Sharon's Reviews > Dandelions in the Garden

Dandelions in the Garden by Charlie Courtland
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's review
Jan 16, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: e-books, historical-fiction, indie-author-friends
Read from January 21 to February 07, 2011

Overall rating: 3.75

I will say right upfront that it's obvious Charlie Courtland has done her research. I looked up some items about which I had questions, and found that she was spot-on for the period in those matters.

There were some others, though, where it did not go so well in her telling of Elizabeth Bathory's story. The well-constructed epic novel about the notorious Blood Countess faltered in some tiny details (e.g., describing the use of envelopes during a time when letters were written on parchment or vellum, folded into quarters, addressed and sealed with wax rather than using a separate paper to carry them). I found these and other minutia a little distracting. Some Hungarian names were Anglicized (e.g., Gyorgy Drugeth, an historical personage, became George) while others were not (Sir Draco Lorant ... who was referred to as Sir Lorant several times; knights are Sir Firstname).

Admittedly, my nitpicking is a minor point. Courtland has created an intriguing world of romance, revenge and intrigue. Told through the eyes of Amara, one of Bathory's ladies-in-waiting, "Dandelions in the Garden" is a fascinating look at 16th C. Austro-Hungarian culture. Courtland writes with both compassion and frankness about Bathory and the legends that surround her.

At the end of the book, we find Bathory on her way to Vienna. Embarking on new adventures that are only revealed in The Hidden Will of the Dragon, the young "Blood Countess" is just starting the period that gave rise to the folk tales about her.

I am given to understand that a new edition of "Dandelions," which corrects some of the editorial issues in this version, is forthcoming.

Overall, I would recommend this book to historical fiction buffs with the caveats that I mentioned firmly in place.

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Reading Progress

01/31/2011 "I'm reading an eBook edition and am about 25 percent of the way through."
68.0% "I'm feeling a little confused about why some names are Anglicized (e.g., Gyorgy becomes George) and others are not ... and about why Hungarian Hussars have a butler named Cleaves."
78.0% "Not sure why, but suddenly (in the home stretch), it feels like I'm slogging. Can't put my finger on the reason."
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