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Topic: 2009 H/F - #9 - Headless ladies

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Subject: 2009 H/F - #9 - Headless ladies
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 8:38 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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9. Off with her head! Read one book of Historical Fiction that has a headless lady on the cover. We'll poke a bit of fun at the trend of including headless ladies on last year's H/F books. ;-)



Last Edited on: 1/13/09 8:48 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: The Wild Hunt, Elizabeth Chadwick
Date Posted: 1/20/2009 8:09 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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For this challenge, I selected The Wild Hunt, by Elizabeth Chadwick. The book has recently been re-released and the cover features a near headless woman on the front! It was wonderful!

I may be the last HF enthusiast on this earth to read this book - but, as they say, better late than never! This was EC's first published book and while she is much better (IMO) now and her "real character" historical fiction books are almost beyond compare, this historical romance isn't too shabby!

It is a very quick read - full of all the elements we want to see in a medieval romance ... wonderful leading man whom we all want to know, have as a son-in-law (or lover, depending on one's age!); a beautiful, strong leading lady; a dastardly villain (and this guy may be almost too dastardly) and a host of supporting characters and sub-plots that keep the book moving nicely along.

Running in the background as a backdrop to the main story is King Rufus, his accidental death (read: murder), and subsequent ascension of Henry I to the throne.

A great book & one I'm glad to have read!



Last Edited on: 1/20/09 7:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/23/2009 9:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,300
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Sounds interesting,Kelly. I, for one haven't read it and now I may have to put it on my list (even though I'm not a big romance reader)!  Thanks.

Date Posted: 2/14/2009 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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Just completed my book for this challenge. I read The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundarsen.  Very good.  I initially wasn't getting into it, but that changed.  I really enjoyed it.  At the end I thought, "Well, the author has set herself up very well for a sequel," and lo and behod!  In the afterward she says she is planning a sequel.  Wonder when it'll be out.  Two challenges down, eight to go!

Date Posted: 2/20/2009 5:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 849
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I finished my book for this one a few days ago - The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth.  Overall, I enjoyed it but the beginning was tough to get through.  I also thought most of the characters (with the surprising exception of Henry VII) were very one dimensional - either all good or evil.  Her portrayal of a young Henry VIII was a little unsettling.

Date Posted: 2/22/2009 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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I also read The Twentieth Wife for this challenge, and like Shelley I found it hard to get into at first.  I think it was the constant use of words that had to be looked up in the extensive glossary that made it difficult for me to get really immersed into the story from the start.  However, once I got used to that, I did enjoy the book very much.  It tells the story of Mehrunnisa, her love for the Emperor, and the struggles during her life to end up with her love.  I have had the sequel on my WL for awhile as well, and am now looking forward to reading it to continue this story.  If you are at all interested in India culture, and enjoy a love story, I'd recommend this book.

Date Posted: 2/24/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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Posting as Linda:

I read The Secret Bride, in the Court of Henry VIII by Diane Haeger.  This is a novel about Mary, younger sister of Henry VIII, who loves Charles Brandon, a courtier and best friend of the king's.  Mary, for political purposes, is sent to France to marry the old, and ailing, Louis XII.  Mary demands a promise from Henry that after fulfilling her duty to him and to England by marrying the French king, she will be allowed to choose her next husband and marry for love.  Perhaps because I already knew the basic story from other Tudor novels, I didn't find this book all that engaging.  Enjoyed reading it, but would not list it as a favorite - probably only 3 stars out of 5.

Linda

Date Posted: 3/4/2009 6:42 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 1,356
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I selected Life Mask by Emma Donoghue for this one, and I am slowly slogging through it. It focuses on the idle rich of the late Georgian period in England---late colonial/early American on the other side of the pond. It is just a silly, foppish book---like the era and lifestyles it tries to evoke. But I am just having trouble getting into the main character, an actress, and her social climbing and scheming among the peerage, while the peerage is just laughable....probably because I'm a 'dam%$D Yank', but sheesh. Apparently, it's hard work to read fluff.

 

Updated 3.20.09:  Well, I've finished it. It did not improve. I panned it in my review. So the only good thing I can say is, #9 is crossed off my list. Cheers!



Last Edited on: 3/20/09 12:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 5:43 AM ET
Member Since: 6/3/2007
Posts: 2,260
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I chose The Huntress by Susan Carroll for this challenge. It is the 4th book in the Dark Queen series. And it was great! She really keeps you guessing and wondering in this one. I have to say I was very happy with how it went and how the series is progressing. And glad I added this one to my challenge list. I think so far this one is my fav in the series. but it could be because the heroine is Irish.

Date Posted: 6/19/2009 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 10/2/2007
Posts: 10,280
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Any other suggestions for a headless lady book?   I just recently finished reading Katherine by Anya Setton and think I'd love to find something not medieval this time.

Also, while a good romance is fine, I prefer to not have the lovers too young.   Katherine felt like a perfect read in that respect for me.  I was going to try Innocent, but honestly....the heroine and her lover were just too young for my tastes. 

Hope to hear some more ideas. 



Last Edited on: 6/19/09 8:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/3/2009 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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I finished up my "headless woman" book a few days ago- Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. It was a good book, highly readable. It's the first book I've read from the Restoration period, and I enjoyed reading about Charles II, the royal mistresses, the plague, the fire, Newgate prison, and so on. I will probably seek out more novels from this time period.

Amber was an odd character for me. Sometimes I was rooting for her, and other times I didn't agree with the moral decisions she made at all. Even so, I couldn't help but admire her spirit and her passion, and the way she continued to rise again and pursue her dreams once more.

I don't want to spoil anything, but the ending is definitely an interesting one that, IMO, paved the way for a sequel. But there isn't one! The author claimed she'd said all she wanted on the subject. Some might find the ending too ambiguous, and feel that it ruins the book. I didn't feel that way, but I did want to know just a little bit more!

Date Posted: 7/3/2009 11:14 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,458
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I liked Amber as well.  It was one of the first "racy" (for the times) books I remember reading as a teenager!  Amber defintely had her good and bad sides.  That was probably why I enjoyed reading about her so much; she seemed more real with her flaws and ambitions.  I also remember reading Katharine by Ms. Seton around the same time and I am sure my love of historical fiction comes from  those two books in large part.



Last Edited on: 7/3/09 11:14 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/3/2009 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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Ha! Funny that you'd mention Katherine, b/c that's what I'm reading now! I'm already hooked and I'm just a few chapters in.  :D

Date Posted: 7/17/2009 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2006
Posts: 786
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 It took me forever to decide on a book for this category. I just couldn't pick one. The Boyelyn series looks great, but I didn't want to start in the middle. Others seemed too much romance, not enough history.  I scanned PBS in myriad ways to find the perfect candidate but none seemed to fit my fickle tastes.

Finally, I took myself off to the library on an errand to find something for the regional category and lo and behold, discovered a headless lady that intrigued me.

Shadowbrook is based in the 1750s on a slave holding farm in the Hudson Valley. There is a four page directory in the front detailing the farm holder family, their slaves, their tenant quakers, the neighbors, the local indians, the canadian indians, the catholic and protestant clergy and on and on and on.

But the characters haven't been to difficult to sort out after all. I'm not halfway through it yet, but it's been set up with French, British, Colonial and Indian political intrigue; family conficts between two sons and a dying father; the issue of slavery;  and the loss of land and culture by the native Americans. It's all wound all together.

The woman on the cover isn't the main character, just  a young woman who was on her way to Quebec to become a nun when she and her father find herself in a French vs. British battle in the Ohio Country several days travel from Shadowbrook. An indian massacre follows. She's traumatized and is taken on a several day journey to Shadowbrook. As this is happening, the author is throwing in appearances by George Washington, Huron Indians, and a Jacobite who survived Culloden. There's a great deal of work here setting up an intrictate plot. I can't imagine the research involved to craft this book.

If you're looking for a long and complex read, I'll have to come back and let you know if this is all resolved to my satisfaction.

Author Beverly Swerling is doing a great job bringing these characters to life



Last Edited on: 7/17/09 8:55 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 7/17/2009 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2009
Posts: 388
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Ooooh, you've got me intrigued, Lenore! I actually have 2 Beverly Swerlings (City of Dreams and City of Glory) but I haven't had a chance to read either one yet. I have a hard time tearing myself away from British historical fiction!

Date Posted: 7/21/2009 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 924
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I read The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seaton for this challenge--the latest edition has a semi-headless lady on the front (just her nose and mouth showing). LOL

I loved this book. It was so rich in detail and was so interesting. Elizabeth Winthrop is quite an interesting character, and the historical detail is outstanding throughout the book. Her story is a bit bittersweet, but when I finished the book I felt like I had just finished a complex and delicious 3-course meal. I was surprised to see that the book was first published long before I was born--my copy was published in the 70s, and has a vodka ad in the middle of it (that made me LOL when I got to it--a vodka ad in the middle of a book set in Puritan New England ROFL).

This was a great read, and I will definitely be looking into the author's other books.

Date Posted: 7/22/2009 9:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,300
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I have decided to change my book for this topic to: "Dancing With Kings" by Eva Stachniak. I have not read her books but this one intrigued me. It was also published under the title "Garden of Venus". Blending historical fact with fiction, it is the story of the Countess Sophie Potocka and is set against the backdrop of late 18th century Poland. The Countess was a Greek courtesan who became the toast of the Polish salons; very high spirited; dealing with the turmoil of the start of the new century.

Eva Stachniak lived in Poland during the latter part of WWII in a city which was re-named Breslau (used to be Wroclaw). she came to Canada in 1981 on an english scholarship to McGill University. In Poland, she taught at the English department of the Univ of Wroclaw. She wrote her first book "Necessary Lies" which was published in 2000 and won Amazon Books in Canada First Novel Award. Dancing With Kings was published in 2005.

Date Posted: 7/23/2009 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,458
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 I just got a copy of Murder Most Royal by Ms. Plaidy from Amazon today.  My version has a headless lady on the cover.  I was planning to read this for the "murder" challenge but I might have to switch to the "headless lady" challenge!  I 'm sure I can find something else wih the word murder in the title.

Subject: I finished Shadowbrook
Date Posted: 8/2/2009 8:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2006
Posts: 786
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I'd posted earlier that I was halfway through this book. As promised I'm back to let you know whether I'm satisfied.

I just reread my post and realized that among the intrique plots she had going on I hadn't mentioned the Anglican Church vs. the French Catholics. These two factions are represented by several key characters. They interact with Native Americans, British and French military and the main character who turned out to be a man. Yes, I selected this one for the headless woman because of the cover. She's important to the story, but little is told from her viewpoint, most from the view of Quentin Hale, son of a landholder in the British Colony of New York. He's been raised in the summers by local Native Americans.

looking back I have to say that the author did a great job integrating all the history into the lives of very lifelike characters. These were living breathing people with complex motives. Although there were tons of characters in the book, they were all easily recognizeable. Somewhat familiar to the reader when you dropped in on them again as the story progressed. 

This was a long read for me because it's been a busy summer and I just didn't want to rush the story because these people are so richly drawn.

I'll definitely read more of Beverly Swerling's books.

She hops around the continent in this book but most of it is based in the Hudson River Valley and Quebec, if anyone is looking for regional fiction from that area for that part of the challenge.

Date Posted: 8/2/2009 9:13 PM ET
Member Since: 3/11/2008
Posts: 924
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Lenore, that book sounds good--I put it on my WL when you first mentioned it. :)

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 12:28 AM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I finished The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth for this challenge - it is about Elizabeth of York. I think that her marriage to Henry VII was a brilliant political move, but I've never read an imagining of her viewpoint. It's very Ricardian in viewpoint, which is ok, I lean that way myself.  It was a very dark portrayal of Henry VII.

A very good read.

Date Posted: 8/3/2009 8:19 AM ET
Member Since: 7/21/2008
Posts: 437
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Lenore - thanks for the review!  I have all 3 books of Beverly Swerling's "City of..." series on my TBR list, and they look really good.  I plan to read the last 3 books for the challenge, then maybe I'll get to those next!

Date Posted: 9/24/2009 11:33 AM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
Posts: 482
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Question for Linda on Diane Haeger.  Have you read any other books of hers (well I guess this is kind of a question to everyone)?  I see that she has a new one coming out soon and I'm wondering if I should put it on my wish list.  I'm only wary of it as so many of these era books are more romancey and less actual story.  Does Haeger lean to the romancey side or does she stick with some actual literature?

PS no offense to romance lovers - just not what I'm looking for!

Date Posted: 9/24/2009 4:10 PM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,394
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Erika,

Secret Bride is the only Diane Haeger I have read.  It was okay, but IMO not the best representation of good Historical Fiction.  I just reread what I said in my personal book journal, nothing too exciting, no new information, I rated it about 3 on a scale of 5.  However, I checked my wish list and I see I'm wanting two other books by her, one of which is American HF.

Linda

Date Posted: 11/1/2009 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2008
Posts: 456
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For this challenge I read To the Tower Born by Robin Maxwell.  The picture on the cover has a woman missing the top half of her head, so that was good enough for me!  Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and now I want to know more about Edward and Richard, the "lost princes."

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