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A Secret Alchemy by Emma Darwin

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Veronica
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Post by Veronica » Thu August 13th, 2009, 12:28 am

It would be nice to hear what you guys think of it when you get around to read it.
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Misfit
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Post by Misfit » Thu August 13th, 2009, 12:33 am

[quote=""Veronica""]It would be nice to hear what you guys think of it when you get around to read it.[/quote]

I did read it and gave it four stars. While I enjoyed it, it was slower paced and as I stated earlier it's one of those you'll love or hate kind of books. Definitely a library book for me.
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Nefret
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Post by Nefret » Thu August 13th, 2009, 2:09 am

I got it a few weeks ago. Haven't started it yet. :o

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Thu August 13th, 2009, 2:51 am

I got bored with the modern-day story and stopped reading. If I hadn't had so many other books beckoning, I might have kept going - probably should have, because it sounds like I would have liked the part about the Woodvilles.

This makes me curious. I wonder how many of us prefer HF that has a modern-day frame story before it goes into the past, and how many of us would rather have the whole story set in a past century.
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robinbird79
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Post by robinbird79 » Thu August 13th, 2009, 3:17 pm

I read this one as well and did not like it. The Woodville part was okay and I think if it had been entirely about them and narrated by them I would have liked it better. I did not like the "modern" parts, did not feel connected to any of the characters, and did not care what happened to them.

As to having my HF set in a modern frame story or completely in the past, I'd probably have to say in the past, unless an author could skillfully stitch the two together.
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Post by boswellbaxter » Thu August 13th, 2009, 3:55 pm

I enjoyed the novel thoroughly, but I didn't find that the modern-day story added much to it, especially since the modern-day characters' concerns seemed almost trivial compared to those of the historical characters.
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Post by Chatterbox » Fri August 14th, 2009, 2:07 am

I didn't really think of the book as a classic HF novel, and was evaluating it just as a novel, pure and simple. I think anyone looking for a HF read would find the framing device frustrating or irritating, and BB is right that it wasn't as strong as the historical plotline. I think part of that is because we live in less dramatic times, and the contemporary characters weren't analogous to Elizabeth and Anthony Woodville -- they weren't in positions of power, where their actions and decisions had great import, and where they literally had their lives on the line most of the time. So the modern characters were facing crises that probably appeared life-shattering to them only because they had never had their sons imprisoned or seen them disappear, and had never ridden to their execution.

I'm not crazy about the device of framing a historical story in a contemporary 'frame'; somehow the stories have to talk to each other or reflect each other in a way, and I think that is extraordinarily hard to do well. Darwin used the 'war of cousins' as a linking/bridging theme, as well as the interests of the contemporary characters in early printing (which Anthony patronized). Darwin could have made the contemporary plot more dramatic and heightened the parallels with the historical story, but that would have resulted in a less convincing and more 'self conscious' plotline, IMO.

Margaret, I think you would have liked the bits about the Woodvilles, and you could probably just 'read past' the contemporary narrative, jumping from one historical segment to the next. I found Anthony's first-person narration particularly poignant and well-written.

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zsigandr
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Post by zsigandr » Sun August 16th, 2009, 8:40 pm

I just finished reading A Secret Alchemy which has Elizabeth Woodville as near saint like and Anthony Woodville as a pious homosexual. I forced myself through this and tried not wall bang it, nor throw up :p

This book was supposed to speak about the mystery of the princes in the tower, but did not reveal anything exciting, still the same old villain Richard III having someone else smother them in their sleep! The only difference was Anthony Woodville's lover Louis was the one to break this news to Elizabeth.
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Post by SonjaMarie » Mon August 17th, 2009, 4:31 am

[quote=""zsigandr""]I just finished reading A Secret Alchemy which has Elizabeth Woodville as near saint like and Anthony Woodville as a pious homosexual. I forced myself through this and tried not wall bang it, nor throw up :p

This book was supposed to speak about the mystery of the princes in the tower, but did not reveal anything exciting, still the same old villain Richard III having someone else smother them in their sleep! The only difference was Anthony Woodville's lover Louis was the one to break this news to Elizabeth.[/quote]

Actually Louis said that gold came from Rennes where Henry of Richmond was at to a guy who had something to do with the murders, which says to me that Darwin was accusing Henry of paying for their deaths. Just my take.

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Post by boswellbaxter » Mon August 17th, 2009, 5:06 am

[quote=""SonjaMarie""]Actually Louis said that gold came from Rennes where Henry of Richmond was at to a guy who had something to do with the murders, which says to me that Darwin was accusing Henry of paying for their deaths. Just my take.

SM[/quote]

Moved these last two posts off the other thread.

As I recall, Darwin had both sides paying to have the boys murdered.
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