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Book Shopping Today (2011 edition)

For discussions of historical fiction. Threads that do not relate to historical fiction should be started in the Chat forum or elsewhere on the forum, depending on the topic.
annis
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Post by annis » Sat March 5th, 2011, 5:50 pm

Posted by SGM
I have just bought a Kindle book called Traitor's Gate by a writer called Mary Fitzgerald. It cost 70p and seems to have no other publishing history so it looks like it went straight to Kindle (does this mean self-published?) It is set during the siege of Chester during the civil war - and at 70p is worth trying out. I don't have to finish it, if it's a dud.
We seem to be getting a rash of these swashbuckling novels which proclaim their hero to be the "Sharpe of the English Civil War". The fact is no one does Sharpe as well as Bernard Cornwell! I read one a while ago called Traitor's Blood by Michael Arnold. I see a lot of readers like it, but it didn't appeal to me as it had very little depth. I preferred Claire Letemendia's Best of Men, which actually gives some sense of the personalities and motivations behind the conflict.
Last edited by annis on Sat March 5th, 2011, 5:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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SonjaMarie
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Post by SonjaMarie » Sat March 5th, 2011, 6:54 pm

[quote=""Kasthu""]Completely disregarding my rule to only buy as many books as I can read! I have a lot of credit at a secondhand bookstore around the corner from me, and so I walked away with:
Madame De Pompadour, by Nancy Mitford
[/quote]

Oh good luck with that one, I tried to read it a few years ago and the writing was just a complete muddle to me, so I gave up. When I finally read a book about her either the writing was still boring or she was.

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SGM
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Post by SGM » Sat March 5th, 2011, 7:10 pm

I read Traitor's Blood when it first came out here in hardback. I stumbled across it quite by chance when it first hit the bookshops here. I know what you mean about the swashbucklers. It was OK and comments from the author imply that the action will move to the events of Turnham Green about which I am absolutely fascinated. But in a different way, I found The Best of Men rather disappointing. This may well be because it was first novel and CL's skill at character development needs development and I didn't really feel she did justice to the issues. But that maybe because I have been engrossed in this subject for a great many years. I don't despair of her future books getting better at though.

I eventually got round to reading Henty's Friends, Though Divided and found the bias fascinating in historiographical terms but that is not a subject for this thread. Although the title is misleading and would have been better suited to Rosemary Sutcliff's Simon -- one of the few books on the ECW which does not disappoint. But then the subject was in the hands of a master of her craft
Last edited by SGM on Sat March 5th, 2011, 7:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Madeleine
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Currently reading: "Longstone" by L J Ross
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime
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Post by Madeleine » Sat March 5th, 2011, 7:43 pm

Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich.
Currently reading: "Longstone" by L J Ross

annis
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Post by annis » Sat March 5th, 2011, 7:46 pm

Posted by SGW
--Rosemary Sutcliff's Simon -- one of the few books on the ECW which does not disappoint. But then the subject was in the hands of a master of her craft
Simon is one of my favourite Sutcliff novels. I think I even like it better than Rider on a White Horse which is also one of my favourite ECW novels. I keep seeing the title written as Rider of the White Horse, which isn't correct. I feel sure Sutcliff took the title Rider on a White Horse from Revelations:
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.."

SGM
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Post by SGM » Sat March 5th, 2011, 8:09 pm

[quote=""annis""]Posted by SGW


Simon is one of my favourite Sutcliff novels. I think I even like it better than Rider on a White Horse which is also one of my favourite ECW novels. I keep seeing the title written as Rider of the White Horse, which isn't correct. I feel sure Sutcliff took the title Rider on a White Horse from Revelations:
"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.."[/quote]

I agree but as far as ROAWH is concerned, I would love to know where RS got her rather idealistic view of Fairfax. It doesn't seem to be shared with historians today who are rather more neutral about him or at least as far as I have been able to identify and I have tried really hard sources that coincide. Although, he is not a seventeenth century specialist like John Morrill and others, the best Simon Schama can say of him is he was the military leader that most people least disliked, and the rest say very little about him. I just wonder if it was because of the baggage that comes with Cromwell, that got Fairfax a higher profile than historians would give him - at least today. If she had been writing in the 19th century, I would have understood it more. I would dearly love to know.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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Brenna
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Post by Brenna » Sat March 5th, 2011, 9:52 pm

Found two cool finds at B&N this afternoon. Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine. I havne't read anything by her before, but she comes highly recommended on here :D . I also picked up The Fool's Tale by Nicole Galland. Has anyone heard of her or read any of her other books? I am intrigued given it takes place in Wales!
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Vanessa
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Post by Vanessa » Sat March 5th, 2011, 11:16 pm

The Fallen Kings by Cynthia Harrod Eagles
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Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

annis
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Post by annis » Sun March 6th, 2011, 12:28 am

Posted by SGW
I would love to know where RS got her rather idealistic view of Fairfax. It doesn't seem to be shared with historians today who are rather more neutral about him or at least as far as I have been able to identify and I have tried really hard sources that coincide. Although, he is not a seventeenth century specialist like John Morrill and others, the best Simon Schama can say of him is he was the military leader that most people least disliked, and the rest say very little about him. I just wonder if it was because of the baggage that comes with Cromwell, that got Fairfax a higher profile than historians would give him - at least today. If she had been writing in the 19th century, I would have understood it more. I would dearly love to know.
It's this very romantized image of Fairfax that means Rider on the White Horse doesn't work quite as well for me as some other Sutcliff novels. Clearly RS was a bit in love with him :) I'm sure the fact that Fairfax achieved what he did despite chronic debilitating illness would also have struck a sympathetic chord.

It is a shame that when she was writing it wasn't common for historical fiction authors to add a bibliography or much in the way of author's notes. Sutcliff did research extensively- I saw somewhere that she spent at least 3 months on research before commencing to write a novel. I've seen RS's bibliography for Lantern Bearers and it's pretty substantial. I wonder if she took inspiration from contemporary accounts, like Bulstrode Whitelocke's? I imagine her eyes lighting up when she read his comment about Fairfax that in the heat of battle he was "so highly transported that scarce any one durst speak a word to him".

I can see why Fairfax would appeal to RS, though- he embodied many of the virtues she admired. He was chivalrous in all his dealings, conscientious and a man of honour. Loyal servants who put their their duty first are characters RS often set at the centre of her novels. Clearly Fairfax had his failings - he wasn't a particularly effective statesman, for example.

Edited to say that you could possibly check with RS's literary executor about whether she left any bibliographical material relating to ROAWH. Anthony Lawton runs the Rosemary Sutcliff blog, and has a contact form on his You Write! page there
Last edited by annis on Sun March 6th, 2011, 1:43 am, edited 6 times in total.

SGM
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Post by SGM » Sun March 6th, 2011, 7:46 am

The Bulstrode Whitelock correspondence doesn't work as I have been through those and the Fairfax papers but not for this reason. Obviously, there's an awful lot of contemporary matter that I haven't touched (although I have been through some of the diaries written at that time) I would love to know (as I formed a really rather different view of him) and will doubtless fall across it at some point but it isn't a top priority and right now I am more interested in John Lambert.

As far as the modern works are concerned, I didn't really find the Wilson book shed quite such a rosy light on him and the new one, Black Tom (I can't remember the author without looking it up), isn't in any of the university libraries I have borrowing rights with and I'm not buying it at the moment. So it will all have to wait.
Currently reading - Emergence of a Nation State by Alan Smith

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