Title: I, Richard
Author: Elizabeth George
Length: 256 pages
My star rating: ★ ★ ★
Happy 2015 everyone!
This was my last book of 2014! Since it was a short story collection, the review will be fairly short.
I really enjoyed three of the stories in I, Richard; I found the other two kind of weak and sadly predictable.
“Exposure” was confusing and uninteresting; “The Surprise of His Life” was paint-by-numbers (and a play on the title). But the other three were pretty good.
“Good Fences Aren’t Always Enough” was almost Southern Gothic, and I enjoyed it very much (even as I was repulsed by it). I think George’s strength is her ability to craft believable (if sometimes stereotypical) characters, even in the limited space of a short story, and I particularly liked the mains in “Fences.”
“Remember, I’ll Always Love You” was flat-out strange, but it did, at least, keep me on my toes. That story, and “Fences,” were definitely the two stories closest to being good, rich mysteries in the whole collection.
And then there was “I, Richard,” the title story. In the past year, I’ve developed an affinity for the much-maligned King Richard III; certainly, I’m sympathetic to and fascinated by him, though I don’t think guilt or innocence is a thing for me to decide. The main character of this particular story, a determined and devout Ricardian, feels differently. I liked the idea (however fictional) of there being some piece of hard evidence to acquit Richard of the supposed murder of his nephews (the “Princes in the Tower,” as they’re often called). But fiction or not, I didn’t exactly believe the conclusions drawn from that evidence. All the background made sense to me, but if you haven’t done previous reading on the time period and the historical figures involved, it would be easy to become confused in George’s prose here.
Overall, this is not a bad collection, but it’s not a great one, either. The stories were well-written but not fantastically so. Definitely a solid three-star book.
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