Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Friday, September 9, 2011

Review: Within the Hollow Crown by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Pages. 333 
Source: Publisher (Advanced Reading Copy) 

Richard II was a king like no other, he never intended or desired to become king. The sudden and unexpected passing of both his father and grandfather left him with a crown upon his head and political unrest in his country. Richard, a mere eleven years old began to rule under the control of regency council. 'Within the Hollow Crown' is a story of a young boy, at the mercy of his scheming, deceitful uncles who grows into a man and ruler. A man who steps out from the shadows, and proved himself to be a man of the people. The story comes alive once Anne of Bohemia becomes the newest Queen. A bittersweet love story, the essence of true love. Anne a political pawn in the politics of Europe falls in love with her husband and becomes his biggest supporter. Richard, a lonesome king, no longer felt alone. He wholeheartedly supported his wife, and together they would rule England. Anne disliked Richard's uncles intensely, and Richard himself had years of repressed emotions. For many years his uncles chose not to listen to him. Richard a boy who lacked confident, felt grossly ignored in a room full of people. This is simply a coming of age story about a young, oblivious boy who became a king. 

Margaret Campbell Barnes is an amazing historical fiction writer. Her characterization is impeccable. She has a remarkable ability to bring the royal court alive. The story of Richard II was new to me. I had little background knowledge prior to reading this story. I have seen some reviews mention that her research is outdated. However, the story was a great read. I will certainly be doing more research myself. The story began slowly for me, once Anne stepped in I was hooked and wanted to keep reading. I highly recommend this one, and I will be reading more from her. I'm very happy that this has been reprinted. This is not a story as scandalous, and absorbing as Henry VIII but it is great nonetheless.


  1. Like you, I don't have much knowledge of this story, so I don't think complaints about the quality of the research would be a problem for me. It does sound like a good story, and a well-written book. I'll keep it in mind the next time I'm looking for a historical fiction read.

  2. I do love historical fiction! Sometimes I get tired of reading about so many royal courts but this one sounds like it'd be pretty entertaining!

  3. I love historical fiction. But mainly I read historical romance and kind of want to branch out a bit more from that. This one sounds pretty interesting...and a bit different. Not too many kings are portrayed well, and they certainly don't ever seem to harbor much love for their wives.

  4. I know I've read one of her other books (and loved it) I just can't remember which one. I don't know a whole lot about each of the kings either. Henry VIII definitely takes the cake for outrageous behavior though. :)

  5. I don't read much historical fiction, but you've made this sound sooo good.

  6. I could like this one, well I should like this one considering that I love the era and historical fiction :D

  7. I've read profusely Elizabeth I and Henry VII books, but never about Richard. When I get back on another binge, he'll be the first I pick up based on your review.
    Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, too. I so appreciate your comment.

  8. Great review. I had a bit of a different view of the novel though. While I thought the history was well done, I found the story itself to be rather flat.

    Since you enjoyed Within the Hollow Crown, I highly recommend you try Barnes' My Lady of Cleves, which is about Anne of Cleves. I thought it was very well done.

  9. I almost always find it funny (not in a ha ha way) when people criticize the research in a historical FICTION novel - really. It's fiction. It may have a few true facts and/or events within its pages, but as fiction, the author can feel free to take dramatic license at any time. If it's a good read, then all should be well. Great review.