It's disappointing that a novel about such an exciting era turned out to be such a slog. There are some pretty passages, but the going is slow and the...moreIt's disappointing that a novel about such an exciting era turned out to be such a slog. There are some pretty passages, but the going is slow and the writing is confusing.(less)
ARC received from the Goodreads First Reads program.
I've been meaning to pick up a Sharon Kay Penman novel for years. I actually have one on my physic...moreARC received from the Goodreads First Reads program.
I've been meaning to pick up a Sharon Kay Penman novel for years. I actually have one on my physical To Read bookshelf, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Goodreads kinda forced me to jump into Penman's work by giving me a copy of her newest, Lionheart. This novel focuses on the third [legitimate] and most famous of Henry II of England's sons, Richard I.
Much of the first part of the story focuses on Richard's sister Joanna and his betrothed Berengaria, as well as Richard's famous mother Eleanor of Aquitaine. By the end of the book all three women have more or less disappeared, so it was nice to get so much of them at the beginning. The story takes us from when Richard embarks on the Third Crusade to when he sailed for home after negotiating a peace with Saladin. The Richard that appears in the novel actually seems like a real person. This seems like a hard thing to pull off, consider Richards real larger-than-life exploits, not to mention all the legends that have grown up around him. He's a king, and used to getting his own way, but he can also be reasonable. He makes mistakes, and is stubborn, but he's also pretty likeable. All of the major characters are fairly likeable (except for King Philippe of France, who is as unlikeable as they come). The novel focuses largely upon the characters' relationships with each other. There are battle scenes (it would be impossible to write a book about a crusade without 'em), but they're not prolonged or graphic. There's some romance, but again, not prolonged or graphic. It's very much a story about feelings, attitudes, politics, and conversations. The book feels like there should be more, but that's because there's another one coming.
some of the language can be a bit contemporary (and that's our contemporary, not Richard's contemporary). I can't make up my mind how I feel about that. Sometimes I found myself thinking "this is not how they would talk!", but for the most part it made the story flow more smoothly. No archaic words or sentence structure to trip up today's reader. It wouldn't be one of my reviews unless I quibbled about something, I suppose.
I really enjoyed Lionheart. The characters were all relatable, and I found myself invested in each one. It was especially nice to get to know Richard I as a real person, not just as the macho military caricature so often seen. I look forward to the promised followup work to this novel so I can take another look at the rest of Richard's reign.(less)
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
It's been more than a year since I read Persona Non Grata, the third book in Ruth Downie's Medi...moreARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
It's been more than a year since I read Persona Non Grata, the third book in Ruth Downie's Medicus series. I said I would read the first two in the series, and I have to admit, I have not yet done so. I do intend to, though.
In this offering, Ruso and his now-wife Tilla head back to Britain, where Ruso hopes to find medical work while he and Tilla settle down. Instead, he ends up having to solve another mystery. This one involves murder, missing tax money, and a descendant of the infamous Boudica (or Boudicca, or Boadicea, or Buddug--whatever your preferred spelling). Many characters, introduced previously in the series or brand-new, are encountered. They run the gamut from overly helpful and messing things up to not helpful at all and messing things up. Ruso has quite the mystery on his hands.
I admit I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Persona Non Grata. Tilla, especially, seemed to lose a certain aspect of her character that appealed to me more in the previous book. Perhaps marriage has changed her? I also had a little trouble following the mystery. As I stated in my Persona Non Grata review, I'm not usually super-into mysteries. It's possible I had more trouble with this one because I read it on the Metro and I kept falling asleep. (Being bundled up in my winter coat and the rocking of the train tends to make me nod off.) There is one major thing going for this book, though--Ruso seems like a completely real person to me, even though I've only read half of his adventures.
ARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
This book is an account of the alliance between the Great Britain and the United States. The pri...moreARC received through the First Reads giveaway program.
This book is an account of the alliance between the Great Britain and the United States. The primary focus is on Edward R. Murrow (head of CBS in Europe), Averell Harriman (who ran the Lend-Lease program), and John Gilbert Winant (America's ambassador to Britain).
This book was a real eye-opener to me. My impression was always that it was a no-brainer that America was Great Britain's ally during WWII--weren't we always friends in the 20th century? It turns out the truth is a lot more complicated, and the alliance was a lot more self-serving on the U.S. side than I had ever guessed. I also had no idea that U.S. citizens were so disinterested in the war, even after Pearl Harbor.
Lynne Olson also gives a fascinating account of the Churchills' lives. I confess that I don't know a whole lot about Winston Churchill, other than what I learned in various high school history classes. Apparently Murrow, Harriman, and Winant all were involved with Churchill women at some point or another, a result of their close dealings with Winston. (My favorite line in this book is from Winston. "Good to see you. Have you time for several whiskies?")
I'm still processing everything I read here. This is a fascinating history from an unusual angle. Highly recommended.(less)
The chapters dealing with the fire itself were good, but I had trouble slogging through those that dealt with the aftermath. It's an interesting read...moreThe chapters dealing with the fire itself were good, but I had trouble slogging through those that dealt with the aftermath. It's an interesting read just for the author's voice. Historians in 1923 were very obviously emotionally attached to their subjects.(less)