Saturday, April 26, 2008

Recent Historical Novels of Note

If you like your books with some history here are a few from 2007-8 that may catch your attention. If you are a fan of Showtime's "The Tudor's, " or enjoyed the movie "The Other Boleyn Girl," be sure and read Mademoiselle Boleyn.

1. Maxwell, Robin, Mademoiselle Boleyn**** Intriguing, well paced, historical novel about the early life of Anne Boleyn in the French court. It traces the history of Anne and her sister Mary who are sent by their ambitious and calculating father across the Channel…What happens to them, the interactions with other historical figures, Anne’s first glimpses of the political and social implications of sex and her education about court life and intrigues provides the basis for her later life in the court of Henry VIII. Well researched and fascinating – a must for English history, Tudor fans.

2. Erickson, Carolly The Last Wife of Henry VIII*** interesting, novelized first person account of the life of Catherine Parr told from her childhood to her death. Great King Henry stories and also ones about his other wives. Lots of historical tidbits, trivia and insights. She writes well and it’s a quick read.

3. Moran, Michelle Nefertiti *** I’ve always been fascinated by this period of Egyptian history – Akhenaten and Nefertiti – but this takes a completely different spin on the two of them and how they tried to move the capitol of the country from Thebes to Armarna, do away with Amun in favor of Aten (monotheism) and in the process alienated most of their country. Although she was beloved and also reknown for her beauty – behind the doors of power she struggled with a husband who was beyond reason, may have killed his own brother for the crown, and was letting enemies take the country piece by piece as he focused all his energies on building this new city. Watching Nefertiti’s power struggles, her iron will and her palace maneuvering to unseat her chief rival are better than any tv soap opera storyline. Using historical data (and it is detailed and fascinating) and telling it from the perspective of Nefertiti’s sister the healer Mutnodjmet it begins in the early years through the end of the beautiful queen’s reign. How the little sister tries to live out her own life, one not focused on power but filled with love is the simple thread that binds this book to the heart. One historical novel well worth the read.

4. Weir, Alison, Innocent Traitor*** Lady Jane Grey’s story told as only Weir can – lots of great historical detail including info on the court of Henry VIII and especially about Katherine Parr and her Protestant leanings… tidbits abound about Mary and Elizabetj as well as the tragic story of Jane – a pawn in a political high stakes game of the crown – and all she wanted was to be left to her books and her faith…

5. Scott, Susan Holloway, Royal Harlot : A Novel of the Countess of Castlemaine and King Charles II *** Barbara had a tough time growing up with her literally wicked Mother who ignored her for years then wanted to marry her to the wealthiest man available – but Barbara had already lost her virginity in a game of love and high stakes – her marriage to a man involved in bringing royalty back to England during and after Cromwell is documented as is her affair and love story with King Charles…

Iggulden, Conn Genghis: Birth of an Empire**** and the second book Genghis: Lords of the Bow***1/2 If you've ever wondered about Genghis Kahn, the man and the fearsome legend from history this book will enthrall you with tales of the Mongol and his life from boyhood to conquerer. Glimpes of life on the freezing plains, the harsh living conditions, the fight survival, family honor, justice, battles (and in the second book they are quite spectacular as Genghis takes on the Chin empire). The history is first rate and the story flows well from the pen of the author - a portrait of a man who became a legend.