Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Daughters of Palatine Hill - A Novel by Phyllis T. Smith ~ Marvelous and Masterful~

 I would give more stars if I could! It was an absolutely marvelous book, even better than "I Am Livia" the first one. Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union for allowing me an ARC.

Livia, the wife of Emperor Augustus for more than 50 years, was one of the daughters the book was written about. The author, who has made Rome come to life in a vivid fashion for me, has made very long dead historical figures spring to life and tell their own stories.

Living on the Palatine Hill also were Cleopatra Selene daughter of Mark Antony and Cleapatra and her half brother Jullus( Iullus) Antony as foster children of Octavia sister to Augustus. Raised in the household of Livia and Augustus was Julia only child of Caesar and sometimes Livia's sons Tiberius and Drusus.

What an amazingly complicated life Livia lived; her father was killed at Phillipi and her mother killed herself.She was married quite young to her cousin Tiberius Nero, who she divorced when she was pregnant with her 2nd son. She divorced at the insistence of Octavian who she called Tavius who would be come Augustus.

Julia who has a lot of children with Agrippa who she did not wish to marry, was first married to her cousin Marcellus and lastly to Livia, her stepmother's son Tiberius. She rebelled in many ways including numerous adulterous affairs and lastly is exiled to a small island off Italy. Does she return?

Realizing now that when this book ends Livia and Augustus have a lot more years left~ Can I hope for a sequel? Please? Phyllis T. Smith is a remarkable and sophisticated writer who truly breathes life into her characters and her era. A masterful work and recommended highly.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Luther and Katherina - Jody Hedlund ~ Satisfying~

I liked reading about Martin Luther and his wife. I knew a bit about the period but have read little about his personal or family life. I did some outside research and apparently they had a good sized household, consisting of homeless relatives and refugees,which Katharina ran effectively and economically.

The story began as Katharina is escaping the convent that she had been in since she was five years old. That fact alone is astounding and could have been more developed. Their life together evolved suscessfully. What more can you wish for?

Jody Hedlund did a good job making the historical facts fit into a readable and enjoyable fictional tale. It was a cross between a romance and a historical novel but well done as either. This couple's marriage and life would have been difficult to fit into either one.

Although not my usual genre, it was a fine read. Recommended for those who like this period and biographies.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Loving Eleanor - Susan Wittig Albert - Cum Laude!

I took my time and savored this book.. now to write my review. I learned a great deal about people and time that I had thought I understood. I greatly appreciate getting an ARC through NetGalley and enjoyed reading about a time that is in the not too distant past.

Susan Wittig Albert has long been a favorite author and is superb at fictional biographies. I am a stickler for accuracy in time and period and the Biographical Afterward was detailed and satisfying. I know exactly what was factual and what was somewhat guessed at.

I will put on my work experience as a social worker to be absolutely and positively amazed at the dysfunctional dynamics of this family. I really had no idea, although I think it was general knowledge that Roosevelt was with a mistress at his death.

I must explore this all some more as it has such parallels to modern politics and its players. In this era we lived in putting these love letters in limbo for years would not be possible and would be very explosive.

The novel was about Lorena Hickok who the author admired but "Hick" is just one of the characters of this drama. Eleanor and FDR were the opposite poles that their friends and loved ones bounced between, or so it seems to me.

The book was more about Hick's feelings for Eleanor, and less about herself, although she was a prominent individual in her own right.
Albert,in her fine afterward does a synopsis of Lorena's life alone and mentions some biographies that I will pursue now.

My curiosity is also aroused about the Roosevelt's marriage and were the early years as dysfunctional as the last 20 or so? Was I so sheltered about these things and this family? Did I rely on my 1950s girlhood reading experience and not really what occurred? Was it just a different era?

Recommended for all who enjoy biographical works that flow like novels, as that is what this one is. Cum Laude , Susan Wittig Albert!