The story opens with an extremely powerful scene, an attempted murder of the First Consul, Napoléon Bonaparte, who is passing by Rue Nicaise in his wa...moreThe story opens with an extremely powerful scene, an attempted murder of the First Consul, Napoléon Bonaparte, who is passing by Rue Nicaise in his way to the Opera. Two Chouans, Pierre Saint Régent and Joseph de Limoëlan, block the street with a cart and provoke an explosion with a strange device called “La Machine Infernale”. In a few minutes, a deadly explosion kills dozens of people, innocent Parisians, but fails to get the target of their mission. Bonaparte leaves in his carriage with his escort perfectly safe. The details of the effects of the bomb are striking, I could easily imagine the horror of those who first arrive to that slaughter.
Roch Miquel is a Chief Inspector who leads this investigation. Young, handsome and intelligent, he knows the importance of finding out the responsible minds behind the attack of the Rue Nicaise, especially after seeing the consequences. He is the son of a Romani Auvergnat, Antonin Miquel, the owner of The Mighty Barrel tavern and also a Jacobite who doesn't hide his opinions about the First Consul and the government. Roch is in love of his beautiful mistress, Blanche, a married, refined and cultivated young woman who seems too perfect to be real.
As I mentioned before in Historical Tapestry conversation about For The King, I had some troubles warming up to Roch in the first half of the book. His judgments towards several people he meets all along the story really got into my nerves. He was quick to love and even quicker to hate. I often felt bad for Alexandrine about the way he treated her and her father. I do understand his background, his story but sometimes it was a bit too much rudeness for my taste. With the development of the investigation, he slowly changes his attitude and becomes less distant and less judgmental towards those who really care for him..
The secondary characters are inevitably captivating, despite their actions. I couldn't stop myself searching for more information about Saint Régent and Limoëlan. Both are responsible for the massacre in Rue Nicaise and yet, I cannot dislike them as much as I did Fouché. They fight for what they believe and if I cannot forgive them for what they did, I felt that neither could them, especially Limoëlan. He seems to have lived all his life riddled with guilt.
Now, someone I completely disliked but couldn't help feeling drawn to him was the untrustworthy Fouché, the minister of Police. He is perfect in the role of villain, an unscrupulous turncoat who switches allegiances as he see fit. He always sides with the winners, no matter what. Definitely a very dangerous man!
The Old Miquel is definately my favorite character. He is so touching with his unconditional love for his son, even if he can be very harsh with him as a young boy. He is a man who always remains faithful to his ideals. We learn that he had a very difficult life filled with poverty, hard work and death, but he seems to enjoy life as much as he can. The details of his life in Auvergne and his work in Paris were fascinating.
The historical research behind the story is remarkable and we can feel in every page the incredible work Catherine Delors did to recreate the Post Revolutionary Paris. For those who know this city, For the King is a tremendous treat, those who don't I'm sure you'll enjoy it and you'll want to come to Paris and visit every corner mentioned in the book.
This period of French history, just after the Revolution and the first years of Napoleon as First Consul, was never really appealing to me, mostly due to my profound dislike for the future French Emperor. Catherine Delors novel didn't change my opinion but made me realize that I will read everything she writes no matter the historical period. Meanwhile, I already add Mistress of the Revolution to my TBR pile for my next vacation. Can't wait!
Until more or less 10 years ago, I wasn't a comics fan. One day at my local library I decided to pick up some less known titles during one of those “I...moreUntil more or less 10 years ago, I wasn't a comics fan. One day at my local library I decided to pick up some less known titles during one of those “I have to try new things” kind of phase. The book was called Sasmira, a mysterious time travel who caught me right away under its spell.
The story starts in modern Paris. While walking in the street, Stan, a known musician, hears someone calling his name. He sees then a very old woman who gives him an strange ancient ring and asks him to return to her. Moments later she dies in his arms. Trying to know her identity, he finds in her pocket an old photograph dating from the beginning of the 20th century. To his astonishment, he feels powerfully attracted to one of the women portrayed. His curiosity awaken, he tries to find out more about the house he sees in the picture and asks for the help of his girlfriend, Bertille. With her help, Stan finally finds the location of the house and sneaks out trying to get there alone. Furious with him, Bertille immediately follows. Arriving to the house, they find a secret cave and suddenly they feel irresistibly drawn to each other and have sex. When they awake, they are suddenly in another era...
This is, until today, one of my favorite historical comics. Not only the drawings are beautiful, but the story is compelling mixing mystery, adventure, history and even romance very well. The characters are endearing, especially the young woman, Bertille. She is sharp, intelligent and very outspoken. In the other hand we have the quiet and secretive Stanislas. We feel they have a recent relationship and when Stan disappears for weeks without any explanation, disturbed by his encounter with the old woman, Bertille immediately imagined he was having an affair. She is exasperated by his behavior but her attraction for him is too strong. Even if she helps Stan in any way she can, she never forgets to tell him what she thinks of him, now and then, in a very humorous way.
I have to talk about the beautiful drawings, the precision and detail of the costumes and surroundings, especially at the mansion. It's really a wonderful work! I confess that it was one of the reasons why I was attracted to the book in the first place and I was happy to see the story matched the drawings perfectly. The underwear, the jewels are perfectly captured. The among of research done is obvious in each single page.
This first volume called: “The Calling”, shows us the beginning of an unpredictable story that I really cannot wait to read. Until today only the first book was publish but the second is announced to be release very soon. I've been waiting for the sequel for more than 10 years, so I can only say that I'm really excited!(less)
Olivia & Jai is one of those books with a slight old fashioned feeling that left a wonderful impression the first time I read it a couple years ag...moreOlivia & Jai is one of those books with a slight old fashioned feeling that left a wonderful impression the first time I read it a couple years ago. I wanted to reread it and see if the magic still worked.
We first meet Olivia O’Rourke, a 23 years old American with an unusual education and lots of character, during her stay in India where she spends a year with her maternal aunt, Lady Bridget Templewood, and her family. The young woman is completely in love for this new land and its culture. Every opportunity she gets, to great despair of her snobbish aunt, she’s out exploring Calcutta and doing the best she can to get to meet the locals.
One evening, during a ball, she meets a mysterious man, Jai Raventhorne. They are both curious about each other, but when Olivia mentions his name to her family, they are all shocked and immediately warn her to keep her distances from him. Clearly there’s something going on between Raventhorne and the Templewoods and nobody seems interested to talk about it or explain the reasons of the quarrel to the young American. This situation only provokes Olivia’s curiosity about Jai…
Not long after, Olivia and Jai start to meet in secret, both unable to stop the growing attraction between them. If the young woman accepts her feelings more easily, Jai tries to keep his distances at first and warns her often that despite his love, he cannot give her what she wants. Olivia is in love and she never imagined Jai’s revenge towards her family or the unbearable pain caused by his treason…
Olivia is a charming mix of wisdom and innocence. Raised by her free thinking father in the States, she was always encouraged to give her opinion and be an independent woman. Her English aunt is completely appealed by this upbringing! She is decided to transform the young woman into a lady and find her an English husband.
If I couldn’t sometimes suspend my disbelief when I read about Olivia leaving the house all alone and spend hours in the local markets or riding, I did enjoy her curiosity about the Indian culture and the fact that she tried to break free from the quite strict British society rules and seek for something else.
Her love for Jai might seem sometimes a bit naïve and suddenly excessive, but it’s her first love and she was completely swept away by the dark and mysterious young man. His happiness is her happiness. She gave herself completely to Jai without any constraints.
Jai is Eurasian and his illegitimacy is often the center of all gossip among the local British society. He is arrogant, conceited, obnoxious and sometimes, a real pain. He is also a self made man. Nobody knows who his parents were, but he made his way into the world and built an empire. He does some terrible things, but here remains the talent of Rebecca Ryman, even during the worst moments I could never really hate Jai. He never became an unsympathetic character and I would imagine it was a hard task for the author to keep him going as a real person with its faults and qualities.
There are some small aspects that kept me from giving this book 5 stars. The language was a little too modernized sometimes, but it won’t spoil any enjoyment. This is a story of love and revenge with some twists and turns but everything works almost perfectly for me. The character development, especially Olivia who changes so much all along the story, is quite remarkable. Also the descriptions of 19th century India are enthralling. I remember especially Olivia’s visit to the market and it was so vivid I could almost taste the pastry she was eating.
Rebecca Ryman is the pen name of an Indian writer, Asha Bhanjdeo, who only wrote three books under this name: Olivia & Jai, The Veil of Illusions (the sequel of Olivia & Jai) and Shalimar. Unfortunately, she died in 2003.
Quite honestly, I don’t think I can do this book justice. Clever humor pours all through the pages of this wonderful story. I spent last Sunday aftern...moreQuite honestly, I don’t think I can do this book justice. Clever humor pours all through the pages of this wonderful story. I spent last Sunday afternoon with a beatific smile plastered on my face laughing uncontrollably. My cat, who was sleeping right next to me, was awaken several times and made me well aware with some glaring looks that I was disturbing his comfortable nap.
The characters are a true delight, attaching and far from perfect, which made them even more attractive to my eyes. But it’s the dialogues that caught me completely unaware with their delicious wittiness. There are so many memorable moments that is hard to pick up a favorite.
Vidal is a true rake, not the kind that makes all the show and, at the end, is another misunderstood man who is in great need of talking about his feelings. But he is always honest with his intentions and clearly shows marriage is not in his immediate plans. The pretty and frivolous Miss Challowner caught his eye and she is convinced he will make her his marchioness.
After another scandal, Vidal needs to leave the country and intends to take his current love interest with him. But this is without counting with the young woman’s elder sister, Mary, who always knew the Marquis true intentions. Determined to ruin his plans, she decides to go in her sister’s place.
I enjoyed Mary immensely! There’s sizzling chemistry between her and Vidal right from the beginning, but they both try to ignore it the best they can without success. The shooting scene is hilarious and one of my many favorites in this book.
The constant interventions of Vidal’s family contributes to many funny moments, especially when his paternal aunt is involved (her complains about Vidal’s behavior and comparisons to her son are highly amusing) or even his mother, Léonie, the heroine of These Old Shades, who has always a peculiar talent to comfort her son.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Devil’s Cub is now in my comfort reads shelf forever. (less)
It's impossible to be an historical fiction fan without hearing about Anya Seton's Katherine. For years I only read good things about it and several o...moreIt's impossible to be an historical fiction fan without hearing about Anya Seton's Katherine. For years I only read good things about it and several of my friends couldn't stop recommending it. Like many of those great books you intend to read for ages, but the right occasion never seems to show up, Katherine waited quite a while in my dusty TBR pile. When the Historical Tapestry team decided to organize a season about Anya Seton I jumped of joy. I couldn't ask for a better excuse!
The story begins with young Katherine de Rouet leaving the nunnery where she lived for several years after her father's death. She is to join her sister, Philippa, at court. Beautiful and shy, the young woman soon attracts the attention of two men, the creepy Hugh Swynford and the mysterious John de Gaunt. The first one is completely obsessed with her and does everything in his power to marry her, to Katherine's great despair. The marriage is unsurprisingly unhappy and soon Katherine and John meet again under other circumstances.
John of Gaunt is a man of his time. Duke of Lancaster, the third son of the King Edward III, he is ambitious, arrogant and surprisingly fragile. When he meets Katherine, it's clear he doesn't know what to do about her. He is attracted and repulsed at the same time to that breathtaking beautiful and earthly young woman who looks so different from his ethereal blond wife, Blanche.
After spending years in an unhappy marriage with Swynford, Katherine find herself free to be with John, who meanwhile also lost his spouse to the Black Death. With the passing of years and four children later - the Beaufort - the couple seems to have created a perfect harmony between them. But Katherine starts to doubt about her lover's affections and his constant absences seem to confirm her fears...
Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt are very human and that's what makes them so interesting. There were some moments where I wasn't very fond of John and his excessive ambition. He was so intense that I kept waiting for Katherine to get burned. Same for the young woman's overzealous religiousness but those are my modern opinions getting in the way, and I didn't have any troubles setting them aside for a while.
While this book is about John and Katherine relationship, I never felt that Anya Seton used any love story cliches. If some scenes between them are very romantic, others are painstakingly real. John marries for power and political alliances, like most of the men of his station. Katherine knows that her low birth makes it impossible for her to be a suitable spouse for the King's son. The only way they could be together was as lovers and, at first, they seem both content with the situation. The fact that many years later, John defies all social conventions and marries his long ago mistress makes me love even more this man who was always ready to fight for what he wanted.
Once again, the historical research is done carefully which will immediately seduce all history lovers. Seton will make you travel back in time gracefully never failing to hold your interest, showing you how remarkably talented she is. Her portrayal of the English 14th century is masterfully weaved with its court intrigues and machinations, giving us glimpses of crucial events as The Hundred Years War, the Peasant's Revolt or even the impact of the merciless Black Death. For several hours I truly felt I was living in Medieval England.
Katherine is definitely a book who deserves a special place among my keepers. I'm off to search for Anya Seton's entire back list.