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The King's Touch by Jude Morgan

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The King's Touch by Jude Morgan

Post by boswellbaxter » Wed August 27th, 2008, 4:31 pm

The King's Touch is told in the first person by Jemmy (James, Duke of Monmouth), the best-known out-of-wedlock son of Charles II. It covers his life from his childhood with his beautiful, unstable mother to his decision to lead his rebellion against James II. Though Jemmy's military adventures play a part in this novel, this is by no means an action-packed tale. Nor is it concerned chiefly with the politics of the age, though they of course play an important background role. Rather, the focus is on Jemmy's relationships, most especially with his enigmatic father

Having been reading some others' thoughts about reviewing, it's struck me that my favorable reviews tend to be similar to each other: I praise the author's characterizations and writing style. That's no accident, because character to me is what the essence of novel writing is about; if I can't connect with the people in a novel on some level, the novel doesn't work for me. So having said that, you'll not be surprised to hear that I enjoyed The King's Touch chiefly for its characters. They're vivid and memorable, particularly Charles II and Jemmy himself.

Morgan's writing style is also a treat: elegant yet unfussy, and full of little gems like this comment about Jemmy's grandmother, Queen Henrietta Maria, who's just been told by Charles that he wants Jemmy raised as a Protestant: "My grandmother sat down tragically. (I cannot give a clear idea of tragical sitting-down, but my grandmother could manage it.)"

The dialogue here sparkles, and is appropriate to the characters, some of the best lines being too bawdy to quote here. Here's a random sample from Jemmy's cousin Mary, who's not looking forward to her wedding day: "'Then I am very well. But I am not, of course. It is not true, by the by, that I wept two days together after Father told me I was to marry Prince William. It was only a day and a half.'"

This was a great read. Pick it up.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles


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Post by Misfit » Sat October 18th, 2008, 7:20 pm

Alrighty, here's my take on it.

The King’s Touch is the story of Charles II’s illegitimate son Jemmy, James Duke of Monmouth. Written in the first person POV, Jemmy recounts his life story from being removed by Charles from his mother’s care, through his relationship with his father and his aunt Minnette, Charles’ restoration to the English Crown and finally ending at the start of the Monmouth Rebellion at Charles’ death. The life and reign of Charles II and the main characters (and Charles’ many mistresses) are fairly well known, and not worth rehashing further.

Those looking for an action packed, bawdy romp through the Courts of Charles II should look elsewhere, this is not the book for you – I’d recommend Forever Amber. Yes, we see his mistresses and the intrigues and scandals of the Restoration period, but in lesser degree – even the plague and the great fire of London are almost afterthoughts in the story. As other reviewers have noted, what this book is about is Jemmy and his relationship with his very enigmatic father as Jemmy struggles to come to grips with his illegitimacy as others intrigue to have him declared legitimate and the true heir to the crown.

As stated previously, this is not a fast paced book and one that should be read in small doses so you can sit back and savor them slowly like you would a very decadent truffle or a fine glass of red wine (or both!!). Unfortunately for me, I had this as an interlibrary loan and not renewable and found myself under the gun at the last minute to blow through 500 + pages and I feel it impacted my enjoyment of this a bit. 4/5 stars.

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