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Apr 11, 2010

Mailbox Monday Time...

Mailbox MondayMailbox 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.

Warning: Exploring Mailbox Mondays across the blogosphere will lead to toppling wishlists and to-be-read-piles! But it's the thrill of the chase that counts!

Books that found there way to my house included:
All The Queen's Players by Jane Feather (April 13, 2010
"At Queen Elizabeth’s palace, intrigue abounds. And when a naive girl with a gift for keen observation enters the court, she can hardly imagine the role she will play in bringing England—indeed, the whole of Europe—to the brink of war. Nor can she foresee her own journey to the brink of ecstasy and beyond. . . .
When she becomes a junior lady of Queen Elizabeth’s bedchamber, Rosamund is instructed by her cousin, the brilliant and devious secretary of state Sir Francis Walsingham, to record everything she observes. Her promised reward: a chance at a good marriage. But through her brother Thomas, Rosamund finds herself drawn to the forbidden, rough-and-tumble world of theatre, and to Thomas’s friend, the dramatic, impetuous playwright Christopher Marlowe. And then Rosamund meets Will Creighton—a persuasive courtier, poet, and would-be playwright who is the embodiment of an unsuitable match.

The unsanctioned relationship between Rosamund and Will draws the wrath of Elizabeth, who prides herself on being the Virgin Queen. Rosamund is sent in disgrace to a remote castle that holds Elizabeth’s cousin Mary Stuart, the imprisoned Queen of Scots. Here, Walsingham expects Rosamund to uncover proof of a plot against Elizabeth. But surely, nothing good can come of putting an artless girl in such close proximity to so many seductive players and deceptive games. Unless, of course, Rosamund can discover an affinity for passion and intrigue herself. . . . "

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok (April 29, 2010)
"Introducing a fresh, exciting Chinese-American voice, an inspiring debut about an immigrant girl forced to choose between two worlds and two futures.

When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life-like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family's future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition-Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.
Through Kimberly's story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about. Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation."

From paperbackswap:
Midsummer's Eve by Philippa Carr
The Mask of the Enchantress by Victoria Holt
The Song of Hannah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

From a 'marvel'ous win at Wonders and Marvels:
Birthright by A. Roger Ekirch (Jan. 2010) For the first time, the remarkable story that inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped.

No saga of personal hardship so captivated the British public in the eighteenth century as the turbulent life of James Annesley, the presumptive heir of five aristocratic titles and scion of the mighty house of Annesley. Kidnapped at twelve years of age by his uncle, “Jemmy” was shipped from Dublin to America in 1728 as an indentured servant. Only after twelve more years did he at last escape, returning to Ireland to bring his blood rival, the Earl of Anglesea, to justice in one of the epic trials of the century.

How, in an age without DNA laboratories or fingerprint records, could a prodigal hope to prove his identity, let alone his legitimacy, after such a long absence—all the while defying accusations of being a “pretender,” the bastard son of a maidservant, plus repeated attempts on his life? Bursting with an improbable cast of characters, from a brave Dublin butcher and a wily Scot to the king of England, Birthright evokes in vivid detail the volatile world of Georgian Ireland—complete with its violence, debauchery, ancient rituals, and tenacious loyalties.

Drawing on exhaustive research in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and America—including an intensive investigation of court transcripts and innumerable, rarely seen legal depositions—A. Roger Ekirch brilliantly resurrects an extraordinary family drama of betrayal and loss, but also resilience, survival, and redemption. 26 illustrations; 3 maps.

Bought at Half Price Books:

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier (a 1936 copy from International Collectors Library)
"Jamaica Inn was an old hostelry hidden away in the lonely moors. Not far from the coast. Most of the coaches avoided it, for its name was evil and no man knew what mysteries its dark shutters hid. Yet it was to Jamaica Inn that Mary Yellan went, as a naïve young girl, when her mother died, to join her Aunt Patience and the strange, boisterous man her aunt had married—Joss Merlyn, landlord of the inn."

Royal Charles by Antonia Fraser

"The dust jacket reads: "'The Merry Monarch.' Rarely has such a popular catchphrase been so deceptive. England's spirited young prince, 'born the divided world to reconcile,' who spent his youth in penurious exile, a fugitive abroad; whose restoration to the throne after Cromwell's death, without a drop of blood shed in his cause, brought about a return to order and peace; whose reign gave its name to an entire society and culture; and whose private life involved almost countless mistresses and illegitimate children, was a man whose nature, honed by his years in exile, was at heart both melancholy and austere. The brilliant author of Queen Mary of Scots and Cromwell here brings her extraordinary powers of research and synthesis, her strong clear biographer's voice, to Charles II, his court and his time. In Antonia Fraser's vivid and balanced portrait, we see him whole for the first time. We see the happy secure childhood shattered when England plunged into civil war; his inability to rally the Royalist forces to save his father from being beheaded in 1649, making him Charles II, "The poor King, who has nothing of it but the name ... " We see his valiant march on England to regain the throne ("A braver Prince never lived") and his amazing escape after the defeat by Cromwell at Worcester; an escape to a penniless and homeless existence, forced even to leave his mother's court in France, Jiving amidst the tensions of conflicting 19yalties, potential betrayals, and the demands of counter-intelligence. We see the astonishing and dramatic Restoration of 1660, with not one single condition imposed or even suggested to him by Parliament, the flame of revolution had so blown itself out. And we see his reign itself, coloured by a series of dramatic events-the Great Plague, the Fire of London (during which Charles rode from place to place, directing the Guards fighting the fire), the Dutch Wars, the Popish Plot, the intrigues surrounding the legitimate succession, his tempestuous relationship to Parliament. Here is Charles II himself, witty and lovable, tenacious and generous, courageous and resilient, who surrounded himself with a "merry gang," irreverent young Wits who loved a high-spirited frolic and otherwise diverted themselves with poetry and plays and literature. Here is a man of great physical energy who quite simply loved women-and was enthusiastic, too, about tennis, swimming in the freezing waters of the Thames, fishing, walking with his beloved dogs. He was a passionate patron of racing (loved to dine with the jockeys) and of the theatre (many of his friends-and mistresses-were theatre people), an informed planner of parks and palaces, a man renowned for his friendliness, his care for the welfare of his people, the ease of access that he offered to his subjects. But behind the gay appearance was a melancholy that the delights of his court could not dislodge. He was ever watchful for a repetition of revolution, a man with an iron determination to preserve what was his, a man chiefly desirous of 'Peace and Quiet for his own Time.' In her biography-five years in work-Antonia Fraser offers important new judgments on central questions of the reign of Charles II: his relationships to his Catholic brother James and his illegitimate lightweight son Monmouth, and to his neglected but respected wife, Catherine; the complexities of his Secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV; his enigmatic religious beliefs and his deathbed acceptance of the Catholic communion. Her Royal Charles is a compelling and richly woven narrative that brings to life once again this fascinating king, who, as Bishop Burnet wrote, was 'the greatest instance in history of the various revolutions of which one man was capable.'"

And last but not least, for review:
Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir (July 13, 2010)
"For historical fiction readers, a tantalizing new novel from New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir about the passionate and notorious French queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Renowned for her highly acclaimed and bestselling British histories, Alison Weir has in recent years made a major impact on the fiction scene with her novels about Queen Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey. In this latest offering, she imagines the world of Eleanor of Aquitaine, the beautiful twelfth-century woman who was Queen of France until she abandoned her royal husband for the younger man who would become King of England. In a relationship based on lust and a mutual desire for great power, Henry II and Eleanor took over the English throne in 1154, thus beginning one of the most influential reigns and tumultuous royal marriages in all of history. In this novel, Weir uses her extensive knowledge to paint a most vivid portrait of this fascinating woman."