Sunday, April 10, 2011

April suggestions

Need a few suggestions for your April reading? Well, you are in luck -  there are many great novels including several great historical novels out this month. Here are a few of my picks for the month:

 Writer Michelle Moran is back with another novel about one of histories most intriguing women - this time Marie Grosholtz who became  Madame Tussaud of waxworks fame. How this petite girl became a front seat participant to the French Revolution is an intriguing story and one sure to keep you riveted. From the family salon where she helped entertain the likes of Robespiere to the court of Louis the XVI and the lovely Marie Antoinette to the horrors of the guillotine, Marie watched her country go from a monarchy to anarchy to a semblance off a republic albeit one awash in blood.  Fascinating read about this wax sculptress who made models of the famous and infamous and eventually death masks for the royals she had befriended.

Garden Spells writer Sarah Addison Allen's new book takes place in Walls of Water, N.C. and like her previous works there is a thread of magic woven through the multi-generation story that brings two diverse families together as a historic home "The Blue Ridge Madam,"  is renovated and re-opened as a magnificent bed and breakfast. Willa's family who lost their money in the 1930's owned the Madam - but she has never been in the old house unlike  Osgood heiress and former classmate Paxton who has taken on the challenge of restoring the Madam. But just what secrets does the Madam hold and what do the elderly Grandmother's of the two young women know? Will the secrets of the house long buried (literally) impact the lives of Willa and Paxton? Another of this author's tempting books will keep you reading to find  the answer!

Before Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII loved Bess Blount and she bore him a son who lived until he was in his late teens.  Who was this girl who captured the heart of a young king? Diane Haeger explores the story of Elizabeth Blount and the unpolished girl's entry to the glittering if sometimes solemn court of Henry and his Queen Katherine of Aragon. With a head filled with romance and tales of Camelot, Lancelot and courtly love, Bess is naive and thinks Henry VIII is in love with his Queen and doesn't have affairs. She quickly falls for the dashing king - never expecting she will be in his bed and become the first official mistress. Her dearest friend, Gilbert Tailboys (secret son of Cardinal Wolsey) becomes her husband following the birth off a royal son and Bess finds happiness in the marriage although it seems a part of her will always have a fondness and flame for Henry. 

A kind heart distinguishes Bess from so many tales of other royal mistresses and Haeger paints an appealing portrait of this woman who captured Henry VIII and gave him his heart's desire - a healthy son. 

When Alice Ibbetson, an artist and gardener covets and eventually follows her obsession for a rare orchid and under cover of darkness steals it - she cannot imagine the chain of events that will transpire. Her neighbor, Richard Wheeler a Quaker is dismayed by the theft of the "Lady's Slipper" orchid and confronts her about the theft. In denial, Alice's doesn't realize realize her crafty maid is set upon vengeance and finds a way to bring down heaven's wrath.  The novel takes place in turbulent 17th century England Charles II was on the throne following Cromwell's death (The Restoration) but memories of the Civil War still divide the land. Quakers are heavily persecuted. This religious intolerance is just one facet of the book that adds another layer of intrigue to the orchid theft. Numerous characters feel drawn to the orchid and lay claim to it for various reasons chief among them medicinal - tragedy is a cornerstone of this greed and the book doesn't gloss over the judicial system of this time period. A worthy read.