Posts Tagged ‘Carolly Erickson’
Argh…I just can’t seem to get into a book lately. I really can’t. I started reading Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson. I knew it was a risk. I hate anything to do with Robert Dudley because I just can’t stand him. Yet I decided to go with it anyway because I felt like reading something historical. Argh.
120 pages in, I couldn’t do it. First, well..it’s Robert Dudley. There’s nothing great about him. He’s not God’s gift to women. Lettie (main character) put him on a bloody pedestal and practically worshiped this SOB. FFS. This is the LAST thing I needed to read.
There’s nothing I hate more than having a main female character gush over the object of her desire and affection. It’s almost to the point where it’s gets repetitive, sickening, and really really silly. This is one of the main reasons why I hated Memoirs of a Geisha. Yes. I HATED the book. The Geisha wouldn’t shut up about her stupid Chairman and I felt like smacking her silly, and throwing her into the ocean for being a lovesick cow. Argh. I hate characters like that. I made a vow to myself if I came across another stupid character that behaved like that I wouldn’t read it from cover to cover. Once was enough for me.
To add more to the misery, Rival to the Queen has a bear baiting scene. I know that sort of sport was popular during that time but I really didn’t need to read about it. It had nothing to do with the plot and it was just a meeting place..of ALL PLACES in England you chose a bear baiting spot??? WTF?
So, sorry to say, I had to close this book and not finish it. It’s one of the rare moments but I can’t stomach this kind of thing. Definitely not what I was looking for in this book.
So those of you that have read of Rival to the Queen did you like it? or not?
This is my first book where I read about Napoleon and Josephine. I’ve heard so much about this history, but I never learnt about it. So, this is the first time I actually went into this part of French history. With some extra help from Wikipedia, I had enough background information to be able to read this book without being confused. (I learnt my lesson dearly…thank you, Wars of the Roses…). Some might find it helpful to read a bit of history first before going into a historical fictional novel. Some might have no problem at all and will just jump in and read. I prefer to know the facts first before reading fiction. It helps me to know who is who. (Especially with books that do not provide a family tree).
Born on the Caribbean island of Martinique, Josephine had an exotic Creole appeal that would ultimately propel her to reign over an empire as wife of the most powerful man in the world. But her life is a story of ambition and danger, of luck and a ferocious will to survive. Married young to an arrogant French aristocrat who died during the Terror, Josephine also narrowly missed losing her head to the guillotine. But her extraordinary charm, sensuality, and natural cunning helped her become mistress to some of the most powerful politicians in post-Revolutionary France. Soon she had married the much younger General Bonaparte, whose armies garnered France an empire that ran from Europe to Africa and the New World and who crowned himself and his wife Emperor and Empress of France. He dominated on the battlefield and she presided over the worlds of fashion and glamor. But Josephine’s heart belonged to another man–the mysterious, compelling stranger who had won her as a girl in Martinique. (Taken from Chapters website product description).
Wow Josephine. You’re quite saucy. Very saucy. I found it a little hard to like her. She seemed superficial, flaky, and although I’m sure she was a good mother, there was just something about her I could not sympathize with. Perhaps she’s just too much of a party animal for her own good. It annoyed me though, with her behavior towards Napoleon and when the tables turned on her she had the galls to say:
“I felt a pang, for until now I believed that he had been faithful to me. I knew I had no right to expect fidelity as I had a lover of my own. Yet the thought of my husband with another woman was surprisingly hurtful to me.”
Whatever Josephine. It’s okay if you act that way, but when someone does the same thing to you, you feel the right to whine and cry about it. Go find the next man on your list of many and move on. That is not to say that Napoleon was a saint. He was far from it and I just couldn’t understand why she put up with his horrible treatment. So, I really didn’t find any of the characters in the book that likable. Despite this though, I did enjoy reading this book. The history in it was well written and detailed. I liked the detailed setting of Martinique, and how it might have been back then. The descriptions on how chaotic France was during this time was good enough to give you the atmosphere and feel of the time and how horrible the Reign of Terror really was although, even then Josephine found a way to “have fun” it’s like she was on very strong Viagra medication all throughout this time, and throughout the book. I’d have to say at least there wasn’t much in terms of explicit scenes regarding her exploits. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have read the book from cover to cover.
Regarding the “stranger” that she fell in love with on Martinique. I thought it was a little strange at first. Especially when she first meets this person. I didn’t think he actually existed (apparently, she was visited by someone while sleeping and it felt like a dream) that particular sequence got me wondering why was this included and what was the point? I wondered if maybe it had to do with the spiritual theme of Martinique and what the slaves believed in. However I thought that part was just unnecessary and even silly. It just didn’t need to be there. As the book progresses, the stranger is finally explained and the mystery surrounding him is lifted. It was a tolerable explanation, but at least I finally knew he actually existed.
Basically it boils down to this; I liked the book because of the history surrounding Josephine and Napoleon. The writing was good and the historical setting was excellent and definitely gave the reader a good sense of the scene and the events surrounding these two important historical figures. I believe Josephine’s exploits were just added to make the story more entertaining and more interesting. However that’s where it fails. I think the reader would prefer reading more on Josephine’s volatile relationship with Napoleon instead of her wild escapades with other men. If the reader could ignore that (hard to do, as it’s mentioned a lot throughout the book) and just focus on the historical aspect of the book, you could say, that it’s a decent enough book to read.
I give it a 6 out of 10.