Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"Remember, remember, the Fifth of November ...."

We are approaching the four hundred and twelfth anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot, the attempt of English Catholic zealots to blow up the House of Lords (with King James I and his family inside it) on November 5th, 1605. The English still celebrate the foiling of this plot, with fireworks and bonfires which commemorate the capture and execution of the conspirators and the preservation of Protestant England from the Catholic menace. Of course, to most English people the celebration has lost its fanatical religious overtones and is merely an excuse for a good time. But Guy Fawkes -- one of the chief conspirators, and the first caught -- is still burned in effigy, and folks remember the centuries-old chant, "Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot . . . . There's really no reason that gunpowder treason should ever be forgot."

The BBC is launching a new series about the Gunpowder Plot which will reach American TVs in due time. Despite being produced in the home country, and however good the acting, the show is likely to be lamentably historically inaccurate, as are most of these dramas (e.g., the preposterously punked-out Elizabethan theater world as represented in the recent series Will). One of the major female characters, a reverent Catholic spinster, will be played by Liv Tyler. This is not a good sign.

All the more reason -- since you will watch it -- to prepare yourself, before viewing, with a fictional account of the plot that is grounded in research and historically likely -- and, for Shakespeare lovers, one that theorizes his plays' influence on the Plot in a way that is not merely wish-fulfilling (Shakespeare as fellow conspirator), but undoubtedly true. Yes, of course I'm talking about my own 2016 book, Gunpowder Percy, whose prime reading date has once more come round! But don't take my word on the book. Here are what some authors and reviewers have said:

". . . a thrilling story, vividly and skillfully told." -- James Shapiro, author of
                         The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606

"A consistently compelling read from beginning to end . . . . showcases author Grace Tiffany as an extraordinarily gifted storyteller of the first order."  --James Cox, Midwest Book Review

"Rich and vivid detail . . . . Provides readers with complex thoughts on the role of religious terrorism throughout history."   – Historical Novel Society
"To review a rich book as this so briefly is to risk losing the verdict in the discussion, so let me start by simply urging everyone to buy a copy and read it. . . . Gunpowder Percy is an excellent, beautiful book, with two particular strengths: mastery of the language of the time, and, aided by this, an admirable ability to enter into and convey the mental world of the characters."
                                                            -- Julia Griffin, The Shakespeare Newsletter

Now, you be the Star Chamber judge. Click here to order Gunpowder Percy.

Gunpowder Percy

There's really no reason that gunpowder treason should ever be forgot!