Skip to main content

Review: The Royal Griffin, by Juliet Dymoke

Pages: 278

Original date of publication: 1978

My edition: 1978 (ACE)

Why I decided to read: an interest in the Plantagenets led me to pick this up

How I acquired my copy:, February 2010

The Royal Griffin is the story of Eleanor of England (youngest daughter of King John and sister of Henry III) and her second husband, Simon de Montfort, the baron who helped shape the parliamentarian history of England. The story covers the life of Eleanor from her first marriage in 1224 to William Marshal, eldest son of the famous William Marshal, goes up through Simon de Montfort’s attempt to take the throne, ending nearly at the end of Eleanor’s life, when she became a nun.

It’s a huge period of time to cover, and Dymoke does jump over periods of time in order to cover the major action of Eleanor and Simon’s lives. For example, at one moment Eleanor is giving birth to their eldest son, Henry; next thing you know he and his siblings are teenagers! In some ways this harms the novel, because there’s not a lot of room for character development; Eleanor hardly seems to change at all from being a teenager to being middle-aged.

Nonetheless, the novel is well-researched, and pretty much jives with what’s known about the people involved in this story, or what was written about them (the author seems to have borrowed a lot from Matthew Paris’s accounts of the Plantagenet family, which although contemporary were not always, shall we say, objective). Dymoke doesn’t take too many liberties with history, which is in many ways good, because it’s a fascinating story. The author recreates mid-13th century England and its various political struggles in great detail at times, though would have liked a more in-depth description of the scene at the battle of Evesham. Still, this novel is a good introductory, fictional account of this era, though for historical fiction on the period, Sharon Kay Penman’s novels are much meatier.


Sounds like an interesting read. I love Penman's books and can understand why it would be difficult for other authors to live up to the extremely high standard she has set.

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…