I will not attempt to review this book. I will simply say that it is a stark, bleak story. The author writes this horrific memoir with such objectivit...moreI will not attempt to review this book. I will simply say that it is a stark, bleak story. The author writes this horrific memoir with such objectivity, that he almost makes the story seem simple, which of course it isn't. Eloquent in the most terrible way.(less)
Actually, 4.5 stars. This isn't published for some time, so I am not sure when I will post the review. I can tell you it is an engrossing story; a lon...moreActually, 4.5 stars. This isn't published for some time, so I am not sure when I will post the review. I can tell you it is an engrossing story; a long book that took a short time to read.(less)
Brilliant. This book was brilliant. Not only did the author follow the historical details, but she created characters who were fully-developed and rea...moreBrilliant. This book was brilliant. Not only did the author follow the historical details, but she created characters who were fully-developed and real. The insight the author has into Zelda's mental illness is all lent to Nurse Anna as she cares for and bonds with Zelda Fitzgerald, sometimes seemingly to her own detriment. Nurse Anna has her own past, full of war, loss and unimaginable suffering, and as her story slowly unfolds,as she slowly gives more of herself to her patient, so does Zelda's. The story, the characters, the relationships all had such depth and honesty that it was somewhat bittersweet to watch it all unfold. From Nurse Anna's first star-struck encounter with Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, through the day to day all-consuming, draining care of a self-destructive schizophrenic, during the quiet garden conversations and even Zelda rescuing Nurse Anna from herself, this book was brilliant and I recommend it to anyone.(less)
London, 1598. Rafe Fletcher has come home after seven long years as a foreign mercenary. Forced to leave home as a young man after beating his stepfat...moreLondon, 1598. Rafe Fletcher has come home after seven long years as a foreign mercenary. Forced to leave home as a young man after beating his stepfather half to death, he has returned to his younger brother James’ pitiful words, “I am going to prison.” Rafe now feels responsible to not only clear his brother’s debt while he is in debtor’s prison, but also to look out for his brother’s lovely fiancé, Lizzy.
Lizzy remembers Rafe as dark, dangerous and brooding and doesn’t trust him as far as she can throw him. A seamstress for Lord Hawkesbury’s Players, she has financial troubles of her own as her company’s productions are threatened. As James heads to prison, Lizzy is kept in the dark, thinking her fiancé is out of town on business. Meanwhile Rafe has become her annoying shadow until Lizzy is herself accused of a dastardly deed and must turn to Rafe as her protector. One thing leads to another, and both Lizzy and Rafe find themselves in deliciously compromising situations.
This is a great, fast-paced story. The characters are all lively and interesting, and the chemistry between Lizzy and Rafe is very well-played. This story has it all: a great mystery, a star-crossed love and lots of action. My review courtesy of the Historical Novel Society.(less)
Sons of the Wolf is the story of Wulfhere and his family and neighbors. Wulfhere is a brave Saxon warrior, an honorable but fallible man, with a decen...moreSons of the Wolf is the story of Wulfhere and his family and neighbors. Wulfhere is a brave Saxon warrior, an honorable but fallible man, with a decent land holding, a beautiful wife and healthy, spirited children. His downfall comes in the generations-long blood feud he has with his neighbor-a generally hateful and drunken man-and an enigmatic lover from his past that he can't seem to rid himself of. Wulfhere is involved in the politics of the day, somewhat peripherally, and sometimes finds himself completely disillusioned by the actions of his superiors. When his daughter takes his enemy's son as a lover-with his overlord Harold's approval-his secret illegitimate child dies, and he discovers that he doesn't always understand the people around him and their motives, Wulfhere turns to his former mistress for comfort, to his family's utter devastation. Throughout the book there are many battle scenes and many interpersonal scenes. Both are blended seamlessly together, making the characters full and rounded, all together very well-developed. In this story, the reader sees some of the players making the same mistakes over and over, and this reader cared enough for the players to exclaim aloud! This story will consume you with it's period detail and imagery, and the interplay between characters. The author is very insightful,creating real personalities and honest actions and reactions. The sequal should be published soon, and I very much look forward to learning more about some of the intriguing "side characters" introduced in this book. (less)
The story of Nell Lillington, unwed mother in the Midwest of the 1870's, is charming and fast-paced. There is alot of action, from her scandalized par...moreThe story of Nell Lillington, unwed mother in the Midwest of the 1870's, is charming and fast-paced. There is alot of action, from her scandalized parents finding out about the pregnancy, Nell's trip to the Poor House to have her baby and adopt it out quietly, (so as not to disturb her step-father's political ambitions,)her discovery of the bodies of a mother and baby at the Poor House, and her loving friendship with one of the "imbeciles" there. Her story continues to twist and turn, and with such great character development, this reader was eager to find out what would happen in the end. Nell starts as a teen-aged flirt who adores sewing the latest fashions and abhors reading, preferring adventure. When her naive flirting goes too far, she finds herself on an arduous journey towards self-realization. I enjoyed this story, not really knowing whether to call it a mystery, or a family drama (or what?) as it doesn't quite play out the way one expects. Of course, that just made it all the more enjoyable for this reader. This is a quick, entertaining read full of excitement and great writing. I also really enjoyed the Author's Note.(less)
The Liar's Gospel is the stories of 4 characters connected to Jesus of Nazareth: his mother, Mary; his betrayer, Judas; his persecuter, Caiaphas; and...moreThe Liar's Gospel is the stories of 4 characters connected to Jesus of Nazareth: his mother, Mary; his betrayer, Judas; his persecuter, Caiaphas; and his accidental rival, Barabbas. Four chapters, four characters, four viewpoints-each from the first person. It has taken me a while to review this book, simply because I wasn't sure what to say about it. I must first say that I am a Christian, and although this book is pretty far off from what Christians are generally taught, it was very interesting. Who is to say it did not happen this way? The characters were very realistic, flawed and human. And although each of the characters play an important part in Jesus' life, Jesus didn't always figure prominently into their lives. To some he was a passing madman, someone to feel sorry for, or simply forget. I enjoyed the author's simple, earthy writing style, and appreciated that she held no punches. As a Christian, the lack of divinity (for lack of a better phrase!) was sometimes hard to take, but I made it through and I am glad that I did. My favorite line of the book comes from Caiphas--"This?" He asks...he lives a whole life and is remembered for "This?" Pretty brilliant. (less)
This book is the story of two generations of families, bound by life-long friendships, oaths and also bitterness and curses. The story was intriguing...moreThis book is the story of two generations of families, bound by life-long friendships, oaths and also bitterness and curses. The story was intriguing from the opening pages which began with a battle scene, a life-changing blood oath, all the way through misbegotten superstitions, abandoned children,near-fatal lightening strikes, forbidden love, attempted murder and for some, redemption. And for others? Much deserved retribution. All of the characters in the story are fully and carefully developed and I truly wanted to know what would happen to them. I read this book very quickly as the writing style is easy and free flowing. I always appreciate an author who can paint an exotic landscape with words, and this author did. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good romance, or a good family saga. Great all around story.(less)
House of Rocamora is the continuing story of Vicente de Rocamora, former confessor to the Royal House of Spain and former candidate for Inquisitor Gen...moreHouse of Rocamora is the continuing story of Vicente de Rocamora, former confessor to the Royal House of Spain and former candidate for Inquisitor General, now an exiled and self-circumcised Jew named Isaac.
Vicente has left Spain in his long journey to find himself and peace for his soul. He has lost all he holds dear and must start anew. He has traveled to Amsterdam in 1643, seeking to find a broad-minded society and to study his true calling, medicine. Although many question his desire to start a new career in his forties, they are also flattered to be acquainted with such an illustrious person and impressed by his intelligence and intensity. As years pass, Isaac de Rocamora does find a measure of harmony in his career and new family, but as with everything in his long life, tragedy intertwines with fulfillment, and at the last he finds himself again seeking his soul’s peace.
This book is well-written, though it is a bit slow in the beginning, as Isaac is still unclear about his true path and does some wandering. It will help the reader to have read the first book in this series, Rocamora, to understand the impact of events happening in the early sections of this novel. The story picks up as Isaac begins to see his way and put his plans and ideas into action. I enjoyed both books in the series and look forward to the next, which I hope is not too long in coming. My review courtesy of the Historical Novel Society.(less)
This book follows Vicente (Rocamora) from the age of 16 when he avenges his parents' death by murdering a nobleman, through his rape at the hands of h...moreThis book follows Vicente (Rocamora) from the age of 16 when he avenges his parents' death by murdering a nobleman, through his rape at the hands of his own sister-in-law, his enforced preisthood, and his search to find himself in a world that seeks to use him for it's own purposes. Intelligent, good-looking and a free-thinker, Vicente yearns for revenge and redemption throughout the last horrific gasps of the Spanish Inquisition, where he must hide his true thoughts and feelings even while dreaming of his unattainable passion and searching for the truth about his family's past. Vicente does return to claim the daughter borne of his rape, and does seem to attain the object of his passion, but it all seems to end in tragedy. Vicente must then find a way to move on as his enemies seek to destroy him from all angles. This was a good story about an extremely interesting man. I would have liked to have gone a little deeper into Vicente's head and emotions, as I sometimes felt I was just skimming the surface of this complex character. I felt the last 150 pages or so of the book were better developed the first parts of the story. I do intend to read and enjoy the sequel, House of Rocamora, where perhaps Vicente will achieve the peace his soul craves. (less)
I really enjoyed this book. It is not at all what I usually read, but I am glad that I did read it. It is fast-paced and has great character developem...moreI really enjoyed this book. It is not at all what I usually read, but I am glad that I did read it. It is fast-paced and has great character developement. Yes, it is an alternate history of Jesus' birth narrative and flight into Egypt; yes, it tells a different story than the Bible, but folks, who really knows the true story of Jesus' birth? We may have a sketchy outline written years after his death, but we have to admit to not knowing every little detail. This book, even with the violence and anti-hero Balthazar is not disrespectful, and actually, the author seems to know his stuff regarding Christianity. I enjoyed this book very much, and I am a "goes to church EVERY Sunday" Episcopalian. Keep an open mind and read this story.(less)
This was a completely engrossing novel. Told from the points of view of Queen Charlotte, her daughters Princess Charlotte (called Royal in the book) a...moreThis was a completely engrossing novel. Told from the points of view of Queen Charlotte, her daughters Princess Charlotte (called Royal in the book) and Princess Sophia, it painted a vivd portrait of this Hanoverian family beset by so much tragedy. Queen Charlotte is the beloved wife of King George, who is slowly slipping into madness. Their daughters, once happy and joyous, now needed at home to help in the struggle to keep their father sane. As the family ages, the King slips further and further from them, and Queen Charlotte keeps her daughters closer and closer as she slides into her own bitterness. As the Princesses age, they long for escape from the misery of their father's illness and their mother's resentment, yet every offer of marriage is refused as the Queen's selfishness will not allow them to escape. Eventually Royal does marry, and finds both happiness and tragedy in her own family. Meanwhile, the other girls long for their own lives to begin, leading to scandalous rumors, some true and some untrue and even a premature death. I began the story feeling much sympathy for Queen Charlotte, but eventually her bitterness pushed her family (and this reader) away from her. The -almost middle-aged when she married -Royal was the most sympathetic figure in my opinion, though they were all interesting characters. Very well-researched and beautifully written. This is the story of King George's women and all they sacrificed to heal the man they loved.(less)
One of my favorite stories in English history is the story of Katherine of Valois and Owen Tudor's marriage. So romantic, so unexpected, so honest. But...moreOne of my favorite stories in English history is the story of Katherine of Valois and Owen Tudor's marriage. So romantic, so unexpected, so honest. But this book is not just about that particular story. This book is about Katherine of Valois, beginning from her neglected childhood in a French court ruled by a mad King and an absent Queen. Katherine is telling the reader her story, from her point of view, naive and foolish as it may have been at times. Katherine is heartbreakingly honest with both the reader and herself as she rises to become Queen of England to the great warrior King Henry V, the man she dreamed would be her hero and true love, but died before the dream could even be touched upon. Katherine is straight forward and remorseful as she tells the reader of her depression and melancholy after the death of Henry, and then angry when her lonely heart falls victim to the schemes of an ambitious courtier. Katherine is truthful, never sugar-coating her actions, even when she happens to accidentally fall deeply in love with her servant, Owen Tudor. Katherine makes no excuses for herself as she grasps for the happiness that she has always sought, fighting tooth and nail with council and country for what she believes her family deserves. Anne O'Brien has written a beautiful, bittersweet novel. This story deserved to be told, in exactly this manner. Katherine's story, on Katherine's terms. Highly Recommended.(less)