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Sep 14, 2009

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table, Featuring Hist-Fic Chick, Mary Queen of Scots, Cleopatra's Daughter Giveaway!

Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event This is the kick-off to a fantastic event in the Historical Fiction Blogosphere, and there will be a TON of stuff going on so I hope you can keep up!! It's going to be like an awesome treasure hunt of Historical goodies and I am going to try hard to keep up. We have some absolutely AWESOME Blogs participating in this fantastic event, and I want to say thank you to the following Fabulous historical fiction bloggers who are:
Charter members of The Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event:

Marie at The Burton Review
Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine
Arleigh at
Amy at Passages to the Past
Allie at Hist-Fic Chick
Lizzy at Historically Obsessed
Heather at The Maiden's Court

Be sure to visit all those Blogs this week for specific Historical Fiction Themed Events and Giveaways!

Up first for today, we have a fairly new blogger but a veteran to art of the reading Historical Fiction. Please welcome Allie from Hist-Fic Chick!

Allie answers my questions:
1. From any of your favorite living authors, who would you most want to write a guest post for your blog, and why?

I would LOVE to have a guest post on my blog by Sandra Gulland. Her vast knowledge of 17th and 18th century France is incredibly impressive, not to mention, she is an extraordinarily talented writer who really knows how to get inside the head of her characters. She writes a really great blog called Baroque Explorations where she posts some of her fascinating historical findings.

2. If you had to read 5 books consecutively on one period or era, WITHOUT GETTING TIRED OF THE ERA, what would that period be? What would those books be?

I'd have to go with the Renaissance hands down, as it is such an imperative time in world history. Literally "rebirth," it marked a change in traditional thinking patterns and a return to the study and interpretation of the philosophies of classical antiquity. It was a time when people once again placed a strong emphasis and value on art and architecture, particularly that of the ancient Romans and Greeks. It was the beginning of an era where people would look to science and reason for enlightenment about the universe, realizing that the corrupt Catholic Church in fact did not have all the answers. I think all of that together is SO interesting!! Not to mention the Reformation going on in England, all over Henry VIII's obsession with witty Anne Boleyn...My picks: Signora da Vinci by Robin Maxwell, The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy, Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, Courtesan by Diane Haeger, and my current read, The Last Queen by CW Gortner.

3. Who is your favorite historical figure, and what is your favorite book (non-fiction or fiction) on that person?

Josephine Bonaparte is my favorite historical figure. I admire her incredible strength as a survivor of tragedy who narrowly escaped the wrath of the guillotine with her life. She was able to overcome incredible hardship during the French Revolution to rise to greatness as Napoleon's famous wife and Empress. Josephine was the epitome of elegance and grace, a leader of her people, and a worldwide style icon. Plus, she was the one person who could calm Napoleon's erratic mood swings, and to top it off she dealt with his wretched family! That is one family I would not like to have for in-laws! She had a really remarkable hold over Napoleon, and his love for her was so intense, as evident in the many surviving letters he sent her while abroad fighting his wars. "The day I lose your heart will be the day Nature loses warmth and life for me." I think that says a lot about her. My favorite book(s) on her (some of my favorite books of all time, actually) are the Josephine B Trilogy by Sandra Gulland (which titles include The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe, and The Last Great Dance on Earth.

4. What are some of the periods/eras that you have yet to read about but are very interested in?

I have actually never read anything on the Wars of the Roses. Surprising, right? I'm pretty well-versed in 16th-18th century England (I love anything Renaissance!), but as for Medieval British history, I'm fairly clueless. I recently won The White Queen by Philippa Gregory in a giveaway, and it will be me my first taste of the Plantagenets. I've also heard great things about Susan Higginbotham's novels on the subject. Another one I'd like to check out is Robin Maxwell's To the Tower Born, about the "lost princes" in the Tower of London, rumored to have been killed off by their evil uncle Richard III.

I would also love to read more about the Ancient Greeks and Romans. I studied Latin a few years ago and I've always been intrigued by mythology. Growing up, I was a part of a dance company called the Isadora Duncan Youth Ensemble, and we traveled all over the world performing Isadora Duncan's dances, each of which portrays a different story from ancient Greek mythology, so I came to take an interest in mythology at a very young age. I have Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran (which takes place in Rome after the deaths of Marc Antony and Cleopatra), and Stealing Athena by Karen Essex (which takes place in two time periods: the Napoleonic Wars and Ancient Greece) sitting on my bookshelf, and I plan on reading both of these as some of my next reads.

5. What is one of the misconceptions you may have had about a particular person or era that now has since been corrected in your head?

Four words: "Let them eat cake." I, like nearly every other person who has ever "learned" of the phrase, always assumed Marie Antoinette was its author, and didn't ever think to question this myth so heavily disguised as fact. I saw the movie with Kirsten Dunst when it first came out, and it only furthered in my mind the idea of Marie as a spoiled, ungrateful, and worst of all, indifferent aristocrat who squandered her country's finances on ball gowns and extravagant jewels. I have since read a lot of books and been enlightened as to the more factually based, harmless nature of this most unfortunate Queen. It's sad that history has vilified a woman who was actually much more sinned against than sinning. Unfortunately, it's not the only time history has been unkind to an intelligent, ambitious woman in power (my other favorite tragic Queen, Anne Boleyn comes to mind). I wrote a fun post on Marie Antoinette a little while ago talking about how fashion brought down the monarchy. I think often misconceived women are some of my favorites to read about; I always like to give the underdog a second chance to surprise me!

Here is Allie's Guest Post:

Mary, Queen of Scots: A Queen Without A Country

Mary Stuart was three times a queen, yet she never actually had a throne to call her own. The daughter of James V of Scotland and his French wife Marie de Guise, she had a claim to the French, Scottish, and, according to some, British crowns, but she seemed to always be stuck in a perpetual struggle of so-close-yet-so-far from truly ruling each of her would-be kingdoms.

Mary’s path to queenship began when she was just six days old, when her father the King of Scotland died at The Battle of Soway Moss against his uncle Henry VIII of England’s forces, leaving the infant Mary as his only legitimate heir. Mary was crowned Queen of Scotland, and her mother, now the Dowager Queen, was named as her regent until Mary could come of age. Henry VIII, ever the political schemer that he was, saw Scotland’s vulnerability and seized the opportunity to unite the two kingdoms of England and Scotland under one crown through a marriage between Mary and his son and heir, who later became Edward VI of England. When he requested that Mary be brought to England to be raised there as part of the betrothal agreement, the Scots and French lords became outraged at the notion that Mary be raised as anything other than a staunch Catholic. In what became known as “The Rough Wooing,” Henry VIII literally tried to force the betrothal, ordering a series of attacks on the Scottish border and attempting to have Mary kidnapped and brought to England to marry his son. Luckily for Mary and her mother, the French King Henri II had similar ideas of grandeur as Henry VIII of England did, except that he envisioned a united kingdom of France and Scotland. So, he offered safety in France to the little Queen of Scots, along with a betrothal to his own son and heir, the Dauphin François.

Mary arrived on French soil in 1548 and was raised at the elegant French court, becoming the ward of King Henri II. Her mother’s family members were all prominent fixtures of the royal court of France, and Mary enjoyed a relatively happy childhood there. She married François on April 24th, 1558 at Notre Dame, making her husband the King consort of Scotland. François became the King of France; Mary, Queen consort of France, at the death of Henri II in 1559.

The trouble with England brewed once again when, after the death of the Catholic Mary I of England, Elizabeth I came to power in England, returning the country to a Protestant nation. Mary’s father-in-law Henri II had always instilled in Mary that she would one day be the Queen of France, Scotland, and even England, as the granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s sister. Catholics in England who rejected the “bastard” Elizabeth as their Queen claimed that Mary was actually the true and rightful Queen of England. Throughout her life and reign in England, Elizabeth refused to officially name Mary as her heir, although according to the British succession, Mary would justly become the Queen of England at the moment of her cousin’s death should Elizabeth not sire any children (which the “Virgin Queen” did not). However, Henry VIII had specifically stipulated in his will that no Stuart should ever sit upon the throne of England, and so the English succession remained up in the air, along with Mary’s right to that throne. Despite all the controversy, Mary had named herself Queen of England at the same time she was crowned Queen consort of France, directly challenging Elizabeth’s right to rule.

Mary was only Queen of France for about two years because her husband died shortly after the young monarchs had been crowned. Mary went back to Scotland where she made a series of bad political and marital decisions. She had not anticipated the religious factions that had arose in Scotland during her time away in France. Mary chose her Catholic cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, as her next husband, a choice that particularly angered Elizabeth, as Darnley was yet another Catholic in line for the English throne, giving Mary even further right to wear Elizabeth’s crown. Darnley’s ego grew to be about the size of Edinburgh Castle, and he insisted that he be given more power as King consort. The Scottish nobility did not like the arrogant Lord Darnley, and Darnley made matters worse for himself when in an unfounded jealous rage he murdered Mary’s secretary David Rizzio, right in front of her eyes while she was pregnant with Darnley’s child. This, along with much more political backstabbing and double-talking on Darnley’s part, prompted some of the Scots lords, under the leadership of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, to murder Darnley in his sleep, attempting to quite literally blow him to smithereens in an explosion that was meant to look like an accident. He was found asphyxiated in the garden outside the house where he was staying, suggesting that he escaped the explosion only to be murdered immediately after. The actual circumstances of Darnley’s death are still unknown. Bothwell abducted Mary and took her as his wife, although it is mostly agreed upon by historians that Mary did not wed Bothwell willingly, and that he in fact raped her and forced her to marry him. Many felt that her hasty marriage to Bothwell implicated her hand in Darnley’s murder. The Scottish lords rebelled against Bothwell and their Queen, imprisoning them both, although Mary was able to escape to England, where she thought she would find sanctuary in her cousin Elizabeth’s country.

But, sadly, Mary had another thing coming. Elizabeth imprisoned Mary, using the excuse that an inquiry needed to be made into all the suspicions of Mary’s involvement in her husband Darnley’s muder. What was initially intended as a brief imprisonment to further humble her Catholic cousin eventually led to nearly two decades of imprisonment for Mary. Over the years Elizabeth became increasingly suspicious of Mary and her motives, as her spies discovered one plot after another attempting to assassinate Elizabeth and instill Mary as Queen in her place. Elizabeth was hesitant to convict and order the execution of an anointed Queen, and feared the wrath of other Catholic nations should she find Mary truly guilty and therefore have need to execute her. Elizabeth eventually had Mary beheaded for her alleged involvement in The Babbington Plot.

In an ironic turn of events, Elizabeth later named as her successor Mary’s son James, who united England and Scotland under one kingdom and took the regal names James VI of Scotland, and James I of England and Ireland. Mary’s motto, which was embroidered into her cloth of estate, “En ma fin est ma commencement” (“In my end is my beginning”), eerily came true post-mortem, as many years after Mary was executed, Elizabeth’s death marked the end of the Tudor dynastic rule and the beginning of the Stuart dynasty in England.

Trivia: Many people attribute the nickname “Bloody Mary” to Mary Stuart, when in actuality that vile title belonged to her first cousin once removed, Mary Tudor (Queen Mary I of England, half-sister to Elizabeth I). Mary Tudor was the daughter of Henry VIII and his first wife Katherine of Aragon. She attempted to bring England back to Catholicism and became known as “Bloody Mary” for the sickening number of Protestants and “heretics” she ordered burned at the stake during her reign.-- Allie Greenwald

Thank you so much Allie at Hist-Fic Chick for letting us get to know you more, and for a fabulous guest post on Mary Queen of Scots!

Today you will also be needing to head over to Ms. Lucy's at Enchanted By Josephine, as next up on the Round Table is Heather from The Maiden's Court being Queen for a day over at Ms. Lucy's, where she blogs about the mystery behind Cleopatra's suicide.

In honor of this special day as a Kick-Off of Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table and Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I have selected the most fantastic author to highlight at this time: Michelle Moran. Michelle not only has written some fantastic Historical Fiction novels, but she truly is the epitome of a book blogger's dream. She is very open and generous to book bloggers and just for that I think that she is an awesome person! I am totally looking forward to her next book on Madame Tussaud amidst the courts of Marie Antoinette!! Stay tuned for tomorrow as she will be the guest author for the day in honor of the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event, and another giveaway for the new paperback of The Heretic Queen!

(OPEN WORLDWIDE) Up for grabs is one Signed Hardcover of Michelle Moran's Cleopatra's Daughter, (see my review) available for purchase tomorrow, September 15, 2009.

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.
The fateful tale of Selene and Alexander is brought brilliantly to life in Cleopatra’s Daughter. Recounted in Selene’s youthful and engaging voice, it introduces a compelling cast of historical characters:
Octavia: the emperor Octavian’s kind and compassionate sister, abandoned by Marc Antony for CleopatraLivia: Octavian’s bitter and jealous wife Marcellus: Octavian’s handsome, flirtatious nephew and heir-apparent Tiberius: Livia’s sardonic son and Marcellus’s great rival for powerJuba: Octavian’s ever-watchful aide, whose honored position at court has far-reaching effects on the lives of the young Egyptian royals
Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place —the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the time. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.
Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of Imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of history, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

To Enter this Extra Special Giveaway you must do One and Two: (OPEN WORLDWIDE)

1. Since this is Book Blogger Appreciation Week, you must be a Book Blogger & Reviewer, and comment with your Blog URL AND Email Address and follow this blog, AND:

2. Say something nice to Allie on her blog Hist Fic Chick right now and come back and tell me you did so..or comment here about your take on Mary Queen of Scots.

3. Add Extra Entries For Each (max of 5 total entries): blog post, Sidebar post, tweet @BurtonReview, or Facebook Share spotlighting this post & giveaway. You must share that link within a comment so that I can verify it is done properly.

Entries must be received by midnight September 20th, the winner will be announced and emailed the next day. Thanks for entering, and good luck!