How to Bury a King

Book Review:  How to Bury a King:

The Reinterment of King Richard III

Pete Hobson, How to Bury a King: The Reinterment of King Richard III.  Zaccmedia, 2016

On 26 March 2016, the one year anniversary of Richard III’s reinterment in Leicester Cathedral, three books and a CD were launched in St Martin’s House adjacent to Leicester Cathedral.

The launch was held in the great hall of St Martin’s House, with the choir singing to publicise the release of the CD.  He lieth under this Stone features much of the choral music performed at Leicester Cathedral during the reinterment week in March 2015.  Of course, it also includes ‘Ghostly Grace’, composed especially for the occasion by Judith Bingham.

The three books were How to Bury a King by Rev Peter Hobson, acting canon missioner at Leicester Cathedral, Flowers for a King by Rosemary Hughes, who was responsible for the floral arrangements in the Cathedral, and Richard III – His Story, by Leicester artist Kirsteen Thomson. Continue reading

She-Wolves

Book Review:  She-Wolves

Helen Castor, She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth. Faber and Faber, London, 2010 (Hbk)

She-Wolves deals, as the subtitle tells us, with “The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth”, ie. Matilda the Empress, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Margaret of Anjou and, less thoroughly, Queen Mary. It is an easy to read account of these ladies’ lives and “reigns”. For me the parts dealing with Matilda and Isabella were of particular interest, because my knowledge about these two had been rather limited. It certainly will make me investigate them further. If this was Helen Castor’s aim, she was successful. In this respect the book serves the same purpose as a well-written historical novel, which is actually what this book feels like.

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Girl in a Green Gown

Book Review: Girl in a Green Gown

Carola Hicks, Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait. Vintage, London, 2012 (Pbk)

The title of the book, Girl in a Green Gown, refers to the female figure in the famous Arnolfini portrait of a man and a woman. In this book, Carola Hicks investigates a wide variety of aspects relating to the portrait. It was painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434, as this is stated in an inscription on the picture: “Johannes van Eyck fuit hic” and the year. Van Eyck was court painter of Philip ‘the Good’, Duke of Burgundy. It is remarkable that the history of this painting can be traced through the centuries and its various owners from when it was painted until it ended up in London’s National Gallery in 1842. Continue reading

Thomas Cromwell

Book Review: Thomas Cromwell

Tracy Borman, Thomas Cromwell: The untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant. Hodder & Stoughton, 2015 (PB)

In anticipation of Wolf Hall being shown on Australian TV, I bought Tracy Borman’s biography of Thomas Cromwell during a recent trip to the UK (the series started being shown on pay TV on 11 April). I never found Henry VIII and most of his six wives, with the exception of Anne of Cleves, very appealing, so his powerful minister was a foray into fairly unchartered waters for me. Incidentally it was Anne of Cleves, who was the stumbling block over which Thomas Cromwell eventually fell. Continue reading