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Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Enemy, The Queen by Jean Plaidy

Lettice Knollys, beautiful, determined and strong, sets her sights on Robert Dudley from her first look at him. Nothing will stand in her way. Her dull husband and her children don't worry her and not even the formidable Queen can stop her. Extraordinary, ambitious and handsome, Dudley finds Lettice attractive and becomes tired of playing 'ducks and drakes' with his indecisive Queen Elizabeth, but Lettice is second choice.

Jean Plaidy may be sneered at in some quarters (usually by men) and some of this book comes close to a 'bodice-ripper'. However, her characterization of everyone in this novel is excellent - especially the intimidating and calculating, but sentimental Queen. Lettice could easily be unlikeable in her single-mindedness but she isn't.

Her historical research cannot be faulted and the background is well-written and clear.

This was a moving novel and I thought that it was one of Plaidy's best.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Books Read In December 07/ January 08

Object of Virtue by Nicholas B.A.Nicholson 9/10 (Reviewed here)

The Red Princess by Sofka Zinovieff 9/10 (Reviewed here)

Desiree by Annemarie Selinko 8/10

This was a very enjoyable, romantic novel about Napoleon's first love who became Queen of Sweden. Selinko did an excellent job of transforming an innocent, enthusiastic teenager into a mature woman. She also wrote very clearly about the historical background which is fascinating.

Catherine the Great: Love, Sex and Power 8/10

This was not too academic and very readable. It provided an intimate look at Catherine, who became almost an endearing character with her love for her dogs and her grandchildren, even though she was very formidable!

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club 7/10
by Dorothy L.Sayers


Dorothy L. really cannot be beaten as far as mysteries are concerned, but I prefer the books with Harriet Vane.

In the Frame: A Life in Words and Pictures by Helen Mirren 9/10

Helen Mirren is an excellent actress and seems to be surprisingly likeable. (I thought that she might be intimidating - she may well be in real life!) I liked her tales of Bohemian life and found her story of her Russian ancestry very sad and interesting.

Angel Face by Sheila Connelly Danziger 7/10

This was a rather harrowing rags-to-riches tale of an extremely poor young girl in Ireland with a drunken father and many siblings who became a model in America.

The Little Man of Archangel by Georges Simenon 7/10

SPOILER

The atmosphere of a provincial French town was wonderfully evoked here, but the story was very disappointing because it went nowhere.

Comments are welcome! Have you read any of these books? Do you agree or disagree? WHAT DID YOU THINK?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Preferred Genre?

Which genre do you like reading best?
general non-fiction
literary fiction
historical novels
women's novels
fantasy
  
pollcode.com free polls

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Object of Virtue by Nicholas B.A. Nicholson

Object of Virtue is an enchanting book about a young antiques dealer who has a moral dilemma. Sasha, a Russian prince who is now an American and lives in New York, works for a famous firm of auctioneers. When he is given the chance to sell a Faberge figurine of Sneroguchka (the Snow Maiden)he undertakes the task with alacrity because he needs an object to beat Christie's. They are selling a necklace once owned by Empress Alexandra. He is pleased to find an object of virtue, i.e. an article in which every separate piece is as near perfect as possible.

Sasha soon finds, however, that members of his family which once owned the figurine, oppose his selling it. His firm soon turns against him and he has to face a choice between wealth and an easy life or finding out the truth.

Nicholas B.A. Nicholson intertwines the story of Sasha's Russian family with his modern life in New York very well, providing an interesting account of an aristocratic family affected by the Revolution and the Second World War. Sasha's trip to Russia is especially fascinating.

Sasha and his cousin, Victoria, are extremely likeable characters. Victoria, with her anti-PC attitudes is great fun, although I wasn't keen on her wearing fur myself!
(Maybe it was vintage?) Sasha is fairly serious so Victoria provided a lighter touch.

I enjoyed this book partly because I liked reading about the wealthy in New York. These people have Sevres dinner services and wear Dior and Givenchy at the drop of a hat! They attend the Nobility Ball and generally live the 'life of Riley'.

It would be interesting to see if people who are annoyed by books about the rich still like the characters?

I give this one five stars!