Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Book reviews!

I missed doing these posts, so I will do a few of the books I've read recently.

First up, Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey, by Alison Weir.

Weir is my favourite historical author, and I was elated to find out she'd branched into novels. I picked this one up in Ottawa, and I was slightly disappointed. Weir is a master at writing historical characters, using the available facts to give us a clear sense of the subject. Something got lost in the novel though. The facts are all there, but the spirit is missing. She set it up similarly to what Phillipa Gregory did in The Boleyn Inheritance by using three first person narrators. But unlike Gregory, this setup just loses its punch. Jane Grey is the best character in the book, but it's clear that Weir is not nearly as interested in Queen Mary. I dunno, I was underwhelmed.

I have Weir's The Lady Elizabeth, and that's up next to read so I'm hoping it goes a little better. I think Innocent Traitor was her first novel.

Up next I have uh, another Alison Weir book. But this one is one of her standard biographies. And as usual, I have nothing bad to say about it at all. She manages to bring a woman who there is limited source material regarding to life. Eleanor of Aquitaine was the Duchess of Aquitaine, Countess of Poitou, Queen of France, and Queen of England. She was in fact one of the most famous, most influential women of her day. Sadly because she lived in the 12th century, there is little remaining of her records -- even her tomb, Weir reveals, was destroyed in the 18th Century during the French Revolution. While most of the book talks about Eleanor's family, Weir is able to show fairly easily how these forefathers and descendants influenced and in turn were influenced by this woman known as "the most beautiful woman in Europe."

The final book I'm gonna talk about is a Kate Atkinson novel. If you haven't read anything by this woman I strongly encourage you to do so ASAP. I love this woman and her writing. And I was reading One Good Turn, which is a sequel to Case Histories. If you haven't read Case Histories you don't necessarily NEED to in order to understand this book, but it helps. It revolves around poor ex-detective Jackson Brodie, a man who seems to find trouble no matter where he goes. The supporting cast of characters is so rich and creative that it's almost worth it on its own.


No comments: