Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
The Art of Travel Synopsis
Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.
Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book. Don’t leave home without it. (Amazon)
While I do not as a rule read self help books, I had heard great things about the writings of Alain de Botton and so wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Of all non-fiction I am most partial to travel memoirs and so I decided that out of his extensive back catalogue The Art of Travel was the perfect place for me to start.
Monday, June 3rd, 2013
Today Booklover Book Reviews is hosting the TLC Book Tour for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra.
In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed–a failed physician–to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.
With The English Patient’s dramatic sweep and The Tiger’s Wife’s expert sense of place, Marra gives us a searing debut about the transcendent power of love in wartime, and how it can cause us to become greater than we ever thought possible. (Amazon)
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena deserves the adoration it has quickly garnered. It is stunning for many reasons, not least that it is the first published novel from author Anthony Marra, still in his twenties. The only recent parallel that comes to mind is the maturity of Jennifer duBois’ debut A Partial History of Lost Causes.
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
Poet’s Cottage Synopsis
Poets had always lived there, the locals claimed. It was as if the house called to its own…
When Sadie inherits Poet’s Cottage in the Tasmanian fishing town of Pencubitt, she sets out to discover all she can about her notorious grandmother, Pearl Tatlow. Pearl was a children’s writer who scandalised 1930s Tasmania with her behaviour. She was also violently murdered in the cellar of Poet’s Cottage and her murderer never found.
Sadie grew up with a loving version of Pearl through her mother, but her aunt Thomasina tells a different story, one of a self-obsessed, abusive and licentious woman. And Pearl’s biographer, Birdie Pinkerton, has more than enough reason to discredit her.
As Sadie and her daughter Betty work to uncover the truth, strange events begin to occur in the cottage. And as the terrible secret in the cellar threads its way into the present day, it reveals a truth more shocking than the decades-long rumours.
Poet’s Cottage is a beautiful and haunting mystery of families, bohemia, truth, creativity, lies, memory and murder. (Booktopia)
Poet’s Cottage by Josephine Pennicott is a gothic mystery novel that contains all the ingredients of a success. It has a complex web narrative across historical time periods, in this case the 1930s and the present day. The story is set in a charming little Tasmanian town exposed to the elements and steeped in history, scandal and murder.
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
The Gunners of Shenyang Synopsis
In Yu Jihui’s memoir of his life as a university student in China as the nation starved during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, carrots are decadent luxuries and flatulence is the people’s true common language. “Soapy,” the author’s nickname during his college days, has been dubious about the benefits of the socialist revolution sweeping the country ever since his father was exiled to a desolate town in the middle of nowhere for daring to question the wisdom of trying to industrialize overnight. As a young adult, Soapy and his dorm-mates attend classes, chase girls, and attend endless political meetings, always struggling with the need to maintain a cheerfully patriotic outlook despite that pesky urge to faint from hunger from time to time. When Big Zhang, an older boy from the provinces, dares to be a nonconformist, openly mocking the system, the dangerous silliness of the day turns to literal, life-or-death danger.
The Gunners of Shenyang is at once hilarious, revealing, informative, thought-provoking, and sometimes college-boy vulgar — a memoir of the horrors of the times from a boy still young enough to enjoy himself and a man now wise enough to see the big picture for what it was. (Signal 8 Press)
BOOK REVIEW by Tony Ziemek
The Gunners of Shenyang is a memoir dedicated to the author’s parents and it is recounted sparingly and with poignancy. It is a tale of friendship, love, humanity and hunger. I found it fascinating because it is an unfamiliar world but one peopled with characters that are universal in their lives, loves, friendships and the many (often ribald) jokes that defy the austerity of the times.
Thursday, May 9th, 2013
Wolf Hall Synopsis
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
After Hilary Mantel became the first woman to be awarded the Man Booker Prize twice, I thought it was high time I investigated what all the fuss was about. While I like historical fiction, I have read very little set as far back as the 1500s, and had heard there were an inordinate number of characters to keep track of. I often find a great narrator makes distinguishing between characters less hard work so I thought I might tackle this behemoth of a novel via audio.
I experienced conflicting feelings during the 21 hours of this audio book (yes, I did finish it).
Tuesday, May 7th, 2013
Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Danna Pycher to Booklover Book Reviews as part of her tour for her title 3rd Generation and Beyond.
Writing 3rd Generation and Beyond: “The How”
When I was growing up I really did not enjoy writing. In fact, I hated it.
I always had a story to tell, yet felt so confined by grammar, structure, and rules that for some reason felt arbitrary and a hindrance to just writing freely. I was never big on arbitrary rules in any aspect of my life in general!
I was a journalist for many years and although I had to write daily it was always a burden.
Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
From the author of The Book of Lost Fragrances comes a haunting novel about a grieving woman who discovers the lost journal of novelist Victor Hugo, awakening a mystery that spans centuries
In 1843, novelist Victor Hugo’s beloved nineteen-year-old daughter drowned. Ten years later, Hugo began participating in hundreds of séances to reestablish contact with her. In the process, he claimed to have communed with the likes of Plato, Galileo, Shakespeare, Dante, Jesus — and even the Devil himself. Hugo’s transcriptions of these conversations have all been published. Or so it was believed.
Recovering from her own losses, mythologist Jac L’Etoile arrives on the Isle of Jersey — where Hugo conducted the séances — hoping to uncover a secret about the island’s Celtic roots. But the man who’s invited her there, a troubled soul named Theo Gaspard, has hopes she’ll help him discover something quite different — Hugo’s lost conversations with someone called the Shadow of the Sepulcher.
What follows is an intricately plotted and atmospheric tale of suspense with a spellbinding ghost story at its heart, by one of America’s most gifted and imaginative novelists. (Atria Books)
Seduction is the fifth novel in the very successful Reincarnationist Series from prolific author M J Rose. Last year I had the pleasure of reading the fourth book in this series The Book of Lost Fragrances and as well as being highly entertained, I was struck by the quality of Rose’s writing. Her artistic and lyrical prose shone again in Seduction.