An instance of the fingerpost

ISBN: 009975181x
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Marco da Cola, gentleman of Venice, respectfully presents his greetings.

This was a wonderful read. When I first started it I had no idea[1] what to expect; I knew nothing about it apart from the fact that it was an Historical Favorites pick and so, most likely, an historical novel :). It opens with Marco da Cola setting down his recollections of his time spent in England. He travelled over in an attempt to help with his family’s business troubles. However there was little he could do and soon he found himself in Oxford among the professionals there and became embroiled in the case of Sarah Blundy, and the possible murder of Robert Grove. As well as delving into medical experiments with blood transfusion.

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Linknotes:

  1. I didnt even know what the title meant, not really

The Lace Reader

Author: Brunonia Barry

When I first started reading this book I’ll admit to being a little bit confused. It was group read, for HistoricalFavorites, where was the history aspect. I kept waiting for flashbacks to old Salem and witch hunts. But instead I got the story of Towner Whitney and her family, and how the past is always around, especially when you try to ignore it.

Many of the Whitney family have the gift of reading lace, they can tell a lot about a person and their future, but ever since her sister committed suicide Towner has tried to escape that life. She herself suffered so much from the trauma of that experience that she felt she needed electro-shock therapy in order to overcome her anxieties. But that treatment ripped away many of her memories; now, back in Salem after her aunt’s disappearance Towner is forced to reconnect with people; friends and enemies from her past.

The greatest knight

Author: Elizabeth Chadwick

William Marshall was a real person; born in relative obscurity he rose through the ranks to become “the greatest knight that ever lived” as well as Earl of Pembroke. He served under four kings of England, although this book only covers his exploits under two, Henry II and Richard I. He married Isabel de Clare, who was the daughter of Strongbow. And through her gained the rights to Leinster.

The thistle and the rose

ISBN: 9780099493259
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See also: LibraryThing ; Literature Map ; Scandalous Women ; Susan Higginbotham

In an apartment of that royal palace which recently, by the command of the King, had had its name changed from Shene to Richmond, three children were ranged about a blazing fire.

This novel tells the story of Margaret Tudor, daughter of King Henry VII of England, and sister to King Henry VIII. As a teenager she married King James IV of Scotland in an effort to bring peace between England and Scotland. The rose and the thistle of the novel’s title.

Jean Plaidy has written plenty of historical fiction books. This is the 8th in the Tudor series alone. But it is the first one I’ve ever read by her. And I’d have to say I’m not really all that impressed.

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Restoration

ISBN: 9780340936436
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I am, I discover, a very untidy man.
Look at me. Without my periwig, I am an affront to neatness.

Robert Merival, the narrator of Rose Tremain’s Restoration, is, at the start of this book, a 37 year old doctor. He is one of the king’s favourites, and is utterly devoted to Charles II himself. So much so that he agrees to marry the king’s mistress, Celia, in order to persuade another of the royal mistresses that she is out of the picture. In reality though Charles will continue to see her, and Merival must never fall in love with her. She may be married to Merival, but she is the king’s.

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Katherine

The Katherine of the title starts out this book as an orphan, raised by nuns, but heading off to the royal court at the whim of the queen. There she becomes betrothed to Hugh Swynford; she also meets the Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt. And it is John that she falls in love with, although at first he seems to dislike her.

The Sunne in Splendour

Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods. In the fading light, the trees began to take on unfamiliar and menacing shapes.

We all know the myth of the “princes in the tower” and their evil uncle, Richard, who murdered them. Mainly because of Shakespeare’s play. This novel attempts to recreate the life of Richard of Gloucester, and the times in which he lived and died. And it does a great job of bringing the era to life. It also does an excellent job in dispelling many of the rumours about Richard and his rule. But more importantly than that Penman creates real characters that are entertaining and believable. The one huge problem with historical fiction, especially those novels written about real people is that you know how it the story is going to end.

One Thousand White Women

23 March 1875
Today is my birthday, and I have received the greatest gift of all – freedom! I make these first poor scribblings aboard the westbound Union Pacific train with departed Union Station Chicago at 6.35 a.m. this morning, bound for Nebraska Territory.

In 1854 a Cheyenne chief asked the United States government for one thousand white brides to marry into the people. Cheyenne society was a matrilineal society the resulting children, to their minds, would belong to white society. Yet they would also have an understanding of Cheyenne ways, and so it seemed a good way of joining white man’s society. Of course this didn’t go down to well in the white man’s world, and the offer was refused.

In this novel Fergus imagines what would have happened had the US govt decided to go along with this Cheyenne idea. In secret, of course.

The Agony and the Ecstasy

ISBN: 0099416271
Wikipedia on Michelangelo; Michelangelo.com; Art of Florence
Read with Historical Favorites – group site

This is a big book; over 750 pages of small print and crowded pages. So when I began to read and wasn’t all that impressed I thought I’d end up tossing it. The prose felt forced, stilted and somewhat boring. But as I read on I did get more and more interested. At the same time however, the style of prose doesn’t really improve. I enjoyed the book while reading it, but it was never a case that I simply couldn’t put the book down. In fact on a few occasions I wasn’t all that bothered to pick it up.

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The Egyptologist

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Journal: Arrival in Cairo via rail from Alexandria. Set to work immediately. Have scheduled five days in Cairo for logistics and background wailting prior to heading south to site


The Egyptologist didn’t really grab me when I started to read it, I’m never a huge fan of first-person narrators, and stories told by a mix of letter and journal can often put me off. But I stayed with it, and was pleasantly surprised.

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Alias Grace

Based on the true story of Grace Marks, an infamous murderer in Canada in the 1840’s, Atwood’s book uses different narrators to tell the story, as well as interspersing the story with extracts from other works. From poems, fiction, newspapers of the time, and other sources. Although this is based on the real story, Atwood has, of course, fictionalised a great deal of the novel.

The two narrators are Grace herself, who tells her story in the first person, past tense, and Simon Jordan, the doctor investigating her claims of insanity or innocence. His parts are told by a third person narrator, and are in the present tense.

The Game of Kings

ISBN: 0712600442

I read this book along with the Historical Fav. yahoo group. If it hadn’t been a group read I don’t think I would have picked it up, and I know I wouldn’t have finished it. It is a long book, with a lot happening, and I am glad I stuck with it.

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