Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Sunne In Splendour - Sharon Kay Penman

Sharon Kay Penman's biography of Richard III is one of my favorite books of all time. I have hesitated in writing this review for quite a while because I'm not sure I can do it justice.

Born into an England ripped apart by the bloody War of the Roses, Richard was in awe of his older brother Edward. He stayed loyal to his brother and loyal to Anne Neville, the daughter of the enemy. It was this loyalty that was his strength, and finally his undoing.

There are many things to enjoy. Her construction of the characters, how we slowly get to know them, their motivations and fears. Her description of the political backgroung of that complicated period that was 15th century England. And how she brings Richard III to life in a way that is totally convincing and very human.

The book follows Richard from a young age when he is still in the shadow of his brother till the powerful Earl he becomes under Edward IV reign and finally his rise to throne and his death. Her writing is full of historical detail, she gives us the historical background but also those little everyday happenings that make the story and the characters come alive.

It is inevitable that what stands out more when speaking of this book is her defense of Richard regarding the death of his nephews. She makes a compelling and believable case presenting other suspects and exonerating Richard from the dark legend Shakespeare made known.

Grade: A+

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