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Author Patricia Nicol reveals a selection of the best books about: Kings

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Author Patricia Nicol reveals a selection of the best books about: Kings

What a week that was. A new prime minister, then the death of a beloved queen, and the gracious accession of her son. Now we are in a Carolean era; we’ll get used to God Save The King being the national anthem and new stamps and currency coming soon, but for now it feels strange.

And that’s not surprising, because one of the dazzling statistics shared last week was that nine out of ten of the world’s population were born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

Years ago, when I spent some time volunteering in a Brazilian orphanage, I remember being amused when the boys would routinely say to anyone who got wind, ‘Who do you think you are, the Queen of England?’

Restoration by Rose Tremain

British author Patricia Nicol has made a selection of the best books on, among others, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and Restoration by Rose Tremain

The queen may have been the most recognizable woman in the world, but history has seen many more kings than queens. Also in fiction.

The protagonist of Hilary Mantel’s multi-award-winning historical fiction trilogy, which begins with Wolf Hall and continues with Bring Up The Bodies and The Mirror And The Light, is Thomas Cromwell. But the character who holds the greatest scepter is always King Henry VIII; on its whims, fantasies and fears, the world of this novel revolves.

Cromwell, who has risen through the ranks to become Henry’s Prime Minister, knows how easily he can fall from grace: he has seen firsthand what happened to Cardinal Wolsey and Sir Thomas More.

Patricia Nicol Reveals Charles II Can Also Be Seen in Virginia Woolf¿s Orlando (Just Like Elizabeth I)

Patricia Nicol Reveals Charles II Can Also Be Seen in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (Just Like Elizabeth I)

Charles II, the merry monarch, is depicted in several novels. In Rose Tremain’s Restoration, the fate of stupid doctor Robert Merivel changes after he heals one of the Stuart King’s ailing dogs. Merivel is betrothed to one of the king’s mistresses and given an estate in Norfolk.

Charles II also appears in Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (as does Elizabeth I). It is Charles II who appoints Orlando – a gender-bending aristocrat blessed with extraordinarily long life – as his ambassador to Turkey.

Charles II is remembered for his lewd lifestyle, reopening the theaters and presiding over an era of scientific discovery. What could this next Carolean era bring?

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