I'm ashamed by how long this book took me to read, but my defense is that it's a big thick thing, over 900 pages long. Not one you should pick up unle...moreI'm ashamed by how long this book took me to read, but my defense is that it's a big thick thing, over 900 pages long. Not one you should pick up unless you're planning to be in it for the long haul and are genuinely interested in the subject matter.
After years of seeing Henry portrayed as a fat, greedy slob whose only concern in life was to have a son, this book made a wonderful change. Finally Henry gets a chance to defend himself. Margaret George clearly put in a lot of work and research into completing the novel and it brims with historical detail. Henry's main preoccupation, it seems, lay not with his wives or with fathering an heir but with his religion and a large portion of the book focuses on the dissolution of the monasteries and Henry's own personal struggle with god.
Some parts of the book were enthralling, but at other points I found myself a little bored. It seems that Henry's Great Matter really did go on for years and all the detail put in concerning England's breaking away from Rome became rather tedious.
Although the majority of the book is told from Henry's point of view, the text is occasionally interjected with words from the King's jester, Will Somers. I was expecting these passages to be funnier than they turned out to be, although Somers does have his fair share of witty observations.
One thing the book could have benefited from would have been a small glossary of the main characters. I ended up becoming a little confused between Cranmer, Cromwell, Wolsey, More, and so forth.
Despite its length, the book is very easy to read. The language is modern enough for us to understand it easily, but it still retains an aura of authenticity. It is a good piece of fleshed-out, meticulously researched historical fiction and I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Tudors.(less)
I didn't particularly enjoy this book. Considering the subject matter it had the potential to be really good, but failed. Seeing as it's fiction I can...moreI didn't particularly enjoy this book. Considering the subject matter it had the potential to be really good, but failed. Seeing as it's fiction I can forgive historical inaccuracies, which this book is littered with, and at the end of the day there is a good story here if only there had been an author up to the task.
Gregory's writing seems flat. The characters have no layers; Mary doesn't care what she does so long as she's got someone telling her to do it. Anne shows no empathy for anyone. I wasn't sure if we were meant to feel sorry for either of the two and while I disagree with the tragic victim portrayal of Anne Boleyn, neither do I believe she was as ruthless and single-minded as she was shown in this book. She wasn't believable and considering she's all Mary talks about I'd have liked to care for her one way or the other.
According to Gregory, Henry VIII was nothing but a spoiled overgrown child. Even a little research brings more out in him than that.
The only character I came close to liking was George. There was the tiniest possibility of character development there.
I hate comma splices. They should be outlawed. Finding so many of them in a published novel can't be forgiven.
The prose was dull with one part of the book virtually indistinguishable from another. And an ending which could have been powerful provoked no emotions from me.
I give the book two stars because at the end of the day I did quite enjoy the story. But with such a fascinating period in history to play with, Gregory could have done a far better job.(less)
How can you possibly resist a book about ancient Egyptians?
River God was a pleasure to read. At over 600 pages it still managed to keep the action flo...moreHow can you possibly resist a book about ancient Egyptians?
River God was a pleasure to read. At over 600 pages it still managed to keep the action flowing right until the end and it doesn't hurt that Taita is one of the sweetest and most likable characters I've come to know in a long time.
At first I wasn't too sure about this book. I bought it on a spur of the moment and didn't know what to expect from it. Taita comes across as a priss to begin with, and there is that question of how Egyptian society flourished for thousands of years without him, considering the fact that he invents just about everything. But the fact that he's a slave, and a eunuch, set him apart from the prototypical hero. He's not exactly what you'd expect from a slave, however, as he's well loved and respected and wields a good deal of power and influence. And his his being a eunuch means the book isn't filled with the gratuitous sex scenes which plague so many others of its ilk! He was lovely. Smart, resourceful, gutsy and loyal, and definitely not suffering from that irksome macho-man syndrome. He might be a bit vain, but we get to see his flaws too. And he's pretty. Don't give up if the first few pages don't grab you immediately. It should grow on you.
The action just kept coming, and it's been a while since I was so hooked on a book, constantly wanting to know what happens next. It was an epic. Seriously. I loved it. Though the writing was a little cheesy at times, but it was still readable so that's a very minor quibble. There's something for everyone in this book. There were battles, wars, murders, marriages, medical emergencies, animals, gods, births, deaths, journeys, friendships, enemies... You won't have time to get bored.
I can't vouch for the book's historical accuracy, although obviously I would expect Taita's story to be completely fabricated, but it didn't seem too far off the mark in general aspects of Egyptian life. Besides, authors are allowed to take liberties in historical fiction.
I'm not sure how quickly I'll rush on to the next books in this series, if only because I want to preserve the memory of Taita as he is in River God. But this will certainly be a re-read somewhere down the line.(less)
Having read a few of the Vampire Chronicles I was curious as to how well Anne Rice could write about things that weren't to do with vampires/witches....moreHaving read a few of the Vampire Chronicles I was curious as to how well Anne Rice could write about things that weren't to do with vampires/witches. So I picked this book up. This book mostly details the life of the young Jesus Christ, and although the actual plot is fictional it is extremely well researched and filled with details on the lives and customs of that time. Despite all this, I found it a bit of a slog. I'm sure I'd have loved it if I really cared about Jesus, but I don't particularly and this didn't change that. I mostly picked it up in the hopes of learning something, and I guess I did, but mostly it didn't really captivate me. It seemed far too preachy which is why I'm sure it would be very enjoyable if you were a Christian, but not so much otherwise. The writing style is another point of contention - granted that it is written from a child's point of view, but the language just seems far too simplistic, the sentences too short, and there are only so many times you can read a sentence beginning with the word 'now' without growing frustrated. The language didn't have the beauty that most of Rice's other books seem to have. I certainly think this would be a fantastic book to read if you're interested in Jesus and in Christianity, but for me it just didn't work.(less)
Kind of surprised to see how bad some of the reviews for this are, as I enjoyed it a lot. I'm trying to be more sparing with my five-star ratings (I'm...moreKind of surprised to see how bad some of the reviews for this are, as I enjoyed it a lot. I'm trying to be more sparing with my five-star ratings (I'm quite generous with my ratings tbh) but couldn't think of anything I disliked about this enough to knock off a star. It was a page-turner. Oh yeah, it's also been published as The Glimmer Palace, I guess because The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is a bit of a mouthful. I found it lurking in a discount book place for a couple of quid and, never having heard of it before, decided to buy it because the cover was pretty. Nice when that works out!
This is set in Berlin from the turn of the century through to the end of World War II. For someone who isn't particularly interested in cinema history, nor a fan of silent film, I found the movie theme surprisingly compelling. If you are a fan of these things I imagine you'll enjoy it even more. The lead character, in the final part of the book, becomes a famous silent movie star, and so throughout the book are little snapshots of the burgeoning film industry, especially in Germany. It quite subtly pervades the book - for a long time Lilly's struggling to survive and has absolutely nothing to do with the movie industry, but little references to movie theatres, cabarets and nightclubs keep sneaking in. I know zero about any of that so it was interesting to pick up an idea of what was going on then, and it was an unusual way to ground the events of the book in history. The blurb on the book made me think she was going to become a glamorous burlesque star before her big break in film, which I was looking forward to, but that really doesn't happen. I can't hold that against the book itself, but be warned if you're only reading the cover spiel.
One thing that I think might turn people off this book is the impersonal narrative style. The narrator is speaking from a distance so you don't really get inside the characters' heads or even get close to them. For me, that actually made me feel more connected with the characters and events because I felt like I was reading a biography of some faded silent film star, and Collins would occasionally veer off for a paragraph or two to tell us what will happen to a minor character in the future, the way you would find in a biography. I could believe that Lilly had been a real person, and that's what made it work for me.
Overall a good read, something a bit different for me.(less)
Ok, this was actually a pretty fun read. I'd recommend it if you're into historical fiction and you're looking for something light. Though when I say...moreOk, this was actually a pretty fun read. I'd recommend it if you're into historical fiction and you're looking for something light. Though when I say light I refer only to the prose, because at 1000 pages it's no quick beach read.
The book focuses on the building of a cathedral in 12th century England. There's a lot about architecture in there, but it's not actually as boring as it sounds. Basically, whatever these people do, something always goes wrong. If it's not the evil scheming of some petty earl or bishop, it's civil war or natural disaster or you name it. That got pretty predictable by halfway through, but I suppose you can't have a story like this without an antagonist or ten.
However, the characters are practically one-dimensional. Bad guys are bad, good guys are good, that kind of thing, they don't change as the novel progresses. There was an almost complete lack of characterization. I didn't feel attached to any of them at all and didn't particularly care what happened to them. The writing is no great shakes either, it was dry and lacked any kind of flair, and was so repetitive I think a couple of hundred pages could have been trimmed if the author hadn't felt the need to repeat things he'd said 20 pages ago. For instance, though we're introduced to her in the first pages of the novel, by page 1000 we're still being reminded that Ellen is Jack's mother.
Basically it's an enjoyable book if this is your kind of thing, and it's an exciting story, but it has a lot of faults too.(less)
I find it hard to judge this one because I already knew the twist, having seen the movie. It was pretty enjoyable though and it's quite a short book s...moreI find it hard to judge this one because I already knew the twist, having seen the movie. It was pretty enjoyable though and it's quite a short book so it's worth picking up. Especially recommended if you're interested in the Holocaust, and it approached it from the point of view of the generation which came after which was quite interesting. Read it before you watch the movie!(less)