Peggy's Reviews > Mistress of the Art of Death

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
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's review
Jan 30, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: mystery-detective, historical-fiction, brit-royals
Recommended to Peggy by: Lisa Fresco, Pat Arndt
Read from January 22 to 30, 2011

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, more and more difficult to put down as the story progressed. I didn't realize it was the first of a series until almost finished; what a pleasant surprise! It is a book that satisfies several of my "favorite" sorts of reading all at once, including: historical fiction, PLUS old English history in particular and even some "royals" thrown in (Henry II); strong women characters going against the status quo regarding "women's place;" mystery and intrigue; some romance and humor despite the pathos and horror; ETC! Set in 12th century Cambridgeshire, Ariana Franklin's superb descriptions carry you right into the heart of the time and place, contrasting lovely pastoral scenes with the dank, rough crudeness of the living conditions, revealing the cruelty and ignorance of the medieval English people while courage and insight of other characters works to move civilization forward.

The main character, an Italian woman doctor and forensics expert, arrives in medieval England from Salerno, apparently a much more civilized place where women are allowed to learn sciences and peoples of varying backgrounds and faiths coexist in relative peace and respect. The juxtaposition of her past experience with the barbaric ignorance she encounters in England brought me the realization of how England really was on the outskirts of the more ancient civilizations and therefore relatively behind in acquiring cultural and humanitarian graces. Also personally interesting to me were the details about plants remedies, historical references to progress being sought in the judicial system, references to the Cambridge countryside, and the struggles centering around the Church and its misuse of power.

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Reading Progress

01/23/2011 page 33
9.0% "It was so interesting to discover on starting this book that it starts up in England's middle ages (1171) with Henry II in one of the earliest conversations. We had literally just completed on the same day the made-for-TV series The Pillars of the Earth which concludes about the same time with Henry II becoming king."
01/26/2011 page 160
42.0% "Fascinating story with amazingly descriptive detail able to have you right amok in the Middle Ages."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Lisa Love, love, love this series. Can't recommend it enough. It's not "high-literature" but it's really entertaining with a bit of gore and romance to really make it meaty.

Peggy So this is a series? Are there already others?

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