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What Are You Reading? October 2013

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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Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5736
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Light within Us" by Charlotte Betts
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Mon October 7th, 2013, 8:39 am

I've just started "Water Witch" by Carol Goodman and "Magus of Stonewylde" by Kit Berry.
Currently reading: "The Light within Us" by Charlotte Betts

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Vanessa
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 4251
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: The Farm at the Edge of the World by Sarah Vaughan
Interest in HF: The first historical novel I read was Katherine by Anya Seton and this sparked off my interest in this genre.
Favourite HF book: Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell!
Preferred HF: Any
Location: North Yorkshire, UK

Post by Vanessa » Mon October 7th, 2013, 9:00 am

I'm reading This House is Haunted by John Boyne, a gothic ghost story.
currently reading: My Books on Goodreads

Books are mirrors, you only see in them what you already have inside you ~ The Shadow of the Wind

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sweetpotatoboy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1641
Joined: August 2008
Location: London, UK

Post by sweetpotatoboy » Mon October 7th, 2013, 9:43 am

[quote=""MLE""]I had to read Gone Girl for a book group too. I disliked it then, and retrospect has only made me dislike it more. In fact, about half of our book group couldn't stand the thing. How did yours react?[/quote]

Our book group is not discussing it until Sunday...
Personally, I had to admire the cleverness of the endeavour on the part of the author. it takes skill to pull off something like that and I believe she achieved what she set out to do. But did I like it? No. Unremittingly depressing and dispiriting - not a scintilla of humour or lightness in the whole book. I was hoping the ending would lift the mood a little. But no.

User avatar
Madeleine
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 5736
Joined: August 2008
Currently reading: "The Light within Us" by Charlotte Betts
Preferred HF: Plantagenets, Victorian, crime, dual time-frame
Location: Essex/London

Post by Madeleine » Mon October 7th, 2013, 10:31 am

Apparently she deliberately made the two leads unlikeable. I guessed the twist about half way through, and thought the ending was plain silly.

It'll be interesting to hear what your group thinks!
Currently reading: "The Light within Us" by Charlotte Betts

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Brenna
Bibliophile
Posts: 1358
Joined: June 2010
Location: Delaware

Post by Brenna » Mon October 7th, 2013, 2:57 pm

The Plantagenets by Dan Jones. Really good NF on Henry I-Richard II
Brenna

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 3564
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon October 7th, 2013, 3:38 pm

:) I organized my 'junk room' yesterday and found the lost hardcover of Nancy Bilyeau's 'the Crown' which somebody from my husband's work sent for me to read last year. I had been feeling very guilty about not returning it -- so now I'm getting it read so I can discuss it with her at the Christmas party.

I'm pleased to report that so far it's very good.

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Misfit
Bibliomaniac
Posts: 9581
Joined: August 2008
Location: Seattle, WA

Post by Misfit » Mon October 7th, 2013, 6:23 pm

I'm stuck waiting for Bride of the Machugh to come in via ILL (the prices that book goes for used!!), and picked up Molly by Teresa Crane. late 1890s, rags to riches kind of a thing. Didn't read much last night, but I suspect our new-to-London heroine is gonna (sic) meet up with the wrong kind of crowd...
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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Lisa
Bibliophile
Posts: 1153
Joined: August 2012
Favourite HF book: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
Preferred HF: Any time period/location. Timeslip, usually prefer female POV. Also love Gothic melodrama.
Location: Northeast Scotland

Post by Lisa » Tue October 8th, 2013, 8:50 am

Girl Reading by Katie Ward.

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sweetpotatoboy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1641
Joined: August 2008
Location: London, UK

Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue October 8th, 2013, 10:30 am

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


I read this book some years ago (review here) and it was the translation that I had issues with - it was very clunky and for me, it almost spoiled the story (which is a pretty good thriller). German humour often suffers in translation and there is a lot of banter in the story which rather misses the mark because of this. Schätzing also has a habit of tossing in lengthy expositions here and there which can make your eyes glaze over.

I have seen a theory that Schätzing may have modeled the two main protagonists, Jacob the redhaired thief and Jaspar the physician, after two well known characters from Cologne puppet theatre, Tünnes and Schäl.

I agree that it's a shame that more German HF isn't available in English editions.[/quote]

I finished "Death and the Devil" last night and was ultimately a little underwhelmed with it all. I don't actually think the translation was to blame. I never felt it was the translation that was clunky, but the book itself. (If I hadn't known it was from German, I wouldn't necessarily have guessed that it wasn't originally in English, except in a few instances and I'm a translator by background myself.)

Yes, as the book progressed, the expositions - largely in the form of monologues by Jaspar or dialogues between him and Goddert and Jacob - became more and more annoying. They were needed to explain the story but a better writer would have found some other way of doing it. And the author deliberately withheld too much information (the cause of the alliance of the patricians) for far too long for comfort.

Most of the characters that we were supposed to find sympathetic were charming and there was plenty of humour. But ultimately that detracted from any real tension in the story as we sense that our 'heroes' will survive, minus a few cuts and bruises.

Plus, as a historical novel, it largely fails because there's no real sense of history and it's not really a serious novel - just a kind of madcap crime novel, sent amid the building of Cologne Cathedral, which we sadly learn very little about.

The real context is a complicated tale of contemporary municipal politics and - as we all know - very little is as boring to the outsider as local politics. We have a glimpse of a broader historical context in references to the Crusades, but not enough to really engage and educate us. Still, it was a pleasant read.

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sweetpotatoboy
Bibliophile
Posts: 1641
Joined: August 2008
Location: London, UK

Post by sweetpotatoboy » Tue October 8th, 2013, 10:32 am

[quote=""Brenna""]The Plantagenets by Dan Jones. Really good NF on Henry I-Richard II[/quote]

I have this on my Kindle and almost started reading it last night. But I decided it was a little too long for the window I have (I have one day and a 5-hour flight before I get back home to a huge pile of library borrowings).

So, instead, I started Bram Stoker's Dracula, which I've never read before.

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