I had such high hopes for the Danish Queen by Lynda M. Andrews about Anne of Denmark who married to James I of Great Britain. The couple were famously at odds during parts of their marriage and the subject hasn’t been covered much by other novelists.
Unfortunately, The Danish Queen could benefit from the editorial skills of a good high school english teacher. Remember being told to “show, don’t tell”? Well this book is all tell, no show. We are told that James I was dirty and disheveled, but there is no attempt to draw a picture in our minds of that. Were his clothes threadbare, or just not clean? His collar unstarched? During Anne of Denmark’s trip to Scotland she is shipwrecked in Norway in a poor village and has to stay in a house which evidently was unsuitable, though the house is never described. Did it have wood floors or dirt? What kind of bed? When you say the food wasn’t good, well what was the food?
On top of this, there is no over-arching theme for Anne of Holstein. We are told she is stubborn and emotional, and there are several scenes telling us her reactions. Was this a story of a spoiled girl who grew into her queenship? Or one who just never did grow up? Neither, because the book is just a series of vignettes in the lives of James and Anne.
The dialogue is simply awful. For some reason Andrews chose to portray James in colloquial English-Scots, but everyone else in regular English, except for Prince Henry Frederick who sometimes has the same accent. From the time they meet, Anne is able to freely converse with James and his court in Scots. The author had, of course, to make it Scots to highlight James’ Scottish accent. In reality they likely spoke French.
I breezed through this book – honestly it takes no deep thought to do so – but the aftertaste is one of derision and regret.