PASSAGE TO PONTEFRACT by Jean Plaidy

PASSAGE TO PONTEFRACT

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

The latest in line to Plaldy's Plantagenet thrones is that regal, oddly attractive mayfly, Richard II--deposed predecessor of the guilt-ridden Tudors (cf. Shakespeare) and historical pivot-figure. Here, however, unlike most of the Plantagenet sagas, the main events are domestic (there's relative calm across the Channel), starting off with the first wedding of Richard's uncle John of Gaunt--who will simmer with greedy, futile ambition when ten-year-old Richard, after a string of royal demises, becomes a bright and beautiful young king. (Plaidy imagines highly unlikely, anti-Gaunt murmurs from a media-wise citizenry: ""'He seeks to rule us,' it was murmured, '. . . he will attempt to take the crown from little Richard and there will be war.'"") So, after a skirmish involving religious-reformer Wycliffe and the Bishop of London, Gaunt flees to the country--while Richard, at 14, handles the Wat Tyler peasant rebellion by dispersing a murdering mob, then betraying the trust they put in him. And, home at the palaces, Richard has a companionable child-marriage with young Anne of Bohemia and another with the French king's pretty daughter--but his more passionate love seems reserved for close friend Robert de Vere (though nothing resembling Edward II's excesses is suggested). Family feuds escalate; Richard is impulsive and inept at government; he deeply offends Gaunt's son Henry Bolingbroke, And finally, then, his short life will end in humiliation, abdication, imprisonment, and death. A misty king in the midst of shifty uncles and cousins by the dozens--as Plaidy again fits simple motivations to complex historical events, with stolidly readable results.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1982
Publisher: Putnam