Sunday, October 11, 2015

In Praise of Jean Plaidy

Jean Plaidy- even now the name conjures up warm, happy memories. Her novels were the first grown-up books I read as a teenager, in common, I suspect, with many other women of my age. It was her historical romances that gave me an abiding interest in Henry VIII’s six wives with what to me is a real, passionate understanding of each woman - I felt I knew each one personally. The first Jean Plaidy I ever read was ‘Murder Most Royal’, about Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, and I remember the painful pleasure I felt with each of Anne’s triumphs as she became more powerful, even though I knew she was doomed. Catherine I just felt so sorry for; she didn’t stand a chance against the scheming of her greedy, selfish family; their total abandonment of her when she fell out of favour was heartbreakingly poignant. But it was Anne I gave my heart to; the book coloured my view of her so that to this day she is my favourite queen of England ever. I don’t care that she was selfish, arrogant and sometimes even cruel. She played the meagre hand she was dealt in life as a Tudor woman with subtle skill and nearly won. If only Elizabeth (my second favourite queen) had been a boy, her position in Henry’s court would have been unassailable.   
After that I was hooked and a visit to my local library was never complete without at least one Jean Plaidy book in my hand. There was a time when I could name all the Plantagenet kings and queens, all the Stuart kings and queens, and even knew which Hanoverian George was mad/ fat/ completely German and only saw Britain as a source of money. I remember writing about the Jean Plaidy books in my English language ‘O’ level, and waxing lyrical about how it made me feel as though I were transported back in time to each court. I often wonder what the examiner reading my paper must have thought. Still, I got a ‘B’ grade (and of course in those days, dear readers, as we know, the exams were much harder!) so I didn’t do too badly. I looked JP up on Wikipedia (fantastic resource – the novelist’s friend) and discovered that her real name was Eleanor Hibbert and that she wrote more than 200 books, including murder mysteries and crime thrillers. I now feel totally inadequate and so am signing off to try to complete my sixth novel. Only 194 to go!

Jacqueline Farrell writes historical and paranormal romances with The Wild Rose Press. Her two latest novels 'Sophronia and the Vampire' and 'Maids, Mothers and Crones' can be purchased from Amazon. Follow her on twitter @jacquiefw1 and on her website www.jacquelinefarrell.co.uk


7 comments:

Susanna Bavin said...

Thank you - you have just taken me back in time. I, too, was a Jean Plaidy reader. I specially remember Mary, Queen of Scots and Henry of Navarre. I also read her Victoria Holt gothic novels and the Philippa Carr series. I had no idea she wrote so many books, though. What an output!

Jacqueline Farrell said...

Loved the Victoria Holt books too - I'm going to be talking about them next blog. I could never quite get into the Philippa Carr books though. I'm going to try and find some crime thrillers she apparently wrote too.

Amanda Grange said...

I loved Jean Plaidy and I also loved her Victoria Holt novels. Funnily enough, I never really took to the Phiippa Carr novels either.

Jean Fullerton-East End Girl & Author said...

I'm a Jean Plaidy fan and I actually really liked her Georgian series. I also liked Spain for the Sovereigns and Murder Most Royal but it's hard to choose as there are so many great one.

Christina Courtenay said...

I still have all the Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr books - loved them! Couldn't get into the Jean Plaidy ones because I don't like books where I know how it's going to end :-)

Jacqueline Farrell said...

Thanks for all the comments. I loved the Spanish series too; in fact all the foreign ones. It made me look really knowledgeable when I was doing a level history because it looked like I really understood all the foreign policies of those eras when really all I knew about was who married who! Still I impressed my history teacher for about a minute.

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