Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Confession of Piers Gaveston by Brandy Purdy

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The Confession of Piers Gaveston is the tale of a true person who died in the early 14th century. He was a very close companion to King Edward II. So close, in fact, rumors still abound that they were actual lovers. Piers Gaveston literally rises from the ashes into the highest realm of the English empire because his good looks, arrogance, flamboyant personality, and outrageous behavior attract the interest of the King. Subsequently, he is showered with gifts which include land grants, titles, and jewels. All this attention increases the ire of other nobles towards Gaveston resulting in years of disrespect, hatred, and painful accusations of Gaveston.

The novel is written in the format of a journal. It begins in Gaveston’s childhood with an impassioned retelling of the burning of his mother who was convicted as a witch. As a young child, alone, he must resort to prostitution to earn his way. But Piers is craft and he is a survivor. He gains acclaim as a soldier fighting in King Edward I’s army. Because of his reputation as a tough, successful soldier, he is assigned to become a companion to the lazy and weak Prince Edward as companion. A strong bond is formed, one that soon leads into Prince Edward seducing Piers. For Edward, the attraction is much more – Piers becomes his obsession, an ill-fated burden for Gaveston to carry.

From the very first sentence, Purdy managed to make me sit up and take a close look at the words on each page. Her prose is one of the most brilliant I have come across. Every scene, every word engaged me. The first person narration of Piers Gaveston was not only powerful, it evoked strong emotions throughout. Her “tell it like it is” style of writing brings the reader deep into the main character’s frame of mind, portraying him as both loveable and abhorrent. The scenes of homosexuality are written vividly but tastefully in an openly honest manner.

Brandy Purdy is an up and coming author one must watch carefully in the future for I have no doubt she will become a favorite for many readers of historical fiction.

1 comment:

Nan Hawthorne said...

At last a reviewer who saw in this book the richness of both storytelling and characterization in it that I did. I found Piers fascinatingly drawn to self-sabotage more than repellant. The use of the first person narrative in this case is one of the most skillful I have seen, with the complexities of knowing what to believe in Gaveston's account and what even he is unsure of making this one of the most compelling books I have read. The human condition is not reserved to heterosexuals as a fit topic for the novelist's craft.