Monday, April 20, 2009

Book Review: THE SECRET LIFE OF JOSEPHINE by Carolly Erickson

Far away lands, lost and found loves, conquests and defeats, and leaving a lingering dream of a lost paradise. Historical entertainment would not even begin to scratch the surface of this richly exotic story. Saucey Josephine was born on the Caribbean island of Martinique a colony of France, complete with plantations and sugar cane fields. A creole seductress with a heart of gold. It was for seen by the local oracle, her future lay across the water, she must go to find her destiny. For me the most enjoyable aspect was the profound depiction of historical events, it made the book very enticing. From Josephine's fight for survival during the bloody french revolution to Napoleons rise, to become ultimately emperor and Josephine empress. To Italy, Egypt, Russia, and many more places. Josephine seeks her destiny, being led by her unbiased heart. She crossed many invisible lines society laid down. She loved openly, being saucey, and smart had many advantages & disadvantages. A very exotic lovable realist who never lost her mind sight of her fight to survive. Motivated as she was to get what she needed she used men and at times was considered a scandal. I could not help but love her. She had a kind heart who always meant good but not all things ended up good and when it got bad it got really bad. This absolutely goes on my "to buy list" since I devoured every dramatic and climactic second. Unlike my last book this was a filling book through to the end.

"The bestselling author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette and The Last Wife of Henry VIII returns with an enchanting novel about the ambitious, amoral, vulnerable woman who became the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. Fashion icon, leader of France’s society in the turbulent years of the guillotine and the bloody Napoleonic Wars, the alluring Josephine was a tough survivor—yet she also had a gentle, haunting quality that made her irresistible to her contemporaries, especially to the mysterious, compelling stranger from Martinique who captured her heart."

Today in History, The vote that started it all French Revolutionary Wars

April 20Th, 1792 with the assembly voting for war, France declared war on Austria. Even though they were already at war with Great Brittan. During the French Revolutionary Wars where the monarchs of Europe bickered, France was renounced by revolutionist. Following the declaration of war, French soldiers deserted en masse and, in one case, murdered their general. But it only gets worse later with the storming of the Tuileries and execution of the King Louis XVI and his Queen Marie Antoinette.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Book Review: THE RELUCTANT QUEEN by Jean Plaidy

Sweet and good natured Anne Neville was extraordinary woman. As documented she truly was vegetarian. A woman born centuries before before her time. She was born during the height of the bitter rival of family house feuds known as the War of the Roses. Her father had had the power to influence many key players in the war including kings of England. Anne was House of York, daughter of the Earl of Warwick the known king maker. In the end of the war her father changed his allegiance after the new king Edward VI married Elizabeth Woodville in secret and he sided with the enemy. Betrothing his daughter Anne to the much despised heir of the Lancasterian French Queen Margaret and King Henry IV, Edward of Westminster. Anne was thrust into Margaret's care as betrothed to her son being her future daughter in law. Her father Warwick intended to replace Edward VI with Anne's newly betrothed. As I have come to conclude about this time period is that all the events that happened were because nothing went ever according to plan and too many people died before they finished their plotting and scheming. Leaving many needy messes that need resolution. I had always been interested in the story of how Anne of York was hidden from Richard as a servant girl in a cook house. Many other books I have read have made reference to the story as a dramatic love story to which young girls day dream about. When Richard storms the cook shop to swoop in and save her it was the high point of the whole book. Jean put a logically interesting spin on a fragmented true story of love conquering all, including your own family who can do the most harm. In the end I find myself left feeling a mix of feelings. The whole book was very detailed about the politics's of court. I feel disappointed that the book trailed of into Richard's rein. Anne faded into the background and events were missed or never even touched upon that I had kind of expected to be there. It was a short good read but I am left with unresolved feelings. Maybe I have it wrong and it belongs in a series but I am starting to notice a trend of that with books set during the war of he roses.

"In 1470, a reluctant Lady Anne Neville is betrothed by her father, the politically ambitious Earl of Warwick, to Edward, Prince of Wales. A gentle yet fiercely intelligent woman, Anne has already given her heart to the prince’s younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Unable to oppose her father’s will, she finds herself in line for the throne of England—an obligation that she does not want. Yet fate intervenes when Edward is killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Anne suddenly finds herself free to marry the man she loves—and who loves her in return. The ceremony is held at Westminster Abbey, and the duke and duchess make a happy home at
Middleham Castle, where both spent much of their childhood. Their life is idyllic, until the reigning king dies and a whirlwind of dynastic maneuvering leads to his children being declared illegitimate. Richard inherits the throne as King Richard III, and Anne is crowned queen consort, a destiny she thought she had successfully avoided. Her husband’s reign lasts two years, two months, and two days—and in that short time Anne witnesses the true toll that wearing the crown takes on Richard, the last king from the House of York."

New Release, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury by Hazel Pierce

"In this first biography of a significant female figure in the male-dominated world of British Tudor politics, Hazel Pierce reconsiders the life and martyrdom of Catholic duchess Margaret Pole against the changing social and political landscape of her times. Pole, niece of both Edward IV and Richard III, was the only woman apart from Anne Boleyn to hold a peerage in her own right during the sixteenth century, and this important contribution to medieval scholarship provides a matchless understanding of aristocratic women during that time period, as well as new interpretations of Henry VIII and his relationship with the nobility."
Available April 28Th in paperback, I can not wait!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today in History, Joanna of Castile the "Mad Queen"

On April 12, 1555 Isabella passed from this realm to the next. The daughter of Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Together her parents laid the foundation for the political unification of Spain. Joanna of Castile more commonly referred to as Juana the Mad, Queen of Castile, Leon, and Queen of Aragon. She was the older sister of Catherine of Aragon who married the notorious king Henry VIII. In the end she was locked up by her son who later became Charles V The holy roman emperor. Held in a windowless room in the castle of Tordesillas. She died at the ripe age of 75 on good Sunday. Many believed she suffered from schizophrenia or manic depression.

It was only that easy to dismiss a sick queen and have legitimate reasoning for her life long imprisonment. First by her husband, then by her father, and later on by her own son. However she only showed signs of manic behavior and clinical depression when she was in under duress by her treatment from her husband and father. The men in her life just wan
ted her out of the way so they could take her rightful crown.

oanna was married to the Archduke Philip the Handsome. Joanna and Philip's marriage was filled with obsessive jealousy and later they had separated when Philip left her in Spain to go home with out her. She was in Spain to be become sworn heir to the Castile kingdom. After Philips death it is rumored that Joanna went mad some accounts claim that she took her husband's corpse with her to Tordesillas to keep it close to her.

She gave birth to six children two em
porers and four queens. Her youngest Catherine became Queen of Portugal. Catherine was kept with her mother in her prison cell during her grandfather's time as regent. Nobody would dare take Catherine off her mad mother so Catherine stayed with Joanna. She remained with her disturbed mother until the arrival in Spain of her eldest siblings Eleanor and Charles.One key point is that whether it was the rebels or her family after her, she never signed away her rights to her queenship, she would live as regent queen until her death.

I am very passionate ab
out Joanna because of a recommended read to me by my absolute favorite author Robin Maxwell. C.W. Gortner's The Last Queen is one of the best books I have ever read. It is a really eye opening point of view, with complete raw emotions of a vivid what if real life novel. A doomed Queen. Never allowed to rule.

"Juana of Castile, the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit her country’s throne, is an enigmatic figure, shrouded in lurid myth. Was she the bereft widow of legend who was driven mad by her loss, or has history misjudged a woman who was ahead of her time?"

Monday, April 06, 2009

New Release, Eleanor of Aquitaine: Queen of France, Queen of England

Soon, May 26Th 2009

"Eleanor of Aquitaine’s extraordinary life seems more likely to be found in the pages of fiction. Proud daughter of a distinguished French dynasty, she married the king of France, Louis VII, then the king of England, Henry II, and gave birth to two sons who rose to take the English throne—Richard the Lionheart and John. Renowned for her beauty, hungry for power, headstrong, and unconventional, Eleanor traveled on crusades, acted as regent for Henry II and later for Richard, incited rebellion, endured a fifteen-year imprisonment, and as an elderly widow still wielded political power with energy and enthusiasm."

Book Review: THE PERFECT ROYAL MISTRESS by Diane Haeger

A classic Cinderella slash rags to riches story except with out the happily ever after marriage at the end. I found myself pondering in the first few pages how Nell who emerged from the great fire of London as a orange seller would come to earn the title of "the perfect royal mistress". It panned out for me as a daytime soap opera, with one lucky girl thrust into the middle by chance. All be it was a good soap opera I thoroughly enjoyed it, just as much as gossip mags. It had it all from the one who cried, the one who lies, and the one who gets revenge. With Nell being the center focal point, she never let her emotions cloud her judgement especially if she is to keep her place she had worked so hard for. Nell's quick wit & tongue makes her infectious and contagious to everyone she comes into contact with including the reader. Being a natural thing for a king to take "A" mistress. Charles II took it to the extreme with his lust for women. Frankly he went over board and he could have drowned in a sea of women. You want Nell to win but, what happens if there is no winning at the end of the race. Nels winnings were the unconditional love she felt not just for her lover but for the other special people in her life. I will be adding this book to my library because it is an amazingly upside down love story filled with a exuberant amount of drama.

"Welcome to Nell Gwynne's world and the deliciously complicated triangle in which she learned to live and thrive! From the poverty stricken depths of Coal Yark Alley to the licentious and glittering court of England, Nell was the ultimate survivor. With her beauty and bawdy sense of humor, she not only became the most celebrated actress of her time but the one true love of the powerful King of England and The Perfect Royal Mistress!"

Today in History, Richard I "Richard the Lion Heart"

Richard I died on Tuesday, 6 April 1199 in the arms of his mother from an infection after removing an arrow from his shoulder. Son of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II, house of Plantagenet. In a time of bitter rivals, long standing feuds, and crusades. In a weird twist of fate a young boy had shot him while he was walking in the castle grounds. He pardoned the boy because he said that King Richard had killed the his father and two brothers. The king gave him money and sent him on his way. After he died his captain Mercadier found the boy and murdered him for the loss of the king. I soon will be getting more into this era with Eleanor of Aquitaine by Ralph Turner as soon as it comes out.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Today in History, Edward the Confessor Crowned King

Edward the Confessor was crowned king on April 3, 1043. He was the last king of the House of Wessex. The power shift from the royals to the earls continued through his rein. In 1161 Edward was canonized by Roman Catholic church, church of England, Anglican churches. He is regarded as the patron saint of of kings, difficult marriages, and separated spouses. Saint George replaced him as the patron saint of England but he remains patron saint of the Royal Family

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Today in History, Loss of Authur Tudor

Today in History the loss of Arthur Tudor, prince of Whales. Arthur was the first born son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, heir to the throne of England and Whales. His younger brother Henry was to be entered into the church. At fifteen he was married to Catherine of Aragon. After the marriage the couple went to Ludlow on the Welsh border. A short time after arriving he got the "sweating sickness" and it would become fatal. Leaving a big question of "was the marriage consumated". Catherine was to fend for herself alone for years ahead. Younger brother Henry would no longer be entering the church after all and would later become Henry VIII King of England and Whales. The new king Henry never forgot about the fair haired Spanish princess, even though his father forbid him to marring her. They married anyways and headed for a future of death, lost love, and terrible heart ache. To read more on Catherine and Arthur read The constant princess by Philippa Gregory.
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