Discussion Forums - Historical Fiction

Topic: Pick Your Poison

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
Page:   Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Pick Your Poison
Date Posted: 4/22/2010 10:06 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

This is the thread for discussions of books read for category #6 of the HF Mystery challenge!

Date Posted: 4/27/2010 2:46 PM ET
Member Since: 3/23/2008
Posts: 2,500
Back To Top

I decided to use The Venus Throw by Steven Saylor as my choice for "pick your poison" as appropriately enough, poison is a main component in the story.  This is yet another wonderful saga in the life of Gordianus the Finder, searcher of truth and justice in ancient Rome.  Anyone who has read any of the First Man in Rome books by Colleen McCullough will recognize many of the events and characters in this series.  Wonderfully written, this story has to be one of my favorites thus far.

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 4/27/2010 3:43 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 41,070
Back To Top

Cheryl, The Venus Throw is an excellent book. I love all his Gordianius series. Rubicon is very good. Waiting for the next book in the series.

Alice

Date Posted: 4/27/2010 5:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

Oh joy, oh joy! Another interesting HF Mystery series!! Will it never end? I am putting off for now - got a lot more reading to do first!!

Date Posted: 5/1/2010 4:23 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2009
Posts: 298
Back To Top

For my poison I picked A Flaw in the Blood by Stephanie Barron, better known for her Jane Austen mystery series. The novel opens with a newly- widowed Queen Victoria, who has a secret she is desperate to hide. Now Irish barrister, Patrick Fitzgerald and his young ward, Dr. Georgiana Armistead, both of whom had some dealings in the past with the royal family, are running for their lives - and the question is why? Barron skillfully blurs the line between historical fact and fiction in creating this mystery. Also, she inserts first person fictional diary accounts from Queen Victoria, which has some insightful biographical details, as the mystery unravels. The ending seems to stumble a little as the loose ends come together, but all in all, it works. I like when an historical fiction makes me curious to know more about a time, a place, or a person - and this did just that!


I, too, am a big fan of Saylor's Roma Sub Rosa series! Haven't read The Venus Throw, yet, and The Judgment of Caesar is high on my TBR list.



Last Edited on: 5/1/10 7:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 5/1/2010 9:03 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

Well, Evelina, A Flaw in the Blood, was another book I thought about ordering. I'm going to have to stop thinking and just order from now on! LOL

Sounds good. Too bad that I can't just pick up a book and absorb it all like osmosis - there's just not enough time!

Date Posted: 5/8/2010 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/22/2009
Posts: 2,617
Back To Top

Read/listened to The Black Tower by Bayard. I loved it -- though how much was due to the fabulous audio narrator and how much to the actual writing I don't know. This is a historical thriller set  in 1818 during the French Restoration period. It starts off with a murder and found on the victim's person is a note with a name, Hector Carpentier (the narrator of the story), and address. Enter the detective, Vidocq, a combination of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo, based on the real historical figure of a criminal who became head of the French police. Vidocq confronts Carpentier who has never met the victim. They end up working together to solve the case and discover that Louis XVII, the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, who supposedly died in the Black Tower many years ago may still be alive. There are many twists and turns (perhaps one too many for me toward the end) -- but overall an excellent book (or audio, as the case may be).  As Amerigo suggested above, a book that makes me want to learn more, as this one did both about Vidocq and the fate of Louis XVII, and makes me want to read something else by this author gets bonus points. Highly recommended.

Date Posted: 5/8/2010 1:01 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

I really enjoyed this book too, Deb! LOVED Vidocq!

Mary (mepom) -
Subject: Black Tower
Date Posted: 5/9/2010 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
Back To Top

Your comments make me want to read Black Tower by Bayard. It is on reserve at the library. The audio sounds wonderful. This is my choice for this PICK YOUR POISON.

Mary

Date Posted: 5/12/2010 10:42 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison was my choice for this category and I did enjoy this book. Cora Harrison apparently has written children's books and this is her first adult novel. At first I got a little irritated with the fact that she kept repeating what certain terms (gaelic) meant, but that finally stopped. Her writing can't compare with someone like SKP, but I think that this author definitely knows about Ireland. (She lives there). This book was about a female medieval judge (Brehon) and the laws at that time in Ireland - very different from what the laws were like at a comparable time in England. There was very good character development and very good descriptions of the culture and locale - I learned quite a bit from this book. The mystery was pretty good especially with an excellent twist at the end.

Date Posted: 5/19/2010 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
Back To Top

Originally I had picked Resurrectionist by James McGee for this category, but because of Jeanne I decided to give When Gods Die by  C.S. Harris a try, and I am glad that I did.  This is  the second book and I  was concerned that I might be a little lost but that was not the case, she gave enough back ground about the characters that I found it easy to fall into the story.  She truly left me wondering" who done it" until the very end and I enjoyed the book very much I will read this authors other books as soon as I can lay hands on them.  Thanks Jeanne!

Mary (mepom) -
Subject: BLACK TOWER
Date Posted: 5/24/2010 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
Back To Top

I just started Black Tower  by Bayard. It is audio and I like the reader. Looks/sounds like this is going to be a Great one!!!

Thanks for the suggestion.

Mary

Date Posted: 5/24/2010 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

Hey Letty - I'm just playing catch up on the forum here. So glad that you like C S Harris. I've read them all and haven't been disappointed yet!

Oh BTW, Mary,Bayard is really good too. I loved The Black Tower! 



Last Edited on: 5/24/10 6:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Mary (mepom) -
Subject: Black Tower
Date Posted: 5/24/2010 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
Back To Top

Jeanne,

I am "pretty sure" that you were the one that recommended the book. Your recommendations have never failed.

Thanks,

Mary

Date Posted: 5/24/2010 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

Thanks for the compliment, Mary. I can't seem to write a decent review to save my soul, but I do know what I like and if others enjoy those books too, that is great!!

Mary (mepom) -
Subject: BLACK TOWER
Date Posted: 6/14/2010 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 1,192
Back To Top

I just finished the audio book Black Tower by Bayard. It was great.

Mary

Date Posted: 6/14/2010 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 12/10/2005
Posts: 2,851
Back To Top

I read The Girl with Dragon Tattoo and loved it. The mystery involves the disappearance of a teenage girl 40 years prior to the start of the story. There's a lot of history about Nazism and neo-Nazism. There's also a lot of facts and social commentary about domestic violence in Sweden. I gave it 5/5 stars, which I rarely do.

Alice J. (ASJ) - ,
Date Posted: 6/17/2010 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 5/13/2009
Posts: 41,070
Back To Top

I just finished Mark of the Lion  by Suzuanne Arruda for this category. Loved it, just ordered the second book. It takes place in Kenya in 1919, so lots of overtones of WW1. Wonderful description of Africa and its people and prejudices within Africa. Good mystery too. I hate having them shoot the game but it is a snapshot of time for Kenya at the time. Highly recommend if you want a mystery with an exotic location.

Alice

Date Posted: 8/9/2010 7:36 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2005
Posts: 2,411
Back To Top

I read The Poison Maiden, by Paul Doherty for the Poison Category! Ha! Poison Maiden for the poison category, get it? Okay, never mind, it's early.

This is the 2nd book in Doherty's trilogy (so far) about Mathilde, physic, healer & confidante to Isabella, Edward II's queen. I got into this series based on a recommendation by Jeanne for this particular book. Linda & I read the first one - Cup fo Ghosts, and now this one. Both are excellent books, told in first person from Mathilde's POV - and really quite excellently done.

Doherty did his doctoral thesis on Isabella and his research about his characters and, especially the times in which they lived is spot on. While grand, sweeping multi-year books are good in their own way, it is equally good for a book to zoom in on one particular time or event. The setting for The Poison Maiden is Spring 1308 - Edward II & Gaveston along w/ Isabella, Mathilde and their retinues are holding court in one section of Westminster called Burgundy Hall (a real structure built by Edward II - subsequently destroyed) facing off the Lords who are in protest & nearly up in arms against Gaveston. 

The book delves into the political scheming & intrigue between England & France (Philip IV), the destruction of the Templars and the still young & developing relationship between Edward & Isabella. Oh, and Sir Roger Mortimer makes an appearance - very much as just a background, very minor character - if we in the know didn't know of his later importance, we would read right over his name & move on w/ the story.

The book has multiple murders, much deception and, of course, a real Poison Maiden. What's not to love?  I really, really like the way Doherty writes & he has a winning character in Mathilde who is observant, very smart, very knowledgeable and has a sharp, analytical mind. The reader finds out in the prologue of both books that she is now an old woman, living in a monastery and writing her chronicles (she refers to this as her 'confession') in her own very complex code, knowing how desperately Edward III would like to know the secrets she holds about his parents and events that happened during his father's reign. So, then the book begins and throughout we get little tastes of subtle foreshadowing that serve to keep the interest level high. It's a 1st person POV at its very best.

I'll leave you w/ one exchange between the now old Mathilde and Edward III ... 

Edward III to Mathilde, "Mathilde," he whispered, "they say you were once beautiful."

"Sire, they say the same about yourself."

 

Kelly

Date Posted: 8/9/2010 10:10 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

GREAT review Kelly! You really summed up this book so well, plus you hit the nail on the head as to why I like the Doherty books so much! yes

Glad you have enjoyed them as well!!!

Date Posted: 8/30/2010 9:06 AM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,716
Back To Top

The poison I picked was "Shadows of Glory" by Owen Parry, the second book in his series about Abel Jones, the Welsh soldier.  I am solidly in love with Parry's writing style.  In this novel, Seward fears an Irish rebellion may be brewing in frozen New York state, and Major Jones is sent to investigate.  I find myself savoring certain passages, just for the way the words hit me.  Listen:

"There is no gift so pure as a child's eyes.  Now I speak of purity, not innocence.  Too much is made of innocence, and we grow hard and unpardoning.  Innocence perishes--too often through no fault of our own--yet purity may endure.  I knew Fine Jim had seen things many a grown man has been spared.  No, twas not innocence in his face, but a wonderful, gleaming purity.  And faith.  The faith that good will come, despite all.  Is that not the soul of all religion?"

Date Posted: 8/30/2010 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

Oh Vicky, thanks for sharing that - it is beautiful! Those really do sound like wonderful books. Isn't it great whn you find an author whose work you just LOVE?

Date Posted: 8/30/2010 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2007
Posts: 4,716
Back To Top

Jeanne...it is!  That passage just hit me; I know of a little girl who comes into the library with her second grade class.  Her home life is awful.  She just seems so...weary.  I know she loves horses, so when I got a new book about the ponies of Chincoteague Island, I set it aside, and gave it to her when she came in.  The glow on her face...the lost innocence, but such purity.  It was there.  And Parry described it much better than I ever could.

Date Posted: 8/30/2010 3:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2008
Posts: 10,478
Back To Top

Ahh, No wonder those lines jumped right off the page at you!  Your story above just pulls at my heart strings. How wonderful that you are able to give that child a lift now and then. You are a good soul, Vicky, but there never was any doubt about that!heart

Date Posted: 8/30/2010 4:14 PM ET
Member Since: 3/14/2009
Posts: 9,174
Back To Top

I agree with Jeanne Vicki, wholeheartedly!



Last Edited on: 8/30/10 4:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Page: