Books: Isabella: Braveheart of France by Colin Falconer

Got this as a Christmas gift and mostly enjoyed it. I've long had an interest in Isabella and Edward, so I generally pick up books about them when I find them, fiction or non. Falconer does a nice job of showing Isabella's mounting frustrations with her husband; when her long-suffering patience breaks, one wonders what took so long.

Falconer doesn't do much by way of description; his prose is spare and the chapters are short. People who enjoy more embroidery in their historical fiction would do better to stick with Philipa Gregory and/or Alison Weir. Really, Isabella is almost scriptlike: setting and mostly dialogue with a minimum of character direction (i.e., their physical actions). It is even written in present tense, like a screenplay.

The book would have benefitted from better proofreading. For one thing, Chapters 23 and 24 are exactly the same. Yes, I mean that somehow the chapter repeats (but has a different chapter number). And though Pembroke dies on page 137, he's somehow back again on 142. Isabella's deceased father too, albeit briefly, on 143. These issues along with a number of punctuation errors were distracting. But that may just be my years of working as a book editor talking.

A quick read that gives a historical accounting of what happened and when, and strives to give the reader Isabella's point of view. It mostly succeeds.

No comments: