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Jun 30, 2010

Book Review: The Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Loades


The Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Loades
ISBN-13: 978-1848683358
Amberley issue 2009; Reissue of earlier edition in 1994
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:Four stars!


The marital ups and downs of England's most infamous king. The story of Henry VIII and his six wives has passed from history into legend taught in the cradle as a cautionary tale and remembered in adulthood as an object lesson in the dangers of marrying into royalty. The true story behind the legend, however, remains obscure to most people, whose knowledge of the affair begins and ends with the aide memoire Divorced, executed, died, divorced, executed, survived. David Loades' masterly book recounts the whole sorry tale in detail from Henry's first marriage to his brother's widow, to more or less contented old age in the care of the motherly Catherine Parr.

Historian David Loades presents a convincing narrative as he summarizes the events of Henry VIII's six marriages in almost a conversational format. This work is a reissue in 2009 put out by Amberley with some updates to a previous 1994 title by the author. Most Tudor fans know the stories of each of the wives and like me, may have read many Tudor novels surrounding these women. I found interesting snippets of information in this summarized work, as well as it reading like a refresher for the times and nuance of Henry VIII. I enjoyed the introduction which explains the importance of the Royal marriage market and the process that was accepted among many to marry towards other Royal houses in order to increase land holding or some royal significance such as potential heirs to a throne. Which was not the way that Henry VIII operated, as he chose from his courtiers and fellow noble families when he was wife-shopping.

Loades presents the wives in chronological order, and I found Catherine of Aragon to be once again a formidable lady who put up with a lot from her King. Loades describes the failed pregnancies and how this disillusioned the King with each passing day. Their daughter Mary comes into play of course, and she is portrayed as extremely hostile once the 'Boleyn Whore' succeeds in her quest to the throne. Anne Boleyn's demise and therefore the chapter on her seemed to go by quickly, as Cromwell effectively removed her and her family from the courts of Henry VIII by the farce of a trial that sent her, along with her fellow accused, to the executioner's block. One particular sentence that peaked my interest was regarding Anne's sister-in-law, Lady Jane Parker Rochford: "Not a great deal is known about his{George's} trial, and the story that his wife testified against him may well be apocryphal. There is some circumstantial evidence that she later accepted his guilt, but that may have been the only way in which she could get a property settlement out of the King." He goes on to state that the homosexual references to George are probably more of a twentieth-century speculation. Anne's character was portrayed as a bit of a wild child who did not know how to control her tongue, and Loades stated that it was her wit and sexual attraction that appealed to Henry VIII from the start, but it was this exact wit and sexual attraction that created her downfall as well.  Most of the noble families were hateful of the upstart families of Anne, and they were eager to displace the Boleyns and the Howards from the peerage. The fact that Anne was innocent meant nothing to the jury.

Loades goes on to write that the day after Anne was executed, Henry was betrothed to Jane Seymour. Jane has always been an enigma to me. Was she truly the Plain Jane as contemporary novelists like to characterize her as, or was she eyeing the crown from the beginning of her royal courtship? Loades describes her as frumpy, so what did Henry see in this Plain Jane? The author surmises that she was almost an exact opposite of Anne Boleyn: no overt sexual traits, no outspoken mannerisms and her family was well liked, unlike the Boleyns and the Howards. If hereditary genes had anything to do with it, Jane also showed promise of being fertile, as she was one of nine children. And Henry once got his heir, Jane died, so onwards to wife number four and the first true marriage-for-the-good-of the-realm, which was a disaster in bed because she was not attractive to Henry.

Anne of Cleves is presented a bit different than I had expected; she was still the naive person when it came to consummation, but she was also annoyed with Henry when he later married Catherine Parr, the last wife.
She may have been annoyed when he married Catherine Howard after her, but it was probably too early for her to realize what was going on due to her foreign surroundings. But the flirty Catherine Howard had replaced the unseemly Anne of Cleves, reducing Anne to the status of the sister of the King. Catherine's character was portrayed as we typically imagine her, and she seems to have been simply to young to deal with the politics of the times and was extremely stupid in her need for boyfriends. The author goes into the political machinations that brought each of these wives in and out of the picture, and the major players in this function. Jane Parker is again mentioned, as she the one who helped Catherine illicitly meet with Culpeper. Loades does not state why Jane would help the young queen to do such a thing, but does note that she quickly gave incriminating information but was not spared execution. And soon Cromwell was also summarily executed in a quick timeline as Loades tells it, lacking the drama of what was going on behind the scenes to cause it to happen. Catherine Parr rounds out the tale as the last wife, yet for once Loades gives some more background information on her as she was once known as Lady Latimer and Catherine Neville. The factions of the families were explained and brought up; from the hated Boleyns to the tolerable Howards to the respectable Seymours.

Although I do enjoy Alison Weir's writing, the main difference I found in this text by David Loades is that he uses less "supposedlys" and sticks to facts and not conjecture. Those readers wanting a more detailed account of all the events relating to the wives and the times would not get much of a good taste in Loades summary, but this could be very much treated as a summary of the marriages of Henry VIII but not necessarily of the wives themselves. The writing style itself made this an easy read, as Loades never went too far into depth into the politics or religious topics, instead just touching on them as they related to the wives. I enjoyed the sporadic moments on when I felt I learned something new, but I would not recommend this for the very seasoned Tudor reader because of the lack of insight. Alternatively, this would be a fantastic non-fiction read for those who would like to learn a few facts about Henry VIII's wives without having to suffer through a five hundred page account such as the books by Starkey, Weir, and Fraser. At 240 pages which includes author's notes and bibliography, Loades successfully reviews the marriages while educating the reader, with a look at some interesting illustrations as well. Loades states that there were plenty of "Six Wives" titles on the market, and especially more recently, and he adjusted this work accordingly as to not saturate the reader with the same amount of facts that have been used and reused and reiterated. Which is why I feel this was an excellent work to read when wanting a quick look into the familiar stories regarding the six wives of Henry VIII.

This book is also perfect for entering my Tudor Mania Reading Challenge and I will include this review link there. I just may win my own contest!

Jun 28, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc. And I really must stop because I am seriously running out of room.


From Half Price Books:
Abigail and John by Edith B. Gelles (April 2009)
"Married in 1764, Abigail and John Adams worked side by side for a decade, raising a family while John became one of the most prosperous, respected lawyers in Massachusetts. When his duties as a statesman and diplomat during the Revolutionary War expanded, Abigail and John endured lengthy separations. But their loyalty and love remained strong, as their passionate, forthright letters attest. It's in this correspondence that Abigail comes into her own as an independent woman. It's also in these exchanges that we learn about the familial tragedies that tested them: the early deaths of their son Charles from alcoholism and their daughter Nabby from breast cancer.

As much a romance as it is a lively chapter in early American history, Abigail and John is an inspirational portrait of a couple who endured the turmoil and trials of a revolution, and in so doing paved the way for the birth of a nation."

The Last Princess: The Devoted Life of Queen Victoria's Youngest Daughter by Matthew Dennison (February 2008)
An engrossing biography of Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter that focuses on her relationship with her willful mother---a powerful and insightful look into two women of significant importance and influence in world history.


Beatrice was the last child born to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her father died when she was four and Victoria came to depend on her youngest daughter absolutely, and also demanded from her complete submission. Victoria was not above laying it down regally even with her own children. Beatrice succumbed to her mother’s obsessive love, so that by the time she was in her late teens she was her constant companion and running her mother’s office, which meant that when Victoria died her daughter became literary executor, a role she conducted with Teutonic thoroughness. And although Victoria tried to prevent Beatrice even so much as thinking of love, her guard slipped when Beatrice met Prince Henry of Battenberg. Sadly, Beatrice inherited from her mother the hemophilia gene, which she passed on to two of her four sons and which her daughter Victoria Eugenia, in marrying Alfonso XIII of Spain, in turn passed on to the Spanish royal family. This new examination will restore her to her proper prominence---as Queen Victoria’s second consort.

From Swaptree:
Revenge of the Rose (2007) by Nicole Galland
"Welcome to a world of intrigue of the most intriguing kind, where emperors and popes desperately vie for power, even as their subjects and servants engage in behind-the-scenes machinations of their own.
The Holy Roman Empire circa 1200 A.D.:
Impoverished young knight Willem of Dole believed he would spend his life in rural Burgundy, struggling to provide for his widowed mother and younger sister, Lienor. And so it's with surprise—and apprehension—that he obeys a summons to the magnificent court of Konrad, Holy Roman Emperor, whose realm spans half of Europe. Willem's mischievous friend Jouglet, Konrad's favorite minstrel, is no doubt behind it somehow; but what's in it for Jouglet?
Court life is overwhelming to the idealistic young Willem, who is shocked by the behavior of his fellow knights, for whom chivalry is a mere game. Yet under Jouglet's witty, relentless tutelage, the naïve knight quickly rises in Emperor Konrad's esteem—until suddenly his sister, Lienor, becomes a prospect for the role of Empress. This unexpected elevation of the sibling "nobodies" delights Jouglet, but threatens three powerful—and dangerous—men at the court: the Emperor's brother, Cardinal Paul, who has in mind a different bride for Konrad; the Emperor's uncle, Alphonse, Count of Burgundy, who would keep secret certain things that only Willem can reveal; and most especially the Emperor's own steward Marcus, who is hopelessly in love with Konrad's cousin Imogen. For if Willem's star keeps rising, Imogen will be betrothed to the knight by royal decree—and Willem's star will surely continue to rise, unless Marcus figures out a way to stop it. But that would entail outscheming clever Jouglet, ablest of schemers.
Gossip, secrets, and lies are the fuel of daily life in Konrad's court. As Konrad edges closer to proclaiming Lienor his bride, those around Willem play a perilous game of cat-and-mouse as they attempt to secure their own fortunes, knowing that even the slightest move can shift the playing field entirely. And through it all, Jouglet remains Willem's most maddening yet staunchest ally. But what, really, does Jouglet stand to gain . . . or lose?
Transporting the reader to the brilliant, conniving heart of the largest empire of medieval Europe, Revenge of the Rose is a novel rich in irony and tongue-in-cheek wit, and reveals all the grit and color, politics and passion, of court life in the Holy Roman Empire."

For Review:
The First Assassin by John J. Miller (first published 2009)
Washington, D.C., 1861: A new president takes office, a nation begins to break apart--and Colonel Charles Rook must risk insubordination to stop a mysterious assassin who prowls a nervous city. He will need the help of an ally he does not even know he has: Portia, a beautiful slave who holds a vital clue, hundreds of miles away.




From Paperbackswap, I received the rest of the Wideacre titles by Philippa Gregory:  The Favored Child, and Meridon. I look forward to these, only because of the differences of opinions that everyone has, I wonder where I will fall.

Also received for my English Monarchs collection:
Henry V by Christopher Allmand
"Thanks to Shakespeare, Henry V is one of England's best-known monarchs. Or is he? The image of the young king leading his army against the French and his stunning victory at Agincourt are part of English historical tradition. Yet to understand Henry V we need to look at far more than his military prowess. While Henry was indeed a soldier of exceptional skills, his historical reputation as a king deserves to be set against a broader background of achievement, for he was a leader and a diplomat, an administrator, a keeper of the peace and protector of the Church, a man who worked with and for his people. This new study, the first full scholarly biography of Henry V, based on the primary sources of both English and French archives and taking into account a great deal of recent scholarship, shows his reign in the broad European context of his day. It concludes that, through his personality and "professional" approach, Henry not only united the country in war but also provided England with a sense of pride and the kind of domestic rule it was so in need of at the time. Allmand offers far more than a biography of a king. His book is also a rich work of cultural history, with fascinating material on, for example, royal funerals, the reburial of Richard II in Westminster Abbey, the rise of Lollardy in England, and how one governed in the late Middle Ages."

What did you get in your mailbox this week? Or.. what guilty purchase did you make?

Jun 26, 2010

Lessons in French

Potential Lead Character?
And now we have Lessons in French...Just kidding. Not really. Actually, that would be pretty awesome. I envision the setting.. me and Rupert Penry-Jones being tutored in French.  No, scratch that. Rupert tutoring me in French. (Long pause.. meditation..)
Ah, I digress. After reading the new novel of Catherine Delors FOR THE KING, I wonder who would play the detective, the main protagonist, Roch Miguel, in the movie. Because of course there should at least be a BBC Masterpiece Classic movie of this. Would Rupert suffice? I should say so!! I wonder what Catherine feels about that?

Have you read any French Revolution inspired books lately? I have not read as many Frenchified reads as I have read Tudor reads. I got the awful word Frenchified from those Tudor reads actually, because it was the Englishmen who hated the way Anne Boleyn was so Frenchified. In my forced learning days, I chose French as a subject when I was twelve so that I could further relate to my beloved father. I studied five years of French; my father and I tossed around French phrases amongst each other, he wrote me sweet little French endearments for years afterwards, and I dreamt of Paris. The End.

Fast forward eons later, I retain not much knowledge of those five years of learning, other than basic vocabulary words and those sweet endearments (which of course are priceless). Even in my mind, instead of thinking in English, what time is it, I think "quelle heure est-il?" and instead of saying to my daughter 'Why?' I ask "Pourquoi?". Silly idiosyncrasies like that is what five years of French has done for me. Of course, the most fantastic thing has been the fact that I got to share that special something with my father, who is now my guardian angel in heaven.

So what actual France themed reads are out there? Let's see.. of course there are the two novels by the beautiful Catherine Delors:
Mistress of the Revolution (2009) which has an astonishingly short synopsis considering the manuscript was longer than War and Peace: "An impoverished noblewoman, Gabrielle de Montserrat is only fifteen when she meets her first love, a commoner named Pierre-André Coffinhal. But her brother forbids their union, forcing her instead to marry an aging, wealthy cousin.
Widowed and a mother before the age of twenty, Gabrielle arrives at the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in time to be swept up in the emerging turbulence—and to encounter the man she never expected to see again. Determined and independent, she strives to find her own freedom— as the Revolution takes an ever more violent turn."

For The King (2010) "The Reign of Terror has ended, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers. On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explodes along Bonaparte's route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel's investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.

Based on real events and characters and rich with historical detail, For the King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris and is a timeless epic of love, betrayal, and redemption." (Read my review here; enter for the giveaway).

And onwards to some more France reads of which most are on my shelf, sitting prettily, as they must, since they mostly include the fashionable Marie Antoinette..

The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent  (read my review)
Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund
The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson
Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Frasier
Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever
Annette Vallon: A Novel of The French Revolution by James Tipton.. Comes highly recommended from blogger buddy Arleigh at historical-fiction.com (her review)
Napoleon: The Path to Power by Philip G. Dwyer
Fatal Purity: Robespierre & The French Revolution by Ruth Scurr
The Glass-Blowers by Daphne DuMaurier
The Diamond: A Novel by Julie Baumgold (another favorite of Arleigh's, her review)
Flaunting, Extravagant Queen by Jean Plaidy
The Road to Compiegne by Jean Plaidy
Louis the Well Beloved by Jean Plaidy
The Queen's Confession by Jean Plaidy
The Queen of Diamonds by Jean Plaidy.. Also a favorite of Arleigh, read her review at the Plaidy website she and Lucy contribute to, Royal Intrigue. Arleigh says you can't go wrong with a Plaidy!

And another one of our favorite bloggers Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine (see Lucy's Gulland posts here) totally swears by Sandra Gulland's books, the trilogy of novels based on the life of Josephine Bonaparte: The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.; Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe; The Last Great Dance on Earth. Arleigh says that 'the trilogy is REALLY good' and Lucy says 'Gulland is by far the best on Jo.'

What of these books have you read? I hope to get to read these soon, and I really need to read another Jean Plaidy novel so I would probably start with one of hers.

For those of you interested in the rest of the posts at The Round Table, you can see the full calendar here.
Here at The Burton Review we have the review with the giveaway, and the guest post from the author herself. But there are giveaways at all of the blogs, so go hunting for the treasure!

Jun 25, 2010

Author Guest Post by Catherine Delors.. HFBRT Event!



As part of the Round Table event this week, Catherine has obliged us and fashioned many many guest posts for us at The Round Table. What a sweetheart she is to take her time and compose all of these original essays, we all very much appreciate the dedication she has to her work. Let it not go to waste, please leave a comment letting her know you were here. Without further ado, here is Catherine and her newest guest post:


FOR THE KING: Meet the Assassins



Let us begin with Joseph de Limoëlan, the head of the conspiracy to assassinate Napoléon Bonaparte in Paris. He was 34 years of age at the time of the attack, a tall, handsome man with blue eyes and dark hair, gold-rimmed spectacles and an aristocratic air. After years spent as a Chouan, a royalist insurgent, he is the one who planned to detonate the bomb, placed on a horse-drawn cart, in the midst of a busy street. All the busier that evening because people wanted to see Napoléon Bonaparte's carriage on its way to the Opera. It was also Christmas Eve, the shops and cafés were still open, and many were headed for the houses of friends to celebrate the holiday.

That did not give pause to Limoëlan, though he had to know that the collateral damage would be atrocious. There were dozens of casualties, and so many houses were blown up that the street itself was later condemned and destroyed in its entirety. Limoëlan himself had found a little street vendor, a girl by the name of Marianne Peusol, to hold the bridle of the horse that drew the carriage. He had to know that the child, closest to the bomb, was sure to die.


The man was the coldest of cold-blooded killers. Yet he was engaged to a young lady, a friend of his sisters, and every clue I found pointed to an attachment that was mutual, and very deep. I also found out that his father and several of his relatives, prominent members of the nobility of Brittany, had been guillotined in Paris a few years earlier as royalist conspirators. That is no excuse, of course, but it puts Limoëlan's hate for the city and its inhabitants in perspective.

Pierre de Saint-Régent, who was Limoëlan's second in command, was no less interesting. He was also a nobleman from Brittany, though from a minor and impoverished family. His pointed nose gave his face the look of a ferret, and he did not have the elegant manners of his comrade. Hardened by years of combat, first in the Royal Navy before the Revolution, and later in the royalist insurgency, he was the one who actually lit the fuse that detonated the bomb.

Nevertheless, in the days that led to the attack, Saint-Régent took great pains, and great risks, to purchase a pug, and order a sterling silver dog collar to present to his "lady." Who was she? The real investigation never uncovered her identity, but trust a historical novelist to fill in the blanks… Of course the lady in question is one of the fictional characters of FOR THE KING.


The third assassin, François Carbon, nicknamed Le Petit François, Short Francis, is quite a different sort of character. I discovered someone totally repulsive, physically and morally. Squat, fat, abusive, vulgar, garish in his dress, and yet fancying himself a great favorite with the ladies… Also a Chouan, Carbon accompanied Limoëlan to Paris as his valet and jack-of-all-trades, and he helped the two other men drive the cart on which sat the bomb to Rue Nicaise. Comical as he may seem at times, he too was a killer. I could not find any portrait of him, though he is easy to picture from the descriptions of witnesses.


"How to" manuals purporting to teach the craft of writing warn the would-be novelist to stay clear of characters devoid of any nuance. But in this case I couldn't help it: the real François Carbon was as I describe him in FOR THE KING. And actually some readers tell me they found him totally compelling, repellent as he is.


Thanks so much to Catherine for writing such a fun historical novel that was steeped in mystery with even a bit of romance! Read my review of the book here, and enter for your chance to win your very own hardcover of FOR THE KING, which is available for purchase July 6, 2010.

For the rest of the Events of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table group, please visit the Calendar of Events page where you will find all the links to other posts. There are many opportunities to win the gorgeous book as well.

Jun 24, 2010

Book Review/Giveaway: The Dark Rose: Book Two in The Morland Dynasty Series by Cynthia Harrod Eagles



The Dark Rose: Book Two in The Morland Dynasty Series by Cynthia Harrod Eagles
Several publishers since 1981
isbn13: 978-1402238161
Reissued in July 2010 by Sourcebooks
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:

The second book in the epic bestselling Morland Dynasty series which spans from the Wars of the Roses to Queen Victoria's long reign into the courts of kings and the salons of the Regency, onto the battlefields of Culloden and the Crimea, and beyond:

In The Dark Rose, the turbulence of Henry VIII's reign brings passion and pain to the Morlands as they achieve ever greater wealth and prestige. Paul, great-grandson of Eleanor Morland, has inherited the Morland estates, and his own Amyas is set to be his heir. But Paul fathers a beloved illegitimate son, and bitter jealousy causes a destructive rift between the two half-brothers which will lead to death. Through birth and death, love and hatred, triumph and heartbreak, the Morlands continue proudly to claim their place amongst England's aristocracy.

I read book one, The Founding, in the Morland series, and found it to be an interesting enough novel to merit reading book number two. Especially since this book two, The Dark Rose, is set against the backdrop of the Tudor era which is my absolute most favorite era and of which I have read about nineteen Tudor themed books in the last year alone. So, I am a stickler for certain things regarding the Tudors. On sentence two of the foreword I was surprised to read that the author believed Henry VIII "had only two mistresses", and therefore he has been misjudged. We all know that Henry had a son off of Bessie Blount, and that one mistress was Mary Boleyn. I would count Anne Boleyn as a mistress, it is even possible that Jane Popyncourt was his very first mistress. Mary Shelton was his mistress while Anne was pregnant, and Jane Seymour was later his mistress while Anne was reaching her downfall. Catherine Howard was then his mistress while Henry was married to Anne of Cleves. And I also firmly believe that he had many more mistresses who did not leave blatant evidence of being undoubtedly his mistress. I repeat all this to enforce the point that when Eagles stated unequivocally Henry was not so bad simply because he "only had two mistresses" that she states as fact, she turned me off before I had a chance to begin the fictional story she was about to tell. I suppose I am making a mountain out of a molehill but that's how it began for me. There are more inaccuracies about small facts that the casual reader may not be aware of throughout the novel, but I was.

Although the plot line tries to be impressive as it follows along the intrigues of the magnificent Tudor era, the many characters leave a lot to be desired. Focusing on Paul, the head of the Morland estate, Paul despises his wife Anne Butts and he has a child with another woman. Paul despises his half brother Jack and Jack's offspring, yet Jack was extremely well liked at home and at court. Which makes Paul hate Jack more. Which make me hate Paul more. Once Paul's two sons reach majority, Paul's legitimate son Amyras also despises his half bother Adrian. Negativity abounds. In book one, I was not sympathetic to the main character, Eleanor, as she believed herself to superior to everyone and everything. In book two, Paul is the same way, and I was much more interested in the happier members of his extended family off at court then to be reading about Paul and his son fighting about the illegitimate son (who was always off in a corner brooding, with the thick foreshadowing atmosphere that proved itself towards the last half of the novel). Nannette is the next main character focus, and she was a lot more likable until she beds a family member. But that was how it was done back in the day. Cousins married cousins, so that this story helps to perpetuate the dynasty by Morlands marrying cousins twice over.

There were some well written story lines in the story, such as the sickness that overtakes many of the family members in 1517, the witch factor with Paul's lover, and the process of Henry VIII disposing of his first wife. I enjoyed how the birth of Katherine Parr was written in and how the family was friends with the Parrs throughout the story. Then again, there were times the plot could have used a bit more meat to it, but not so much as when Anne Boleyn is friends with Margaret (daughter/cousin to someone in the Morlands, I lost track again) we get to read about Margaret creeping up on Anne while she is sleeping so Margaret could sneak a peek at unsuspecting Anne's Sixth Finger. And then Anne and Henry Percy betroth themselves to each other only to have them banished from court because of it. All of it happened that quickly as I wrote it. Same thing when Paul's son was married: he was married to a member of Norris family, and just as quickly it is mentioned that he had two sons off of her, then mentioned in passing there were two more, etc., because the story at that point had shifted to his cousin Nannette who became a friend of Anne Boleyn so why revert back to Paul? Just as in book one, I really had trouble keeping some of the Morland members straight, as the characters came and went and died and shifted to somewhere else, never giving me a strong sense of just one single character once it shifted from Paul.

It was always interesting to see where the author inserted the fictional Morlands into the genuine families of the Tudor era. And I don't want to come off as being so negative about this book, because it really wasn't that bad, it is just that the characters are written in such negative lights that it is impossible for me to not come off as negative as well. For example, the following train of thought of Paul's son, Amyas:
His father was nearing fifty, Amyas thought, and evidently did not mean to marry again. What use was his life to him? Once Paul was out of the way, he, Amyas, would change things, put things on a more modern footing, shew the tenants who was master! Paul, in clinging on to his useless life, was being inconsiderate.

{Shew was a word back then. After reading the novel, you'll get used to it as it is used many times.} I did want to know more about the characters, but it seems they were always just a bit out of reach for me. There are many, many lovers of the Morland Dynasty series out there so I am very aware that I am in the minority for not totally enjoying the writing, but after two novels of not-so-great characters that I could not empathize with, I am going to bide my time before picking up another. I think if I do get around to continuing with this series I will have a better chance of enjoying it as it moves away from favored eras where I won't be so much in want for more historical accuracy. At least I don't think I would notice errors as much. I also must disclose to you that I am highly aware this is my opinion and reaction to the book, and my thoughts count pretty little in the grand scheme of things. And since there are so many of the fans out there of the Morland Dynasty, I think that those readers who would enjoy a roving family dynasty style of a read, this is top notch in that area. Be forewarned though, the series is a whopping 34 books in the series. So far.

The first two books did not occur in an immediate timeline, as some of the extended family members rapidly expanded between the time of book one and before book two. Therefore this can easily be read as a stand alone book, as those people who are not yet wary of the Tudor stories would enjoy this as it doesn't just focus on the many wives of Henry VIII. There are strong themes of the reformist versus the papist, and the most "royal" attention was given to Anne Boleyn since a main character, Nanette, was her close friend in the story. The political times and the major players of the Tudor era represent most of the story line's backdrop, with the predictable Morlands sitting around the fire talking about the intricate workings of the Tudor court as the Morlands continue to marry within the family.

Read my review of book one in the Morland Dynasty, The Founding by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles here.
I am entering this novel in The Tudor Mania Challenge which is ongoing throughout the month of July.
GIVEAWAY... Ends July 2nd.
Comment on this other post... where I had previously announced the Giveaway for both of Cynthia Harrod Eagles' books one and two of The Morland Dynasty. Follow the rules on that post to enter for the drawing.

Jun 23, 2010

Caught My Eye..

Queen Hereafter: A Novel of Margaret of Scotland by Susan Fraser King (Hardcover - Dec. 7, 2010, from Crown)


This is a beautiful cover!!
The story of Margaret, the Hungarian-born Saxon princess who married Malcolm Canmore, King of Scots, bringing reform and foreign ways to Scotland—Queen Hereafter is also a tale of Margaret’s friendship and rivalry with Eva, a Scottish harper, and Eva’s kinswoman, the former Queen Gruadh, known as Lady Macbeth.
Susan Fraser King is also the author of Lady Macbeth: A Novel which has received many favorable reviews on Goodreads thus far, which was released in February of 2008. Have you read it?

Jun 22, 2010

Giveaway & Book Review: For The King by Catherine Delors

For the King by Catherine Delors
Amazon USA
July 8th 2010 by Dutton Books
Hardcover, 352 pages
Isbn 9780525951742
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
The Burton Review Rating:FourStars!
The Reign of Terror has ended six years earlier, and Napoléon Bonaparte has seized power, but shifting political loyalties still tear apart families and lovers.

On Christmas Eve 1800, a bomb explores along Bonaparte’s route, narrowly missing him but striking dozens of bystanders. Chief Inspector Roch Miquel, a young policeman with a bright future and a beautiful mistress, must arrest the assassins before they attack again. Complicating Miquel’s investigation are the maneuverings of his superior, the redoubtable Fouché, the indiscretions of his own father, a former Jacobin, and two intriguing women.

For The King takes readers through the dark alleys and glittering salons of post-revolutionary Paris. It is a romantic thriller, a tale of love, betrayal and redemption.

I am not as historically in tune to French politics as I am with Tudor politics. With Catherine Delors' newest novel that is focused on French politics, there is no preamble to the upheaval that France is facing after the pacification set in place by Bonaparte. The French Revolution had just ended and the novel begins in 1800 with a police officer called Roch Miguel who is investigating a bombing on the streets of  Paris that was a failed assassination attempt on Napoleon Bonaparte. There were several police agencies or ministries that were at odds with each other who were slightly hard to follow; along with who was Royalist, Jacobin or Chouan. If I had previously read a novel that dealt with the Republic and the aftermath of the French revolution I would probably have felt a bit less lost, but the writing of Catherine Delors pulled me through the story itself very quickly.

Written to be a historical mystery, the focus of the story is the investigation of the bombing in the Rue Nicaise. Roch, the investigator, is the main protagonist and is portrayed as a strong man with morals, and gets put in a bad situation when his father, affectionately known as Old Miguel, is suddenly arrested. Was he arrested to spur Roch's investigation in another direction? Between the several different factions of the police government it is hard to tell if Roch should trust anyone in the fearsome political times. And he has to move fast otherwise his father will meet a torturous fate meant for traitors.
Napoleon crossing the Alps (1800)~Jaques Louis David
One of the mentions in the novel is of a painter known as Jaques Louis David, who painted the famous portrait of Napoleon on the magnificent white horse. I loved how Delors included these small details of history into her novel which helped me experience France and their culture more than I ever have. And I took five years of French! Catherine Delors helped to reawaken in me the spirit of France for which I had fallen in love with long ago as a child. She surrounds the novel in historic details that really help shape the atmosphere and the turmoil of France at that time.

Catherine Delors' previous novel, Mistress of the Revolution (2008), was written in memoir fashion telling of a Frenchwoman exiled in England. For The King departs from that point of view as it is told in third person allowing for multiple views to be presented. Using this narrative allows the reader to get an entire circumspective view from all parties involved which is very helpful in this thriller/mystery setting. It also helps to lend a greater understanding of a complicated period of time that could easily befuddle the unaware reader, like I was at first.


I found the story to be fast paced and I felt empathy for the character of the investigator Roch Miguel, and Delors was subtle with the added romantic undercurrents that we are treated to. Some of the other characters shifted over time, becoming more ominous as the story wore on and the mystery of who was behind the attack unfolded. Although the reader knows the names of the three who are responsible for the attack from the very beginning, the unfolding of the multiple aspects that lead to the attack and their hopeful apprehension was expertly presented. Lovers of France and those eager to immerse themselves in its historic setting following the revolution will definitely love this book. I love the fact that Delors is focusing her next novel on another mystery setting and I will definitely be reading that one as well.

GIVEWAY:
One new GORGEOUS Hardcover Copy of FOR THE KING by Catherine Delors
(GIVEAWAY OVER)


Jun 20, 2010

Mailbox Monday

Please don't steal my images!Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.



From Half Price Books:
 My Just Desire: The Life of Bess Raleigh, Wife to Sir Walter by Anna Beer (2003)
"Young, beautiful, and connected by blood to the most powerful families in England, Bess Throckmorton had as much influence over Queen Elizabeth I as any woman in the realm—but she risked everything to marry the most charismatic man of the day. The secret marriage between Bess and the Queen’s beloved Sir Walter Ralegh cost both of them their fortunes, their freedom, and very nearly their lives. Yet it was Bess, resilient, passionate, and politically shrewd, who would live to restore their name and reclaim her political influence. In this dazzling biography, Bess Ralegh finally emerges from her husband’s shadow to stand as a complex, commanding figure in her own right.

Writing with grace and drama, Anna Beer brings Bess to life as a woman, a wife and mother, an intimate friend of poets and courtiers, and a skilled political infighter in Europe’s most powerful and most dangerous court. The only daughter of an ambitious aristocratic family, Bess was thrust at a tender age into the very epicenter of royal power when her parents secured her the position of Elizabeth’s Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Bess proved to be a natural player on this stage of extravagant myth making and covert sexual politics, until she fell in love with the Queen’s Captain of the Guard, the handsome, virile, meteorically rising Ralegh. But their secret marriage, swiftly followed by the birth of their son, would have grave consequences for both of them.

Brooking the Queen’s wrath and her husband’s refusal to acknowledge their marriage, Bess brilliantly stage-managed her social and political rehabilitation and emerged from prison as the leader of a brilliant, fast-living aristocratic set. She survived personal tragedy, the ruinous global voyages launched by her husband, and the vicious plots of high-placed enemies. Though Raleigh in the end fell afoul of court intrigue, Bess lived on into the reign of James I as a woman of hard-won wisdom and formidable power.
With compelling historical insight, Anna Beer recreates here the vibrant pageant of Elizabethan England—the brilliant wit and vicious betrayals, the new discoveries and old rivalries, the violence and fierce sexuality of life at court. Peopled by poets and princes, spanning the reigns of two monarchs, moving between the palaces of London and the manor house outside the capital, My Just Desire is the portrait of a remarkable woman who lived at the center of an extraordinary time."
 
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2007)
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author's tale of Gothic strangeness -- featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.



Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1997)
"In Alias Grace, bestselling author Margaret Atwood has written her most captivating, disturbing, and ultimately satisfying work since The Handmaid's Tale. She takes us back in time and into the life of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century.


Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?"

Lucrezia Borgia by John Faunce (2003)
"The woman whose legendary beauty—and wickedness—inspired Donazetti's opera, Victor Hugo's play, and countless films and paintings at last speaks for herself.

Lucrezia Borgia. The name has long been synonymous with murder, incest, and debauchery. Illegitimate daughter of Roderigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, her life was marked by one forced divorce, one murdered husband, and rumors of murders she committed herself—as well as whispered affairs with both her brother Cesare and her father. But was she all that history has accused her of being, or a woman used by powerful men to gain still more power? Here, Lucrezia tells her own story, full of crime and passion.
At the turn of the 16th century, the Vatican was as decadent and violent as any royal court, and Lucrezia was raised a princess. Twice married off for political gain by Alexander and Cesare, first to an older noble she grew to love, then to the dazzlingly handsome nephew of a king who she fell in love with almost instantly, Lucrezia would not have lasting happiness with either. This is the story of a woman trapped between her own desires and the iron hand of her ultra-powerful family. Her intelligence and inner steel, as conveyed by author John Faunce, mark her as one of history's great survivors."
 
 Wideacre by Philippa Gregory (1986/2003) This one has lots of different opinions on Amazon from the 'worst book ever read' to 'Amazing'. We shall see. Gotta love those Amazon reviewers, eh?

"Beatrice Lacey, as strong-minded as she is beautiful, refuses to conform to the social customs of her time. Destined to lose her family name and beloved Wideacre estate once she is wed, Beatrice will use any means necessary to protect her ancestral heritage. Seduction, betrayal, even murder -- Beatrice's passion is without apology or conscience. "She is a Lacey of Wideacre," her father warns, "and whatever she does, however she behaves, will always be fitting." Yet even as Beatrice's scheming seems about to yield her dream, she is haunted by the one living person who knows the extent of her plans...and her capacity for evil.
Sumptuously set in Georgian England, Wideacre is intensely gripping, rich in texture, and full of color and authenticity. It is a saga as irresistible in its singular magic as its heroine."

The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
The Silver Chalice recounts the story of Basil, a young silversmith, who is commissioned by the apostle Luke to fashion a holder for the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. The Silver Chalice was the best-selling fiction title of 1953 in the United States and was made into a film starring Paul Newman.

BrokenTepee shared with me also the latest MJ Rose novel in her Reincarnation series (thank you!!):
The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
Haunted by a twenty-year-old murder of a beautiful young painter, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work as a special agent with the FBI's Art Crime Team. Currently investigating a crazed art collector who has begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation -- dedicated to the science of past-life study -- where, in order to maintain his cover, he agrees to submit to the treatment of a hypnotist.


Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history -- the theft of a 1,500-year-old sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

International bestselling author M. J. Rose's The Hypnotist is her most mesmerizing novel yet. An adventure, a love story, a clash of cultures, a spiritual quest, it is above all a thrilling capstone to her unique Reincarnationist novels, The Reincarnationist and The Memorist.

And for review:
Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
What Happened To Eden?


The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab's Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with a daring and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve.
 
Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller
A richly woven biography of the beloved patriot Betsy Ross, and an enthralling portrait of everyday life in Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia


Betsy Ross and the Making of America is the first comprehensively researched and elegantly written biography of one of America's most captivating figures of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on new sources and bringing a fresh, keen eye to the fabled creation of "the first flag," Marla R. Miller thoroughly reconstructs the life behind the legend. This authoritative work provides a close look at the famous seamstress while shedding new light on the lives of the artisan families who peopled the young nation and crafted its tools, ships, and homes.

Betsy Ross occupies a sacred place in the American consciousness, and Miller's winning narrative finally does her justice. This history of the ordinary craftspeople of the Revolutionary War and their most famous representative will be the definitive volume for years to come.

Jun 19, 2010

The Sunday (Saturday) Salon~ Reviews this Week, Updates, Giveaway..

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday! Sip along with your lukewarm coffee from this morning, click the pics to visit other virtual reading rooms.. tell us..what are you reading this week??

I have not done a salon post in a long while, so this is a biggie! I have been enjoying the weekends with the family and busy making life wonderful for everyone! It's going to be a great summer.. if only I could stop working, life would be just perfect!

And of course I have been READING READING so that my wonderful followers could enjoy some new reviews at The Burton Review, and I posted two for you this week. And I have some scheduled to come so we are rocking and rolling here! Of the year 2010, published reviews to date are 33 reviews posting for 24 weeks of the year so far. You can see the links to all of my reviews here.

I have been reading some fabulous books by debut authors lately which I have already shared with your this week. New reviews this week are My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira which is a new release that details a young woman's journey through the horrors of the Civil War in America. I really enjoyed this book, it was a perfect summer weekend read that I was loathe to put down.

Another great read that I reviewed this week was an unexpected treat with a young adult novel The Queen's Daughter by Susan Coventry which was about the famous Eleanor of Aquitaine's not so famous daughter Joan. I was very eager to read this story and started on it almost immediately after receiving it and was another one that I couldn't put down. I was pleasantly surprised that a young adult novel could be so entertaining, and the writing did not turn me off at all.

And after these great reads, I picked up book number two in The Morland Dynasty, The Dark Rose. Sentence number two in the foreword totally turned me off as it is totally inaccurate. The book deals with Tudor times and many of my followers know how I am a Tudor Book Lover, so when something is totally off base, my eyes roll. And they continued to roll through the novel. These characters are mean spirited and negative, and have a severe lack of morals. I despise people who breed contempt and negativity, in real life and in my reads. So it's been a real trial to get this book completed and would have loved to not finish it. But I will finish it today and move on to something a bit more accurate with characters that I would like to share my heart with.

I think after this read I will pick up a new release titled This Must Be The Place by Kate Raccaulia, another Debut Author!
This will be released on July 6, 2010 and is another read I hope to enjoy which is off of my beaten path. But sounds like a perfect read for me this weekend:
A sudden death, a never-mailed postcard, and a longburied secret set the stage for a luminous and heartbreakingly real novel about lost souls finding one another..
The Darby-Jones boardinghouse in Ruby Falls, New York, is home to Mona Jones and her daughter, Oneida, two loners and self-declared outcasts who have formed a perfectly insular family unit: the two of them and the three eclectic boarders living in their house. But their small, quiet life is upended when Arthur Rook shows up in the middle of a nervous breakdown, devastated by the death of his wife, carrying a pink shoe box containing all his wife's mementos and keepsakes, and holding a postcard from sixteen years ago, addressed to Mona but never sent. Slowly the contents of the box begin to fit together to tell a story—one of a powerful friendship, a lost love, and a secret that, if revealed, could change everything that Mona, Oneida, and Arthur know to be true. Or maybe the stories the box tells and the truths it brings to life will teach everyone about love—how deeply it runs, how strong it makes us, and how even when all seems lost, how tightly it brings us together. With emotional accuracy and great energy, This Must Be the Place introduces memorable, charming characters that refuse to be forgotten.

Sounds very intriguing.. I can't wait to start it... but must finish The Dark Rose first.

This week the next Round Table starts, and we are hosting Catherine Delors and her newest novel, For The King. Visit http://historicalfictionroundtable.com/ for more details! This novel is great for those who like Mystery mixed with History!

The Tudor Mania Challenge has one more month to go. Enter your new Tudor Reviews here and there will be a winner of any book $15 in value from The Book Depository! So far the winning number is two Tudor Book reviews each for myself and Living and Loving in California! You have time to catch up! I will be posting some more Tudor Book reviews soon!

I hit four hundred followers this week. Which is great, I love you guys and totally appreciate your support. You are the reason I keep going! One more thing.. there is a brand new site called Historical Fiction Connection, and you can be a contributor there!




What have you been reading lately? Anything that pleasantly surprised you this week? Leave me the link to your reviews this week and I'll come visit!
And a sneaky giveaway... for my loyal followers, and new followers.. (become a follower)!
Comment here with a book review you posted this week, and you will be entered in a drawing for my two used/read ARC's of Cynthia Harrod Eagles' books one and two of The Morland Dynasty!
RULES:
You must also leave a link to a recent review you posted.
Winner must be a follower and leave me your email address so I can contact you.

For an extra entry, facebook or tweet this post leaving me the link in your comment.

And for two more extra entries, post this graphic on your Blog and link to this post.

This Giveaway ends July 2nd. One winner gets both gently read ARC's and this is open to USA and Canada residents ONLY.
Good  Luck, and thanks again to my followers for sticking with me. XXOO

Jun 17, 2010

Book Review/Gush Fest: My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira


My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira
Pub. Date: May 2010
Viking, 384pp
ISBN-13: 9780670021673
Review copy provided by the publisher, thank you!!
The Burton Review Rating:Four and a Half Stars!


In this stunning historical novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, headstrong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine—and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak—Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens—two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary’s courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering—and resisting her mother’s pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister’s baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.
Like Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks’s The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClelland, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And, in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere.

Every now and then you come across one of those stories that make you want to shout from the roof tops: THIS IS A FANTASTIC BOOK!!!!!!! This is one of those times for me. I was so totally emotionally tied in to this story as it swept from one person to another, yet it always came back to Mary Sutter. Set in the horrific days of America's Civil War, this is a timeless tale that is fraught with grief and emotion, where the entire undercurrent was despair throughout the novel. This is not for the faint of heart, but a novel that is meant to cling to your soul and not let go.

Mary Sutter is a young midwife whose sole desire is to become a surgeon. This was a job that men would normally do, and Mary wanted to learn from any of those more learned men. Finding someone to apprentice to is her chief task, and she ultimately forsakes her loving family in New York and seeks knowledge amongst those who are tending to the war heroes. The formidable Dorothea Dix called for nurses for this task, yet she has turned Mary away due to her young age which was not the required age of thirty. Mary is a resourceful, stubborn woman set on her goals and finds the medical world a place that she needs to be, especially to save the boys who resemble her brother and brother-in-law, as she searched for them among the masses of soldiers she encountered.

The author skillfully blends fiction with fact, as Lincoln steps in as a shadow of a figure in the story as well, and a young assistant John Hay who made for another intriguing storyline as the war rages on. But the story is set up to follow the members of Mary's family from her twin sister and her husband to a doctor that had also turned Mary away. Following Mary's younger brother Christian as he enlists in the war against the South was one of those moments when you felt something is going to happen to this wonderful young gentleman, but please don't let it happen.. and we follow Mary from New York to Washington to Virginia as she is stubborn in her quest, while along the way the author is so descriptive that you feel like you are watching an epic movie unfold before you. The war was not supposed to be so long, and it took its toll on everyone, from President Lincoln and his ineffective commanders to the once eager nurse Mary Sutter. Hope was not really an option anymore, as we read of the dead and dying, and the maimed. Life and death were intertwining shadows as the effects of the war ravaged the men and their beloved families, and Mary's included. Pitiful and tearful despair as impossible choices were given, and the decisions made carried grave consequences and regret. The hypocrisy of the war for the quest for freedom was also evident, and one wonders if we could ever learn. There were almost 625,000 casualties, averaging 599 deaths per day in this Civil War which lasted from 1861 to 1865. Such an astronomical number as I contemplate the effects of the war on our ancestors. And so this story gives life to that seemingly long ago time, as Mary's once happy family is reduced to shreds with not a single light at the end of the tunnel. An incredibly amazing gutwrenching novel that I simply could not put down.

A small critique from me regarding the writing was the repeated use of parentheses which seemed overly used in the first part of the book: (to demonstrate a point). Otherwise, the writing felt skilled and highly steeped with the undercurrents of potential sorrows that still managed to pull at my heart as the author intermingles her characters with ease and talent that predicts wonderful things to come for this writer. There is also a lot of medical information as Mary and her peers try to discern the best ways to help their patients, as well as a lot of surgeries and blood. This is such a fantastic debut novel for Robin Oliveira that I have to wonder what next could come from her imaginative and talented pen? I will impatiently for another page turner that takes me into another time and place but manages to keep my soul there while the written story is long over. Those readers who enjoyed The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott will enjoy this one as it packs a lot of punch into the harrowing images of the Civil War, yet it is not done in such a way to shock the reader into pity for the characters of the story. Instead, it is done with a subtle torture to your sensitivities. If you think you would enjoy a Civil War era novel, pick this one up. This would be your favorite, in a masochistic sort of way.

Jun 16, 2010

Caught My Eye ..Some Fabulous Historical August Releases

It is going to be a fabulous summer with all of the historical books that are coming out. In August alone, these are the picks that have caught my eye. Follow the Links to learn more about the books from Amazon!



Poison: A Novel of the Renaissance (First in trilogy set during reign of the Borgias) by Sara Poole

In the simmering hot summer of 1492, a monstrous evil is stirring within the Eternal City of Rome. The brutal murder of an alchemist sets off a desperate race to uncover the plot that threatens to extinguish the light of the Renaissance and plunge Europe back into medieval darkness.


Determined to avenge the killing of her father, Francesca Giordano defies all convention to claim for herself the position of poisoner serving Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, head of the most notorious and dangerous family in Italy. She becomes the confidante of Lucrezia Borgia and the lover of Cesare Borgia. At the same time, she is drawn to the young renegade monk who yearns to save her life and her soul.
Navigating a web of treachery and deceit, Francesca pursues her father’s killer from the depths of Rome’s Jewish ghetto to the heights of the Vatican itself. In so doing, she sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation with ancient forces that will seek to use her darkest desires to achieve their own catastrophic ends.

The Red Queen: A Novel by Philippa Gregory
Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.

Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.
The Secret Eleanor (novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine) by Cecelia Holland
Eleanor of Aquitaine seized hold of life in the 12th century in a way any modern woman would envy!


1151: As Duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor grew up knowing what it was to be regarded for herself and not for her husband's title. Now, as wife to Louis VII and Queen of France, she has found herself unsatisfied with reflected glory-and feeling constantly under threat, even though she outranks every woman in Paris.

Then, standing beside her much older husband in the course of a court ceremony, Eleanor locks eyes with a man-hardly more than a boy, really- across the throne room, and knows that her world has changed irrevocably...

He is Henry D'Anjou, eldest son of the Duke of Anjou, and he is in line, somewhat tenuously, for the British throne. She meets him in secret. She has a gift for secrecy, for she is watched like a prisoner by spies even among her own women. She is determined that Louis must set her free. Employing deception and disguise, seduction and manipulation, Eleanor is determined to find her way to power-and make her mark on history.


His Last Letter: Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester (novel of the enduring relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) by Jeane Westin
One of the greatest loves of all time-between Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley-comes to life in this vivid novel.


They were playmates as children, impetuous lovers as adults-and for thirty years were the center of each others' lives. Astute to the dangers of choosing any one man, the Virgin Queen could never give her "Sweet Robin" what he wanted most-marriage- yet she insisted he stay close by her side. Possessive and jealous, their love survived quarrels, his two disastrous marriages to other women, her constant flirtations, and political machinations with foreign princes.

His Last Letter tells the story of this great love... and especially of the last three years Elizabeth and Dudley spent together, the most dangerous of her rule, when their passion was tempered by a bittersweet recognition of all that they shared-and all that would remain unfulfilled.

The Pindar Diamond: A Novel by Katie Hickman (Paperback - Aug 17, 2010)tale of lust, greed, and danger set in seventeenth-century Venice, The Pindar Diamond is a gripping and superbly told historical novel.
In a small town on the Italian coast, a mysterious woman washes ashore. She is crippled, mute, and clutches a bundle to her chest?a baby the townspeople insist is a real-life mermaid. It can only bring bad luck; they pay a troupe of acrobats to carry mother and child away.

In the bustling trade center of Venice, merchant Paul Pindar is the subject of his colleagues' concern. Since his return from Constantinople, they have found him changed; raging over the loss of his beloved, Celia, he has gambled away his fortune at the gaming tables. But when a priceless blue diamond surfaces in the city, Pindar recognizes the opportunity to regain everything he has lost?including, perhaps, the woman he loves.

A celebrated writer of history and travel books, Katie Hickman has always been a master of evoking time and place. With The Pindar Diamond, her follow-up to The Aviary Gate, she brings early-seventeenth-century Italy vividly to life, and also demonstrates her maturity as a novelist. A tale of love and avarice, with a touch of the mystical, The Pindar Diamond is rich with historical detail, and unfolds with urgency and grace. It is accomplished, wholly satisfying historical fiction.


Non-fiction:

A Royal Passion: The Turbulent Marriage of King Charles I of England and Henrietta Maria of France by Katie Whitaker
A royal marriage, based on romantic passion and ferocious, unbridgeable religious differences, ends in tragedy—a history worthy of Shakespeare. It was, from the start, a dangerous experiment. Charles I of England was a Protestant, the fifteen-year-old French princess a Catholic. The marriage was arranged for political purposes, and it seemed a mismatch of personalities. But against the odds, the reserved king and his naively vivacious bride fell passionately in love, and for ten years England enjoyed an era of peace and prosperity.

When Charles became involved in war with Puritan Scotland, popular hatred of Henrietta’s Catholicism roused Parliament to fury. As the opposition party embraced new values of liberty and republicanism—the blueprint for the American War of Independence and the French Revolution—Charles’s fears for his wife’s safety drove him into a civil war that would cost him his crown and his head.
Rejecting centuries of hostile historical tradition, prize-winning biographer Katie Whitaker uses a host of original sources—including many unpublished manuscripts and letters—to create an intimate portrait of a remarkable marriage.

The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace by Lucy Worsley (Hardcover - Aug 17, 2010)
Kensington Palace is now most famous as the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, but the palace's glory days came between 1714 and 1760, during the reigns of George I and II . In the eighteenth century, this palace was a world of skulduggery, intrigue, politicking, etiquette, wigs, and beauty spots, where fans whistled open like switchblades and unusual people were kept as curiosities. Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers charts the trajectory of the fantastically quarrelsome Hanovers and the last great gasp of British court life. Structured around the paintings of courtiers and servants that line the walls of the King's Staircase of Kensington Palace paintings you can see at the palace today?The Courtiers goes behind closed doors to meet a pushy young painter, a maid of honor with a secret marriage, a vice chamberlain with many vices, a bedchamber woman with a violent husband, two aging royal mistresses, and many more. The result is an indelible portrait of court life leading up to the famous reign of George III , and a feast for both Anglophiles and lovers of history and royalty.