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What are you reading? April 2012

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.
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sweetpotatoboy
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Post by sweetpotatoboy » Sun April 29th, 2012, 5:16 pm

The last HF I read was "Pure" by Andrew Miller. Highly acclaimed and a recent bestseller. But a complete 'meh' for me and most of our HF book group.

Also just finished "Madame Bovary" for my other book group. Didn't do much for me and very difficult to get a handle on what sort of book it's supposed to be and how I'm supposed to respond to it. I presume I'm supposed to want to throttle her much of the time. That, or stop reading the book. I've studied French literature, but either or later than this period, so I have little understanding of Flaubert.

I'm currently close to finishing my reread of "Mists of Avalon", which I've been dipping back into whenever I've had a window. It's good but it's lost the magic it had for me when I read it back in the day as a teenager.

Next up, I'll read either a Wilbur Smith or our next HF book group read: "Half of the Human Race" by Anthony Quinn.

annis
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Post by annis » Sun April 29th, 2012, 7:26 pm

I have to say I was captivated by Andrew Miller'a Pure. I thought it brilliantly written, with a compulsive, almost dreamlike quality (loved the appearance of the genial Dr Guillotin, brimful of unsettlingly detached scientific curiosity). Pleased to see it's up for the Walter Scott Prize. It won the Costa Award earlier. It's on this year's best-HF-to-date list for me. Apart from being wonderfully readable in itself, it's also a clever parable about death and destruction as transformative element in the cycle of change and renewal - in this case prefiguring the French Revolution, with a lot of the imagery- the moribund royal elephant, the overflowing graveyard tainting all around it- symbolic of the diseased Ancien Régime.

Also love Neil Gaiman - if you enjoy your fantasy laced with dark humour and satire, he's for you. And talking of transformative destruction, it's worth checking out John James' Votan, inspiration for American Gods. A clever, cynical and amoral young Greek merchant becomes a lightning rod for supernatural forces, unintentionally destroying everything he touches in James' take on the Norse gods and Ragnarok, also written in a darkly satirical vein.
Last edited by annis on Mon April 30th, 2012, 10:28 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun April 29th, 2012, 9:41 pm

It's interesting the way different book groups respond differently to various books. I suppose people with similar taste tend to gravitate together. I joined a book group about a year ago, my first one ever. We don't always respond the same way to a book, but we all really liked My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (not HF, though since it's set in the decade or two after WWII, some would consider it so), and all disliked Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves (even though several of us were Erdrich fans).
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Brenna
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Post by Brenna » Sun April 29th, 2012, 10:25 pm

Reading MCB's The Tudor Rose. A bit slow in the beginning, but I guess it will be picking up now that Henry VII is on the scene. Hopefully.
Brenna

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princess garnet
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Post by princess garnet » Mon April 30th, 2012, 12:57 am

[quote=""Brenna""]Reading MCB's The Tudor Rose. A bit slow in the beginning, but I guess it will be picking up now that Henry VII is on the scene. Hopefully.[/quote]
I own and enjoyed rereading it last year. (I'd read an older edition borrowed from my high school library) I'm glad it's back in print!

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Brenna
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Post by Brenna » Mon April 30th, 2012, 12:08 pm

[quote=""princess garnet""]I own and enjoyed rereading it last year. (I'd read an older edition borrowed from my high school library) I'm glad it's back in print![/quote]

Bess has had two of children so far, so it is picking up quite a bit.
Brenna

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SonjaMarie
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Post by SonjaMarie » Wed May 2nd, 2012, 2:18 am

My books for April:
"Tawdry Knickers&Other Unfortunate Ways to be Remembered: A Saucy&Spirited History of Ninety Notorious Namesakes" by Alex Novak (223pgs, 2010) (4/1) - Interesting short read.
"Richard II (Yale English Monarchs)" by Nigel Saul (492pgs, 1997) (4/4)* - Scholarly book on this king.
"The Sister Queens" by Sophie Perinot (507pgs, 2012) (4/5) - Very good, but seemed a little over long, and I wonder if she'll continue the stories of the Queens.
"The Deception at Lyme (Or, The Peril of Persuasion): A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery #6" by Carrie Bebris (295pgs, 2011) (4/8)* - Another good book in the series, but she's running out of Austen book characters to have the Darcy's interact with, hmm.
"Spinning Straw Into Gold: What Fairy Tales Reveal About the Transformations In A Woman's Life" by Joan Gould (355pgs, 2005) (4/16)* - Interesting, though a lot of big concepts to take in.
"The Astonishing History of the Medical Profession (aka Call the Doctor)" by E.S. Turner (247pgs, 1961) (4/19)* - Interesting, scary as well, glad I live in the time I do!
"Selected Letters" by Lady Mary Wortley Montague, ed. Isobel Grundy (526pgs, 1997) (4/20)* - Fascinating woman, interesting letters, I'm kicking myself I didn't grab the bio on her by Grundy when it was still under 11 dollars, grr!
"The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century" by John Brewer (698pgs, 1997) (4/20)* - Interesting, very good book, lots of images.
"Remarkable Creatures" by Tracy Chevalier (344pgs, 2009) (4/21)* - Good book, Mary Anning is inspirational and Elizabeth Philpot is a bit of unsung woman.
"The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation" by Jon M. Sweeney (252pgs, 2012) (4/23) - About the life, abdication and mysterious death of Pope Celestine V.
"Sisters of Fortune: America's Caton Sisters At Home and Abroad" by Jehanne Wake (363pgs, 2010) (4/23) - Excellent biography of these women.
"Scattered Graves: Diane Fallon Forensic Investigation #6" by Beverly Connor (351pgs, 2009) (4/23)* - Another good book in the series.
"The Mental Floss History of the United States" by Eric Sass w/ Will Pearson & Mangesh Hattikudur (412pgs, 2011) (4/26) - Good book, though not as humorous as they think they are.
"The Good Old Days: Crime, Murder and Mayhem in Victorian London" by Gilda O'Neill (306pgs, 2006) (4/30)* - Very good book, and interesting read.

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