Monday, September 05, 2011

Hot Historical Fiction Catch up: August

8.1.2011 April Queen: Eleanor of Aquitaine, Douglas Boyd
"Recreating the turbulent life of one of the most exciting women in European medieval history, this biography reveals a peculiarly "modern" queen Eleanor of Aquitaine was the only person ever to sit on the thrones of both France and England. This account of the adventures of the extraordinary mother of Richard the Lionheart and King John takes us into the heart and mind of the woman who changed the shape of Europe for 300 years by marrying Henry of Anjou, making him England’s Henry II. Eleanor was a European with a continent-wide vision and a woman who rejected the subordinate female role decreed by the Church. Brought up in the comfort- and culture-loving Mediterranean civilization of southern France, she also refused to be a consenting victim of ethnic cleansing. Using French, Old French, Latin, and Occitan sources, this biography lays bare as never before Eleanor’s relationships and vividly brings to life the world she knew".

In a Treacherous Court8.2.2011 In a Treacherous Court, Michelle Diener
An unconventional woman. A deadly enemy. A clash of intrigue, deception, and desire. . . . 1525: Artist Susanna Horenbout is sent from Belgium to be Henry VIII’s personal illuminator inside the royal palace. But her new homeland greets her with an attempt on her life, and the King’s most lethal courtier, John Parker, is charged with keeping her safe. As further attacks are made, Susanna and Parker realize that she unknowingly carries the key to a bloody plot against the throne. For while Richard de la Pole amasses troops in France for a Yorkist invasion, a traitor prepares to trample the kingdom from within.Who is the mastermind? Why are men vying to kill the woman Parker protects with his life? With a motley gang of urchins, Susanna’s wits, and Parker’s fierce instincts, honed on the streets and in palace chambers, the two slash through deadly layers of deceit in a race against time. For in the court of Henry VIII, secrets are the last to die. . . .Brilliantly revealing a little-known historical figure who lived among the Tudors, Michelle Diener makes a smashing historical fiction debut.

Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters8.2.2011 Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters, Ella March Chase
In the second novel from Ella March Chase, we meet sixteen-year-old Jane Grey, a quiet and obedient young lady destined to become the shortest reigning English monarch. Her beautiful middle sister Katherine Grey charms all the right people--until loyalties shift. And finally Lady Mary Grey, a dwarf with a twisted spine whose goal is simply to protect people she loves--but at a terrible cost.

In an age in which begetting sons was all that mattered and queens rose and fell on the sex of their child, these three girls with royal Tudor blood lived under the dangerous whims of parents with a passion for gambling. The stakes they would wager: their daughters' lives against rampant ambition.

The Wild Rose8.2.2011 The Wild Rose, Jennifer Donnelly
The vast multi-generational epic that began with The Tea Rose and continued with The Winter Rose now reaches its dramatic conclusion in The Wild Rose.

London, 1914. World War I is looming on the horizon, women are fighting for the right to vote, and global explorers are pushing the limits of endurance at the Poles and in the deserts. Into this volatile time, Jennifer Donnelly places her vivid and memorable characters:

- Willa Alden, a passionate mountain climber who lost her leg while climbing Kilimanjaro with Seamus Finnegan, and who will never forgive him for saving her life.
- Seamus Finnegan, a polar explorer who tries to forget Willa as he marries a beautiful young woman back home in England.
- Max von Brandt, a handsome sophisticate who courts high society women, but who has a secret agenda as a German spy;
- and many others.

To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn8.9.2011 To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, Sandra Byrd
To Die For, is the story of Meg Wyatt, pledged forever as the best friend to Anne Boleyn since their childhoods on neighboring manors in Kent. When Anne’s star begins to ascend, of course she takes her best friend Meg along for the ride. Life in the court of Henry VIII is thrilling at first, but as Anne’s favor rises and falls, so does Meg’s. And though she’s pledged her loyalty to Anne no matter what the test, Meg just might lose her greatest love—and her own life—because of it. 
Meg's childhood flirtation with a boy on a neighboring estate turns to true love early on. When he is called to follow the Lord and be a priest she turns her back on both the man and his God. Slowly, though, both woo her back through the heady times of the English reformation. In the midst of it, Meg finds her place in history, her own calling to the Lord that she must follow, too, with consequences of her own. Each character in the book is tested to figure out what love really means, and what, in this life, is worth dying for.
Though much of Meg’s story is fictionalized, it is drawn from known facts. The Wyatt family and the Boleyn family were neighbors and friends, and perhaps even distant cousins. Meg’s brother, Thomas Wyatt, wooed Anne Boleyn and ultimately came very close to the axe blade for it. Two Wyatt sisters attended Anne at her death, and at her death, she gave one of them her jeweled prayer book—Meg.

Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: the History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians8.9.2011 Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: the History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians, Richard Sugg
Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires charts in vivid detail the largely forgotten history of European corpse medicine, when kings, ladies, gentlemen, priests and scientists prescribed, swallowed or wore human blood, flesh, bone, fat, brains and skin against epilepsy, bruising, wounds, sores, plague, cancer, gout and depression.
One thing we are rarely taught at school is this: James I refused corpse medicine; Charles II made his own corpse medicine; and Charles I was made into corpse medicine. Ranging from the execution scaffolds of Germany and Scandinavia, through the courts and laboratories of Italy, France and Britain, to the battlefields of Holland and Ireland, and on to the tribal man-eating of the Americas, Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires argues that the real cannibals were in fact the Europeans. Medicinal cannibalism utilised the formidable weight of European science, publishing, trade networks and educated theory. For many, it was also an emphatically Christian phenomenon. And, whilst corpse medicine has sometimes been presented as a medieval therapy, it was at its height during the social and scientific revolutions of early-modern Britain. It survived well into the eighteenth century, and amongst the poor it lingered stubbornly on into the time of Queen Victoria. This innovative book brings to life a little known and often disturbing part of human history.

Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel8.10.2011 Becoming Marie Antoinette: A Novel, Juliet Grey
This enthralling confection of a novel, the first in a new trilogy, follows the transformation of a coddled Austrian archduchess into the reckless, powerful, beautiful queen Marie Antoinette.

Why must it be me? I wondered. When I am so clearly inadequate to my destiny?

Raised alongside her numerous brothers and sisters by the formidable empress of Austria, ten-year-old Maria Antonia knew that her idyllic existence would one day be sacrificed to her mother’s political ambitions. What she never anticipated was that the day in question would come so soon.

Before she can journey from sunlit picnics with her sisters in Vienna to the glitter, glamour, and gossip of Versailles, Antonia must change everything about herself in order to be accepted as dauphine of France and the wife of the awkward teenage boy who will one day be Louis XVI. Yet nothing can prepare her for the ingenuity and influence it will take to become queen.

Filled with smart history, treacherous rivalries, lavish clothes, and sparkling jewels, Becoming Marie Antoinette will utterly captivate fiction and history lovers alike.


  1. Looks like a great month for historical fiction! I recently picked up a copy of Becoming Marie Antoinette since two of my favorite authors have blurbs on the cover. I still need to read The Tea Rose and The Winter Rose which are both sitting on my bookshelf. I hope to get to them soon since The Wild Rose was just published. I love your site because it is always up to date with the latest in historical fiction. :)

  2. Eleanor is the Queen to read about lately, eh?

  3. Read Sandra Byrd's novel and I have the one about the Grey sisters waiting on me when I finish my novel on Vlad. :)

  4. Anytime Laurel, I guess I just had been slacking lately.

    Audra, I love Eleanor and the more the merrier.

    Kate, I have a copy on my review list for Becoming MA. I am really looking forward to it if I can ever get to it. I have not read any of the rose series but I have heard very high praise for them all. Thank you I try to keep it up to date but sometimes I slip up like on this one. I am glad you enjoy it because it makes the hard work all worth it.

    Pricilla, I guess it is time to start leaning towards Eleanor rather than the Tudors. Which is fine with me I love the Tudors but Eleanor is very intriguing.

    Robin, I want to read Byrd's novel, I really enjoyed Vlad. It has a goooooood ending you will never see coming.


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