22 May 2018

The Dustiest Bookcase: B is for Beresford-Howe

Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).
They're in storage as we build our new home.
Patience, please.

My Lady Greensleeves
Constance Beresford-Howe
New York: Ballantine, 1955
220 pages

The author's fourth novel – and lone historical novel – My Lady Greensleeves holds the distinction of being her worst received. Eighteen years passed before she returned with her fifth, The Book of Eve.

In the three-page "About Constance Beresford-Howe" tacked to the end of the novel, the author reveals that My Lady Greensleeves was inspired by a sixteenth-century scandale involving Anne Hungerford, husband Sir William Hungerford, and William Darrell, who was accused of being Anne's lover.

Beresford-Howe uses Anne as a model for the novel's Avys Winter; Sir William is Piers Winter, and Durrell becomes Avys's kissing cousin Henry Brandon.

I don't much care for historical fiction, but regret that I've not read this one. It would be interesting to see just how much the author drew from history. Sir William Hunderford's father was beheaded for violating the Buggery Act of 1533. Does Piers Winters' papa meet the same fate? All evidence indicates that William Durrell committed infanticide at the birth of a child he'd fathered with a servant girl. He was accused of tossing the newborn into a fire.

Kudos to the cover artist for depicting the heroine in green sleeves.

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  1. "He was accused of tossing the newborn into a fire." Holy shit.

    Is Constance Beresford-Howe her real name? It sounds like a pastiche of every stereotypical, upper-class English name.

    1. Holy shit, indeed!

      I often wonder if Constance Beresford-Howe's name hasn't tainted her work in my eyes. Somehow, I'd rather read a book by Connie Howe.

      (Apologies for the tardy response. I was horrified today to discover your comment, along with about a dozen others, in my Blogger spam folder.)