Lionheart Sharon Penman

Jan Leeming

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Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

LIONHEART - Sharon Penman

Date: 25th February 2013

LIONHEART – by Sharon Penman

What an absolutely delightful person Sharon Penman appears to be. Through her website I discovered that she was going to be conducting a tour to Fontevraud where Eleanor of Aquitaine was ‘incarcerated’ for many years and where the Tomb effigies of both herself and her husband Henry II can still be seen. (There is just the vaguest, faintest chance that my family could be distantly related to Eleanor. Her son John had several illegitimate children and one of them bore a daughter who was well married to a Sir John Pettyte)

I very much wanted to join the Fontevraud trip but it was oversubscribed – Sharon herself replied to my email which really did impress me because she must be an extremely busy woman.

I first ‘met’ Sharon about 25 years ago when I bought ‘The Sunne in Splendour’ a massive tome of just under 1,000 pages about the final flowering of the Yorkist dynasty in the mid 15th Century – the story of Richard III so very current at the moment. After that I avidly read everything of hers that I could get my hands on. About two years ago I tried to buy her latest book and was told by the manager of Waterstones that the buying public did not appear to be interested in historical novels. Well, the lack of interest didn’t last long because now the bookshops are awash with them.

My favourite historical novel authors are Sharon Penman and Alison Weir although I preferred the novels Alison wrote 20 years ago which were more historical and less novel. Both authors have done enormous historical research which they then weave into a story which is immediately readable yet also historically accurate. One of our tutors on the Guiding Course for the Cathedral referred to History without tears. And that is what these authors give you – history fleshed out with a little poetic licence but history nevertheless. The research they must have to do is mind boggling. I know how long it has taken me to get together my little programme on René Mouchotte

My latest Penman acquisition is another lengthy tome about another of Henry II and Eleanor’s sons – Richard the Lionheart. I’m already gripped by it. I love her style which is more than I can say with regard to Hilary Mantel.

I must be in the minority because I tried and tried to read ‘Wolf Hall’ and eventually gave up. I think I’ve only not finished a book about five times in the whole of my life.  It went to the Hospice Shop in pristine condition.  Maybe it was me but I didn’t like the pages and pages of conversation which left me wondering who was speaking to who, why and when. I prefer a great deal more narrative. Needless to say, I shall not be buying ‘Bring Up the Bones’.

When I could escape to South Africa for 3 months of the winter I got through endless books but now the only time I have to read is at night in bed so it takes me a while to get through an 800 page tome.

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