Since I read A Crocodile in the Sandbank, I became a big fan of Amelia Peabody. She’s unlike any other sleuth heroine I ever read about before. Amelia...moreSince I read A Crocodile in the Sandbank, I became a big fan of Amelia Peabody. She’s unlike any other sleuth heroine I ever read about before. Amelia is one of a kind!
The second book, The Curse of the Pharaohs starts 4 years later after the end of the 1st book. Amelia and Emerson are quietly living in Kent with their son William, nicknamed Ramses. After his birth, his parents felt they couldn’t continue their career as Egyptologists until he had grown and could accompany them to Egypt.
While they are trying not to get bored with their smooth English life, they follow in the newspapers the story of Lord Baskerville and how he possibly died of a curse after digging some pharaoh’s tomb. They are immediately interested and both surprised when Baskerville’s widow pay them a visit and asks Emerson to finish the work of her husband. If he refuses, not wanting to leave his wife and son in England, Peabody, knowing how excited he is for a new adventure, convinces him it’s for the best if he accepts the mission. In no time, they are both ready to leave for Egypt.
When they arrive, they are faced with many problems and treats that make their work even more difficult and feed even more the rumors of an ancient curse. Tired of this situation, the Emersons finally decide to get involved in this investigation and find the responsible behind the mystery.
The second book of this series is as delicious as the first one. Amelia Peabody continues to exude intelligence and sharp humor. Her reflections about her son are hilarious! The child is a little genius and develops very quickly to the amazement of both his parents. Peters does an excellent job describing him and I can perfectly imagine the little boy’s “chilling and calculating look” when he tries to manipulate his parents. I get the feeling this little Ramses is going to have some extraordinary adventures!
The chemistry between Peabody and Emerson is intact. All their dialogues, conversations and disputes produce sparks. It’s like watching an extraordinary final at Roland Garros. They know each other well but they still can surprise each other.
The story is fast-paced and the descriptions of the Egypt of those times are magnificent, making you feel as you were present during the events.
Highly recommended to any reader who enjoys a good mystery and must-read to all Amelia Peabody fans.
When I was invited to write a review about a book by Jane Plaidy, I readily accepted. I had heard so much about the author but never really had the ch...moreWhen I was invited to write a review about a book by Jane Plaidy, I readily accepted. I had heard so much about the author but never really had the chance to read any of her works. Queen of this Realm seemed like a good choice for this first experience, since the charismatic Elizabeth I, queen of England is one of my favorite historic figures.
The book opens with Elizabeth’s troubled childhood. Daughter of the all powerful Henri VIII and the attractive Anne Boleyn, who was executed when Elizabeth was only 3 years old, we sense how this child grew insecure of her place into her father affections and how deeply she was scarred by her mother’s destiny and her illegitimacy. Raised by governesses, servants and stepmothers (like Katherine Parr), we follow her life through the years, watching her slowly becoming the woman who gave her name to her time – the Elizabethan era.
The struggle between Protestants and Catholics create an unstable situation in England aggravated by Edward VI’s death and Mary’s ascension to the throne. These were hard times for the future queen who had to spend a year in prison after being accused several times of plotting against her sister’s life.
After Mary’s early death, she finally accedes to the throne, to the joy of the English people who were much in love for their princess. As a young queen (25 years old), many were those who wanted to see her settle down and giving an heir to the country. Elizabeth decides to do exactly the opposite; she will be married to her people and will rule without a man by her side. Of course, this didn’t stop her to have several suitors over the years, mainly due to diplomatic reasons.
The later years come in a rush with the victory over the Invincible Armada, the sudden death of Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester or even the queen’s tempestuous relationship with the deeply annoying Robert Deveraux, the stepson of Dudley.
I have to confess I was not expecting much from this book in terms of historical accuracy, since I heard the author is known to sometimes romanticize History. For what I previously read about Elizabeth I, these 400 pages are a fair account of her life, which is not an easy task to do in such a short length or even write as a memoir. Of course, several important moments are rushed in a few lines, it was almost expected. I’m nonetheless impressed that Plaidy still managed to pull it off so elegantly. Now I wish I had her entire backlist at home…
I particularly enjoyed reading about the queen’s relationship with Robert Dudley, how they met as children in court, found themselves imprisoned at the same time at the Tower and later built a very complex relationship that resisted during 30 years to everything and everyone: treasons, cheating, disputes, banishments… I was never very fond of Robert, I can actually understand Elizabeth’s fascination for him, but he really never wins my affections.
My favorite moments were mostly the portraits of some of Elizabeth’s pairs or close family, like Jane Grey, so insecure and innocent and clearly a puppet in the hands of the ambitious John Dudley, duke of Northumberland. The poor child looks just like a little lamb sent to the slaughter… The fatherly figure of Lord Cecil who always admired his young queen and wanted the best for her, even if she sometimes strongly disagreed with his opinions, is very touching. He is always there for her, no matter what. I confess the scene when he gets ill and is lying in his bed talking with Elizabeth brought some tears to my eyes. In the other hand, I missed to read more about Walsingham. He always fascinated me and I was quite disappointed to see that if he is mentioned here and there, we don’t know much about him or even quite see how crucial his role was during Elizabeth’s reign. We end up knowing more about his daughter and her hidden affair and consequent marriage to the spoiled Robert Deveraux.
Mary, Queen of the Scots is described almost as I imagined her: pretty, attractive but probably not suited to rule and certainly not a match for her intelligent cousin, Elizabeth. After 18 years living as a captive in England, she was becoming a liability and a threat… After collecting enough evidence of Mary’s treason and plots against his queen, Walsingham, along with other advisors, convinced Elizabeth of the necessity to bring Mary to a trial and an execution. Elizabeth’s fears and hesitation clearly show she knew how delicate the situation was; any wrong decision could gain her the displeasure of her beloved people and overthrow her. She readily admitted ruling by popular consent and valued the advice of the parliament and her counselors.
Something that deeply annoyed me was the frequent pinching and slapping given by Bess to her ladies in waiting and even her favorites. She is indeed known by her mercurial temper, especially in her older years but making her punish physically and constantly everyone around her gives her a childish behavior that seems far from her personality, even as a child.
A subject much discussed about Elizabeth was her virginity. Plaidy preferred to follow the queen’s reputation and the iconic and virginal image she built to herself but other biographies do mention she had certainly some affairs. Some even suggest Thomas Seymour ravished her when she was an adolescent and living with her stepmother, Katherine Parr, leaving her somehow traumatized for her future amorous experiences.
While rushing some important parts of Elizabeth I life, I do find this Queen of this Realm an excellent debut for anyone who would like to know this queen a little better. Jean Plaidy gives us an intelligent, empathic and very astute Elizabeth who learned since early age how to reach for her goals with patience and insight. She’s not a model of perfection or sainthood, she can be vain and egocentric but she was an inspiration to the men and women of her time and even today she continues to fascinate us. Elizabeth I was certainly a woman ahead of her time.
As I mentioned before, this is my first Plaidy and certainly not the last! Thank you ladies of the Historical Tapestry for giving me this opportunity to discover another great author.
(Posted at Historical Tapestry during the Jean Plaidy season)
The story begins with Magda’s death caused by torture and mistreatments at the hands of the Church after her being accused of witchcraft. Her daughter...moreThe story begins with Magda’s death caused by torture and mistreatments at the hands of the Church after her being accused of witchcraft. Her daughter Bridget knows it’s now her turn to continue her family bloodline, the descendants of Mary Magdalene. This young woman is quite unconventional and someone who easily gains your admiration after witnessing her strength and honesty.
Raoul de Montvallant is a Catholic but his family always protected the Cathars. The Catholic Church’s intolerance and fear towards other religions starts a quest, leaded by Simon of Montfort, to annihilate Catharism bringing chaos and death into the young man’s world.
Raoul and Bridget feel attracted to each other from the first moment their eyes meet across a room but circumstances will keep them apart… He is married and has family obligations and she knows her status and special gifts are not easily accepted by men.
This is a journey full of adventure, passion and honor that spawns for almost 40 years. You follow not only Bridget and Raoul’s life but also their children’s.
When I started to read this story, I immediately think of The DaVinci Code but in a much positive way. Mixing up the Saint Grail, Cathars and spiritualism is not for everyone and Elizabeth Chadwick does it brilliantly.
I lived in the south of France for a while (Toulouse actually) and I had the chance to visit several Cathar castles (my favorites being Carcassone and Montségur). While I was reading all these characters’ travels I could easily see myself in those places again. This is one of the reasons why I admire Elizabeth Chadwick’s writing, she always makes everything seem so real, even when there’s some paranormal elements involved.
While not being perfect, The Daughters of the Grail has an historical richness that no medieval fan can be indifferent to. Highly recommended!
Note: This book is also known as The Children of Destiny. (less)
Amanda is a feisty even if sometimes too trusting heroine, but she’s also funny and very perceptive. Just the kind of girl I love to read about. When...moreAmanda is a feisty even if sometimes too trusting heroine, but she’s also funny and very perceptive. Just the kind of girl I love to read about. When the story starts, she is about to leave her adoptive country, India, where she lived several years with her brother. Since he married, she felt that her presence was not really welcomed by her sister-in-law and decided to return to England. In her last night in the country, she visits a princess who gives her a very mysterious statue, The Sandalwood Princess. Meanwhile, another person is also interested in the statue and hires a mysterious man going by the name of The Falcon to steal the precious gift from Amanda that same night. The next day they are both aboard the same boat returning to their home country…
If Amanda is a delicious heroine, The Falcon is a charmer! Philip Astonley, Viscount Felkoner (aka Mr. Brentick) didn’t think twice when he stole the statue from the young lady. Now, while returning home he meets and gets to know her and slowly falls under her charm. Arrogant, adventurous, charismatic, he has everything to win her heart, and ours too!
They both lie to each other and do everything they can to keep the statue, but somehow Loretta Chase manages to create a very dynamic couple who, in the end, understand they just cannot live without each other. Their bickering and competition is really funny. The initial condescending attitude from Philip quickly changes when he understands that Amanda is much more than a pretty lady and she stands up to him as an equal.
The story is not only exciting and very well crafted (in 220 pages!), we also get moments of pure fun and those are entirely Padji’s fault. The man is hilarious and kept me laughing out loud all the way until the end.
I read The Sandalwood Princess for the first time a couple of years ago and since then it remained one of my favorite Traditional Regencies. For me, it has a bit of everything I enjoy in a good story: a solid and exciting plot, a sparkling leading couple, attaching secondary characters (a special mention again for Padji) and an irresistible sense of humor. Also, it’s set in India which for me it’s always a plus!
Mary Barton is Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel. I adored North & South and immediately tried to find all her other books.
I have to confess that I...moreMary Barton is Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel. I adored North & South and immediately tried to find all her other books.
I have to confess that I was slightly disappointed with Mary Barton Maybe my expectations were too high and this was, after all, a first try by the author. But don’t get me wrong, this was still a good story with many positive aspects.
This book is all about the city of Manchester during the Industrial Revolution. It‘s our main character and Gaskell follows beautifully its growth. We assist to the first struggling of working classes and the unions or even the harsh daily life of so many families who faced poverty and death. I was entranced during these parts that were described vividly and in a very human way.
The love story between the young Mary Barton and Jem Wilson is sweet but that’s all. Somehow, the young couple seemed to be completely swallowed by the events who took place around them. I can say exactly the same about the murder of the son of a factory owner. We know since the beginning who was the responsible and the trial and final revelation are not a surprise at all.
Gaskell is a wonderful writer and a true storyteller. Her style is catching and despite some flaws, I found myself craving for more.
I have mixed feeling about this book... What started out perfectly didn't continue as steadly as I expected. I was hoping so much more from Nicholas d...moreI have mixed feeling about this book... What started out perfectly didn't continue as steadly as I expected. I was hoping so much more from Nicholas de Caen. 3.5 stars for me.(less)
Those who enjoyed Tasha Alexander previous installment – And Only to Deceive - will certainly like this one as well. I must say that Lady Emily Ashton...moreThose who enjoyed Tasha Alexander previous installment – And Only to Deceive - will certainly like this one as well. I must say that Lady Emily Ashton’s series is getting better and better. I can hardly wait to get my hands in Fatal Waltz.
Emily is an intelligent woman. She loves Greek culture, is interested in antiquities and she spends most of her time learning the most she can about both subjects. If And Only To Deceive is mostly focused in her failed relationship with her deceased husband and the mystery surrounding his death, in The Poisoned Season, she moves on, becomes more independent, more sure of herself. Lady Ashton has a brain and has no problems showing it, even if some society members (including her mother) are scandalized by her reading in a public place.
This time the mystery concerns a descendent of Marie Antoinette, Charles Berry, or so he claims. After his arrival to London, some of his ancestors personal objects are stolen from their owners. Meanwhile David Francis, a ton member, is poisoned and someone steals from his house something belonging to the tragic French queen. The mysterious thief is also sending some strange notes in Greek to Emily…
While I enjoyed the mystery part immensely, sometimes I had to suspend my disbelief about the thief’s antics. It really seemed a bit too much but nothing that makes you less curious about his identity.
Colin Hargraves is also making a patient court to Emily. He doesn’t want to scare her or rush her into anything she would later regret. Her previous disastrous marriage is something she doesn’t want to repeat and it’s obvious Colin understands Emily’s need to make a life of her own and decide when and if she wants to marry again.
Tasha Alexander not only easily creates a Victorian feeling but the historical detail is rich and delightful, even if sometimes too slow paced. Highly recommended for those who want a light and well written story. (less)