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 The Red Queen, by Margaret Drabble

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Beth Dunn

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Posts : 10
Join date : 2008-11-29
Age : 60
Location : Saint Augustine, FL

PostSubject: The Red Queen, by Margaret Drabble   Mon 11 May 2009, 6:33 pm

I know next to nothing about Korean history. I have a fascination with royalty. So Drabble's The Red Queen easily caught my interest with the jacket copy.

This book is in separated into two halves, the first one written by the Crown Princess of Korea set in around 1795 (based on some real life memoirs written by the Crown Princess), the second half about a modern day academic reading the memoirs and attending a conference in Korea.

Instead of the normal manner of letting the reader stumble on a previously unknown manuscript, the first section of the novel lets the Crown Princess speak for herself, not from the 18th century, but from a present-day viewpoint. This method gives the author freedom to introduce cultural references that would not have been accessible to the princess in her own time. The point is not to achieve an accurate reconstruction of the details of palace life in 18th century Korea, but to analyze the events of the princess's life with the freedom of a novelist's imagination. The novel brings her together with Dr Babs Halliwell, a modern British academic attending a conference in Korea. The color red (which in historic Korea was for royalty) runs as a linking theme through the two narratives -- a red skirt, a red silk shirt, red socks and finally a red party dress.

I found this book interesting - in that I learned quite a bit about a culture that I had previously known little.

I would rate this book 3 stars.
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