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I'm not sure if it was the writing or the poor performance, but I struggled with this one! I have listened to previous works by this author with no problem - so, maybe, it was more the performance? I do, however, struggle a bit with Bruno, who seems to walk, almost willingly, into every obvious trap which has been set for him!
14 of 14 people found this review helpful
I've said before that I think Parris is a better historian than Clements, who writes the John Shakespeare series, and her accounts of the flavour of Elizabethan times are far more convincing. Having said that, this one is a bit of a disappointment. I began to get rather tired of the exiled Bruno's attitudes which seem to be increasingly querulous, infantile and muddle-headed. Probably this is unfair, and you will say that it must have been tough to maintain a principled stance, as a dissident, in the face of so much religious intolerance and in the face of the sheer weight of self-interested royal and establishment influence. But it gets harder to sympathise with his quest for ownership of a book that he really thinks will contain knowledge to change the world. I suppose this is a very modern perspective. Books have changed the world - but not many of them, and the ones that did were famous for their ideas about the world, and not about some esoteric knowledge of it, known only to an elite few, that probably doesn't exist. Yes, I know people thought that sort of thing in those times - but you see how hard it is put yourself into that mindset, and I don't think Parris brings it off. This is my main complaint. The plot however is also rather confused and bears the marks of too hasty writing - writers are not well served by market demands for more of the same and fast. And I found it hard to care about the outcomes - none of the central characters seemed worth too much bothering about, one way or the other. Henry 111 of France is a poor, fragile soul at best, and his mother Catherine de Medici an unlovable tyrant. Nobody is really likeable or interesting in a more than passing way.
I did manage to get the end, however, which suggests it is worth a listen so long as you don't expect too much. Daniel Philpott's reading is fine. No complaints there. And I learned that the court of Henry 111 was in its way more alarming that Elizabeth's.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful