The Exposition Game

Now don’t get me wrong. I love good biographies about medieval women as much as the next person, and I like Alison Weir’s non-fiction more than most. But…

The Marriage Game left me a bit cold. I didn’t finish it. I didn’t even get very far into it. There was just so much exposition, explaining the various Tudor relatives, and how Elizabeth I came to power after her sister, Mary Tudor’s death. And while I’m sure all the explanations about who Kat Astley or Catherine Grey were would be necessary to someone who isn’t as in love with Tudor history as I am, I found it to be a bit unnecessary. Or, at the least, something that could have been infused into the narrative in a more roundabout fashion, rather than being clumped at the beginning like the overcooked Brussels sprouts you have to endure before you can have dessert.

Good exposition, like properly sautéed Brussels sprouts, can be a savory foundation for the rest of a story. Overdo it, though, and you’ll end up with a weird taste in the mouth. Or mind.

At the very least I can say that Weir is a good storyteller, unlike Philippa Gregory, whose book, The Other Boleyn Girl, inspired me to throw it across the room within the first ten pages.

I did not do that to The Marriage Game. I simply returned to the library and decided two things: 1) I will stick with Weir’s biographies, as they are wonderful, and 2) I’m going to try to read Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall again. I first tried to read it during my 100 Book Challenge back in 2013, and just couldn’t get very far into it with the sort of schedule the challenge imposed. I’m not doing that anymore, though, so the only thing I’ll have to worry about is how many times I can renew it from the library.

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