What knocked this down from a four star to a three star review was the realisation of how horribly Heyer treats her female characters, especially theWhat knocked this down from a four star to a three star review was the realisation of how horribly Heyer treats her female characters, especially the poorer ones not of 'gentle birth'. Belinda is only 16, yet because she is a 'love child' and penniless, there really isn't any issue with either marrying her off (preferable) or letting her wander blindly into a life of prostitution (Haymarket ware). She is utterly passive, and only Gilly's determination not to let others get the better of him saves her from being whored out, against her will and certainly without any understanding of what is taking place.
Yet Tom, also vagrant, without visible means of support and only a year younger, is protected from any of this because a) he's male and b) his father has money.
The fact that I've read this several times before and only realised how very young Belinda is at this point makes me feel a little queasy....more
**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this book for the sense of grimy London, the atmosphere of rot and corruption from the Marshalsea debtors prison, the feel**spoiler alert** I enjoyed this book for the sense of grimy London, the atmosphere of rot and corruption from the Marshalsea debtors prison, the feel of a city on the edge and only interested in having a rollicking time, greedy to gobble up its pleasures - while it can... The research involved in the book is evident without being too in-yer-face, the characters are great and the intermingling of historical characters with fictional is deftly done; my one real quibble is that the mystery at the heart of the whole book is a bit underpowered, solved by coincidence really... Enjoyable though, and I'd love there to be a sequel, because even though the mystery itself was a bit thin, the feel of the stinking, brawling, feverishly energised city of 17th Century London was so vivid you could see and taste it....more
It is early in the Great War and Major John Watson is at the front line treating wounded soldiers, when he notices suspicious circumstances surroundinIt is early in the Great War and Major John Watson is at the front line treating wounded soldiers, when he notices suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a soldier he knows - a death that seem to implicate his new methods of blood transfusion. With both his own reputation and that of a life saving procedure at risk, he has no choice but to investigate - this time, without the help of his erstwhile companion, Sherlock Holmes. A detailed, bleakly realistic account of life in the trenches with the stink of decay, rats, lice, poor food and primitive medical conditions is stitched together with a page turner crime thriller. ...more
I absolutely loved the first half of this book, in which we meet Little Hawk, an eleven year old boy about to prove himself a man. He must live for thI absolutely loved the first half of this book, in which we meet Little Hawk, an eleven year old boy about to prove himself a man. He must live for three harsh winter months completely alone, armed with only his bow and arrows, tomahawk and knife to hunt, find shelter and to protect himself against other, fiercer predators... It is an immediately absorbing and engaging narrative - Little Hawk searching for his manitou, striving to survive in the wilderness, enduring the deep snows and bitter storms of winter - all gripping stuff. Likewise the terrible discovery he makes when he returns to his village - brilliant. It is when the story shifts to the point of view of the young white settler, John Wakeley, that the narrative feels like it loses some of its freshness and verve. It is still well written; the character of John is well realised and, once you can accept the more supernatural/mystical elements to the story, it all goes well. It's just that I've seen too many episodes of Little House on the Prairie and various Westerns, and so it feels like a too-well trodden path. It is interesting though, getting a closer view of the religious tensions that caused deep divisions within the settlers, not to mention the more benevolent view of the native tribes taken by some of them....more
We went through Ireland's War of Independence in the company of O'Keefe in Peelers, but now the RIC has been disbanded and he's out of a job, he's upWe went through Ireland's War of Independence in the company of O'Keefe in Peelers, but now the RIC has been disbanded and he's out of a job, he's up in Dublin trying to remain uninvolved in the Civil War...Hunched over a pint too many in Slattery's Bar in Rathmines, he's roused by bullets shattering the mirror in the bar......more
A fugitive with dark rumours in his past, Gaetano Zummo arrives in Florence in 1691 following an invitation from the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Renowned fA fugitive with dark rumours in his past, Gaetano Zummo arrives in Florence in 1691 following an invitation from the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Renowned for his sculptures in wax, especially of macabre subjects, he is placed in danger when the Duke gives him a secret commission – to create a beautiful female nude. For Florence is a repressive society dominated by the austere Dominican order, where beheading, torture or brutal punishment is due to anyone found guilty of debauchery. It is also a treacherous to fall in love, as Zummo does with Faustina, a beautiful apothecary’s assistant, and a woman with secrets of her own. While Zummo becomes more obsessed with his sculpture, and trysts with Faustina, he fails to notice the ominous threats looming that threaten everyone he cares for... This is a vividly textured book, with descriptions that almost make you feel you are there and can touch, see and smell everything described. If you liked the richly realised world of Perfume or Wolf Hall, you'll love this!...more
This fictional take on Lewis Carroll’s friendship with Alice Liddell – the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland – deftly interweaves accounts from eachThis fictional take on Lewis Carroll’s friendship with Alice Liddell – the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland – deftly interweaves accounts from each of the characters; John Jameson, the eccentric academic; Margaret Constantine, now a troubled young wife, then an eleven year old girl; her vicar father Daniel Baxter and his wife Evelina.
When Margaret stumbles across her childhood diary, it reawakens buried memories of the summer she befriended John Jameson and inspired him to write a novel based on her. What exactly happened during that summer that caused her to blank out the years between eleven and fifteen? What drove her father to madness and shattered their family? With painful memories reignited by the diary, can the shadows cast by the past finally be laid to rest?
This is an assured and convincing novel, with each voice distinctive and vividly present, and the sense of layers gradually being peeled away ratchets up the tension to an almost unendurable climax. ...more