Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Review: The Adventures of Alianore Audley

... set during the Wars of the Roses, with Alianore acting as a spy for Edward IV and Richard III. I am not sure how to classify the book, for it is not a historical novel in the true sense. It is a spoof, I suppose, but a very clever one and done from a Yorkist perspective, so naturally I enjoyed it! I realize it may not be to everyone’s taste, so I am going to quote a few passages to let you judge for yourselves. Here the tart-tongued Alianore is speaking of her husband (whom she loves).

“Roger wore his collar of golden Yorkist suns to show that he was one of the king’s knights, ludicrous piked shoes to show that he was fashionable, and a massive codpiece to show that he had a vivid imagination.” And here she describes Elizabeth Woodville (whom she does not love) as “Elizabeth too-sexy-for-her-hennin Woodville.” And this is her “take” on the third marriage of Margaret Beaufort (the mother of Henry Tudor) to Thomas Stanley. “She and Stanley having fallen deeply in love with each other’s money.”

The author, Brian Wainwright, has also written a “serious” historical, Under the Fetlock, set in the reign of Richard II, and I have it on my To Read List. You have to be knowledgeable about a time period to be able to spoof it successfully. As for Alianore’s adventures, if you like Monty Python, you’ll like Alianore.
Sharon Kay Penman

A wonderful romp set in 15th-century England. The machinations of the Wars of the Roses and life at the court of Richard III are seen through the eyes of royal spy Alianore Audley. Told with zest, a deep love and knowledge of the period, not to say a wicked sense of humour and plenty of tongue in cheek, Brian Wainwright deserves far greater recognition than he currently gets.
Elizabeth Chadwick's Top 10 Historical Novels, The Guardian

…Wainwright's Alianore Audley holds a place in my heart. What an endearing heroine, if ever there was one. Alianore, by pure mischance (or perhaps great good fortune), leaves her quiet, boring existence in the convent that her brothers have summarily dumped her in. (Where else can a girl in 15th century England go?) Clearly, Alianore is not meant for the contemplative life. The alternative is natural: she becomes a spy for her cousin, Edward IV. Natural? It does seem that way as events unfold. Despite the fact that Alianore is initially sent to the North to gather intelligence for Edward so that she is prevented from getting into mischief, she becomes an invaluable asset to the Yorkist cause.

Alianore's riotously funny insights into the obnoxious and abusive Warwicks, tongue-in-cheek barbs at Margaret Beaufort and Lord Stanley, disrespectful comments about everyone from "Cousin Edward" to the "Tudor Slimebag" (Henry VII), and loving remembrances of Richard and Anne liberally pepper this all-too-brief book. Wainwright has a feel for the period and presents it in a unique and enjoyable fashion.

How to give you who read this review a flavor of the times as seen through Alianore's wickedly funny but loving perspective is tantamount to impossible. You've just got to be there. Read it.
Ilysa Magnus, The Historical Novels Review

Roger wore his collar of golden Yorkist suns to show that he was one of the King's knights, ludicrous piked shoes to show that he was fashionable, and a massive codpiece to show that he had a vivid imagination.

Alianore Audley is a good, submissive, demure woman of the fifteenth century … and if you believe that, you'll believe anything. But she is a spy in Edward IV's intelligence service, and the author of a chronicle that casts - well, a new light, let's say, on the times of the Yorkist kings. History will never be the same after Alianore. Nor will most other novels.

Brian Wainwright's debut novel The Adventures of Alianore Audley is a brilliantly funny, subversive spoof.

No comments:

Post a Comment