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Topic: 2010 H/F Challenge #1 - Birthday Book

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Subject: 2010 H/F Challenge #1 - Birthday Book
Date Posted: 11/26/2009 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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Discuss your Birthday Book.

Read a historical novel published during the year of your or your spouse’s (partners and common law relationships qualify!) birth, or the birth of one of your parents or siblings. To find books in this category, try a keyword searching using Amazon’s Advanced Search page (http://www.amazon.com/Advanced-Search-Books/b/ref=sv_b_0?node=241582011) and add the year to the publication date field. You can use a similar technique at WorldCat (http://www.worldcat.org/advancedsearch).

Date Posted: 12/26/2009 9:53 AM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2008
Posts: 772
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After aborting The Wallace (1975), I happened across The Memoirs of Satan by William Gerhardi & Brian Lunn (1933 - aunt's birthday) in the library and thought it looked interesting. I'm about 100 pages in and it's a bit of a mishmosh of philosophy, satire, and "this is what really happened" (i.e., Noah & the Ark). There's been some references to WWI and the rise of the Nazis, so it's got a real flavor of the times feel to it - those were the catastrophes/dangers that influenced the viewpoints. Some of the language is dense when it gets into the philosophical asides (right now I'm at the part with Jesus in the desert), but otherwise it's a romp through the eons with commentary about the modern era (industrialization, war, corporations, feminism, etc.) as the authors saw it. I haven't bothered to look up contemporary reviews of it yet. According to this book, Satan is who gave the human race its soul, as Heaven is a rather boring, conscience-less place.

I have gotten a giggle out of Satan's referring to God as A.H. - All-Highest - and A.H. is like some cold father figure when he's not an impossible-to-please film mogul.

Date Posted: 1/16/2010 5:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
Posts: 298
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I picked The Grove of Eagles by Winston Graham.  Winston Graham is familiar to most as the writer of  The Poldark Saga (which I highly recommend!)   If you want a taste of 16th century Cornwall on the eve of the Second Armada, this is a good book.  The writing is excellent, the narrative smooth and descriptive.  It's obvious Graham knows and loves Cornwall.  However, the lesser characters and the surrounding history are more interesting than the main character, Maugan Killigrew.  I would have liked Maugan to drive the story more dynamically, but he doesn't and that makes the book a bit boring.     



Last Edited on: 1/16/10 6:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/16/2010 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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I recently got the first six books in the Poldark Saga because I've heard such good things about them. In fact, I went ahead and got the first six because my friend told me that once I started reading the series, I wouldn't want to stop and wait on the other books to get to me. ;-)

I just need more time to read all of the books I have!! Winston Graham is another one of those older, OOP authors that I keep meaning to read because everyone raves about them, but  I never get around to it because the shiny new books keep calling to me. I really need to make an OOP challenge for myself!!

Date Posted: 1/16/2010 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
Posts: 298
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Valli, I'm an OOP junkie! ( Help!)  And your friend is absolutely right.  Guaranteed you will love the series.  It so happens the first book in the Poldark Saga has just been reissued after many years, probably because the 1970s BBC series is finally coming to dvd.   I wouldn't be surprised if more books in the series will follow.  So, we might see a small resurgence of Winston Graham in the coming year.     



Last Edited on: 1/16/10 9:24 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 1/21/2010 7:17 AM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 40,380
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 I only have one book on my shelf from 1963, so I am reading Jean Plaidy's The Thistle and the Rose. Seems good so far. Here writing style is very easy to read. I have not read her works in several years so it is like visiting an old friend.

Alice

Date Posted: 1/21/2010 10:21 AM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2009
Posts: 1,588
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I read Thistle and Rose last year, and I liked it.  It's not great, nothing to LOVE, but it's a quick, easy, farily comprehensive portrayal.

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 1/23/2010 3:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 40,380
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I finished Thistle and Rose today. It was okay not great. I agree Sharla I think it gave you the facts but not much story behind it. Almost like reading a long encyclopedia entry of her life. Those Tudors were a baudy lot though.  I have read other Jean Plaidy stories that I like better. Oh well one more category done.

Alice

Subject: My Birthday Read - Historical Reading Challenge
Date Posted: 1/24/2010 12:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2009
Posts: 2,931
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The Eagle's Quest A Prince's Flight for Freedom by Charlotte Lederer: This is the story of a young Hungarian prince who grows up without knowing who he is. The young prince is denied most education but loves horses and has learned to ride and fight. His escape is masterminded by a general, Pelargus, who leads the resistance with the hope of driving the Austrians from Hungary. Georgio, the prince, falls in love with a Polish princess who aids his escape. The invasion to recapture Hungary is betrayed but the prince finds his love returned by Lodoska, the Polish princess. Hope rises onces again for the prince and the resistance leaders who want to reclaim their country. Will the next invasion be successful?



Last Edited on: 3/15/10 10:37 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/6/2010 5:56 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,482
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Just finished my "birthday book"  The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain and I have to say .....myehhh!  Nothing special at all.  This story was about a young artist who is tasked with making a holder for the cup used during the Last Supper.The story also deals with early Chrisitianity and the struggles between the Jews and Gentiles as the persecution by the Romans under the Emperor Nero is beginning.  I have read other biblically themed books and liked them MUCH better.  The thing I kept thinking to myself as I was reading it was that people really don't speak like this.  I have nothing against simply written stories or dialogue.  The simplicity can be utterly beautiful in a well written book.  This one just seemed dated and silly.

Date Posted: 4/4/2010 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
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I read Anya Seton's The Winthrop Woman for this challenge (published in my step-sister's birth year -- being born in 1958 is undoubtedly the most useful thing my step-sister has done for me). This is one of those books that make you wonder why writers need to make up stories when history already provides such fascinating material.

For those who may not know, the story centers around Elizabeth Fones, who marries into the Winthrop family; it follows her from England to the colonies -- and provides great details about the voyage from England, the trials and tribulations of life in New England (including colonists' treatment and mistreatment of the Indians [or, the Native Americans), and the religious and political climate in both her home country (including the Civil War and the beheading of Charles I) and her new country (including key appearances by Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson). She is a passionate, rebellious woman who chafes against the restrictions of her time, gives the Puritanical busybodies fodder for gossip with her so-called scandalous behavior, and causes headaches for her powerful Winthrop relatives.

This is an absorbing read -- with history, romance, scandal, adventure, witchcraft, murder, madness. What more could you want?

Date Posted: 4/5/2010 5:27 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 1,976
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Deb, The Winthrop Woman is on my top 10 all time favorite books.

Date Posted: 4/8/2010 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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I read The Queen Who Never Was by Maureen Peters about Elizabeth Woodville (published in 1972, my birth year) - it was very short, and a very quick read, but well done. It was interesting to read what was assumed to be fact about the characters (Rcihard was portrayed as having a hunchback, for example) but also interesting to read her take on the Princes in the Tower. She drew Elizabeth very well, and I thought it was well done. I'd recommend.

On a total side note, there are advertisements for other books at the end and what a hoot - some of those non-fiction books were scarrrrry. Including one for getting a married man. Yikes.

Date Posted: 4/14/2010 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/23/2008
Posts: 1,755
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I read The Sunne In Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman for this challenge. All I can say is, "Wow." Just that. There's a reason SKP is considered an HF master. There was not a chapter, page, paragraph or sentence that didn't hold my interest. Such a tragic, beautiful story. If someone posed the question to me right now, "What historical figure would you most like to have dinner with?" my answer would be Richard III. Such a mystery man, such a man who was probably much besmirched by history. How wonderful it would be to hear his own story in his own words! I would secretly hope that SKP came close. :)

This book had been sitting on my shelf for quite awhile, and I'm glad I got the push to finally read it when someone suggested a read along with it. I figured it was a good idea considering I had chosen it for this challenge.I chose it because it was published in the year of my brother's birth (apparently nothing interesting was published in the year of my birth, 1967). In fact I noticed SKP's author's note was dated February 1982, which was the month and year my brother was born in. I also think it somewhat fitting that I chose this novel due to my brother, given such a central theme ofthe bookwas of brothers.

An excellent, excellent book. Highly recommended!

Date Posted: 4/19/2010 10:01 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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I just finished Madselin, by Norah Lofts for this category. It was published in 1968 (year of a sibling's birth) and is okay for what it is - a short historical romance probably written for the Victoria Holt type audience.

Set in 1066, just after the Norman invasion of England, it centers around a small isolated area given by the new King William to his armourer. The armourer, Rolf, istalented, taciturn and well aware of the gift given to him beyond his station and beyond what was given to other, perhaps more deserving knights. He marries the previous English lord's widow - Madselin.

The plot is rather one-dimensional without a lot of substance. What we do have is discovery of a long ago abandoned Roman temple which provides the stones for building the castle; an understanding, albeit from the limited offerings of a 200 page book, of what it means to the common village people to find themselves conquered and a love story that is not over the top, not blown out of all proportion and not peppered with phrases of flaming passion. No turgid members here, thank you very much! There is reference to the 'night-time touch' or the 'night-time voice' and references to shared enjoyment after the bedroom door is closed, but that is the extent of it.

The castle is built, a slight mystery is solved, Rolf understands he needs to do better by the people who now look to him as "lord," Madeselin is showing some signs of a less self-centered maturity, there is some individual private acknowledgement that the one might love the other and all is well.

This would be a great beginning historical fiction novel for the YA crowd. Or a pleasant diversion for the more 'experienced' HF reader. :-)

Kelly

Edited to correct spelling of author's first name. But, interestingly, the spine of the book has the author's name spelled "Nora" ... maybe there wasn't enough room for the "h" OR maybe it's a simple typo. (Doubleday book club edition.) kp



Last Edited on: 4/19/10 10:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 10:17 AM ET
Member Since: 8/31/2007
Posts: 482
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Finally received Legacy from a PBS Member, I was happy since I didn't know if I would be offered the book this year! It was published in 1985 (year of my birth). Looking forward to reading it.

Date Posted: 4/30/2010 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,402
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The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer was first published in 1940, year of my birth, incredible as that seems.

It was another thoroughly delightful Regency Romance, with wonderful humor, and great dialog. There is always a bit of repetition of plot and situations in these romances, but still a joy to read.

Linda

Date Posted: 7/20/2010 7:06 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
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I confess to rushing through the ending of The Burnished Blade - my birthday book. It's an OK story - a swashbuckler along the lines of The Three Musketeers. But not as good.

Clearly dated with respect to the writing style, but full of adventure. It takes place in several countries, including the middle east. So you can expand your geography if you take up this book.

Still, it's not anywhere near as interesting as the book I'm about to take up - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.

Date Posted: 11/16/2010 10:14 AM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 3,823
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For this category, I read "The Earl" by Cecellia Holland. It's about the war between King Stephen and Henry II, but instead of focusing on the war, it shows the backbiting, jealousy, and suspicions of the nobles surrounding Henry. Holland has a very blunt, sparse writing style that doesn't always work that well for me, but in this book, it fits the MC's personality very well. He's a rather humorless man who is totally focused on what he can achieve, just like all of the other nobles who are plotting and scheming all around him.

I'd gve it a 3.5.

And, with "The Earl", I am finished with both parts of the 2010 Challenge.

Finally!!!

ETA: I just remembered that I still have two books to read for the mystery challenge. I was celebrating a little too soon...



Last Edited on: 11/16/10 10:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/16/2010 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,507
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Whooot! Congratulations!

Date Posted: 11/16/2010 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
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Yay!!!! Valli