I’ve been on a bit of medieval/Tudor kick lately.
|A Novel, Winner of Manbrooker Prize : Wolf Hall|
I started off with Wolf Hall, fiction about Thomas Cromwell’s rise to power in connection with both Cardinal Wolsey and Anne Boleyn. It is very well written. Cromwell is a fascinating character & it gives an interesting outside yet inside view to Anne Boleyn’s rise. It has a lot of action & great dialogue.
|The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn|
Then I read The Lady in the Tower, non fiction about Anne Boleyn’s last few weeks of life. Alison Weir has a number of books about Tudor times and I have enjoyed all of them. She tells the story well, factual without being dry or dull. This particular book addresses a number of issues raised by other historians about Anne’s fall from favor and subsequent death. Her conclusion is that rather than Henry being the driving force behind the investigation, it is Cromwell who instigates it as a means of removing a political power base that he has fallen out with. A great deal of research went into and it is a fascinating read.
|The Boleyn Inheritance|
From there I decided to reread the fictional Boleyn Inheritance. (I also watched the Other Boleyn Girl on DVD) This story is told from 3 different points of view, those of frightened & uncertain Anne of Cleves, pretty but silly Catherine Howard and the ambitiously mad Lady Rochford. It is a very interesting fictional account of the story. The characters are well developed. I always feel so sad for Kitty Howard when I read it. Anne’s fear for her life & future comes across well and Lady Rochford is clearly choosing to blind herself to her own motives.
This book led me back to reread parts of 4 different Wives of Henry VIII’s books that I own including ones by David Starkey,Alison Weir, Antonia Fraser and Karen Lindsey. There is just so little available on Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard.
|The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century|
While I was reading all those other books I was also reading The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England. It’s non-fiction and a highly enjoyable read. It is written as though it were a handbook for those who are about to go back in time and spend a few days or weeks in the 14th century – what sort of lodgings & food you might expect to find, the sort of clothes you will need to blend in, how much things cost, what sort of entertainment is available, medical care, the social structure of the time, law enforcement, etc. I really had a good time reading this one.
|Murder on a Midsummer Night|
I also spent some time re-reading the most recent Phryne Fisher mystery, Murder on a Midsummer Night. This featured all the regular cast of characters, plus a collection of Very Bright Young Things, flashbacks to WWI, a buried treasure and seances. I love Phryne Fisher. She has such a great attitude and such flair & style & wit. This is a very enjoyable mystery, the ending was a bit of a surprise given the amount of background all the various suspects were given. I’m now inclined to reread the whole series but I have about 8 new books sitting on my dresser waiting for me & the library is going to want them back soon.
|The Vintage Caper|
I’ve started The Vintage Caper, which like all of Peter Mayle’s fiction takes place in France among people who live and eat well. In this one, they also drink well. I’m only 8 chapters into it and I hate having to put it down to do other things. It’s from the library but I am probably going to end up buying it eventually.
Have you read any good books lately?