Monday 8 April 2019

The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon K. Penman

Good Reads Revisited

"Reading this novel yet again, the experience is as interesting, entertaining and as downright enjoyable as it was the first time around several years ago now."

this edition published 2014

Biographical Fiction

“Richard, the last-born son of the Duke of York, was seven months short of his nineteenth birthday when he bloodied himself at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, earning his legendary reputation as a battle commander in the Wars of the Roses, and ending the Lancastrian line of succession. But Richard was far more than a warrior schooled in combat. He was also a devoted brother, an ardent suitor, a patron of the arts, an indulgent father, a generous friend. Above all, he was a man of fierce loyalties, great courage and firm principles, who was ill at ease among the intrigues of Edward's court. The very codes Richard lived by ultimately betrayed him. But he was betrayed by history too. Leaving no heir, his reputation was at the mercy of his successor, and Henry Tudor had too much at stake to risk mercy. Thus was born the myth of King Richard III, the man who would stop at nothing to gain the throne.”

Another of the treasured novels that sit on my bookshelf that I have recently revisited for a second (well, actually, third,) time. This is a novel that is jam-packed full of the sights, sounds and detail of Medieval battle. It has the detail of the customs and little things that made up the day-day living in the 1400s,  all skilfully blended in with the expectations, political intrigues and resulting dangers of the Royal Court politics, but there is the intimate human side here as well. The loves and hates, the joys and fears, the woes, cares and celebrations of individual people – no matter that they may be base or royal born.

Until I immersed myself in The Sunne In Splendour, I knew very little about Richard III, the Houses of York and Lancaster, the Wars of the Roses – in fact, virtually nothing about the fifteenth century at all. For discovering this century through the pages of such superbly written fiction, and the wonderful way that Ms Penman brings the characters that fill these (many!) pages with rich, colourful life, I profoundly thank the author. I can also attest that reading this novel yet again, the experience is as interesting, entertaining and as downright enjoyable as it was the first time around several years ago now.

Probably, my only caveat to this novel is that it is pro-Richard. If you are a Ricardian supporter: no worries, you will love this novel!

© Helen Hollick

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  1. I read this when I was 16, borrowed from my brother's school library. I once borrowed the hardback edition from the public library, despite owning the paperback, because I couldn't believe how very large it was. My most vivid memory of this novel is Edmund and the bridge... It prepared me for the likes of George R R Martin.

  2. I was 'bullied' into reading this by a member of the Australian SKP Appreciation Society. I gave in, I read it and it totally reunited me with reading and especially Historical Fiction. It is simply a masterpiece ....

  3. The second book of Sharin’s that I discovered - the first being When Christ and His Saints Slept.....I recently bought two more copies and sent them to friends - both of whom had interest in the period and had never heard of Sharon before.....happy to report she had two more fans!!

    This particular book holds so many memories for me, not good ones, but it was so amazingly written, it helped me deal with long hours on hospital waiting rooms while my Dad was ill.....and for that I will be eternally grateful to Sharon.


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