“The Other Boleyn Girl” is the book that got me started in my obsession with Tudor England. From the very first chapter, the story told in this book (...more“The Other Boleyn Girl” is the book that got me started in my obsession with Tudor England. From the very first chapter, the story told in this book (which starts and ends with a beheading) is absolutely fascinating and compelling. Once I started reading I just could not put the book down anymore!
Philippa Gregory’s writing is fluid, descriptive, and unbelievably vivid. She truly manages to make 16th-century England come alive in her story. I felt like I was right there with Mary --- running through the hallways and waiting in the privy chambers of places like Hever Castle or Hampton Court Palace.
Everyone knows the name of Anne Boleyn, and in this book her story is told through the eyes of her sister Mary --- the other Boleyn girl. It is a story of sibling rivalry, envy and ambition; of love and passion, defiance and betrayal; and, ultimately, death.
Mary is a pawn in her family’s dangerous game of charades, in a court where a wrong word could get you banished or even killed in no time. I think for all of us living in these modern times it is hard to imagine the life of a young woman of good family at Henry VIII.’s court. At first Mary does everything her family asks of her --- both for her own advancement, and later on for that of her sister. But as time goes by she learns to stand up for herself, to make her own choices and decisions … even if they come at a price.
Anne Boleyn has been portrayed in literature in many ways, and Ms. Gregory shows her as a very determined and ambitious young woman who does not stop at dubious schemes to get what she wants. She’s painted as neither an innocent victim, nor as the evil witch that some people thought her to be.
Some people have pointed out that the story told in this book is not always historically accurate --- that is true, but then again … this is not a biography, it is a work of fiction. And what a great one it is!(less)
**spoiler alert** I read a lot. On average, I read about 8-10 book a month. Most of those books are good, others great ... some are even excellent ......more**spoiler alert** I read a lot. On average, I read about 8-10 book a month. Most of those books are good, others great ... some are even excellent ... but only few books are as compelling, as touching, and as wonderfully well-written as "The Tea Rose"!!!
This is one of the best books I have ever read ... it has almost 800 pages, and I finished the whole thing in less than 2 days .... once I had started reading I just couldn't put it down again! Right from the start I felt as if I was part of the story, as if I was right there with Fiona, walking in the streets of 19th century London. "The Tea Rose" is a story of love and friendship, of incredible happiness, and unbelievable loss, and ultimately of triumph!!!
Fiona Finnegan, the main character in this book, is the kind of girl you can't help but like ... she's smart and determined, and she knows exactly what she wants. She has a loving family, a fiancee who adores her, and the dream of oneday running her own shop. However, fate does not look kindly upon her ... she loses her father in an "accident" ... her fiancee Joe has - in a drunken moment - gotten another girl pregnant and is forced to marry her (they later divorce)... then her mother and brother are found murdered in short succession. Then she overhears that her father's accident was in fact murder ... in a desperate moment she steals some money and leaves London in the middle of the night with her five-year-old brother Seamie in tow. Her destination? New York, where her uncle owns and runs a grocery shop. But once there she discovers that her uncle is a drunkard, his shop rundown, and her aunt dead. But with her determination, and with the help of a few new found friends - including the incredibly charming Nick Soames, whom she met while traveling to New York - Fiona re-opens her uncle's shop, making it more successful than ever. Even though she manages to build up this one little store to a large Tea business, making her the richest woman in New York after a few years, Fiona cannot forget London, and the man who killed her father. And even though she has married Nick and loves him dearly, theirs is a marriage of convenience - Nick has a preference for men - and Fiona still longs for Joe, the love of her life. After a decade in New York, Fiona goes back to London ... to avenge her father's death, and to find Joe.
You will root for Fiona, and find yourself smiling as her dreams come alive piece by piece. Even with all the hardships she's endured, Fiona never loses her charm and spirits. You will adore and admire her, just as you will fall in love with the incredibly charming Nick (why, oh why, did he have to be gay???), and sympathize with Joe's never-ceasing efforts at finding Fiona.
Every character Ms. Donnelly has crafted is so real, so authentic; every place so well-described that you feel as if you are standing there yourself ... reading this book will leave you feeling like a part of you is missing once you have finished the last page. It will make you crave for more. Her style of writing is fluid and compelling ... she makes you care, truly care, about these characters and what happens to them. You will laugh and you will cry, you will feel incredibly happy and elated at some parts, and unbelievably sad at others. (less)
"Wideacre" is yet another great book by the very talented Philippa Gregory. Mind you, it is not her best (that would be "The Other Boleyn Girl"), but...more"Wideacre" is yet another great book by the very talented Philippa Gregory. Mind you, it is not her best (that would be "The Other Boleyn Girl"), but still great.
The book tells the story of Beatrice Lacey, a young girl living in 18th Century England. For Beatrice, her one passion in life is Wideacre, the estate that she lives on. But when her father decides that it is time to "marry her off" and turn over Wideacre to her slightly older brother Harry, who has spent his childhood in boarding schools and has no desire to be master of the estate, Beatrice stops at nothing to make sure that she can stay on Wideacre. She enlists the help of her friend and lover, Ralph, who convinces her that her problems would be solved if her father had a little accident.
Her father's "accidental" death is only the beginning of Beatrice's downfall which stretches over several years ... she truly stops at nothing to ensure her place on Wideacre ... from an incestous relationship with her brother, and manipulating everyone around her, to sacraficing the well-being of the people who work for her, and lending a hand in her mother's death, to having her husband declared insane in order to get his money!
Beatrice is a character I could neither like nor hate ... in a way, you have to despise her for everything she does, and at times I had to put the book down appalled to gain some distance. Yet at the same time I could understand her motives. She doesn't want to be evil, but with everything she does (and some things she does with the best of intentions) she spirals deeper towards the bitter end you'll know must be coming for her. At heart, she's only a desperate young woman who has just one simple wish: to be allowed to remain at the home she so dearly loves. But being a woman living in a world dominated by men, there can be no chance of her inheriting Wideacre ... she knows that even if her brother died, the estate would go to some male relative, not her.
Never has the saying "Desperate times take desperate measures" been more true. (less)
"A Northern Light" by Jennifer Donnelly is a truly remarkable book! It captivates and draws you in right from the first page. It is at the same time m...more"A Northern Light" by Jennifer Donnelly is a truly remarkable book! It captivates and draws you in right from the first page. It is at the same time murder mystery and a vivid account of life in rural New York in 1906!
The story is told through the eyes of Mattie Gokey, a young girl working at a hotel for the summer to earn some money. Mattie collects words ... she picks a word every day and tries to use it. Words to her are incredibly important, and thus the writing style of this book is beautiful to read since the author obviously chose her words carefully. The chapters alternate between "present time" (starting with the finding of a young woman's body) and "a few months before" (with Mattie trying to convince her father to let her work during the summer and to let her go to college in the fall). The author does a great job with her descriptions of life during that time period, and makes you care about her characters. You start to care about what happens to Mattie ... obviously, we know that she did manage to convice her father to let her work at the hotel, but how did she do it? And will she be able to go to college in the fall, or will she get married to "dull but handsome" Royal Loomis? What happened to Grace Brown, and how did she die? Why did she ask Mattie to burn her letters before she died? And will those letters (which Matties doesn't burn) be the key to this mystery?
The book is based on what became the greatest murder mystery of 1906 in the state of New York. It is written in such a beautiful way that you can't put it down ... yet I for one rationed the book to no more than 2 chapters a day to make it last longer because I did not want it to end. (less)