Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Late Mailbox Monday's and Giveaway Winners
Pope Joan: A Novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross, signed
"One of the most controversial women of history is brought to brilliant life in Donn Woolfolk Cross's tale of Pope Joan, a girl whose origins should have kept her in squalid domesticity. Instead, through her intelligence, indomitability and courage, she ascended to the throne of Rome as Pope John Anglicus.
The time is 814, the place is Ingelheim, a Frankland village. It is the harshest winter in living memory when Joan is born to an English father and a Saxon mother. Her father is a canon, filled with holy zeal and capable of unconscionable cruelty. His piety does not extend to his family members, especially the females. His wife, Gudrun, is a young beauty to whom he was attracted beyond his will--and he hates her for showing him his weakness. Gudrun teaches Joan about her gods, and is repeatedly punished for it by the canon. Joan grows to young womanhood with the combined knowledge of the warlike Saxon gods and the teachings of the Church as her heritage. Both realities inform her life forever.
When her brother John, not a scholarly type, is sent away to school, Joan, who was supposed to be the one sent to school, runs away and joins him in Dorstadt, at Villaris, the home of Gerold, who is central to Joan's story. She falls in love with Gerold and their lives interesect repeatedly even through her Papacy. She is looked upon by all who know that she is a woman as a "lusus naturae," a freak of nature. "She was... male in intellect, female in body, she fit in nowhere; it was as if she belonged to a third amorphous sex." Cross makes the case over and over again that the status of women in the Dark Ages was little better than cattle. They were judged inferior in every way, and necessary evils in the bargain.
After John is killed in a Viking attack, Joan sees her opportunity to escape the fate of all her gender. She cuts her hair, dons her dead brother's clothes and goes into the world as a young boy. Gerold is away from Villaris at the time of the attack and comes home to find his home in ruins, his family killed and Joan among the missing. After the attack, Joan goes to a Benedictine monastery, is accepted as a young man of great learning, and eventually makes her way to Rome.
The author is at pains to tell the reader in an Epilogue that she has written the story as fiction because it is impossible to document Joan's accesion to the Papacy. The Catholic Church has done everything possible to deny this embarrassment. Whether or not one believes in Joan as Pope, this is a compelling story, filled with all kinds of lore: the brutishness of the Dark Ages, Vatican intrigue, politics and favoritism and most of all, the place of women in the Church and in the world".
The Mischief of the Mistletoe: A Pink Carnation Christmas by Lauren Willig
'Tis the season to get Pink! Lauren Willig's beloved Pink Carnation series gets into the holiday spirit with this irresistible Regency Christmas caper.
"Arabella Dempsey's dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls' school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies...
Reginald "Turnip"Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation- has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, "Meet me at Farley Castle," the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens'modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella's and Turnip's hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding"?
Duchess: A Novel of Sarah Churchill by Susan Holloway Scott
"London: 1673. With her family ruined by war, penniless thirteen-year-old Sarah Jennings is overjoyed to be chosen as a maid of honor at the bawdy Restoration court of Charles II. Her beauty stirs the desires of the jaded aristocrats, but Sarah wants a grander future for herself than that of a pampered mistress. As allies, she chooses John Churchill, a military hero whose ambition and passions match her own, and befriends the Lady Anne of York, a lonely royal princess who comes to trust Sarah over all others.
But Whitehall Palace is ripe with ever-shifting alliances and sexual scandal, and Sarah will need all her cleverness to succeed. Titles, power, and wealth are the prizes, while an idle whisper in the wrong ear can bring a cry of treason, and the executioner's axe. Will Sarah's loyalties -- and her dreams -- falter when a king is toppled from his throne, and a new queen crowned? And will she dare risk everything when her one true love is tested by a passionate, dangerous obsession?
Brimming with the intrigue and sensuality of one of history's most decadent courts, DUCHESS brings to vivid life the story of an unforgettable woman who determines her own destiny -- outspoken, outrageous, but most of all true to herself and her heart".
Dancing with Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House by Sarah Waters
"An anthology of the winning entries for the Jane Austen Short Story Award
Two hundred years ago, Jane Austen— traumatized by her parents’ decision to give up the rectory in Hampshire where she grew up, and unable to write for a decade—accepted her brother Edward’s offer of a permanent home in his Chawton House estate. It was there that she picked up her pen once again . . . and gave the world some of the most beloved and enduring novels ever written.
The Jane Austen Short Story Competition celebrates the immortal author and her works, and the blessed home that afforded her the peace and security to create them. Judged and chosen by Sarah Waters, bestselling author of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, Dancing with Mr. Darcy includes the winning selection and nineteen runners-up, as well as introductions from Waters and Rebecca Smith, the great-great-great-great-great niece of Jane Austen".
Emma and the Vampires by Wayne Josephson goes to Kelly F
Wicked Delights of the Bridal Bed by Tracy Anne Warren goes to Marg