Tuesday, August 10, 2010

P is for Portrait of an Unknown Woman

I absolutely loved this book by Vanora Bennett.  I ended up listening to it on audiobook, which I highly recommend because the narrator, Josephine Bailey, has such a pleasing voice.  Thomas More really came alive for me in this book.  You definitley get to see another side to him.  Here's the description from the book:

In the year 1527, the great portraitist Hans Holbein, fleeing the Protestant Reformation, comes to England under commission to Sir Thomas More. Over the course of the next six years, Holbein paints two nearly identical portraits of the More family, his dear and loyal friends. But closer examination of the second painting reveals several mysteries. . . .

Set against the turmoil and tragedy of Henry VIII's court, Portrait of an Unknown Woman vividly evokes sixteenth-century England on the verge of enormous change—as viewed through the eyes of Meg Giggs, More's intelligent, tenderhearted, headstrong adopted daughter, who stands at the center of this sweeping, extraordinary epic. It is a tale of sin and religion, desire and deception—the story of a young woman on the brink of sensual awakening and a country on the edge of mayhem.

I started her latest book, The Queen's Lover, a few months ago, but I couldn't get into it.  I will try again later.  I have her second novel, Figures in Silk, waiting on my bookshelf.  So many books, too little time!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

O is for O, Juliet

Robin Maxwell is one of my favorite authors.  I especially love the cover of this one.  I had the pleasure of reviewing this novel for Historical Novels Review back in February.  Here is my review:

Maxwell delivers a mesmerizing retelling of the famous star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet, in her latest novel, set in Italy at the beginning of the Renaissance. Juliet Capelletti is a headstrong, intelligent young lady who is facing an arranged marriage to Jacopo Strozzi, her father’s new business partner. She does not look forward to her match but knows that it will make her parents happy. Juliet’s entire future is forever changed one night at the engagement party of her best friend, Lucrezia, when she meets the handsome Romeo Monticecco. Romeo is at the party to seek reconciliation between his family and the Capelettis, who have been feuding and retaliating against each other for years. Juliet and Romeo find a chance to talk together alone under the stars and their destiny unfolds. Both are surprised by the other’s passion for poetry and shared interest in Dante Alighieri’s Vita Nuova. After their first meeting, Juliet is determined to find a way out of her upcoming marriage to Jacopo, even though this means defying her family’s wishes for her and possibly destroying the business between her father and her betrothed.

What unfolds is a beautiful love story between the soul mates Romeo and Juliet. Maxwell realistically portrays the torment that Juliet is faced with as she wonders what her future holds. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the novel was how Maxwell drew parallels between Dante and his love, Beatrice, and Romeo and Juliet and her use of poetry and quotes from Dante throughout the novel. Readers will savor this exquisite and magical love story.

N is for ???

Well, I am embarrassed to say that after flipping through my lists of books that I've read over the last several years and scouring my bookshleves at home, I have never read any historical fiction who's title begins with the letter N nor have I read anything by an author with a last name that begins with N.  I'm going to have to remedy that and come back to this one!  Meanwhile, you can check out what others who are doing the Challenge have read at Historical Tapestry's alphabet challenge.