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Monday, September 28, 2009

Halloween and The White Queen

Happy Monday!

Hello Everyone!  

Jack-O-LanternToday is the start of a new week in which we'll see the end of a month, the start of a new month and the end of the first week in fall.  Yes, that's right, it is officially fall.  Where did all the time go?  It's hard to believe that summer is over and that winter is right around the corner - not going there.  Just like I don't want to hear Christmas songs the first day of November, I don't want to think of winter until the day after Thanksgiving.  Right now, I want to think of Halloween and embrace it!  

Yes, Halloween, that holiday that so many parents want to pc out the door and ignore it because they are afraid of the "influence" it has over children.  As if enjoying a good vampire story makes you a pariah or something.  I'm damn tired of teachers and schools trying to make kids feel bad about being witches, vampires, ghosts and goblins.  I don't understand the negative attitude at all.  At one time, November 1st was considered a day to celebrate the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the winter season.  

As many of you writers and studiers of Shakespeare know, fall and winter have long since had a connection with death while spring and summer were for renewal and life.  It was this way even in the time of the Egyptians as well as the Celts.  The catholic church and those like it, are the reasons the day has been given such a bad rep.  

For catholics, November 1st has long since been known as All Saints Day, but it really started as All Hallows Day, or All Souls Day, but it wasn't always this way.  According to sources, the original date for the feast of All Souls was on May 13th, the date of what was considered to be another pagan holiday, Feast of the Lemures.  

Rutabaga Lantern fromThe funniest thing is that most of the current Halloween traditions didn't really become traditions until the 19th century.  It's funny to think that if pumpkins weren't so prevalent here in the U.S., that we'd still be carving rutabagas into jack-o-lanterns!  Yes, that's right, the first jack-o-lanterns were made from rutabagas!  On the same note, it wasn't until the 19th century, that the paranormal elements we enjoy today were tied to the holiday.  The notions that there is any satanic ties to the holiday stem from the roman catholic church - just one more way in which the popes have told people what to do and think and have created unnecessary bigotry and problems that still exist today.  There are several areas that have p.c.-ed the holiday by preventing children from dressing up as witches, demons, devils, vampires, etc., and the schools involved aren't even religious, they're public schools!  It's completely ridiculous! 

So, do your best this year to take back the holiday that is Halloween!  Watch scary movies, read paranormal, suspense, horror or thriller novels.  Take away the damage that has been done to this day and get back to the roots and celebrate the end of the harvest and take time to remember the dead.  Is it possible that those with the second sight have a stronger chance of getting a more accurate reading that night?  I leave that for you to answer.  

Not sure what to read?  Well, stay-tuned in October as we invite many paranormal and suspense authors into the moonlight.  

In the mean time, let's get back to The White Queen.  

The White QueenIn part one of my review for this book, I spend most of the time talking about what you'll find on the book jacket.  Well, I may not have been able to finish the book by now, but that's okay because I don't need to finish the book to tell you I like it.  

Philippa Gregory has such a talent for blurring the line between fact and fiction.  It's also important to note that some of the mystery here, with this book happen because of certain important places where events took place - Calais and Nottingham.  All I can think about whenever I hear these names are the Three Musketeers and Robin Hood.  

But that's not what keeps me glued to this story.  It's the way Gregory uses rumor and speculation as well as the notion of parental favoritism.  Confused yet?

Well, throughout the first half, there are rumors that Edward was not the son of the king and therefore didn't have a legitimate claim to the throne.  The notion that his own mother perpetuates this as true in favor of her second son George, and to get him on the throne in place of Edward.  So, not only is this the war of the roses (the war of the cousins of York and Lancaster), it's a war of brother vs. brother!  It's completely scandalous!  

Also, Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick, has a reputation as a Kingmaker, turns against the very man he made king.  Gregory suggests that the reason for this has to do with the fact that Edward, a York, chose to marry Elizabeth of Woodville, the widow of a Lancastrian enemy, over Warwick's choice for his bride (a French Princess).  History has argued that the marriage between the two had been "illegal" and not recognized by the law.  However, the question of an actual pre-contract of marriage between Edward and the French Princess still remains.  Why were people able to declare this marriage as false?  Because the main witnesses were women and the priest and it was done in "secret", implying that there were reasons they could not be wed.  

However, if you look at the facts of the matter, Neville put King Edward on the throne, and Edward's "marriage" to Elizabeth, negated Neville's plans and essentially removed any supposed power he had.  It is after this time that Neville begins to plot to put Edward's younger brother George on the throne.  As far as historical sources say, the contract was in negotiations, but never actually completed, which means (as far as I am concerned) that there wasn't any pre-existing contract to impede the marriage of Edward and Elizabeth of Woodville.  

It's all of this political stuff that makes some feel that the story is weighed down.  However, you have to remember that you are dealing with royalty and not just any royalty, but some of the most warring royalty of all time!  Getting the throne wasn't just about fighting and winning or losing battles, but it was about destroying the credibility of the bloodline of the king.  See, you can't just kill a king, or you are, by law, considered a traitor, so you have to be methodical about it.  You have to destroy a king from the inside out.  You need to first discredit his bloodline, his marriage, his family, do anything to destroy his followers faith in him, so that when it comes time for battle, he doesn't have many supporters.  In the same right, you have to make sure that there is a "legitimate" heir to the throne ready to step up and you have to make sure that this heir is popular so that there will be arms support in battle.  

Yes, this is complicated and convoluted at times because of all of the in-fighting and inter-marriages, but Gregory has done a superb job in helping the reader keep things straight.  But that isn't the only thing that makes this particular story a tasty treat.  It's also in the way she wove a legend into the story as though it could be fact.  

She opens the story with tale of Melusina and credibly ties Elizabeth of Woodville to this mythical being, accounting for the paranormal second sight and connection to the wind and seas that both Elizabeth and her mother have in this book.  Very cleverly done and again, the references are done so well that it is believable.  

So, do I suggest this book?  Absolutely!  Again, if the depth of the material scares you off, then opt for the audiobook recording.  I'm somewhat perturbed to find that there is the abridged version at my library because you will inevitably not be told something important to understanding another part of the story.  The unabridged version is the one that I will always recommend.  

Have I managed to intrigue you? Would you like to win a copy of this book? Well, to enter your name in the drawing, leave a comment at the post found by clicking here! Be sure to select the link that says, "Post a Comment" - Thanks!            

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Molly Daniels said...

Feeling a little repititious here...I want to read it!!!

Happy Monday Carrie:)

Carrie said...

Well, that's good! That's my goal!

Judy said...

I am going to read this. I have seen it reviewed so many places and I love her books. My next order I will order this, if I don't win it somewhere:)

Sheila Deeth said...

You had me as soon as you mentioned Kingmaker. It's the name of a board game we used to love at college, and source of much of my love for English history.