Thursday, September 30, 2010
No Will But His by Sarah A. Hoyt
Readers first meet young Kathryn Howard when she's sent off to live in the home of the dowager duchess, a family relative. Even though Kathryn is raised to be a well-mannered, graceful young woman who will one day marry a man and bear his children, she finds herself entangled with a lustful music master and a young man named Francis Dereham, whom she hoped to marry one day. After discovering her indiscretions, the dowager duchess sends her away to be a lady-in-waiting to the new Queen Anne of Cleves, within something of a hidden agenda. Of course, much like her infamous cousin Anne Boleyn, Kathryn catches Henry's eye and eventually becomes queen herself, but of course, her questionable past catches up with her as do her other questionable deeds...
Sounds like a great recipe for some juciy fiction, doesn't it? It should have been, but Hoyt manage to make it well...boring. First, Hoyt's writing style is composed of long, windy sentences and flowery dialog that fit better with her other Shakespeare-fiction novels, but tend to leave readers out of breath. Hoyt's prose also tends to frequently fall flat, and lacks adequate detail or emotion. More importantly, No Will But His has dull characters that have hardly any personality or compelling traits that bring them alive for the reader. I was left wondering if Kathryn was ambitious, a pawn in a bigger game, or just an unintelligent flirt. I never even got a sense of romance between Kathryn and her adulterous lover Thomas Culpepper, just the need for them to come together for the purposes of the plot.
Though the plot itself is solid, there's no characterization at all. Frankly, I was sorely disappointed in No Will But His, and went away with no added understanding of Kathryn Howard the character or the historical figure. Tudor fiction fans should give this one a miss. Don't waste your time here.