life). So Penman makes this episode the story of strong women. How does she make the reader perceive the differences between Marguerite and Cecily? And what does Penman mean to say with the contrast?
Second: I’m going to be my usual pain-in-the-tuchus self. I can’t help it. I find the beginning of this book pretty overwrought — but speaking purely as a reader, I definitely love the tiny future king by the end of the first five chapters. So here’s my weekly Richard III / Sunne in Splendour poll question to whet your appetite.