If you seen the Monty Python musical Spamalot, you’ll know there’s a character who yells, “Stop that! Stop that! Stop it! No more bloody singing!” If you haven’t seen the play, well…I just told you what the line was, so now you know! I wouldn’t want anyone to feel left out.
Behold! The Killer Bunny scene!
I mention Spamalot not just because I love any excuse watch a clip of Monty Python’s scene (above) with “the most foul, cruel and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on.” But also because, I, Queen WendyB the First, Protector of the Fashion/Royal History Blog Realm (a small realm but quite fearsome when provoked), feel like screaming, “Stop that! Stop that! No more bloody historical fiction!”
Anne Boleyn’s sister has created a monster.
I feel the success of The Other Boleyn Girl (Girl With a Pearl Earring can share the blame) has led to an excess of historical novels. I usually buy my books on Amazon, but I had to kill some time in a Barnes & Noble the other day. Within five minutes, I discovered Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell, author of the fair-to-middling The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn; The Secret Life of Josephine by Carolly Erickson, author of the fair-to-middling The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette; and The Queen’s Handmaiden, about Elizabeth I, which resorts to ye olde “as told by a faithful servant” plot. Then there was Mozart’s Sister by Rita Charbonnier, which shouldn’t be confused with two earlier books: Mozart’s Sister by Nancy Moser and Mozart’s Sister by A.M. Bauld. Finally, there was Pilate’s Wife by Antoinette May, which should not be confused with the Pilates Method, an exercise that models and actresses practice between cigarettes and starvation.
Thank you to Jus Rhythm Pilates for the image.
I’ve previously bemoaned the outbreak of “secret” diaries and journals, all apparently smuggled out of prison up some obliging jester’s ass after the queen du jour goes off to her execution. Why can’t people just tell a story? Why does it have to be a secret, ass-stored autobiography? The faithful female servant’s story can be just as trite. I’ve read several that were so vague about the details of life at the time the action takes place that they practically seem set in modern times, but with more horses and fewer cars and cell phones. Plus, the servants’ tales are almost guaranteed to foist upon the helpless reader a romantic subplot with an incredibly handsome, chivalric, emotionally supportive, comfortable-but-not-rich and exceptionally boring knight who will sweep the servant off her feet and away from the dreadful, dangerous court.
Then, thanks to the Misses Boleyn, we have the sister plots. Nefertiti is a good example of this. It’s like The Other Boleyn Girl just up and moved to ancient Egypt. Nefertiti plays Anne, the bratty, beautiful and brainy girl, pimped out by a scheming male relative to a crazy royal husband. Younger sister Mutnodjmet plays “the other girl,” though in this case she’s a strangely college-educated-sounding adolescent midwife who is, yes, swept off her feet by a handsome, chivalric, emotionally supportive and exceptionally boring soldier who has saved up for a rainy day. Thanks to his astute financial planning, Soulja Boy can afford to take Mutnodjmet away from the dreadful, dangerous court.
The point of this rant is to let you know that as I continue writing about queens, I may not mention every book that is out there. I will be too busy writing my own. Here’s how I’m going to pitch it to Judith Regan: beautiful, brainy and bratty queen, who is the sister of a noted composer, forces her younger sister into servitude that involves carrying the queen’s diaries up her ass. What do you think? Movie deal or miniseries?