The Goldsmith's Wife

The Goldsmith's Wife - William Harrison Ainsworth [These notes were made in 1984:]. A fictionalization of the life of Jane Shore (mistress of King Edward IV) who really did, according to the DNB, exert quite a bit of influence over state policy. Ainsworth is not here interested in precisely what she advised, as much as he is in establishing the very Victorian pattern of the second fall and suffering of the fallen woman. So he has her goldsmith husband return at the end as a dark, tormented monk, altho' surprisingly not vengeful. Meanwhile, Jane gets dressed up as a page and accompanies Edward on his profitable if not exactly glorious trip to France. Apparently endowed with the power of pleasing just about everyone she comes in contact with, including the Queen, she nonetheless does not survive the rapid power shift to Richard III following Edward's rather suspicious death. She fails to save the little princes in the tower, and ends up an outcast from the community, dying eventually under the consoling eyes of her husband. Altho' it's well-crafted, this book suffers from the double intentions of its author. Ainsworth is too good a historian - he supplies too many good historical reasons for Jane's final fall: we don't really believe it was because of her initial culpability in abandoning her husband, as the title would suggest. Nonetheless, not bad.