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Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Monarchs In Rhyme - Cover

Monarchs In Rhyme
A Lighthearted and Irreverent History of English Monarchs from William 1 to Edward VII
by Linda Mockett

Here's the link to Amazon:

Sometimes it's great when historical is hysterical.  There is room for stuffy, academic storytelling about the past but there is also a need for a more lighthearted look back and Monarchs In Rhyme fits the bill.

It's a collection that canters through the Normans, Plantagenets, Tudors, Stuarts, Hanoverians and Saxe-Coburg-Gothas.  As Linda M says, "this is a book that rhymes, that offends, casually but even-handedly, that plays fast and loose with the rules of grammar and that skates lightly upon the surface of history."

Here's an example:

Intended for the Church, his bro's demise

took Henry - pampered youngster - by surprise.

He learnt to take succession in his stride

and also (to save cash) his brother's bride.
For twenty years his reign was trouble-free
until the D.I.V.O.R.C.E.                          
   (Renowned for writing 'Greensleeves', there are few
    who know, in darker times, he wrote this too.)
Amassing wives, dislodging the devout
and lopping off the heads of those who'd doubt
were selfish acts in true tyrannic style,
yet he was lauded by the rank-and-file.
Despite the mayhem - all to get a son -
three offspring and the Tudor line was done.

And another:


Did naught but love his wife, yet hate his son
a practice that his father had begun.
(His son died playing cricket, by the bye,
a quintessential English way to die.)
In battle he impressed the populace
engaging in the fray at sixty plus.                   
   (He also made the Young Pretender run
    and Stuarts quit until, well, kingdom come.)
Their favour faltered when, to their dismay,
he carelessly mislaid eleven days.
His heart failed under strain and so it’s true
he met his end while sitting on the loo.

Linda Mockett has completed an epic task of condensing the history, quirks and foibles of English monarchs into compact rhymes.  It doesn't all work but most of it does. She has grasped the lives of this motley crew of rulers and takes the mickey without fear or favour.  There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and more than the occasional groan at a pun.  It would be great to hear this work performed because I think more of the comedy would come through.

I enjoyed it very much.  Hats (crowns?) off to Linda for a great antidote to stuffy history books.  It has equal appeal to peasants and the pampered.

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