Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Worst Historical Fiction Novel Ever

I'm usually pretty forgiving of authors. Actually, that's a lie. If a publishing company has taken the time and effort necessary to publish a book, I expect the book to meet a certain quality level. This book did not.

To be completely fair, I impulse-bought the book, and I didn't look at it carefully. If I had, I never would have bought it. I saw it on a table at Borders, and it was half-price. It is about Queen Mary I of England, and I have been wanting to read a biography of hers. When I first started reading it, though, I realized that it was not in fact a biography - it was a historical fiction novel that takes place during her reign. I felt stupid, but I like historical fiction (see my collection of Philippa Gregory novels), so I thought I'd read it anyways.

It turns out that Queen Mary is in the novel a total of 4 times. It is more like a romance novel - only the main character is a Spanish man who is in England to construct a giant sundial for the Queen as a wedding gift from her new Spanish husband. It's never sunny in England - why would a sundial be necessary? It turns out it's not, and he has to sit around in England for a year witnessing the discontent of the English people with their queen who has married a Spanish Prince and faked a pregnancy.

Meanwhile, he falls in love with a maid in the house where he's living, but is married to a woman back in Spain with their son. Through flashbacks, the story of his life unfolds, and the best thing I can think to say about him is that he's a pussy. His first "conquest" was a maid in his household, who seduced him, and then left the house to marry someone else. The second was his brother's wife who came to have sex with him only once a month - when she was certain she wouldn't conceive. The third (his wife) was married to his best friend. When his friend died, he asked her to marry him, and she said yes so she wouldn't have to be alone. Then she later got pregnant, but after the baby was born he realized it wasn't his. But he never said anything, because he wanted a son, and ... whatever.

Then he falls in love with this English woman, but can never tell her. She has to make the first move. Then they hook up, but he totally sells her out and then goes back to Spain to be with his wife who doesn't love him, and his son who's not really his son.

I don't mind telling you the whole story, because I never want you to waste your time reading this book (even though you'd only be wasting a couple of hours). It's cheesy, though it aspires to be deep and meaningful, and it has a very unsatisfying ending. Also, the writing is terrible - infuriating even. It's like Yoda wrote the book. It's full of phrases like: "Somewhere upriver, far from all this kerfuffle, with her newborn son, was the queen." Thanks Yoda.

Rarely am I this stongly against a book. But I was angry at the author, and even angrier at the publisher for most of the novel. Harper should not have wasted its time or money. I will never read another book by Suzannah Dunn again. Good thing I only paid half-price.

Rubbish. This is one of the rare occasions where I mis-judged a book by its cover.

1 comment:

  1. I so agree! I read this book and immediately wished I hadn't. What a waste of paper. I'm glad I got it from the library instead of buying it. Hopefully you were able to return it?