Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: The Pleasure Palace by Kate Emerson

Title: The Pleasure Palace
Author: Kate Emerson
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Pocket Books
Published: 2009
Pages: 400

Rating: 2 out of 10

From beginning to end, this was a fluffy book that made for painful reading.

It is the story of Jane Popyncourt, who flees 1500's France to England with her mother at a young age. There, she does her best to blend into the royal court of King Henry VIII.

I was bored by the hollow characters here, especially Jane herself. Her thoughts seemed so wooden and scripted.
The writing was abrupt and hurried through, certain things struck me as a bit too unrealistic, and there were a few plot points that were never really tied up.
The basis of the story, which has Jane's mother fleeing her country, is never fully explained.

For a few chapters, Jane spends a great deal of pages coming up with an involved, elaborate plan to get the king alone in order to speak with him privately. However, this never made much sense to me because Jane seems to have a good relationship with the king, and sees him as often as she wishes. Surely she could simply ask to speak to him privately, or lower her voice? But no. Instead, she hatches a scheme to pretend-seduce the king, culminating in his being in his bedroom with her and about to undress her (is that alone enough?). At this moment, Jane tells him that actually, there will be no sex. In fact, quite the opposite - she wants him to do a favor for her. Considering the fact that Henry VIII was known for being so lusty and prone to tantrums (not to mention being a man), I found it very suspicious that he accepts this bewildering changing of the tides with little more than a twinge of disappointment. And to make everything even worse, Jane's secret request isn't even secretive. It wouldn't have mattered if she had asked the King in public after all. The whole thing was ridiculous.

The above paragraph is simply one example of writing that often made no sense. A smaller thing would be that Jane recognizes her brother immediately after not seeing him since she was 9 (I cannot remember how old she was at the time, but most likely around 20), and doesn't even make that big of a deal of their reunion.
Jane is always being described as innocent and good and child-like, though she does take a lover, which would almost certainly have lost her these titles in her day and age. The King himself calls her "child" when she is in her 30's, and not as a pet name. Um...
I was annoyed at Jane constantly referring to her romantic interest, Guy, as if it was the first time the reader was hearing of him. Hundreds of pages after we first meet Guy, she is still saying "I saw his brother, Guy..." or "I say a young man named Guy Dunois walking by..." Alright, we know who he is now!

I cannot think of anything I enjoyed about this poorly written book.