For anyone even remotely interested in Rob Roy MacGregor, the Highland Clans, and/or Scotland from the mid 17th c. - the mid 18th c., W H Murray's Rob...moreFor anyone even remotely interested in Rob Roy MacGregor, the Highland Clans, and/or Scotland from the mid 17th c. - the mid 18th c., W H Murray's Rob Roy MacGregor: His Life and Times is a must read! This biography is eloquently written and scrupulously researched. I'm fairly certain that even those who typically believe that biographies are painfully dry would find it to be readable. What I really appreciated was the attention that Murray paid to life in the Highlands during the severely waning clan dominion. Many Lowland misconceptions, and oftentimes outright defamation of Highlanders and their way of life, are addressed and rendered fallacious by Murray through his thorough descriptions supported by primary source material. The man has done his homework. I'm so glad I finally picked this one up. There's a surprisingly large paucity of scholarly work out there on Rob Roy MacGregor, but in light of Murray's profound contribution, I suppose one can begin to see why! Rob Roy is a fascinating and valiant Scottish hero for good reason. His dedication to the Highland way of life and his country is commendable, his life undeniably due tribute. (less)
The Lovely Bones is the hauntingly beautiful story of a family who survives the tragic loss of fourteen year old, Susie Salmon. While all of the grues...moreThe Lovely Bones is the hauntingly beautiful story of a family who survives the tragic loss of fourteen year old, Susie Salmon. While all of the gruesome details of Susie's abduction, rape, and murder make for a raw and shocking beginning, I couldn't help but become totally absorbed by the author's description of Susie's afterlife and how her family members each dealt with her disappearance in such unique ways. Although I found her mother's coping strategy to be vastly frustrating, at the same time, it was understandable. Mr. Harvey's death was incredibly satisfying, but, for me, a surprise. I expected them to catch him in the end. I suppose this is what made this story very real. There was no picture perfect, nicely wrapped ending. I came to the realization by the end of the novel that, though vengeance was part of the healing process for some of the characters, the focus shifted, albeit slowly, from retribution to simple reparation of what remained of the family and by whatever means possible. (less)
This is the Weir I love. What a fantastic overview of the first half of the Wars of the Roses. Whether you're just beginning or quite knowledgeable wh...moreThis is the Weir I love. What a fantastic overview of the first half of the Wars of the Roses. Whether you're just beginning or quite knowledgeable when it comes to the Cousins' War, this won't disappoint. I'll definitely be looking for The Princes in the Tower when I peruse our used bookshops here.(less)
Weir's Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley is nothing new. Both John Guy and Lady Fraser's biographies cover the events at Kirk O' Fiel...moreWeir's Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley is nothing new. Both John Guy and Lady Fraser's biographies cover the events at Kirk O' Field as well as the Casket Letters in as much detail and, imo, more efficiently. One thing I did appreciate was the fact that Weir made use of the more contemporary sources and writers, including Nau and Du Croc. So often one only hears about Buchanan's scurrilous and horribly inaccurate account of Mary's reign, written years after her abdication. His fallacious blathering is simply tiresome; it was very refreshing that Weir incorporated other works into her text much as Lady Fraser did. This is not the place to begin if you're only starting to explore the life of MQoS, but if you're well on your way, it's one of the must-reads, if only because Weir is one of the leading Early Modern historians.(less)
Unfortunately, there's very little extant primary source material when it comes to Katherine Swynford; however, Weir, in a valiant effort, attempts to...moreUnfortunately, there's very little extant primary source material when it comes to Katherine Swynford; however, Weir, in a valiant effort, attempts to piece together some semblance of a biography. The text isn't lengthy and, often, chronicles the major events in the lives of those surrounding Katherine, as well (e.g. John of Gaunt, Hugh Swynford, Chaucer, Richard II, Blanch of Gaunt, the Beafort children).
It's difficult to imagine an author telling Katherine Swynford's story more successfully than Anya Seton. Her novel is commendable, but fictional. In light of the interest Seton's novel generated, a biography was definitely called for, but I can't say that I feel Weir truly did the job to the best of her abilities. Though it's a great contribution to aristocracy and politics during the latter part of Edward III's reign and that of Richard II, I feel as though Weir didn't accomplish what she set out to do.(less)
At first I wasn't sure about The Gargoyle. The painfully graphic descriptions at the beginning of the main character's burn injuries and recovery in a...moreAt first I wasn't sure about The Gargoyle. The painfully graphic descriptions at the beginning of the main character's burn injuries and recovery in a burn unit were difficult to read. As the story progressed, the reader gets to know all about his life before the accident: an incredibly turbulent childhood followed by a successful career in pornography which provided for a lavish life style. This life style lead to almost constant substance abuse and inevitably the accident which landed him in the burn unit, forever changing the course of his life. He was crass, petulant, and a true pessimist, giving the nurses and other staff members at the unit a hard time. Eventually, the extravagant Marianne Engel, a grotesque sculptor, entered the picture and quickly changed his entire life. She insisted that she was the burn victim's lover in medieval Germany, telling him stories of their lives as well as stories of her "friends," some of which were serious tear-jerkers. These stories are masterfully interwoven throughout the novel. I loved them and the fact that they provided a break from the victim's arduous and depressing recovery story. Marianne encouraged his recovery and eventually convinced the burn victim (he remains unnamed) to live with her upon release from the burn unit. This leads to even more of a transformation, both for the burn victim and Marianne Engel as he learned more about her, himself, and the meaning of love.
I really enjoyed this book. It was total page-turner, despite the gruesome beginning. It's very well-written and researched. By the end of the book, it's difficult not be amazed and inspired by the complete metamorphosis of the burn victim. The romantic in me wasn't quite sure what to make of the ending. Without giving too much away, I'd like to believe that there was truth in Marianne's tales.(less)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a classic example of medieval alliterative poetry. Medieval themes of nature (the hunt) and chivalry, temptation an...moreSir Gawain and the Green Knight is a classic example of medieval alliterative poetry. Medieval themes of nature (the hunt) and chivalry, temptation and seduction, and seasons/the passing of time are apparent throughout this Arthurian legend. It's a *very* quick read and beautifully written. I highly recommend trying to get your hands on an edition that includes excerpts from the original 14th century middle English version of the poem.(less)