Monday, July 31, 2017

Monticello - A Novel of a Daughter and Her Father - Sally Cabot Gunning ~ Impressive ~

A birthday present book that I bumped ahead of my ARC I was supposed to be reading for two days. I thought this book was awesome as was a previous book by Sally Cabot, "Benjamin Franklin's Bastard" - great fiction based on accurate and known facts.

Not an expose as such,  but letters between Martha and some of her peers suggest that she had a love interest in William Short a protégé of Thomas Jefferson. If that was not the case then they were very close lifelong friends. Martha's life with Thomas Randolph was not easy although  they had twelve children together, they lived apart for  the last years of Randolph's life.

The author allowed Martha as the main character of this work to rationalize away, for many years her father's relationship with Sally Hemings. She was aware that it was likely that  Sally Hemings was her mother's half sibling.

When she went to Washington to act as her father's "First Lady" for a short time she was confronted with  associates who queried her about her father's liaison with Sally Hemings. Upon returning to Monticello she decided that in the South such things were not talked about. 

One time she came upon her father and Sally in her father's room at night, a fact that made clear to her that at least one child  belonged to her father. The contents of her father's will also made that clear but although she discussed the will with her father they did not discuss what his actual relationship was to the Hemings children.

After her father's  death she relocated herself away from Thomas Randolph but apparently was at his deathbed when he passed away. I appreciate the allusion that she may have resumed a relationship with William Short.

I recommend this book wholeheartedly.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Roman Sunset -Elizabeth May - Post Roman Britain

I gave something over 3.5 and rounded up to 4 on here. It was difficult to follow as there were many subgroups and subplots going on, as this was a diaspora of sorts. I found a reviewer who had itemized the characters who traveled together and originated from the same places, thanks going out to her!

I do love Roman Britain and this aftermath is important to understand, the author's note goes into some detail. I would have liked a bit more cohesion of plot, although I assume this was a "scattershot" sort of crisis, and the author gave a good glimpse of what might have been going on.

Coel, who might be "Old King Cole", was a favorite character with some depth.(See Colchester or "Cole's Castle") I also was partial to Llinos and Owain as a couple and their relationship to others had depth.

I would recommend to those who love Roman Britain as I do.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Red Rose White Rose- Joanna Hickson - Keep reading!!

This was a very good book, well researched and written and I enjoyed it. My only problem was that I could not get "into it" for a long time due to the quite blatant fictional aspects of the book. Yes, I understand it was a novel. Let's go right to the point,though, and say she did not have an adult brother named Cuthbert, and that it is extremely doubtful that Cecily Neville had an illicit physical affair with a fairly close relative.

So what would have been a 5 star book for me sort of melted down to maybe 3.75. I almost did not finish it but I am very glad that I did. Once I got going on it, I could not put it down. The historical details were mostly excellent and the last half of the book was a delight. 

Except that Cecily had no such adult brother, the role of Cuthbert as "other voice" worked very well. Perhaps he could have been a well depended on squire so there was not SO much fiction but he lent credence to the "unseen" things we needed to hear about Cecily and Richard's life.

I do recommend this book to those who admire this part of the Plantagenet family and just say.."keep reading" as it is certainly worthwhile! 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sins of Inheritance- Maureen Ash - Nicolaa de la Haye gets it done ~ 4 Stars

This is a series I have enjoyed for years, this one was not my all time favorite but it was still quite enjoyable. There were at least two mysteries involved in this story: one was involving King John, the second was about a long missing Sicilian boy, and third was an unrelated mystery of a family of drapers with an illegitimacy over generations which culminated in a murder.

The Medieval Lincoln and its historical atmosphere of the series is just right, but sometimes the characters do not spring to life. Nicolaa de la Haye, hereditary castellan of Lincoln castle, and her husband Gerard de Camville, Sheriff of Lincoln always are credible, this book is no exception. Gianni could be a bit more colorful as could the Templar.

If there is another outing I will be glad to read it. Recommended for historical mystery Medieval fans.