What I’ve Been Reading Lately: Trashy Novels Edition

It’s too cold outside to think about summertime pursuits. So let’s think about trashy novels!

First, as long promised, the novels of Philippa Gregory. Over the past few months I’ve read The Constant Princess, The Other Boleyn Girl, and The Other Queen. I’m right now almost done with The Virgin’s Lover. Obviously I’ve read basically just Tudor books, and not too much into the Stuart books yet, but isn’t that the way most people work with British history? The idea behind these books is to tell an imaginary and yet somewhat accurate version of history, but as much as possible from a first person perspective. And, when that first person is a woman, give her a feminist and yet not anachronistic voice. Don’t get me wrong, though– these are still very silly books. There is all the thrusting manhood and coral pink nipples you’ve come to expect from trashy novels. But if you, like me, can’t take the tittilation without at least some education (see Sarum and the novels of James Michener), these aren’t a bad series.

It’s hard to say the same for the next series of trashy novels. The Luxe is a young adult series, and is basically Gossip Girl (also published by HarperCollins) meets Edith Wharton. That’s pretty entertaining, but the plot is pretty simplistic. Girls wear expensive dresses and live on Fifth Avenue, but this time they have carriages and gas light. The extensive household staff, guarded family reptations, and complicated place setting also remain the same. This being YA (and 1899), the erotic encounters stay chaste enough. In this book we are told and not shown of a girl’s lack of virginity. But we have plenty of frenemies and parties, and who doesn’t like to be able to finish a 430 page book in 2 hours? There are now several books in this series, and I daresay at some point I’ll check out the next one, even though I have a pretty good idea of how it ends. The waiting list at the library is forever, so I’ll be waiting awhile.

Well that ends this edition of Trashy Novels. I’m now returning to my regularly scheduled program of non-fiction and snobbery. See you next time!