Friday, March 26, 2010

H is for Harper

Karen Harper is quickly becoming one of my new favorite historical novelists.  I had the great priviledge of meeting Karen Harper at the 2009 Historical Novel Society Conference in Illinois last June.  I was able to chat with her a few minutes, and she signed my copy of her novel The Last Boleyn.  In December, I listened to the audiobook version of Mistress Shakespeare, which was incredible.  In fact, reading Mistress Shakespeare inspired me to finally take a class on Shakespeare which I am currently in the middle of.  Our midterm is due tomorrow!  I am anxiously awaiting to begin Harper's latest historical novel, The Queen's Governess.  I just finished reading a James Patterson book for our staff book discussion, so I think I deserve to curl up with a great historical novel!   Below are product descirptions from the publisher of two of her books I have read:

Mistress Shakespeare
In Mistress Shakespeare, Elizabethan beauty Anne Whateley reveals intimate details of her dangerous, daring life and her great love, William Shakespeare. As historical records show, Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton is betrothed to Will just days before he is forced to wed the pregnant Anne Hathaway of Shottery. The clandestine Whateley/Shakespeare match is a meeting of hearts and heads that no one—not even Queen Elizabeth or her spymasters—can destroy. From rural Stratford-upon- Avon to teeming London, the passionate pair struggles to stay solvent and remain safe from Elizabeth I’s campaign to hunt down secret Catholics, of whom Shakespeare is rumored to be a part. Often at odds, always in love, the couple sells Will’s first plays and, as he climbs to theatrical power in Elizabeth’s England, they fend off fierce competition from rival London dramatists, ones as treacherous as they are talented. Persecution and plague, insurrection and inferno, friends and foes, even executions of those they hold dear, bring Anne’s heartrending story to life. Spanning half a century of Elizabethan and Jacobean history and sweeping from the lowest reaches of society to the royal court, this richly textured novel tells the real story of Shakespeare in love.

The Last Boleyn
She Survived Her Own Innocence, and the Treachery of Europe's Royal Courts.

Greed, lust for power, sex, lies, secret marriages, religious posturing, adultery, beheadings, international intrigue, jealousy, treachery, love, loyalty, and betrayal. The Last Boleyn tells the story of the rise and fall of the Boleyns, one of England s most powerful families, through the eyes of the eldest daughter, Mary.

Although her sister, Anne, the queen; her brother, George, executed alongside Anne; and her father, Thomas, are most remembered by history, Mary was the Boleyn who set into motion the chain of events that brought about the family s meteoric rise to power, as well as the one who managed to escape their equally remarkable fall. Sent away to France at an extraordinarily young age, Mary is quickly plunged into the dangerous world of court politics, where everything is beautiful but deceptive, and everyone she meets is watching and quietly manipulating the events and people around them. As she grows into a woman, Mary must navigate both the dangerous waters ruled by two kings and the powerful will of her own family in order to find a place for herself and the love she so deeply desires.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

G is for Gregory

By far my favorite historical fiction novelist is Philippa Gregory. I have read all of the books in her Tudor series. A few months ago I finished her latest book, The White Queen, the first book in her new War of the Roses series.  I'm excited about the potential for this new series.  For my birthday about two years ago, my husband bought me all of Gregory's other books.  I have yet to read any of them yet.  They are all lined up neatly on my "to read" shelf on our bookcase.  

Review of The Boleyn Inheritance 
The stories of Lady Jane Rochford, Anne of Cleves, and Katherine Howard are told in Philippa Gregory’s latest tale of the Tudor court, The Boleyn Inheritance.  

Anne of Cleves is Henry’s Bavarian born fourth wife, Catherine Howard, an English teenager that catches Henry’s eye, is his fifth wife, and Jane Boleyn (Lady Rochford) is a lady of Henry’s court whose testimony sent her husband and her sister-in-law, Anne Boleyn, to the scaffold just a few years before.

These three women’s lives are bound together as they all try to survive in a court that is ruled by a man who changes his mind almost by the hour. The novel is full of court intrigue and politics told from each of the three women’s point of view. The change in narrators will keep readers interested in the plight of each woman, even though most will already know the story of who was divorced, beheaded, or survived.