Friday, July 27, 2012

The First Princess of Wales

After I read The Irish Princess, I thought it would be worth it to look into more books by Karen Harper, and I found The First Princess of Wales. I thought it sounded super neat! An earlier time period than I've read and new characters; I'm always up for that! So I checked it out from the library and started reading it, when I realized that the original title was Sweet Passion's Pain. If I had known that in the first place, I don't know that I would have picked up the book. It sounds a little like a harlequin novel! But I was already into the book and liked it so far, and it didn't seem naughty, so I kept reading. 

The First Princess of Wales is a historical fiction set in medieval times about a young girl, Joan of Kent, who is brought to Queen Phillipa's court and meets and falls in love, and lust, with Edward the Black Knight, Prince of Wales, who returns her lusty feelings, and perhaps her love. However, the Queen and King do not find Joan to be a suitable match for their son and she is quickly married off to someone else., despite the fact that Edward and Joan have become lovers and intend to stay that way. [Their lovemaking is not described in awkward detail.] It felt a lot like that game we used to play: Do, Date, or Marry. Or was it Do, Dump, or Marry? Either  way . . .

This novel just didn't read the way I thought it would. It wasn't what I thought it would be. [I also came into the novel thinking it was about the York/Lancaster split. My bad! But I'd love to read a book like that if anyone knows of one!] What I thought would be at least the middle, if not earlier, was the end! It took so long to get there, and then there was nothing after! I wanted to read more and was disappointed that it was already over. If I wasn't so determined to finish the book though . . . it's just that Harper's books take soooo long to read! They draaaag on and on! Both of hers that I've read have taken me much longer than I would have though given the number of pages and subject matter. I feel like I should like her work, but I just really don't. I kept finding myself thinking that it would have been more exciting if Philippa Gregory had written it. She's much more of a captivating author. Gregory also includes a family tree when necessary, which Harper didn't. I really needed one, because Joan and Edward are related, probably third cousins given my reading, but sometimes they talked and made it sound like a much closer relation. A family tree would have been helpful. Gregory, as most historical fiction writers, also adds an author's note or a historical note at the end to explain what was truth and where liberties were taken. Harper did no such thing. So I went to my easiest and closest resource: Wikipedia. And Wikipedia makes Joan sound so much more interesting than the book ever did!  It talks about her plotting to get even with the king for her fathers death, as does the back of the book, but that was hardly present compared to her pining over Edward and their illicit rendezvouses!  Harper clearly took liberties with her characters, especially their ages in relation to one another and when events happened, and was inconsistent throughout. 

Really, it was like Karen Harper took some characters from history and instead of writing a historical fiction, she wrote a romance. And it was a very strange romance at that, given that *ahem* force was often used. Anyway, there were some good parts, but I expected a much higher caliber of writing and, frankly, research about the subject. The First Princess of Wales was a bit of a let-down for me. 

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