Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Royal Nanny - Karen Harper ~ Very absorbing ~

Based on a seldom-told true story --April, 1897: A young nanny arrives at Sandringham, ancestral estate of the Duke and Duchess of York.

4.5+ stars. A fine novel that I greatly enjoyed and which has piqued my curiosity to learn more. My only critique is that Charlotte Bill's supposed relationship may have been a bit too elaborate, although I am sure she must have had one. Now I have a need to know what her life was like after 1919, although she did live her last years at Sandringham. So my 'need to know' the story of her whole life was a bit shortchanged.

Very importantly for me I did learn about the impact of these years on at least 4 or 5 generations of royals - from 1897 until Charlotte ( Lala)'s death in 1964. These 6 children of King George and Queen Mary had some impact of their royal great grandmother Queen Victoria's last years, the entire reign of their grandparents and their parents. I know now also that Queen Elizabeth and her Uncle Harry reflected on those years and possibly made changes in their lives in my own lifetime, as well as the grandchildren of Queen Elizabeth.

How the dynamics of this royal family with it's German roots and family relationships was absolutely riveting. The number of things I learned was amazing,the Sandringham Regiment's tragedy at Gallipoli and how the King's decision to deny the family of Tsar Nicholas emigration to England may have led to their deaths were both quite startling.

As I read, I came to understand, that beyond these family and domestic events, Europe itself was being impacted at this time. Quite possibly, the royals understanding of how precarious was their existence on the world stage, fed into their interpersonal relationship. The royals made their best attempt to prepare and "toughen up" at least their sons and overprotect their daughters in light of their dynastic and political threats.

Karen Harper has always been a favorite author but this one has a depth of understanding that can "grow on" the reader. I recommend this book to any who enjoy historical novels of any genre.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A Shocking Assasination - Cora Harrison - Get your hard copy now!

Cora Harrison's Irish novels are always very fine reads for me. I loved the setting in this one- the English Market is quite close to where members of my family lived from 1890 until after 1921, on Little Cross Street, as well as spending some time on Barrack Street prior to that. I felt like I knew all about it and was a a part of it.

This one was a nail biter of a mystery with very great historical content. According to the author, told to her in some fashion by her parents who lived through the tumultuous time. It is actually shocking for those of us who have ancestral times to many of these times and periods.

Eileen and the Inspector, who were the Reverend Mother's prize pupils a few years prior to this as well as Dr. Scher are favorite characters and have a great outing in this book. Reverend Mother Aquinas and her cousin Lucy entrance me so- very much like my own relationship with my own first cousin, Patty, ( although we were hardly nuns). What a shocker when their second cousin, Capt Newenham attempts to kill the Sister!!

A bigger shocker was who actually committed the murder in the English Market. I was shocked, although a bit mystified that the police would consider the written confession of a deceased man. Well of course Inspector Patrick Cashman was on hand for that part.

It was both intriguing and delightful and the hardcopy is out now.. Get yours! 


Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Lanimer Bride- Gill Cunningham series- Pat McIntosh ~ Love this series~


 Very great read as usual, love this period in Medieval Scotland. The Tower Houses were a very intriguing part of this Gil Cunningham mystery, as were the jaunts or "trods" through the Lanark countryside. I did not realize that Gil Cuningham grew up in what was an "old style" fortified tower house,after all as everyone said " this isna the Marches".

In the Lanimer Bride outing, Audrey Madur, heavily pregnant, disappears and her husband is traumatized. Fingers begin pointing in every direction but not to the Royal Court, at least not at first. It is very amazing to read about how much of Scotland at this time was not unified or even transparent. Spies, which included Gil's cousin Sandy Boyd and a Black Irishman were everywhere. The English Crown wanted to rid themselves of a pretender but that was not the case over the borders.

I myself enjoy reading the Scots phrases and language, in Ersche and Scots and in this outing, even the tinkers "cant". I adore this series. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen - The Story of Elizabeth of York - Samantha Wilcoxson ~ Fine read!

A very readable and credible book  which I enjoyed. The ending was unique but not out of reach for believability; it was a novel after all so it worked. 

The Margaret Pole book, Faithful Traitor, is my favorite so far but I am seriously excited about the next one that is being worked on. I would appreciate more on the Poles and some other lesser know Plantagenets like perhaps Arthur, Lord Lisle. There are others of course.

I am always heartened when I read treatments of historical characters which are mostly positive. I was quite sad at the description of Edward of Warwick's execution. It was a time when many people were powerless and some made some attempts to take some control of their lives; Edward was sadly not one of those.

Elizabeth of York was a woman who chose to see the glass as half-full, as best she could. She had a natural resilience that made a difference in her life, which may have been a Plantagenet trait. That thread can be seen over the generations and in some of her siblings. I believe her daughters had that characteristic to some extent.

It was a well done treatment of a life that was not illustrated well by history. I recommend the author and her series.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Sisters, Three Queens - Philippa Gregory ~ Masterful~ Released Today!


'There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.

This was truly one of those books that you hated to have end; I thank NetGalley for the ARC which I was delighted to get. Philippa Gregory did a masterful job giving what seems to be accurate motives for many of the events in Margaret's life.

Was she haunted by her envy of her sister Mary and her sister in law Katherine? Perhaps but it is a novelist's prerogative to tell a plausible tale when the facts are missing. Surely, Margaret's life was juxtaposed  against her sister and sister in law's, all of them suffering hardships in a world where women had little say at all. Margaret did have her on-again, off-again regency for her son James the young king of  Scotland to enable her to be more in control of her destiny than either her sister or Katherine of Aragon.

I am not sure that Margaret and her "sisters" were rivals, they were just mutual victims of some of the madness of  Henry VIII's reign. Did they have to collude against him at times or support him against each other? Surely.

She was a strong woman and rose above many hardships, the biggest one was  the warring  and polarizing of her Scottish subjects. It is amazing to me that Scotland has not declared their independence long before this time, the majority of Ireland has done so. The things that were done to the Scots people just during Margaret Tudor's lifetime are incredible.

Having read other books about the "Debatable Lands" in between the two kingdoms, I found this story very informative as to how and why  people behaved as they did. 

You can actually also juxtapose this era and the British-Irish  and British-Scots  assaults against the others; they are essentially the same at this time, the British "Pale" and the "Debatable Lands".


Today is release day- get your copy right now!


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Terra Incognito - Medicus #2 ~Ruth Downie ~ Cum Laude !

"Army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso strikes out for the uncivilized borders of Roman Britain..But the edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the independent tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Ruso's slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle "

This book finished the series for me..thanks Ruth Downie for the recent sale! Waiting for the next in the series,hopefully.

I do love the Roman Britain time frame, or really many ancient eras with some known history. I took Latin in HS for 4 years so appreciate what glimpses we do have. The juxtaposition of the Twentieth Legion with the Tenth Batavians, and how little they each knew about the other's culture. is hilarious as well as thought provoking.

Also wonderfully written about is the different tribes who lived in, ,and are the reason for "Hadrian's Wall". This outpost seems to me to have been created as realistically as we have historical evidence to document. As Downie's excellent author's note tells us: There is "serious trouble in Britannia at this time under Hadrian, with little details; The Batavian's and other unit's were heavy consumers of beer and wine; little is known about the cultures of the tribes along that border.

 The characters are quite vivid and move forward in their lives, as evidence by how the relationship between Ruso and Tilla is at the beginning and end of the tale. I should have read in order to understand more about Tilla's capture and becoming a slave, but will reread in the future.

 I just love this series and recommend to anyone who enjoys historical mysteries from ancient times. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Wolf Banner - Sons of the Wolf Book II - Paula Lofting ~ Preorder now!

"1056...England lurches towards war as the rebellious Lord Alfgar plots against the indolent, King Edward. Sussex thegn, Wulfhere of Horstede, must defy both his lord, Harold Godwinson, the Earl of Wessex, and his bitter enemy, Helghi of Gorde, to protect his beloved daughter. "

I was offered an ARC of this fine book by the author and have been reading it avidly. It was complex, involved and needed careful reading - and so very enjoyable. Paula Lofting is a fine historian and the events are true to what we know of them. With little to go on from either version of the Anglo Saxon Chronicle or Annales Cambriae , the author needed to tell the events of 1058 and Alfgar and did so in fine fashion.

My own favorite family, which was Harold Godwinson's provided my most enjoyable parts of the novel. Wulfhere's family is not going to win any awards for cohesiveness, nor is Alfgar's except for his mother, Godgifu ( Lady Godiva).

The book is put together in an unique way with alternating vignettes, consisting of 2-3 chapters, woven together to depict one time period. This "Crisis of 1058" started with Alfgar being expelled as Earl of Mercia, and King Edward's court and the Godwinsons' efforts to keep him away from Mercia and East Anglia. The vignettes or threads of stories involve the main characters just discussed: Wulfhere,Burghred, Alfgar and Harold ( and the King)

Alfgar married his daughter "Aldith" to Gruffudd, King of Wales and became estranged from his son Burghred. Both father and son would be dead in a few short years although not in one of the hair raising battle scenes which are vividly described. Aldith, we know marries Harold who ascends to Edward's throne, some of that for another outing we may hope?

Recommended to all who like this period of history and this group of characters. One of my very favorite era's and very well executed