The Sunne in Splendour is a long, exciting historical novel. It took 12 years to write, with a long gap after her first manuscript was stolen. She says she wrote it as the story of King Richard III grabbed her imagination, and her feeling that history had dealt a raw hand to Richard. Sharon Penman obviously undertook a great deal of research. She has succeeded in rewriting a gripping story based on fact.
Reading this book lead me to do my own less intensive research. I read two other books about this time, the highly acclaimed book by Alison Weir, “The Princes in the Tower”. This really gives an impartial review of the facts as we know them, and is also very readable and Desmond Seward’s, “The Wars of the Roses”.
Of course, with a novel one has to insert conversations and change locations and even known facts to fit your unique story. The imagined love between Richard and his wife is surely just one case on point, since, according to my research, he behaved in a very unsympathetic manner towards her when she was terminally ill. However, the description of the battle of Bosworth is so realistically told that one can imagine almost that one is there, hearing the shouting and screams, and the cries of “Treason”. One can almost feel the heat, and smell the blood and sense the desperation of the last charge where Richard almost succeeded in reaching Henry – how different the story would have needed had Richard not been betrayed and had won that battle.
And the history is still being written as new discoveries are made, and new scientific methods become available. This novel made me think, it made me look into the reality, so quite apart from being a very enjoyable read, it was also educational and memorable.
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