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Topic: The Sunne in Splendour - Book 3 Discussion

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Subject: The Sunne in Splendour - Book 3 Discussion
Date Posted: 3/30/2010 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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This thread is for discussion of Book 3 of the novel.

Date Posted: 4/9/2010 11:13 AM ET
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I'll be starting Book 3 this evening. I'm hoping the storyline shifts a bit away from Richard and Anne's relationship now that they are married.  I love the book, but the end of Book 2 got a bit love story-ish for my liking.  I'm also hoping Book 3 is where we finally get to see George disposed of.  I'm so tired of that man!!

Date Posted: 4/9/2010 11:15 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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Hang in there Shelley!

Date Posted: 4/9/2010 11:28 AM ET
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Shelley, I agree with Cheryl - hang in there. I am also not fond of the love story-ish aspect in general, but nothing in this book bothered me. SKP pulls it all off so well. I have read it, so I too, am lurking and reading these posts. George is like the proverbial "bad penny" - drat that man! Patience, my dear, patience.

Date Posted: 4/9/2010 4:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
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I breezed through this section. The story did take a bit of a "romance" turn but overall I am so impressed with this book! Penman's writing and historical detail is first rate.

George definitely had some mental and jealousy issues! I think Anne summed it up nicely when she told Richard that it did not matter how much you gave him, he would always want more.

How I wish I had read this novel prior to our visit to England. I had read more of the Henry VIII era. Some of our treks to historical battlefield grounds would have held more meaning for me. Guess I need to schedule a second trip to England :-)

Date Posted: 4/10/2010 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
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I'm well into Book 3 now.  I think I've put my finger on what makes SKP so great. (To me, at least.)  She takes the known events and personalities and, having decided her take on the motives and relationships that explain "why" they did what they did, she then builds into virtually every scene little tidbits that SHOW the motives and relationships building or disintegrating.  She's so darn good at it.  She's so good at tearing things apart, after having slowly built them, that it's damn painful. 

Take a few things with Edward, for example.  Anne says to Richard, about why Edward lets George continue to block their marriage, that the problem with Edward is that he puts off problems and confrontation, hoping they'll go away on their own.  That's a good, solid explanation based purely on an evalutation of Edwards actions.  SKP has woven that strand of personaliy into so many little fictional scenes that by the time Anne says this, it crystalizes the realization that, yeah, that's exactly what's going on with Edward.  Why ultimately he failed as a king, in spite of so many great quaiities, including his chrisma and ability to hold such a  group of nobles to himself, despite their disparate interests. He let things fester, rather than deal with them. 

Another example. When Edward meets Louis, Louis observes to one of his men who'd met Edward four years earlier, that (paraphrasing and summarizing) he's surprized Edward was so easily pacified into making peace instead of war.  Louis says the man hadn't told him that Edward liked his pleasures quite so much.  And the other man says that he thinks four years ago, he didn't.  And  Louis contemplates that some men can shine magnificently under hardship and challenge, but then don't deal well with success and ease.  And he says to himself that if Edward was losing his stomach for a hard champaign at 32, then he would have even less stomach for it at 35, 40 ... he (Louis) can bide his time.  Again, she's been building the foundation for this for awhile, and her choice in how she finally articulates it is compelling.

Another thing that she does SO well, that I would not expect to work.  She will take a quick shift in view to someone that doesn't matter at all, to SHOW something from an outside point of view, rather than just telling it from inside the character's own view.  For example, at the very end of Book Two, Anne, Richard takes Anne back to Middleham, and the whole populous, practically, has turned out to greet them and welcome her (daughter of Warwick) back.  They present her with a golden cup, or some such.  Then SKP jumps to two men observing the scene from a bit away.  In one paragraph, she simply identifies them as a local clergyman of some sort and a small time personality who wants to advance in local politics, and so has come to the event.  Getting the lay of the land with the new power--Gloucester.  The clergyman says the crowd has given its gift to the wrong person.  The other says (paraphrasing) "You think it should have gone to Gloucester himself?" "Yes, he's the one they need to please, not his wife".  "Wrong--look at his face--they could do nothing more to please him than honor her."  I have no idea if either of those characters ever showed up in the book before or after.  It doesn't matter.  In one paraph or two, she said just enough to establish their relevance and credibilty for the observation, and that's it.  Moves on and we don't care a bit about them.  Yet it's far more effective than just telling us from inside Richard's head, how pleased and happy he is.

Nobody does the show vs tell better than she does.  And the more of the real history you know (or learn after the fact) the more convincing it is, because of how skillfully she's woven in and around the history.  She's taking the known pieces of the puzzle and and arranging them and filling out the missing pieces so convincingly that even when you strip away her pieces from the real ones, you just can't see those real ones fitting together in a picture signficantly different from the one she showed you.  She's just amazing.  Every time I read one of her books, I come away re-affirming that she's my favorite HF author.  There are many others I love, but she is in a category of her own.



Last Edited on: 4/10/10 12:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/10/2010 3:12 PM ET
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Sharla -- What a terrific way of explaining what makes SKP such a great writer.

As I've been lurking in this discussion, I've just been itching to delve into her books again -- but there's a very long line of books that I have not yet read blocking the way. I may just have to say, "the heck with it," and start re-reading.

Date Posted: 4/10/2010 5:01 PM ET
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Sharla:  Beautifully explained.  Thank you.  I feel much just the same but without your eloquence.

Date Posted: 4/10/2010 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
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Yes very well said Sharla.

Date Posted: 4/11/2010 6:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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I agree, Sharla, good job!  SKP is so awesomely good! 

Date Posted: 4/12/2010 9:13 AM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
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I finished Book Three last night and began Book Four.  Okay, why was it that I was anxiously awaiting the end of George only to feel a bit sorry for him when the end came?  I guess it was because of the fact that Ned finally did away with him only because he and Elizabeth were deathly afraid that George would discover Ned's previous marriage contract and not necessarily because of his past doings.  Had that been Ned's motivation, he should have dropped the axe on George years ago. 

Date Posted: 4/12/2010 9:57 AM ET
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Yep.  And I think SKP has hit on a shrewd guess as to what it may have been that REALLY did George in.  Because, really, the crimes listed in the Bill of Attainder don't explain it.  Nothing recent was of anywhere near sufficient severity to warrant high treason and the death of the King's BROTHER.  And all the stuff that really DID warrant a high treason charge was such old news, that it couldn't have been the real motivation.  So I think any novelist is well justified in coming up with an alternative, necessarily secret, reason behind it.  And Ned's previous contract would certainly be a good reason for Ned to execute him in the face of the opposition of the rest of the family. 

Makes me wonder ... Ned had said years earlier to Richard, that with George, he either had to endure him, or to destroy him.  He couldn't destroy him (family, what it would do to Ma Mere, etc) so he had to be endured.  I wonder if Ned had chosen to break George much earlier, before he'd gone quite so far off the deep end, whether they could have been reconciled later, and avoided the events leading to George's execution.  Probably not.  George really was ... just inexplicable.



Last Edited on: 4/12/10 9:59 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/12/2010 11:27 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
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I had also wondered for years why George was executed.  The old stories about him drowning in a butt of malmsey wine just didn't seem right; unless you would consider it a pun as George seemed to be an alcoholic.  SKP's premise about a previous plight troth really DOES make a lot of sense.  I  seem to recall other historians pooh- poohing the notion because it was with one of Edward's paramours (Nell something or other I think).  Does anyone know if there is any real evidence for it to have been with the daughter of a powerful magnate as put forth in the book?  Seems like pretty compelling evidence to me if there is.

Date Posted: 4/12/2010 2:06 PM ET
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As I understand it, yes ... indeed.  It was only later that the well-known mistress was written into the story by a Tudor source/historian.  Prior to the efforts to rehab Richard's reputation, it was assumed that Richard simply had the story made up for his pretext to seize the throne.  There was only one witness left alive at Edward's death: Stillingham.  So it all comes down to Stillingham credibility.  And, naturally, how well one thinks it does or doesn?t fit with the actions and personalities of all the people involved, and their REACTIONS when the story came out.

 The telling point, to me, is that Henry had the act that explained the charge and disqualified Ned?s sons, Titulus Regius, revoked and every copy destroyed without being read.  Now, perhaps he was merely trying to destroy all record that his wife had had once been ruled illegitimate, by the wicked grasping uncle who killed her brothers.  On the other hand, maybe he was trying to destroy the record of the woman?s NAME, so that they could substitute another woman in the story, and this newly revised story could be easily discredited. Because, of course, not EVERY record was destroyed.  It came to light again later.

 I think it?s more likely than not that the story was true.  A lot of the odd things fall into place, if it?s true.  Like WHY Edward would conceal his marriage to Elizabeth for absolutely as long as he could, when the longer he concealed it, the more complicated things got internationally, and the worse things would be with Warwick when it all hit the fan.  Not to mention that Elizabeth must have been pressuring him to make it public.  Sure, his tendancy to not face unpleasant things, is a big part of it.  But when the downside to delay was so big, with no real upside?  However, if his marriage to Elizabeth was never valid in the first place, then that is good reason to conceal it.  Maybe he was contemplating getting rid of Elizabeth and moving on to a marriage with a woman of appropriate birth. But at some point, for some reason, he decided to make the marriage with Elizabeth REAL.

 What I AM convinced of, is that RICHARD believed it was true.  The Richard of the historical record, who was so loyal to Edward, and in whom Edward showed such trust and confidence, was not one to steal the throne from Ned's son.  Particularly not out of the blue, near the end of coronation preparations for him.  SO much makes sense, if it was true.   

George knowing or guessing is pure speculation, as far as I know.  I don?t know if this is original to SKP, or if others have gone there before.  But it?s a heckova stab at why Edward REALLY executed George.

 

ADDED: Correction:  The Wiki entries on the various people are interesting.  Apparently the only contemporary record to name the woman involved in the pre-contract was a French historian.  So apparently the Titulus Regius didn't name her.  But was later Tudor historians who named well-known mistress, Elizabeth Lucy (also known as Elizabeth Wayte) as the woman Stillington testified he had married to Edward. Elizabeth Lucy was probably the mother of Edward IV's bastard son Arthur, according to Wiki. 



Last Edited on: 4/12/10 3:07 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 4/12/2010 2:10 PM ET
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She was the daughter of John Talbot,  Earl of Shrewsbury by his second wife. Lady Eleanor Talbot (d. 1468) married to Sir Thomas Butler and mistress to King Edward IV.     Per, Wikipedia.  

My Talbot  ancestors.

Date Posted: 4/14/2010 3:11 PM ET
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 A last note to this issue:  Always take Wiki with a grain of salt.  I did some rummaging on the RIII site, and Eleanor Butler's name as the woman involved in the precontract is in several places, including the petition presented for Richard's accession, which petition was incorporated into the Titulus Regius.  So destroying a record of her hame may well have been part of Henry's motive for ordering all copies destroyed unread.

Date Posted: 4/14/2010 4:23 PM ET
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My exact reason for citing it,