The Shakespeare authorship question is not a new notion, nor is the idea of writing a novel about exploring said authorship, it is however one of thisThe Shakespeare authorship question is not a new notion, nor is the idea of writing a novel about exploring said authorship, it is however one of this reader’s favorite topics. I love the adventure and mystery that can be produced around Shakespeare, not to mention when you write a book about Shakespeare… the references to his plays will be plentiful. David Lawrence-Young’s novel Will the Real William Shakespeare Please Step Forward? is yet another novel to add to the list of fantastic historical fiction/literary fiction about the Shakespeare authorship question bookshelf.
Daniel Ryhope, a lecturer of the Bard of Avon, is confronted by colleagues with the idea the “William Shakespeare was a con man! A fake and a forger!” Daniel, as any good member of the literati would do set off to the library with his wife and two friends for an intense search to find out the truth about who really wrote William Shakespeare. With so many questions and so many sources the foursome discover that there are many truths out there and finding the one they seek is not an easy task.
Well their end discovery in the Shakespeare authorship question is not at all surprising the ending does pose another question that I can only hope Young will turn into a sequel… “Did Shakespeare have anything to do with Marlowe’s death?”
Overall, this is a fun read, and you can create a fantastic Shakespeare authorship question bibliography from the read. (I will post my notes from the book soon on my blog.) I recommend this to the reader who is interested in Shakespeare, enjoys reading books about adventures while researching. Or to the person who thinks a day or two spent in deep research in your favorite corner of the library as a dream vacation. Those looking for a sort of thriller, edge of your seat suspense however may not find this to be there cup of tea. ...more
In my review of The Professor’s Assassin last month I stated that I was eagerly awaiting the release of Pearl’s new novel The Technologists and that fIn my review of The Professor’s Assassin last month I stated that I was eagerly awaiting the release of Pearl’s new novel The Technologists and that from the preview that was included in The Professor’s Assassin it looked like it was going to be one of his best. Well needless to say I was not disappointed. Pearl delivers yet another page turner that had me guessing “who done it” until the very end.
The Technologists is set in Boston 1868 and starts with, of all things, seven shipwrecks. For those who do not know, currently me, my husband and super pup Maverick are on a sailboat sailing around the entire coast line of Florida. It was somewhat eerie to begin the book on a foggy and raining day while sitting on a boat only to discover that Pearl was painting a similar picture in his new novel. Besides the riveting poetic language from sentence number one I was hooked simply because I truly felt the picture being painted around me. But the mysterious disasters did not stop there. As the book progressed more unusual, seemingly hard to explain catastrophes were happening to Boston. The police force was at a loss for answers so they had to make the choice of turning to one of the two colleges in the area, Harvard or the new formed Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They choose to place their faith in the college that was not shocking the city with their “technologies” and sought the help of the professor of science from Harvard. Harvard’s science department unfamiliar and unwilling to accept the new way of looking at the world that was present in MIT was unable to adequately explain what had happened or what would happen next. It looked as though all was loss for Boston until a secret group formed within the walls of MIT began to investigate from the shadows. Quickly the MIT students begin to see how the experimenter was tormenting the city, their only question left was, how would they stop him.
For readers whom this is the first Pearl book you have or will read I must take a sidebar in this review and tell you that if you enjoy it, buy the other three… you will not be disappointed. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Pearl’s novels but I do have favorites. The Last Dickens published in 2009 is my favorite of his works but it has some serious competition with The Technologists. It is not often that I read a mystery and do not pick up on where the author is going long before the culprit is revealed. In Pearl’s latest I suspected many people and was surprised to find out who was really behind it all. For that and Pearl’s attention to detail in his meticulous research I gave The Technologists five stars. Hats off to Pearl for yet another masterpiece.
“Throughout his boyhood in a port town, he’d heard so many people spoken of as “lost at sea.” Now it seemed to him the strangest turn of phrase. As long as he was in the water he could not be lost.” (Kindle Location 200)
“Technology is the dignity that man can achieve by bettering himself and his society.” (Kindle Location 892)
“When you stop the mind from inventing, you stop nature.” (Kindle Location 2339)
The Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl is a prequel to his latest novel The Technologists. The regular reader of Pearl will know that he does not dThe Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl is a prequel to his latest novel The Technologists. The regular reader of Pearl will know that he does not disappoint the reader looking for an engaging historical fiction novel. His short story about a professor who is determined to find out the identity of a murderer at the University of Virginia and bring him to justice is no exception. Pearl’s talent for tantalizing the reader with thrilling tales shines through once again. William Barton Rogers (later to be the founder and president of MIT) is the science professor at the University of Virginia and is startled to discover that the riots of campus “volunteers” have turned deadly. Rogers is the first to want justice when one of his colleague’s is slain in the street at the hand of a student and volunteer. With his prodigious knowledge of the area and the help of other students Rogers goes on the hunt for the person responsible so he cannot kill again.
Pearl, as in his novels, creates a character in Rogers that makes the reader want to follow him into the darkest alley to find out who has committed the crime and bring that man to justice. From the first page we, the reader, are captured and cannot leave until the thrilling end.
The short story is riveting and leaves the reader wanting more. The short story also includes sample chapters from Pearl’s upcoming novel, The Technologists, which if the sample is any indication of the rest of the novel is going to be phenomenal. Trust me readers of historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers… you will not be disappointed with The Professor’s Assassin.
“William Barton Roger’s eyes tracked the bursts of light in the darkness outside. The other men in the room kept away from the window, as though there was somewhere to hide.” (Kindle Location 33-36).
“Jack would not be so limited forever. Nor would Rogers. More choices would come-they must.” (Kindle Location 944-49) ...more
I have to admit that there is nothing like the drama of palace life that intrigues me. The gluttony, the power hungry willing to do anything… when donI have to admit that there is nothing like the drama of palace life that intrigues me. The gluttony, the power hungry willing to do anything… when done right it can create a real pager turner. That is why this reader very rarely turns down the opportunity to read a historical fiction novel especially one set in the 18th Century. The only downside to fondness for such literature is that there are many such novels out there and not all are worth the read. The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great by Eva Stachniak is worth the read.
Varvara the daughter of a bookbinder from Poland is an innocent girl who believed that the word of the Empress was truth that could always be depended on. After the loss of both her parents Varvara, was taken to the palace where she believed the Empress would care for her because after all the Empress did give her word to her father. She was disappointed to find that she was just another ward who was invisible to everyone because she was considered a no one. It was not until she learned to see what others would not see and listen to the words meant to be kept secret that she rose through the ranks.
Completely satisfied with being a tongue for the Empress Varvara’s (Barbara’s) only wish was to be at the Empress’s side just as she had promised her father before his death. It was not until Sophie a young countess brought to marry Peter III did Varvara ever feel the need to protect someone other than herself and began to question the cruelty of palace life. Together Sophie, later to become Catherine the Great, and Varvara took a small girl and made her Empress of all Russia.
The story of how Catherine the Great rose to power is not that unusual in the historical fiction world. What makes The Winter Palace: A Novel of Catherine the Great stand out however is the choice of the protagonist. Varavara is the only character we hear from in the book. It is through her eyes that we watch the fall of old power and the rise of new power. It is through her that we discover just how far people are willing to go for power.
This book is a great read for those who are interested in 18th century historical fiction and Catherine the Great. Heck if you just want a good read and are not really interested in either you will enjoy this book. As I mentioned earlier in this review it is a page turner. The only thing that I was disappointed with was the ending. I do not want to spoil the novel for anyone so I will not go into great detail about the ending but let me just say that I felt there were loose ends that needed to be tied up at the end and the ending felt somewhat abrupt and not as satisfying as I hoped it would be. All that said, it is a fantastic book worthy of at least one read.
As a side note I would just like to express my extreme pleasure at how prominent books were in this novel. Any bibliophile would adore this novel simply for the descriptions of the books that surrounded Varvara and the power that storytelling alone had on everyone in the novel.
Publication of this novel is scheduled for January 2012.
Note: I was given this book for review. In no way does that fact effect what was written in this review. ...more