Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Few Good Reads

An intriguing book about Muslims waiting for the imam of prophesy - one who will arise to defeat their detractors and all non-believers. May remind readers of  Christians waiting for the second-coming of Christ. Fascinating reading.

Was she a serial killer or a misunderstood noblewoman only punishing maidservants for their transgressions? A new spin on the true tale of 16th Century Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory (Elizabeth Bathory). Never convicted of any crimes, the woman who became known to history as the "female dracula," for her supposed blood bathing/drinking is characterized in Rebecca Johns new novel as a misunderstood woman who tells her own side of the story for a change. It is a worthy effort that will  leave the reader as intrigued as she is appalled by Bathory's beliefs and actions. It will also leave the reader unable to put down this book. 

A  twist on Shakespeare and his writing of the "Tempest." Actually, the story of a young girl forced into life as servant, and how her journey to Jamestown with an irritating mistress is interrupted by a storm that leaves the ship and it's passengers stranded on a deserted island in the Bahamas during the reign of James I.

How the castaways remake themselves into a society, how they learn to survive and thrive (or not) and how "Miranda" befriends the ship's historian who has his own secrets is the heart of the story that provides not only a wealth of history about ELizabeth I and her reign, but also about Shakespeare and fellow playwrights , nautical history and the colonization of Jamestown in the New World, and the persecution of Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth.

How the young servant girl and the ship's historian find common ground in shared secrets and become friends is a wonderful storyline in itself, but the the threads of this novel that weave together history and fiction provide the reader with  satisfying entertainment throughout the novel. Miranda is an intriguing character and her growth from scared and shy young girl to confident and able chef and woman is a delight to experience.