Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Flight Of The Sparrow" by Amy Belding Brown

* * * * *
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade (July 1, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451466693
  • Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches

I was offered the opportunity to review this book by a wonderful publisher's representative. She had not been sure that I would like "Flight Of The Sparrow" since she had read (and how cool is that she actually looked and read!) my preferences, and had noticed that I tend to 'specialize' in European historical fiction from the 10th through 19th centuries. I am SO glad that she contacted me since is a true gem of a book! I would have been unfortunate had I missed this chance to read it!

"Flight of the Sparrow" recounts the story of Mary Rowlandson, nee White. Mary was was born in Somersetshire, England. Her family left England around 1650 and settled in Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After another move to the frontier village of Lancaster, she met and married the puritan Reverand Joseph Rowlandson in 1656. During the time of King Philips war (sometimes called the first Indian War) there had been a dramatic increase in hostilities. On February 10, 1675 the town of Lancaster came under attack by several tribes. The loss of life was large, the settlement was burned and many women and children were taken as hostages. Mary Rowlandson was one of those women. She and her daughter Srah were both seriously wounded during the raid. Despite Mary's attempts to heal her daughter along the way, Sarah died from her injuries some days later. Mary survived her wounds and became the slave of one of the ruling women in the tribe. In May 1676 Anne was ransomed back to English for the tidy sum of 20 pounds.

Once I picked this book I could not stop reading it. 

"Flight Of The Sparrow" begins with Mary's life slightly before her capture. It then recounts her captivity, her 'redemption' and her life after her captivity. Amy Belding Brown narrates Mary's struggles; both to survive and prosper during her captivity, as well as the pain and frustrations that she contends with after her return to English life. 

Mary discovers that she experienced more freedom as a captive than she had even been able to achieve as a 'good wife' in her own, Puritan English, community. She appreciated the relative freedoms that women were allowed within the Indian communities. Mary was even allowed to become a bit of an entrepreneur; sewing clothes in exchange for food, shelter and other small comforts that made her captivity more easily managed. She also meets a "Praying Indian named James Printer. James becomes Mary's protector within the Indian community and, over time, Mary develops a deep, but forbidden, respect and love for this intriguing man.

When Mary is 'redeemed'  by the English her husband does not come to meet her. He had raised the money for her redemption but shows no happiness when Mary returns to the family home. He treats her as if she is 'tainted'. Mary's confusion leads her to feel as though she has no place in English society any longer nor is she able to return to the Indians whose way of life is fast fading. Mary feels adrift, alone and lonely.

After I read the book I did a bit of research to see how well the story followed the actual events. I have to say that I have seldom read too many other historical fiction books that follow the reality as faithfully as this book does!

This is a riveting read, with seamlessly intertwined plotlines and characters that are beautifully portrayed and exceptionally well developed. The realities of everyday life in the colonial period are exceptionally well portrayed. The  grinding routines; the daily tasks of hearth and home, garden and house keeping. You can 'feel' the pain of loss through starvation and ill health; you can relate to the constraints that were put upon the people by their strict faith, and the physical constraints that the women of the community, especially, experienced. They endured the actual constraints of their clothing as well as  the societal constraints of being a good, puritan wife and, upstanding member of the community. The community left no room for any personality variations. It must have been a suffocating existence for many.

Amy Belding Brown knows this history and portrays it will all of its good and bad points. She does not flinch from the realities of the time

I was so pleased with this book that I ordered Ms. Belding Brown's first book, Mr. Emerson's Wife

Friday, July 4, 2014

"The Dreaming; Walks Through The Mist" by Kim Murphy

* * * * *
  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: Coachlight Press, LLC (January 1, 2011)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971679092
  • or as a  Kindle e-book
  • File Size: 573 KB

This book was an unexpected treat, and I am grateful to the author, Kim Murphy, for reaching out to me to suggest that I might like it. I am a pushover for anything 'time travel', and when it combined with historical fiction I am totally  hooked! 

This book, "The Dreaming; Walks Through Mist"" follows the story of Phobe Wynn, aka "Walks Through Mist" and her startling journey from the early 17th century to 21st century Virginia. She is found by the roadside with whip marks across her back and injuries from being hit by a car. She claims to be from the 17th century. She acts the part, and she speaks a native dialect that had been considered 'dead' for some 200 years. Can she be believed?

Phobe / Walks Through Mist, is befriended by the detective who was assigned to case. He himself feels like a stranger in a strange land because he had been adopted by a couple after he was discovered in the woods as a toddler. No one could ever find out where he had come from or who had left as a vulnerable child alone in the woods.

Walks Through The Mist was a cunning woman in her time, and, in an effort to explain how she arrived in the 21st century, and how and why Lee had been deserted in the woods, they venture into "the Dreaming" (a scrying tool used by cunning women). They are aided in their search by Lee's ex-wife, Shae, a psychologist who specializes in regressions and her fiancé Russ.

Will they come to accept that Phobe/ Walks Through Mist really is who she says she is? Can a person from the 17th century simply 'appear' in the 21st? Is this some hoax or is it reality? What is the true story and true identity of the man who was abandoned in the woods at a young age? Can two people from another time and place really find each other again? These questions are all answered in a most unique way. This book is a page turner!

This is an absorbing story. I did not want to put it down. The plot is well organized, the characters are very well developed, and the intertwined stories all flow flawlessly.

This book will have a wide appeal for anyone who loves well turned historical fiction, fiction that highlights early Virginian history, or just excellent fiction in general! Now I am off to find the next Kim Murphy book to read!

"...Witch trials in Virginia? Salem wasn't the first...

Psychologist Shae Howard treats a patient who claims to recall nothing of the current century. Under hypnosis, Phoebe Wynne tells an astonishing tale of an ocean crossing to Colonial Jamestown, followed by near starvation and a daring escape to a nearby Indian tribe.

Although Shae's ex-husband, seasoned police detective Lee Crowley, is intrigued by Phoebe's story, he remains skeptical regarding her claim that she's from the seventeenth century. A Native American himself, he does, however, admit to feeling a kinship with Phoebe. How is it that she seems to understand his pain and anger at being caught between two cultures?

Phoebe shows Lee "the dreaming," which reveals a misty world where the Powhatan people and Colonial Jamestown come to life... and connects him to his own past. Is Phoebe delusional? A witch? Or has she indeed traveled through time? ..."

Sunday, June 29, 2014

  • * * * *

  • Series: Lucy Campion Mysteries (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (April 22, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250007889

I saw this book at the library and decided to give it a try. I'm very glad that I did! It's a fascinating, mostly historically correct, tale of a murder that occurred just after the great London fire of 1666, they year that many resident's considered the year of the devil. This devastating fire occurred on the heels of the great plague.

A corpse is discovered in a barrel outside of a burned tavern. The tale follows the investigation of the murder by one Emma Campion; maidservant, love to the master's son, printer's apprentice and bookseller as she works with constable Duncan.

Ms. Calkins spins a solid plot with deftly managed twists and turns. I discounted one star for some of what I consider a bit stilted dialogue.Ms. Calkins states in the afterward that she 'modernized' old English. That was a good decision but I felt that some of the dialogue felt strained. That being said I found this to be a very enjoyable read, and I will now be looking forward to reading her fist book and waiting for the third!

ps: I thoroughly enjoyed the afterward to this book which should not be missed. It defines what parts of this novel are straight from the history books and what parts of the history have been fictionally 'massaged' to make the story flow.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

"A Triple Knot" by Emma Campion aka Candace Robb

* * * * *
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (July 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307589293

Oh my! It's been way too long since I have posted ! Sincere apologies. Life just took me away, and the days pass so quickly. I have been reading a lot though and some more reviews t do soon. On to the review of this most excellent read....

I had a hunch that I would like this book when I received it, but one never knows does one! Emma Campion is a pen name for Candace Robb who has a host of earlier historical novels to her credit. As Emma Campion she also penned the excellent, to my mind, noteworthy, novel "The King's Mistress" which is a novel based on the story of Alice Perrers, mistress to King Edward III.

This is the story of Joan of Kent who was the niece of King Edward III. Joan, who was considered quite a beauty in the middle ages, fell in love for all the right reasons with Sir Thomas Holland. He was, unfortunately, much older than she , and he was also below her in rank. This match was challenged and she was forced into a second, loveless marriage to another nobleman who was chosen by the men in her life who used her as a political tool. Her second husband and her cousin, The Black Prince, all refused to allow her to return to Sir Thomas, who was, in reality, her legal husband.

This book covers the prolonged, political battle that is waged in order to support her claim that her marriage to Sir Thomas should be legally upheld. The struggles that Joan and Sir Thomas had in maintaining their love throughout their struggle is well depicted and the characters in this book are well developed. The dialogue flows smoothly between characters and scenes.The political forces of the time are highlighted and the daily life in medieval times is well presented and is quite historically correct.

I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and had to read it straight through. I look forward to more books under this pen name, and I can recommend this book to all lovers of historical fiction - or fiction in general!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Nails: The Story Of The Modern Manicure" by Suzanne E. Shapiro

  • * * * * *
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Prestel (April 25, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-3791348353
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches

I have so many reviews to get done at this point, but this book struck a note with me and so here it is. I used to have acrylic nails but had them removed 25 years ago when I moved to my rural island. Now, at  gently riper age, I am more intrigued than ever with nails, nail art and color,color, color on my nails. I am a wee bit obsessed I think, but hey, nails can be nice at any age!

Why a review on a nail book, when I have novels and non-fiction and craft books to review? Well, this book fits better than you may think with my passions. It's HISTORY! The history of nails and manicures. Aside from enjoying my nails I am always curious about my passion - history. This book reinforces that the more we change the more we all remain the same.  I love the art and vintage advertisements that wreathe the pages of this lovely, well done book.

First let me say that I am astounded that I have bought a book about nails, much less that, at a ripe older age, my nails are in the best shape that they have ever been, and I have been enjoying nail art, and vibrant nail lacquers tremendously. 

This book appeared at the perfect moment for me to want to grab. It is the only nail/manicure book that I have ever bought, and most likely, that I may ever buy, but I love this book! This book is a delight! It combines my enduring love, that of history, with a new love, artful manicures. 

The book traces the history of manicures and nail colorants through the ages. It has really only been since the 1920's, 1929 more specifically, that the use of bolder nail shades has been popular. It makes me wonder if I would have been a shy bloom or a bold vixen back then!

This is a richly illustrated book with wonderful images of paintings and advertisements  from past decades. It's a beautifully done, well researched and historically accurate book (not that I am an expert on this sort of history mind you).  I think that it will hold wide appeal for anyone who loves manicures and nail art of course, but it should also bring a smile to history buffs like me who always want to know how a fad, or style, came to become so popular. I am tickled pink...​make that neon pink....with this book!

Well done Ms. Shapiro!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"The Mountain: My Time On Everest" by Ed Viesturs

* * * * *

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; Second Edition edition (October 8, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451694734

Although not exactly in my normally preferred reading genres, mountaineering has always intrigued me. I had vague aspirations in my younger year of climbing mountains, but as age advanced, my hopes to ever actually do it became fainter and fainter - eventually evaporating as a cloud on a summer's day. I do still enjoy reading about climbing though. I stopped for awhile after the 1996 tragedy. I have to agree with the Sherpas that were there at that time - mountains have spirits and become displeased with men/women and their ambitions at times. Perhaps that has something to do with my own Buddhist beliefs.

As well as a gifted mountaineer and one of the most celebrated high a;altitude climbers in the world, , Ed Viesturs is also a rather good writer, and I am finding that I am enjoying reading more of his books after I finished reading this book. 

He writes with clarity;  his words are economical, but they mange to convey the lure and the threats that climbing this legendary mountain exerts on it's acolytes. He does mention the tragedies of the 1996 season, but not in detail as there have been so many books written about that sad time by both himself and other members of the teams. Perhaps it is Jon Krackauer's "Into Thin Air" that most people seem to have read abut that pre-monsoon climbing season.

What I admire most about Mr. Viesturs is his pragmatism and his unalterable , fundamental, belief that that summiting is only half the journey. You have to have enough juice left in you to get back down.  I think he says that summiting is optional, getting down is mandatory. Best of all he follows his own rules, which has probably been what has always brought him home to his family. I have respect for his will, his abilities, and for his "sticking" to his own mountaineering philosophy.

This book provides a lot of background on high altitude climbing on Everest from time of Mallory in 1924. You will learn a lot abut the great high altitude mountaineers that stretched their endurance and climbed Mount Everest by almost unimaginably difficult alternate routes, men who challenged the mountain in an unheard of winter ascent and received little more for this feat that a footnote in Everest lore. This book is inspiring, and it goes a long way to explaining why this particular mountain consumes the drams of the ambitious and saps the reason from the most reasonable of minds. I did not want to stop reading - but I am now reading Ed Viesturs book about K2 with equal enthusiasm. Well done! 

I wonder what effect this year's (2014) April 27th avalanche disaster on Mt. Everest will have on future climbing excursions. Will it change the way people climb this goddess mountain at all?

Friday, April 18, 2014

"The Collector Of Dying Breaths" by M.J. Rose

* * * * *
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (April 8, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451621532

What is worse that starting to read a book that you know you will love, and also know that you will hate how you will feel when it ends? When you actually get to finish! Every time I read a book by M.J. Rose, that's what happens. I had looked forward to the publication date for "The Collector of Lost Breaths", and eagerly began to read it. I could not put it down! The only thing, aside from awe, that I felt when it ended, was 'when I can read the next book in this 'series' ??!!

I have always enjoyed each and every book from the pen of M.J. Rose, none of them has ever been a disappointment. I do, at times, tend to anticipate that the more an author continues to write a series, the less fulfilling the books may become, but M.J. Rose seems to go in the opposite direction! "The Collector of Dying Breaths" is better that it's predecessor "Seduction" which was the sequel, of sorts, to her wonderful read, "The Book of Lost Fragrances". All three of these books have been delights, but this latest offering really riveted me. It is divinely suspenseful, with a plot that is intricately interwoven with a raft of interesting, well rounded characters. I simply could not put this book down. As predicted, when I finished reading it, I was, indeed, sad! The problem with finishing such a good read is that no other book holds my interest for very long. I have to wait for my enthusiasm to re-ignite!

This book continues the story of Jac L'Etoile and her brother, Robbie, both of whom are well known perfumers. I love perfume myself and so this series of books has really held my interest. Ms. Rose obviously knows her stuff when it comes to the perfecting of scents! The books spans the 16th century to the present. It is, in part, a love story which adds to the interest of the book - but this is no bodice ripper - the  bonds of love in this story are much too delicious just for that! The romance is perfectly interwoven within the plot which is about the concept of collecting the last breaths of dying people in order to reanimate their souls.

I am also a time travel fan as well as a lover of historical fiction and no one manages this writing style more artfully than M.J. Rose. Her books are very well researched and the historical facts blend beautifully with the fiction. This book is a love story, a tale of reincarnation (which will please both believers as well as non-believers), a book of complete suspense right to the end, and it is also a book that presents some interesting historical facts about the indomitable Queen of France, Catherine deMedici and her predilection for all things alchemical and astronomical.

My only problem now is that I have to wait for the next book! I just want to keep reading...maybe I should just begin to re-read the entire 'Reincarnationist' series from the very beginning ?!!

The 'series' includes:  The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, The Hypnotist, as well as these last three, amazing, volumes, The Book of Lost Fragrances and Seduction, and now "The Collector of Lost Breaths". Each is a perfect stand alone book, but if read in order you simply are more aware of some of the small nuances of the series.

The author's website,, is very interesting. Check it out!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two New Noteworthy Titles From Search Press

I believe that I have mentioned in the past that one of my favorite craft book publishers is Search Press. The books that they publish are always premium quality and I find that their new titles always manage to entice me. The following two have done just that! Thanks to the great people at Search Press I have been able to take a peek at two of their upcoming releases. Have a look. I bet you will want to add them to your pre-order list!

Jenny Dean is one of my favorite authors who writes about all things natural dye. The first book of Jenny's that I fell in love with and use consistently is called "Wild Color". I love this book. The photography is perfect, the directions are all wonderfully written for ease of comprehension - and they are easy to follow. Nature affords us so many beautiful options for colors of dye!

This new little gem of a book, "A Heritage of Color" covers the colors that are possible to obtain from 50 rather ordinary plants. Plants that have provided our world with color for more than 2000 years. Different ways of processing, using a variety of mordants and "eco-dying" are covered. This little 160 page gem offers a lot. It will have its permanent place on my bookshelf next to "Wild Color" and, I know, it will be an often used, much dog eared book! The release date in June 10, 2014, but this title is available for pre-order now! Get yours reserved!

 I have heard the word 'Zakka'  a lot recently, but really wasn't sure just what it meant - or what the style was. In all honesty, I had not been interested enough to find out more about it. That is, until I saw the cover of this book. I had been looking for a pattern similar to the one on the cover for some time. I am so glad that I got to have a look at this book and learn more about Zakka!

According to author Cecelia Hanselmann, the word Zakka "...originates from a Japanese word which originally meant 'household items', ... In recent years, it has increasingly been used to mean home made everyday items...". 

The 'everyday items' in "Love To Sew Zakka Style Gifts" include (a partial list ) the 'Sakura Box Bag' (on the cover), a camera pouch, a tissue holder, an owl paperweight, a mug wrap, a coin purse, table baskets and more. If you like to sew and also like to make and gift handmade items, then this book would be a perfect addition to your library! 

This very modestly priced book seems to be available for purchase now, although the official release date is May 13, 2014.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Marie Antoinette's Head: The Royal Hairdresser, The Queen and The Revolution" by Will Bashor

* * * * *
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; First edition (October 16, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762791538

I was browsing the "new non-fiction" stacks at the library when I discovered this book. I took it home not really expecting much since the time of French Revolution, as tumultuous as it was, is not really "my" taste in historical readings.

Imagine my surprise when I could not put this book down! It's a fascinating look at the French Revolution and the demise of the French Monarchy from the view of Marie Antoinette's hairdresser, Leonard Autie.

I have read my share of historical accounts of the last days of the Monarchy in France, and I have read even more about the life and death of Marie Antoinette, but this book managed to fill in some details that I had never known, and I learned a lot that I had not previously known. This book provides fascinating historical details that always manage to provide a broader picture of a particular time in history.

Leonard arrived in Paris in 1769 with nothing in hand except his "magical comb", a few francs and his ambition. He swiftly became the queen's hairdresser, hobnobbing with the powerful nobles of the land. In the years that followed his arrival as a penniless coiffeur, Leonard even had hopes of becoming ennobled himself.

 It was Leonard who developed those towering head dresses that always seem to be a part of my collective image of Marie Antoinette. As I looked through the plentiful illustrations of this book (something I truly appreciated) I noticed that these outrageous head dresses manage to balance the equally outrageous fashions of the era, something that I had never considered before. Leonard became fast friends with the Queen's milliner and dress maker, Rose Bertin. I wonder if they planned it all in advance? The "too-wide-to-go-through-a-door" hoops in the dress in sync with the "too-tall-to-go-through-a-door" hair styles!

I had not known that there were actually three royal hairdressers named Leonard (nor had I had ever known the name of the person who created these towering hair styles for that matter). Leonard had also employed his relatives and all three were known as 'Leonard'. I had not known that one of these Leonard's actually had a hand to play in the Royal family's disastrous attempt to flee Paris.  The book goes into some very interesting detail about the multiple calamities that doomed this chance at safety, there were so many things that went wrong with the planned escape. If even one of these things had gone right history might well have played out so much differently. The flight of the Royal family is one detail that I had, heretofore, not paid too much attention to, but  I found that these details were riveting as I read this book.

This book is filled to the brim with fascinating, little known, information that is, obviously, the product of many long hours of meticulous fact finding and precise historical documentation. 

I have often wondered what I would have done had been alive during either the American or the French revolutions.  In the past I  thought that I might have been more of a Monarchist, but after reading this book I think that I underestimated the reckless expenditures of the royals in France with the destitution of the multitudes. This was a French storm that had been brewing for a long time; similar, but also quite different, from the American Revolution. In hindsight it seems as if these tragedies were almost fated to happen. 

The Royals knew no other life but that of wealth and privilege. They thought of money as an endless stream that procured their pleasures and pomp, while the general citizens knew only lives of dire, desperate, poverty that left many dead of hunger. The time of the French Revolution was a flood that washed away the foundations of every belief that had once been known as the law. By the time the Royals knew the extent of the problem it was already too late I think.

This book really helped me to see the Revolution in a very different light than I had previously. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and it written in a very 'readable' style. As I said, I could not put it down!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

" A Kings Ransom" by Sharon Kay Penman

* * * * *

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: A Marian Wood Book/Putnam (March 4, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399159220

I have to admit to having a particular penchant for large books. The thicker the better as far as I am concerned! Often, when I am looking for something new to read, if I have an option between a book with fewer pages and one with more, I will choose the thicker of the two.

Sharon Kay Penman's "A King's Ransom" does not disappoint in any way . I loved this book!

It's an unstoppable novel that pulls you in and keeps you right smack dab in the middle of the action. I could almost believe that I 'knew' Richard, Eleanor, Joanne and Berngaria, Mariam, Morgan and all of the other 'major players' of Ms. Penman's other novels as I read this amazing account of "Richard, the man". 

(The author likens her previous book, "Lionheart" as the story of Richard, the legend, while this book recounts the story  of Richard, the man")

There are not too many authors who can bring me into the time period of which they write. I can count the ones that do on less than two hands. I sharpened my love for  'historical fiction" when I began to read Ms. Penman's earlier works, and I still feel, that to some degree, I judge other authors by her work - as well as by about three other superior historical fiction authors who I think are  write exemplary, historically accurate, fiction. My devotion to history (non-fiction) sprang largely from my love of historical fiction. I read non-fiction now with as much relish and excitement as I read historical fiction - all thanks to authors such as Ms. Penman. That's an inspiring debt to have!

This is the tale of the last seven years of Richard's life. These years were filled with torment for Richard, his family and the Kingdom. Held as a prisoner of Henrich, The Holy Roman Emperor, Richard was kept in a torturous dungeon that almost sapped his spirit as well as his life. Richard and his mother, Queen Eleanor, overcame every obstacle that was put in their way -  regaining both Kingship and Kingdom through paying a huge, punitive ransom that was followed by years of subterfuge and political rankling. Ricahrd was always at war with France, and the many other dutchies and kingdoms that made up the royal world of the time.

This is also the story of his faithful, but beleaguered Queen Berengaria of Spain; of her loneliness and self-recriminations for not providing Richard with an heir. It is the story of Lady Miriam (a Saracen woman from the Holy Land) and her Welsh love. A love that Miriam came close to losing because of surprisingly modern concerns - those of mixed race children and peer discrimination. 

Richard's sister Queen Joanna features heavily in this book as does her love for the 'heretic' Raimond of Toulouse, a man known more for his tolerance than for his prowess on the battlefield. It is also of course,  the story of the strength, courage and remarkable intellect of Richard's mother, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. A woman who would have been considered remarkable in our own time, but was truly unique and unexpected in her own time. I would give a lot to have more historical background available about this amazing woman!

I could probably write a short book about all of the reasons why I loved this book, and why I am so sad that I have finished reading it. I hate it when a superb books ends, because then nothing that comes after, for a while at least, quite seems to measure up! This book became a place  for me to get lost in, a place where my imagination could spin clothing and colors, odors and fear.

Richard's death came as almost an after thought. It was happenstance . It came from a wound not acquired in the heat of battle or from a disease contracted in the mire of an infested camp ground, but it came as a 'bolt from the blue'  as he was inspecting his sappers. A wound that he almost missed!  How history might have different but for a few inches! I was especially pleased at the finesse that Ms. Penman used in NOT finishing the book with this wound, for the pages continue to flow for a time after, and follows the lives of the main characters just a bit further down the paths of heir lives. Perfectly done!

One of the things I like the best about Sharon Kay Penman's work is the historical basis upon which she creates her novels. I love reading her "Afterwords" and her  "Author's Note's", although it has been said that the Authors Note is  not one of the aspects of writing that she looks forward to. Ms. Penman's background in the history about which she writes is formidable, as well grounded as any historian can be. I can read with a good amount of certainty that most of the salient facts of the book are truth-based, and every time I read her Author's Notes I learn something more about the historical novelist's burden of accuracy, for a burden it must surely be to so skillfully weave the facts into the thin veil of fiction.

Had Richard lived today he would be hailed as the worlds foremost commander and political strategist. Had Eleanor lived today she would be running for President or Prime Minister. 

This book has been one of my favorite reads in some time. It  offers something to please everyone, and, I believe, will become one your favorite new read too!

I was thrilled to be able to read and review an ARC of this amazing book.
My opinion and review are true to my personal feelings about this amazing book!