Grinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721), was born in Rotterdam and moved to England in 1667. A brilliant master wood carver; true events of his life and work a...moreGrinling Gibbons (1648 - 1721), was born in Rotterdam and moved to England in 1667. A brilliant master wood carver; true events of his life and work are woven into this tale of love and heartbreak.
I enjoyed the different setting in Rosalind Laker's new novel and I loved the journey into the making of beauty products.
"You use oil of vitriol?" she queried, frowning. "Even though you dilute it I know that it can cause a painful rash and much else if it comes in contact with the scalp."
... As they talked on they found it interesting that they were both of the same mind, just as Saskia's mother had been in her day, in regarding the popular use of lead in cosmetics as the most dangerous of ingredients. Both had seen on older women - and on men too - the ravages that it could wreak on complexions over a period of time.
Saskia falls in love with her employer's only son, Grinling, and due to her misinterpretation of the significance of a portrait medallion carved by Grinling, Saskia believes her feelings of love are reciprocated. Robert Harting, architect & Grinling's best friend has loved Saskia since he set eyes on her in Holland.
The story is wonderful and the characters delightful, Saskia, Robert, Grinling, Grinling's wife Elizabeth and Nanny Bobbins but I have to confess to being a little disappointed in Garlands of Gold. As the novel covers approximately 50 years of the characters' lives, the story feels like a brief summary or a dress rehearsal of the main event.
I loved Rosalind Laker's superb novel, To Dance With Kings so I guess I was expecting to feel the same way about Garlands of Gold. (less)
4.5 stars for this version The Wild Hunt is Elizabeth Chadwick's first published work, winner of the 1990 Betty Trask Award and the version I've just r...more4.5 stars for this version The Wild Hunt is Elizabeth Chadwick's first published work, winner of the 1990 Betty Trask Award and the version I've just read is the 'reworked' version. The Wild Hunt is the 1st novel in the Ravenstow trilogy, it was out of print for many years then re-published by Sphere Publishing with a 'spring clean' & new cover as will be "The Running Vixen" (re-publish date Dec 2009) and "The Leopard Unleashed" (re-publish date unknown.)
A marriage of political expediency, at the order of King William Rufus unites Lady Judith of Ravenstow and Guyon FitzMiles, lord of Ledworth. Judith has been traumatised by an abusive father and is naturally fearful of her new husband. While skilled in healing & the running of a household, 16 year old Judith is an innocent when it comes to matters of husband & wife, fortunately Guyon has no wish to terrify his child bride and waits patiently to consummate their marriage.
Set in the turn of the 12th Century in the untamed Welsh border area, Guyon and Judith's story is woven beautifully into the historic tapestry of the time - the scheming and treachery endemic in the royal court during the reign of King William Rufus and subsequently King Henry I, political intrigue, Welsh raids, border skirmishes, secrets, and the evil & cruelty of true historical characters, Robert de Belleme (Earl of Shrewsbury), and Walter de Lacey. Chadwick's descriptions of the cruelty and desecration perpetrated actually brought tears to my eyes.
I loved Ms Chadwick's development of the fictional characters Guyon and Judith. While Guyon has all the traits required of a much loved hero, he is saved from the "to good to be true" portrayal by a few realistic flaws. Judith is a beguiling blend of innocence and passion, poise and wildness, her strong will & temper are a force to be reckoned with. Judith and Guyons' love slowly blossoms as trust, maturity and attraction grows.
While for me The Wild Hunt didn't have the same heartfelt appeal of The Love Knot or The Greatest Knight I did thoroughly enjoy it. Having not read the first published version of The Wild Hunt my opinion is based solely on this version and obviously with the benefit of years of writing experience and increased historical knowledge Elizabeth Chadwick has fine-tuned The Wild Hunt to give the reader a compelling, well researched historical tale & endearing love story. (less)
Women of Magdalene is at once disturbing, sickening, emotional and powerful but the most profound realisation comes from awareness that this...more4.5 stars
Women of Magdalene is at once disturbing, sickening, emotional and powerful but the most profound realisation comes from awareness that this fictionalised story is drawn from abuses and unimaginable horrors suffered by expendable women of this era. While railing at the inhumane behaviour of many in positions of power, I was also saddened by the quiet dignity of some of the poor souls least empowered, and encouraged by the few with compassion and conscience such as Doctor Robert Mallory.
"An affadavit, signed by Kingston, described Mrs Glover in vague terms as temperamental and a cause of unspecified 'distress' to her husband."
Husbands and families disposing of women for such sins as lethargy, violent outbursts, melancholy, refusal of marital duty, for being "quite a trial" and of course as a matter of convenience or to acquire inheritances. Confinement to lunatic asylums, at the cruel mercy of those dispensing bizarre treatments to drive out demons or laudanum to render patients docile was not an uncommon occurrence. Horrified by the practices within this so-called 'sanctuary' Dr Robert Mallory, questions, investigates, and attempts to champion the rights of those unable to protect themselves. Eventually making the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to right the wrongs perpetrated by Dr Kingston & Matron, the caretakers of The Magdalene Ladies Lunatic Asylum.
Poole-Carter's writing has a measured, hypnotic quality that recreates the feel of the south, post-civil war, and a dark almost sensual mood laced with an undercurrent of suspense. It compels you to continue reading whilst your stomach recoils in horror and your heart rejoices in the small triumphs of good over evil. I thoroughly recommend this poignant novel to lovers of historical fiction(less)
This novel has been categorised as young adult but I personally would classify it as Ageless....more4.5 stars
Lines may divide us, but hope will unite us ...
This novel has been categorised as young adult but I personally would classify it as Ageless. I did read a few reviews (some of them not complimentary) before buying this book & I have to say I'm glad I went with my heart on this one. It may seem inconceivable that a 9 year old German boy (his father is the Commandant of Auschwitz) can be so naive as to be utterly ignorant of Hitler & his reign of terror but I found it surprisingly easy to suspend belief & become emotionally caught up in this tale.
You cannot talk at length about this book, without giving away vital information & altering a reader's experience so I will just say this is not a book you read for pleasure. Read this simple but at the same time, complex novel for its ability to move you; for the poignancy to touch you. The powerful ending of this story affected me deeply, I think I actually gasped in disbelief.
This will not be a book I forget in a hurry ~ I believe it is one of those reading experiences that enriches you in some profound way. (less)
In the Tudor Court of 1518, your friends and enemies can be one and the same...
Rona Sharon's superb imagery and meticulous historical detail brings 16...moreIn the Tudor Court of 1518, your friends and enemies can be one and the same...
Rona Sharon's superb imagery and meticulous historical detail brings 16th century Tudor England to life; the author takes you back in time, to the intrigue, colour, splendor, & treachery of King Henry VIII's court. This is a unique story in a familiar setting with a cast of historical figures; King Henry, Queen Katherine, Cardinal Wolsey, Cardinal Campeggio, the Dukes of Buckingham and Norfolk and of course the main characters, Michael & Renee.
He is Michael Devereaux, heir of the Earl of Tyrone, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, on a mission for his benefactor, and hoping also to make a name for himself in the royal court. She is Princess Renee de Valois , sister to the Queen of France, and daughter of the previous King. Savvy to the ways of the court, fiery, shrewd and determined, Renee is on a mission of her own, a woman who refuses to submit to the established conventions of her time. These characters are brilliantly drawn with a wonderful depth, the sexual tension is palpable, the banter & distrust between the pair is believable and I found Renee's relationship with her tiring woman Adele, quite endearing.
I loved the hints of paranormal woven into the historical tapestry of the first half of the novel & in the second half, the vampire mythology really comes into its own, working remarkably well in the historical setting. So what is it that baffles me about Royal Blood, and why am I finding it so difficult to put into words? The story is slow to build, I liked the descriptive prose in the first half of the book but I loved the pace of the 2nd half. The last 250 pages race along at a page-turning pace but the descriptive writing changes, it almost felt as though I had read 2 different stories.
All in all this was a unique and enjoyable read, I do recommend it, and I will definitely read more from this author.(less)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a unique story of love, friendship, courage, heartbreak &...moreIn one word, this book is enchanting.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a unique story of love, friendship, courage, heartbreak & literature, set on the island of Guernsey (in the Channel Islands) and written as a series of letters. When Juliet unexpectedly receives a letter from Dawsey Adams, resident of Guernsey and member of the literature society new friendships are formed along with an idea for a new book. As correspondence between Juliet & Dawsey expands to include other members of the literature society, Juliet is captivated by the stories of life on Guernsey during the Occupation and of friends connected through a mutual love of literature and the trauma of war.
"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true." - from Dawsey Adams to Juliet
“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.” - from Juliet to Dawsey
The character's have an authenticity that makes them feel like old friends, I shared their sorrows and joys, laughing out loud, sniggered in places, & at times I sat with tears rolling down my cheeks. Juliet, Dawsey, Sidney (Juliet's editor), Amelia Maugery, Elizabeth & Kit McKenna, Isola Pribby, Eben Ramsey are portrayed with such humour and colour, they capture your heart, staying with you, like part of your family, long after the story is finished.
It was obvious that this beautiful story was written from the heart with a warmth and vividness that has me reserving a special place in my heart for The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.