I've held an interest in Anne Boleyn and Tudor England for 30 years now. These days I read more history and fewe...moreLike Stepping into Anne Boleyn's Shoes
I've held an interest in Anne Boleyn and Tudor England for 30 years now. These days I read more history and fewer historical fiction novels as the novels began to seem repetitive; pick a version of Anne, pick a reason for her downfall, fill in with dialogue, and voila - you have a novel. I've read so many novels that it seemed there was no point in reading another.
The Kiss of the Concubine proved me wrong. Arnopp writes in first person present, which is a feat in itself and rarely done well over the course of an entire book. This results in the reader being entirely embraced by Anne and ensnared in her every moment as if it were happening right here, right now, to the reader personally. I do not think I have felt - no, experienced - a book as thoroughly as this since Susan Kay's Legacy.
Here we live in Anne's skin, we live in the moment as she moves through life, and we go through each experience with her without stopping for long periods of reflection and review such as drags us down in other narratives. After all, we the reader already know the big picture if we've read much about our subject. We don't need Anne to explain how the King's Great Matter or Anne's own religious views helped shape the English church from the 1530s onward. Instead we see Anne's happiness and frustration, her hopes and her despair as she felt each emotion in the rollercoaster that was her life.
Arnopp presents a view of Anne and Henry's life that often gets lost in the shuffle of the differing opinions about motives and goals: the view of two people who fell in love when they didn't expect to, with someone with whom marriage was at the onset entirely out of the question. So often in novels we see Henry's love for Anne treated as pure obsession and Anne's love for Henry treated as pure ambition (or on occasion we see Anne presented as a hapless victim of powerful men who had no say in her destiny whatsoever). Arnopp shows us a couple of real people who were in real love. Their love is not pure and perfect, but it is real, right up until they were parted.
This is the Henry and Anne that have been lost to us in pursuit of the answers to "more important" questions of history. But this is the couple who first stirred my interest when I was 13, and who made me want to learn more about them and the times they lived in. Over time, what is written of them has been clouded by a jaundiced, more cynical view. Whether they truly loved one another is considered almost as an afterthought, something not necessary to their story. But what would be the point of turning the world upside down to be together if not for love?
Thank you, Judith Arnopp, for putting the love back into this love story.(less)
One of Hollywood's biggest tragedies involving one of its biggest mysteries and one of its biggest love stories.
It would have been so easy for Robert Matzen to fill 300 pages with Hollywood glitz, romance, and grief. He would not have been lying, or even exaggerating this part of the story that is the crash of TWA3. But those headlines have been covered before: Hollywood's Queen of Screwball marries the unchallenged King of Hollywood, but their happily ever after is cut short by a tragic plane crash. The end. Such a book would have sold well.
Matzen went further behind the headlines. Who was Carole Lombard? What was her journey from being Jane Alice Peters to being the Queen of Screwball and Mrs Clark Gable? And what made her so determined to change her travel plans and make that flight back to California over the protest of her mother and her friend who accompanied her?
Who was Clark Gable? What was his journey from being poor Billy Gable from a coal mining area of eastern Ohio to being the only man that movie fans could imagine playing Rhett Butler? And how did losing his young wife change his life forever?
Telling this story would have been a guaranteed high selling book. And Matzen does indeed tell these stories in a way you've never heard them told before. But it wasn't the WHOLE story, and standing on that fate-changing mountain just outside of Las Vegas, Matzen saw the wreckage that is to this day still strewn over a widespread area and knew there was far more to tell.
Carole Lombard and her 2 companions weren't the only people who lost their lives on that mountain that clear and starry night. Clark Gable and his 2 brothers-in-law weren't the only loved ones grieving. And their stories needed to be told as well.
By the time you finish "Fireball" you will learn all of the names, all of their stories - Carole's mother, Bess Peters, who was afraid of flying but gave in to her daughter's need to get home as soon as possible; Clark's right-hand man and friend Otto Winkler whose young bride grieved right along with Gable, over a dozen army pilots whose deaths were a big loss to our mobilization for WWII and an even bigger loss to their own loved ones; the flight crew, including TWA's best pilot, a solid copilot, and a lovely flight attendant who could only be identified by her wings pinned on her chest. Each of these people Matzen brings to life like shooting stars that flare all too briefly before being snuffed out.
And the other story no one has ever told: The locals who heard and/or saw the crash and fireball, those folks who knew all too well how deadly Mount Potosi could be, yet who braved the climb before any authorities got there in the desperate hope that there might be survivors. These people who put their own lives in jeopardy facing the cold and the mountain that doesn't want to be climbed on the just-in-case that even one of those passengers' lives could be saved. These people who until now were nameless but who stayed and guarded the still smouldering crash site in freezing weather until the officials got there to takeover so these men could make the trek back down to their homes, taking horrific visions of what they found with them to their beds.
Here also are the words of the army officials who retrieved all the human remains from the wreckage, trying to piece together the evidence and make sense of what happened while their eyes took in the unthinkable. And always, always, on the lookout for the body of Carole Lombard.
Robert Matzen gathers all the findable data on the investigations into TWA3 and combining it with witness and expert testimony plus past records of the pilot and copilot, tries to figure out how a 10-month old plane, apparently working fine, with TWA's most experienced pilot could have flown on a perfectly clear night straight into a mountain peak. A hundred feet up, left, or right, and they would have completely missed the mountain. So what in the world happened?
The fact that Matzen could squeeze all this information into one book is amazing. That he could write it all with such feeling is astonishing. That even while acknowledging that EXACTLY what happened can never be absolutely known, he can still make the reader feel that he has written the definitive work on this tragedy and no more needs be said, is astounding. This book and the multiple journeys it takes you on feels... complete.
Yet even on the last page, you find yourself wishing that everyone on that flight could have had their happily ever after before the final curtain fell.
My usual rule for giving a book a 5 star rating is that it must be imminently re-readable. For Robert Matzen, I am breaking this rule. "Fireball" is such a complete, clear, compendium that I felt I have without a doubt absorbed every fact, story, and emotion it contains. And yet because it is so complete, so well put together, and because it is so apparent that the author threw himself totally into every aspect of this book - and effortlessly draws the reader right in with him just as totally - I think this work deserves 5 stars and a place on my bookshelf.
~In the interest of full disclosure, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.~(less)
One of Heinlein's Lazarus Long books. EXCELLENT, probably my favorite LL book. I've read 2 copies to pieces. Also includes most of the Notebooks of La...moreOne of Heinlein's Lazarus Long books. EXCELLENT, probably my favorite LL book. I've read 2 copies to pieces. Also includes most of the Notebooks of Lazarus Long.
TEFL is the next LL book after Methuselah's Children but takes place far into the future - about 2000 years into the future - and is told in both the present and in flashbacks as Lazarus relates stories from his life to his descendants and to the planet's computer for his memoirs. Many new characters to fall in love with.
I love all of the Future History stories and the Lazarus Long stories in particular, but Time Enough for Love is the best of them all.(less)
If you are looking for a book to chronicle Sherman’s life before the Civil War, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a book tha...moreWhat Made Sherman Tick
If you are looking for a book to chronicle Sherman’s life before the Civil War, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a book that gives you an in-depth look at his Civil War career, this isn’t it. If you are looking for a book about his time as General of the Army and his policies towards Native Americans, this isn’t it. These subjects have been well documented many times.
But if you are interested in finding out what made William Tecumseh Sherman tick, you have found the best book ever written about him.
Robert L. O’Connell has written an amazingly easy-to-read book about one of the greatest military figures of the 19th Century. Fierce Patriot is a fascinating account of the two major sides of Sherman's psyche – his military career and his family life. Although they were intertwined, Mr. O’Connell does an amazing job of separating them and showing how “Cump” related both sides of himself to every facet of his life. Sherman was a complex character, a forward thinking military genius who, in his adversary’s opinion, never made the same mistake twice during the Civil War. Yet as far as his children and his wife were concerned he never “won” the battle to find a “worthy” heir to his legacy.
I found this book a wondrous tale of how one man helped change the face of the nation, yet was unable to get his wife and children to think as he did. Mr. O’Connell has done a fine job of delineating the two “psyches” of Sherman: the military man and the family man. I highly recommend this book to readers interested in the Civil War and those who lived it.
Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.(less)
I just finished this 150 page book in about 2 hours - that's fast even for me! Hilarious, heart-breaking, ridiculous, riveti...moreUnforgettable. Absolutely.
I just finished this 150 page book in about 2 hours - that's fast even for me! Hilarious, heart-breaking, ridiculous, riveting, poignant, and pulls you right into the story from the very first page - a book that will make you rethink how you are spending your days and the fact that tomorrow is not guaranteed. The sense of urgency keeps you from putting the book down until the end - and I loved the ending! I definitely recommend this one; I'd love to tell you the whole story, but you can read it quicker than I can tell it. Better to enjoy the experience for yourself. You'll be thinking about it far longer than the scope of the Mayfly Man's lifetime.(less)