This is an excellent novel. For me it was slow-going in the beginning but once I was a quarter of the way in, I couldn't put it down. The story is soThis is an excellent novel. For me it was slow-going in the beginning but once I was a quarter of the way in, I couldn't put it down. The story is so masterfully written. The author found a fascinating time and fascinating characters that truly existed and managed to fill in the blanks perfectly. I highly recommend this novel to lovers of historical fiction and to fans of Donoghue's other books. It's quite different from her others but equally as good!...more
As a historian and avid reader, I found this volume to be a jewel. Elizabeth Tudor has been written about to the point of being overdone but Weir's biAs a historian and avid reader, I found this volume to be a jewel. Elizabeth Tudor has been written about to the point of being overdone but Weir's biographical account is refreshing in the face of so much redundant scholarship. This reads like a novel but Weir manages to maintain excellent standards of accuracy. This book is great. ...more
This is, dare I say, the perfect historical novel. It took me longer to finish than it should have- I’m 8 months pregnant and exhausted all of the tiThis is, dare I say, the perfect historical novel. It took me longer to finish than it should have- I’m 8 ½ months pregnant and exhausted all of the time so I’m not able to read much before I conk out. But that does not reflect how much I enjoyed it. I’m not surprised. I’m familiar with Higginbotham’s blog and I was not disappointed by her novel.
I fancy myself a historian though I’m more of a librarian with a history degree so I can truly appreciate Higginbotham’s approach which is fact-based. A lot of his fic is legend-based, overly-speculative or just straight-up fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for all types, but one can tell when a true historian (like Susan Higginbotham or Alison Weir) writes a novel because they tend to stick to factual information and use artistic license only to fill in the blanks, and they are very careful about denoting this in author’s notes.
I am often charmed by these oxymoronic “fact-based fictions” because I feel like I am nearly transported to another time since I know that the events and characters are as close to accurate as we are able to discern. There is something special about characters who truly existed. History can only tell us so much about their personalities and the events in their lives and the point of his fic is to, in a way, get to know them better than history allows us.
Margaret of Anjou is a fascinating and under-appreciated historical figure. She is most often portrayed as an antagonist in histories and in historical novels because of her insistence on keeping the thrown for her mad husband even though the Yorkists became so popular and beloved by the people. It is sad because she was a wonderful woman from which we can learn a lot, and the same goes for her husband, Henry VI.
I enjoyed reading about her loving relationship with her husband more than anything. They were certainly an interesting pair, one might even say they were mismatched, but in the perfect way. According to contemporary accounts, she was beautiful, proud, and ferociously dedicated to her husband’s cause even though she was despised for being a foreigner.
Higginbotham does a great job of exploring Margaret’s world and I’m so glad that someone has taken up the task. I recommend this novel to lovers of history as well as anglophiles and his fic fans. ...more
Wow! What a masterful novel about WWI! The author weaves so many different stories in a very meaningful way. I listened to the audiobook production anWow! What a masterful novel about WWI! The author weaves so many different stories in a very meaningful way. I listened to the audiobook production and it was wonderful because I felt like the stories became part of my life and now it's over and I'm very sad about that. This took me months to listen to because I stopped commuting to work halfway through so my audiobook-listening time was cut down to a minimum. I never felt impatient for the book to end though.
Because of this novel (and my recent discovery of Downton Abbey), the WWI period is quickly becoming my favorite to read about (which is a big change for me.) In this novel, the reader is transported to war-time Russia, Germany, England, Wales and Buffalo, NY (which is where I was born and raised and where I live now.) In the beginning it is hard to imagine how the lives of these characters would ever have anything to do with each other but during the war, it becomes clear that they play important parts in each other's lives. It truly is fascinating.
The author is very concerned with historical accuracy (which is extra difficult when dealing with historical politics in my opinion.) His writing style is very clear yet descriptive at the same time.
I will certainly be reading or listening to the rest of the books in this trilogy even though modern history was never my favorite. I'm interested in seeing what else I've missed out on. ...more
I really loved this entire series. Out of all three of the books, this one was perhaps my least favorite but not because it wasn't good. I personallyI really loved this entire series. Out of all three of the books, this one was perhaps my least favorite but not because it wasn't good. I personally do not like Rachel as a character as much as I like her sisters. Also, this book takes place over a vast amount of time whereas the other two are a little more succinct. Because this book covers such a long period, it is really about Rashi's whole family and not just about Rachel. In fact, it's arguable whether she's the main character.
There is more focus on mercantilism and politics in this book as well but that gave it something extra that I truly enjoyed. I recommend reading the entire series in order. Maggie Anton is now one of my favorite authors and I'm disappointed that this series has come to an end. I put as much time in between books as I could, trying to make it last longer.
If you haven't read this series yet, get on it!...more
I'm always enthralled by Donoghue's writing so I expected to love this novel and I did. Her writing is just exceptional and I always LOOOOOOVE the stoI'm always enthralled by Donoghue's writing so I expected to love this novel and I did. Her writing is just exceptional and I always LOOOOOOVE the stories she tells. She finds these minor, real-life things that happen to minor, real-life humans and they take place in historical England. She builds an entire world around them and I always get lost in it.
I have to admit that I did not enjoy this novel as much as I enjoyed Life Mask and Slammerkin but I think it's due to my lack of interest in this particular time period. But it speaks to Donoghue's talent since i was rapt the entire time.
I have to space out my reading of Donoghue's works because there's only a limited number of them and I want to savor them for as long as possible.
I highly recommend this novel to lovers of Victorian-era fiction, those interested in gender relations and also anyone who enjoys a great book. ...more
I've been craving British murder mysteries lately and this really hit the spot. The best part about this book is the detail the author included aboutI've been craving British murder mysteries lately and this really hit the spot. The best part about this book is the detail the author included about domestic life in Georgian England. I love reading about everyday life-- the running of the household, the duties of the servants, the lives of the masters of the house, the food they prepared and ate... it's all so fascinating to me and it's what made me LOOOOVE this novel rather than just enjoy it.
I found the ending to be slightly less satisfying than the rest of the book but I tend to feel that way about the resolutions in most mysteries, I'm not sure why... maybe I enjoy the suspense most!! Also, if you're looking for a historical suspense/thrillers, this is not the best choice. I would describe it more as a quiet, homey mystery--- if that makes any sense?
I recommend this book to mystery-lovers, anglophiles and his fic fans! It's a quick and satisfying read!...more
I am head over heals for this series. Each book is better than the last. Being a lover of histories and and historical fiction, I read them constantlyI am head over heals for this series. Each book is better than the last. Being a lover of histories and and historical fiction, I read them constantly and these books are by far the best historical fiction I have read to date. They are extraordinarily well-researched and accurate as far as is possible. I appreciate historical romances for what they are but I am often annoyed by their overt and often corny sexuality. Even though this series is subtitles "novels of love and the talmud in medieval france," the stories are as much about life as they are about love. Also, even though there are problems, devastation and grief interlaced within the story, the read never feels that doom that is often felt after reading sad, depressing stories. I have to commend the author for designing a series that does not read like a series but reads like a continuous story that is never finished. Each book is just as interesting, if not more, than the last. I will be greatly disappointed when I finished the third and final book in this series. I highly recommend this series to any lovers of historical fiction, especially medievalists and lovers of Jewish history. The amount of holy text that is quoted within the books can be onerous for those without interest in medieval religious life, so just beware of that. ...more