Sunday, 29 March 2009

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Another very 1970’s Gaveston novel

After reviewing ‘Where Nobles Tread’, in which Piers was portrayed in a very 1970’s, I decided to continue in that mode for my next review – Sandra Wilson’s ‘Alice’. The cover is better than that for ‘Nobles’. We have our heroine, ‘Alice’, looking a bit like Sophia Loren, to me. Piers is extremely macho on this cover – shirt open to reveal a very Tom Jones-like hairy chest. He’s also dark-haired in this novel. At the bottom of the picture is a very Tudor-looking executioner and a dejected Piers, awaiting his fate.

Once again, this novel is littered with clichés from the 1970’s. Piers and Alice often feel the ‘warmth’ coming from each other. And they seem to ‘want’ each pretty regularly. Of course, Alice does her best to resist Piers, not wanting to be one of his conquests – and Piers is genuinely in love with her. His wife does put in an appearance in this novel, but Piers has lost his heart to Alice. Piers is handsome, confident and powerful. Oh, and he’s completely heterosexual. He tells Alice has only shared the king’s bed out of friendship. Once again, Edward is seen as weak, easily led, frequently drunk, and it’s Piers who tries to keep him away from the boys he lusts after. How noble, eh? Indeed, he rounds on the king ‘like a tiger’ after catching him with a naked youth! This Piers also practices the ‘old religion’, and we get the tale of his mother being burned as a witch.

Piers meets his fate being very brave, telling Alice not to cry, as he won’t be able to prepare himself for fretting about her tears. Of course, as he is led away, Alice just has to swoon. The rest of the novel is taken up with an unsavoury episode between the Earl of Warwick and Alice, and she takes full revenge on him but poisoning him.

This is a typical ‘romantic novel’, full of historical accuracies and clichés, but once again, a novel I would have loved when I was about 14. Interestingly, at the end of the novel is this inscription –

‘Soon after Gaveston’s execution the earl of Warwick died mysteriously; it has been suggested he was poisoned by Gaveston’s mistress’.

This snippet comes from the ‘Official Guide to Warwick Castle’. Piers did have a mistress at one time – there is a record of an illegitimate daughter. But who the lady was, we don’t know – and there is no evidence Warwick was poisoned. If he was, I’d rather like it to have been Edward II himself- although a public execution would have been much more to my liking!