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Which book should be book of the month for May 2010?

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Which book should be book of the month for May 2010?

Poll ended at Thu April 1st, 2010, 11:56 pm

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin
5
17%
31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan
2
7%
The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman
1
3%
Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera
7
24%
Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant
4
14%
Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens
1
3%
Jerusalem by Cecelia Holland
9
31%
 
Total votes: 29

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diamondlil
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Which book should be book of the month for May 2010?

Post by diamondlil » Fri March 26th, 2010, 11:53 pm

The poll will close on 1 April

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.


But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful?

Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.

That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.

For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.

A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire. (368 pages)

31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan



Who killed Dr. Harvey Burdell?

Though there are no witnesses and no clues, fingers point to Emma Cunningham, the refined, pale-skinned widow who managed Burdell’s house and his servants. Rumored to be a black-hearted gold digger with designs on the doctor’s name and fortune, Emma is immediately put under house arrest during a murder investigation. A swift conviction is sure to catapult flamboyant district attorney Abraham Oakey Hall into the mayor’s seat. But one formidable obstacle stands in his way: the defense attorney Henry Clinton. Committed to justice and the law, Clinton will aid the vulnerable widow in her desperate fight to save herself from the gallows.

Set in 1857 New York, this gripping mystery is also a richly detailed excavation of a lost age. Horan vividly re-creates a tumultuous era characterized by a sensationalist press, aggressive new wealth, a booming real-estate market, corruption, racial conflict, economic inequality between men and women, and the erosion of the old codes of behavior. A tale of murder, sex, greed, and politics, this spellbinding narrative transports readers to a time that eerily echoes our own.


The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman

Religious strife, Glastonbury legends, the bones of King Arthur and the curse of the Tudors...can Renaissance man John Dee help the young Queen Elizabeth to avoid it? It is 1560. Elizabeth Tudor has been on the throne for a year, the date for her coronation having been chosen by her astrologer, Dr John Dee, at just 32 already famous throughout Europe as a mathematician and expert in the hidden arts. But neither Elizabeth nor Dee feel entirely secure. Both have known imprisonment for political reasons. The Queen is unpopular with both Roman Catholics and the new breed of puritanical protestant. Dee is regarded with suspicion in an era where the dividing line between science and sorcery is, at best, indistinct. And the assignment he's been given by the Queen's chief minister, Sir William Cecil, will blur it further: ride to the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey, bring back King Arthur's bones. The mission takes the mild, bookish Dee to the tangled roots of English magic and the Arthurian legacy so important to the Tudors. Into unexpected violence, spiritual darkness, the breathless stirring of first love...and the cold heart of a complex plot against Elizabeth. With him is his friend and former student, Robert Dudley, a risk-taker, a wild card...and possibly the Queen's secret lover. Dee is Elizabethan England's forgotten hero. A man for whom this world - even the rapidly-expanding world of the Renaissance - was never enough.

My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliviera

An enthralling historical novel about a young woman's struggle to become a doctor during the Civil War

In this stunning first novel, Mary Sutter is a brilliant, head*strong midwife from Albany, New York, who dreams of becoming a surgeon. Determined to overcome the prejudices against women in medicine-and eager to run away from her recent heartbreak- Mary leaves home and travels to Washington, D.C. to help tend the legions of Civil War wounded. Under the guidance of William Stipp and James Blevens-two surgeons who fall unwittingly in love with Mary's courage, will, and stubbornness in the face of suffering-and resisting her mother's pleas to return home to help with the birth of her twin sister's baby, Mary pursues her medical career in the desperately overwhelmed hospitals of the capital.

Like Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain and Robert Hicks's The Widow of the South, My Name Is Mary Sutter powerfully evokes the atmosphere of the period. Rich with historical detail (including marvelous depictions of Lincoln, Dorothea Dix, General McClellan, and John Hay among others), and full of the tragedies and challenges of wartime, My Name Is Mary Sutter is an exceptional novel. And in Mary herself, Robin Oliveira has created a truly unforgettable heroine whose unwavering determination and vulnerability will resonate with readers everywhere.

Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant

The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God’s protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina’s new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.

Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant–young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.

As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena–with her history of visions and ecstasies–locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess’s job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.

Sarah Dunant, the bestselling author of The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, brings this intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life. Amid Sacred Hearts is a rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story, encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship.

The Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens


Driven from the only home he has known during Ireland’s Great Hunger of 1847, Fergus O’Brien makes the harrowing journey from County Clare to America, traveling with bold girls, pearl boys, navvies, and highwaymen. Along the way, Fergus meets his three passionate loves–Phoebe, Luke, and Molly–vivid, unforgettable characters, fresh and willful.

Based on Peter Behrens’s own family history, The Law of Dreams is lyrical, emotional, and thoroughly extraordinary–a searing tale of ardent struggle and ultimate perseverance.


Jerusalem by Cecelia Holland


The extraordinary author of The Bear Flag and Pacific Street returns to print at last with a remarkable novel. Set in the Holy Land in 1187 A.D., Jerusalem is an epic of war and political intrigue, of passion and religious fervor.
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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sat March 27th, 2010, 12:40 am

I voted for mine. :o
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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Sat March 27th, 2010, 1:26 am

And you aren't the only one who voted.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat March 27th, 2010, 3:04 am

Well, I wanted to read Sacred Hearts. But I've also heard that Jerusalem is Cecelia Holland's best, and I like her work. Great Maria was a favorite, and Rakozcy was pretty good, too.
Besides, I really don't know much about the era, and renaissance-era Islam is an interest of mine, so it would be a nice exploration of what led up to that.

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Post by Ash » Sat March 27th, 2010, 3:22 am

I have Alice, and plan to read it anyway. I'd love to be able to discuss it as well.

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Madeleine
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Currently reading: "The Pale Horse" by Agatha Christie & "The Corset" by Laura Purcell
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Post by Madeleine » Sat March 27th, 2010, 12:31 pm

Went for Sacred Hearts again, quite fancy the Rickman novel but I have SH on mount tbr already.
Currently reading "The Pale Horse" by Agatha Christie & "The Corset" by Laura Purcell

chuck
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Post by chuck » Sat March 27th, 2010, 10:17 pm

I haven't read Rickman's BOA yet....I did enjoy Ariana's Franklin's "Grave Goods" dealing with Bones of Arthur/Guinevere and it's legacy/political implications and of course "murder most foul"....
Last edited by chuck on Sat March 27th, 2010, 10:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kate Quinn
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Post by Kate Quinn » Wed March 31st, 2010, 3:29 pm

I've read Sacred Hearts, and it's wonderful. Books on nuns are hard to get right, and Dunant nails it. It would be a good book for discussion.

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cw gortner
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Post by cw gortner » Thu April 1st, 2010, 3:48 am

I've read Sacred Hearts, too, and loved it. I've also read Jerusalem and it's, in my opinion, one of Holland's best works. She does not flinch from showing the grit, the fear, the fanasticism, and the sexuality of the era.

Both are excellent discussion books but I voted for Jerusalem, because I think Holland deserves a much wider readership than she has had in recent times. She is truly a master - or is that, mistress? ;) - of the genre.
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Kasthu
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Post by Kasthu » Sat April 3rd, 2010, 10:55 pm

Oooh, I voted for Jerusalem--it sounds fantastic. Ordered it online, and I'll read it even if it doesn't get picked!

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