*UPDATE*

I have updated my review and giveaway policies page (now just titled Policies above). If you are entering a giveaway, please read and abide by the applicable policy.

I am no longer an Amazon Associate. I am currently working on updating my posts with links to various locations to buy books. One of the links I am including is to RJ Julia - this is my favorite local independent book store. You can shop their store online and have access to pretty much anything you are looking for. I do not have any affiliation with any of these sites - just looking to support my local indie book store.

Anyone looking for a new feed reader? My recommendation is Bloglovin'. I made the switch and love the layout, plus there is now an app for my phone. If you use Bloglovin' or have made the switch to another feed reader, please make sure you are following me on it so you miss none of the content here!

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Four Month Challenge Part 2 Complete

The Four Month Challenge Part Two is being held by Martina at She Read a Book

Round 2 is now over - and I put up a decent result - 140/250 points. I wasn't able to devote as much time to it this round as the first because of my reviewing committments - although I would have loved to. Round 3 is starting up tomorrow and I should be able to do a lot better with that one, as it is more open. So heres to Round 2 being over and Round 3 starting!

Here are the rules:

The challege runs from November 1, 2009 until February 28, 2010
Each book can only be used for 1 category (no double-dipping)
2 of the books can be audiobooks, but don't have to be
The books read for this challege can overlap with other challeges

The categories are:

5 Point Challenges
Read a book with a proper name in the title
Read a book about a queen or king - Complete - Notorious Royal Marriages by Leslie Carrol
Read a book by or about/related to a Bronte
Read a book about Vampires
Read a book by V.C. Andrews

10 Point Challenges
Read a book by Canadian author
Read a book by or about/related to Charles Dickens
Read a book set in France - Complete - The Queen's Dollmaker by Christine Trent
Read a book by Georgette Heyer
Read an ‘art’ themed book.

15 Point Challenges
Read a book with a Civil War theme (any country)
Read a book with characters inspired by King Arthur or about King Arthur/Camelot
Read a biography/autobiography - Complete - Going Rogue by Sarah Palin
Read a book related to or something by Shakespeare - Complete - O, Juliet by Robin Maxwell
Read a book by an author born in November, December, January or February - Complete- Thirsty by Kristin Bair-O'Keeffe (born in February)

20 Point Challenges
Read a book with a wintery theme (Christmas, snow, ice, freezing, star, camel, mistletoe, etc.) - Complete - A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (This book is set during a cold, snowy wintertime)
Read a book that was a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Read a book that begins with A and one that begins with Z - Complete- The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks (Z Book) and The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox (A Book )
Read a book from The Modern Library Top 100 - Complete - The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Audio Book
Read a book and then write a review - Complete - The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker

140/250 Points




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

New Book Alert - The Harlot's Progress: Yorkshire Molly

The Harlot’s Progress: Yorkshire Molly by Peter Mottley

Genre: Art Historical Fiction

Release Date: October 30, 2009 (UK)

Publisher: Carnevale Publishing


“Yorkshire Molly is the first in a gripping trilogy that breathes life into Hogarth’s captivating series “A Harlot’s Progress”.

Innocent virgin Molly Huckerby arrives in London from York hoping to marry her wealthy and respected cousin. But her innocence is stolen as she is lured into The Bell by the notorious bawd Mother Wickham. She is destined for a life as a kept whore, but in a breathtaking twist she finds an unlikely saviour...

Underlying this wicked tale is the story of a spirited woman’s struggle against overwhelming misfortune and the brutality of 18th Century London.” (from the back cover)
Here is the trailer for the book, with a selection read by the daughter of the late author:


It sounds like quite an exciting book!




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Book Review: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Kathrine Howe


The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
Hardcover, 371 pages
Voice
June 9, 2009
★★★★★

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Borrowed from my boyfriend’s mom – which I got signed so when I return it, it will be in better condition than I received it.

"Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge.
 As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined."
Connie is a graduate student working on finding a unique primary source for her dissertation. As large of a feat that is, she is at the same time trying to clean out her late grandmother’s house to prepare it to sell. When she finds a name hidden in a key in a Bible at the house, the wheels start to turn in the search for a physick book - her primary source. While staying down at her grandmother’s house, Connie meets Sam, a young man who is doing some restoration work in town. He helps her search for clues to finding this book and the search ultimately leads down a dangerous path and to some unique revelations about herself for Connie.

I absolutely couldn’t put this book down! The main subject of the book is about the Salem Witch Trials and the story bounces back and forth between the present of 1991 and the past of the 17th century. It was really interesting to see how these two periods intersected with each other. Howe weaved the two stories together seamlessly. Every time you thought maybe you had something figured out, you would get another glimpse of the past and it would make you rethink your prior idea. It definitely kept me glued to the book from beginning to end.

I could relate to Connie in many ways. I recently graduated from college and remember well all the time I spent researching for my thesis – although mine didn’t lead to great adventures, but was a little less harrowing! I also could connect with the idea of having to clean out the house of a deceased relative and all of the very interesting things you learn about them after they are gone.
I learned so much about the Salem Witch Trials and how witches were viewed at the time. I had never heard of a cunning woman before – and that is a huge part of the book. Living so close by I will just have to take a trip up to that area again and be able to look at it in a completely different way.

I would recommend this book 100 times over to anyone interested in the witch hysteria that took over during this early part of US history.

This is the first book by author Katherine Howe. You can visit Katherine Howe’s website here or the website for Physick Book here.

Here is the book trailer:
 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:


Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 
 
Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Connecticut Witch Trials

Everyone has heard of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 where over 100 people were charged and imprisoned and 20 were executed for the crime of witchcraft. Fewer people know that these trials happened in other states and communities as well. One of these other communities was Hartford, Connecticut. I was reminded of this incident by Katherine Howe when I went to her author event last month.
Witch Trials in Connecticut took place between 1647 and 1697. At best count, at least 50 people were accused of witchcraft. At least a dozen were executed by hanging. Connecticut found the first 7 people it accused of witchcraft guilty and executed them. In the early years, Connecticut was the most aggressive as seeking out witches. The Connecticut Witch Trials began in 1662 when eight year old Elizabeth Kelly died uttering the last words of “Goody Ayres chokes me”. The last “witch” hanged in Connecticut was Mary Barnes in 1667. Several people were subjected to the water dunking test to gain confessions and supporting evidence. While Massachusetts and Virginia have given out posthumous pardons to some of the executed witches, Connecticut has not, nor is there any procedure for it to be done.





Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mailbox Monday #17

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

I received two books for review this week and am excited about both of them!

• Notorious Royal Marriages – Leslie Carroll (from Leslie herself, thank you!)
• O, Juliet – Robin Maxwell (from publisher, have some exciting things planned for this one!)

I also bought some good books this weekend that I thought I would throw in:
• The Widow of the South – Robert Hicks
• The Tory Widow – Christine Blevins
• The Secret of Josephine – Carolley Erickson
• Sunflowers – Sheramy Bundrick

Anything interesting in your mailbox?




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review - Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger


Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
ARC, Hardcover, 406 pages
Scribner
September 29, 2009
★★★ ½☆☆

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Source: Received for review from publisher

"When Elspeth Noblin dies of cancer, she leaves her London apartment to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina. These two American girls never met their English aunt, only knew that their mother, too, was a twin, and Elspeth her sister. Julia and Valentina are semi-normal American teenagers--with seemingly little interest in college, finding jobs, or anything outside their cozy home in the suburbs of Chicago, and with an abnormally intense attachment to one another. 
The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders Highgate Cemetery in London. They come to know the building's other residents. There is Martin, a brilliant and charming crossword puzzle setter suffering from crippling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; Marjike, Martin's devoted but trapped wife; and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. As the girls become embroiled in the fraying lives of their aunt's neighbors, they also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including--perhaps--their aunt, who can't seem to leave her old apartment and life behind. 
Niffenegger weaves a captivating story in Her Fearful Symmetry about love and identity, about secrets and sisterhood, and about the tenacity of life--even after death."

Twins, Julia and Valentina, go to London to live in the flat left behind by their recently deceased Aunt Elspeth. Part of her will stipulated that they live there together for 1 year and their parents were not allowed to set foot in the flat. Their upstairs neighbor, Martin, suffers from OCD and agoraphobia which causes his wife to leave him. Their downstairs neighbor, Robert, is the lover of the deceased Elspeth who is supposed to watch out for these young girls. Elspeth remains in her flat as a ghost. The lives of these people (and ghosts) intermingle in various ways and have surprising effects of each other.

This story is very much a character driven work. Not too many big events take place but a lot happens between these characters. The pivotal character is the deceased Elspeth. All of these people had a connection with her and they are trying to figure out how to move on, until they find out that she is a ghost that they can communicate with. This throws a huge wrench in the plan and causes a very surprising end to the story – one you will never see coming. Another major character that cannot be overlooked in this story is Highgate Cemetery. The flat is located on the side of the cemetery, Elspeth’s tomb is in the cemetery, and Robert is a guide for the cemetery as well as is writing a book about it.

The beginning was a little slow going but I really did enjoy delving into the lives of these characters – learning what made them tick. It was also interesting to see what happened to these twins who always did everything together. At the beginning they were one unit, but by the end you saw them as two different people. The ghost concept is handled very well, just like time-traveling was in her previous book.

For those who loved The Time Traveler’s Wife – you will probably enjoy this book, but it is very different from TTTW.


Author Audrey Niffenegger also has written The Time Traveler's Wife.  You can visit her website for additional information about the book. 
 
My reviews of other books by this author:
 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 

Special Offer: If you become a fan of Her Fearful Symmetry on Facebook and then send an email to hfs@regal-literary.com with the subject “Facebook Special Offer – I’m a fan!” by November 13th you will be entered in a giveaway they are hosting for:
  • A hardcover copy of Her Fearful Symmetry (there are 25 available)
  • A galley copy of Her Fearful Symmetry (like the one I received to review, I like the cover better - there are 10 available)
You can also increase you chance of winning by tweeting or blogging about this offer and then linking this to the above email address. Also if you become a follower of @regal_literary on twitter you will gain another entry too!  **THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED**
 
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Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Unabridged, 11 hr. 31 min.
Highbridge Audio
David LeDoux, John Randolph Jones (narrators)
May 24, 2006
★★★★★

Genre: Historical Fiction, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed paperback from boyfriend’s mom; audiobook from library

"As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival."
So great I read it twice – and am reviewing both versions at once!

Jacob is in the last weeks of veterinary school at Cornell when he is hit with a massive shock: the death of both of his beloved parents, and more importantly the loss of everything he owns to the bank. This is the throws of the Depression. He does what every man would do in his situation, hops a train to anywhere only to find out it is the circus train of The Benzini Bros. Greatest Show on Earth! As the show’s veterinarian he forms a close relationship with crazy August (the equestrian trainer), his wife Marlena (a performer), and Rosie (the elephant). As the days go on, life on the circus gets crazier and crazier, until one day all hell breaks loose. What will Jacob do next?

Gruen does an amazing job of researching the life of circus workers during the Depression. At no time did I feel that the details were out of place. You could feel the desperation of the roustabouts when they were continually not paid, resorted to drinking bootleg liquor, ran out of food. Reading this book was like stepping back in time.

I loved this book! It is easily very near the top of my favorite books list. According to the author's website Fox 2000 has purchased the rights to this book to make a movie and hear rumor that Reese Witherspoon might be cast as Marlena. I think it would make a fantastic movie.

Author Sara Gruen also has written several other novels including: Ape House, Riding Lessons, and Flying Changes.  You can visit Gruen's website for additional information about the book.  If you would like to preview the story before reading it, you can read the prologue here.



★★★★★
 

This book is narrated by two voices – that of the 90 something year old Jacob (retelling the events as he remembers them) and that of the 20 something year old Jacob (experiencing the events). The audiobook did an amazing job of casting two narrators and it made it one of the best books I have listened too. You were easily able to tell at what time you were by who was narrating and it made it feel so real.


Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 




Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Hartford Circus Fire – “The Day the Clowns Cried”

My previous read and upcoming review, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, climaxes with a terrible circus disaster. I thought it would be pertinent to look at a real circus disaster. This disaster is not only the worst disaster in the history of the circus, but one of the most dreadful disasters involving a fire in the United States.

This disaster took place on July 6, 1944 in Hartford, Connecticut (the town that I work in). Barnum and Bailey’s circus was hosting their matinee show with a packed house. Very shortly after the show began a small fire began on the side of the tent. As was tradition for the circus, the band launched into Stars and Stripes Forever, the disaster march.

Chaos ensued, people tried to pack out of the entrances that were not blocked by circus gear causing a bottleneck and for people to be crushed. While many of the people escaped, many ran back in looking for their children or others they thought were inside. Some poor souls stayed inside expecting this to be a minor problem and the show would go on.

168 people died in the fire. There was only about 8 minutes to escape the burning tent before it collapsed in on itself. The fire spread so quickly because the traditional method of waterproofing the tent was to coat it with paraffin and kerosene, some VERY flammable materials.

Ringling paid about $5,000,000 in damages to the families of those lost or hurt in the fire. Four officials were convicted on involuntary manslaughter – but were given pardons and were able to continue working on the show. A man named Robert Segee confessed to starting the fire, but he was not believed to be the real arsonist. This case has been reviewed as recently as 2005 to try to find the cause of the fire.

One famous person who was a witness to this disaster was the late actor, Charles Nelson Reilly. He was 13 at the time and he escaped from the crowed big top. As a result of this harrowing escape, he would never sit in an audience again.

There are some great books you can read about this event: Women and Children First:The Horrible Hartford Circus Fire by Donald H. Roy; The Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy by Stewart O'Nan; A Matter of Degree: The Hartford Circus Fire & The Mystery of Little Miss 1565 by Don Massey and Rick Davey




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Stroll Through Highgate Cemetery

Highgate Cemetery is located in London, England and is one of the 7 cemeteries that were created in the early to mid 1800’s to ease the overcrowding of churchyard cemeteries. The other members of the “Magnificent Seven” are: Kensal Green Cemetery, West Norwood Cemetery, Abney Park Cemetery, Nunhead Cemetery, Brompton Cemetery, and Tower Hamlets Cemetery. They are private cemeteries that were positioned in a circle around the outskirts of London (at the time).

Highgate is divided into the Western Cemetery (the older part established in 1839) and across Swains Lane is the Eastern Cemetery (the newer part established in 1856). Originally 17 acres made up this cemetery – 15 acres were for those belonging to The Church of England and 2 acres were for the Dissenters. Once the newer cemetery was open, they had to find a way to transport the body from the church on the western side to the cemetery on the eastern side without leaving consecrated ground. This problem was solved by creating a tunnel under the ground in which the coffin was transported from one side to the other.

After the 1930’s Highgate fell into disrepair and eventually ran out of money to operate in 1975. Friends of Highgate Cemetery came together in 1975 and have worked ever since to restore and clean up the cemetery. Tours are required to visit the older portion of the cemetery but the newer portion can be toured freely.

Highgate is a very beautiful cemetery. There are many different architectural styles – from the Egyptian Avenue to Gothic monuments. It became of fashion for Victorian people to “tour” and saunter through the cemetery. After falling into disrepair, plantlife grew and took over - it is still that way today, only more of a controlled overrunning.

There are many famous people buried in Highgate, including: Michael Faraday, George Eliot, Karl Marx, John Singleton Copley and many more.

Highgate Cemetery features prominently in Audrey Niffenegger’s new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry. Keep an eye out this week for my review.

You can virtually visit Highgate by clicking here.

Has anyone been there?




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #16

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

This week I just received 1 small, but really cool and unexpected thing in the mail.
Michelle Moran sent me a Roman coin (like the one I was giving away last week) and a nice little thank you note for everything I have done with reading and writing about her books. It was really awesome. Thanks Michelle, hope to get to work with you again!
Anything good arrive in your mailbox?





Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, October 18, 2009

And the Winner of Cleopatra's Daughter is...

Good Afternoon everyone! I just wanted to announce the winner of Cleopatra's Daughter and the Roman Coin that Michelle Moran has graciously offered up for a giveaway. The winner is...


Janetfaye!


I am sending out an email now. Congratulations! You will really enjoy the book.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Step Back in Time at King Richard's Faire!

I wanted to share with you all an awesome event that I went to last weekend. I went to King Richard's Faire (a Renaissance faire) located in Massachusetts. I have been there one time previously but my boyfriend hadn't and he had such a good time. It really was like stepping back in time. The town was made up of old looking houses.

There were shops where you could buy swords, leather work, outfits, and many other things. You could try your hand at throwing hatchets, knives, and using a bow and arrow. There were rides that you powered yourself by pulling on ropes (which I thought was a rip off since you had to pay for it and then power yourself! lol).

We also were able to watch a joust! I sat right in the front row (basically in the mud and uncomfortably close to horse droppings) but it was a great view and got some good pictures. Our champion was Sir James (although he was more of a rouge scoundrel).









He cheated in every event and was disqualified everytime. But he was the most exciting to watch and we gave him great cheers. In the end he challeged the other man to fight to the death (an outcome we didn't see because it was later in the day after we left).









It was so much fun to get to be a princess for a day and step back in time. Hope you enjoyed the photos!




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

New Book Alert - Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall: A Novel by Hilary Mantel

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: October 13, 2009 (US), April 30, 2009 (UK)

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

“In the ruthless arena of King Henry VIII’s court, only one man dares to gamble his life to win the king’s favor and ascend to the heights of political power England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years, and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. The quest for the king’s freedom destroys his adviser, the brilliant Cardinal Wolsey, and leaves a power vacuum.

Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell is a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people and a demon of energy: he is also a consummate politician, hardened by his personal losses, implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In inimitable style, Hilary Mantel presents a picture of a half-made society on the cusp of change, where individuals fight or embrace their fate with passion and courage. With a vast array of characters, overflowing with incident, the novel re-creates an era when the personal and political are separated by a hairbreadth, where success brings unlimited power but a single failure means death.” (from Book Jacket)

I have been hearing only phenomenal things about this book! I received this book from the publisher for review a little over a week ago but have yet had the chance to read it. Thomas Cromwell was a pivotal key figure in the court of Henry VIII, what a great character to write a book about. Mantel recently received the Booker Prize for this work – it is extremely exciting to see a historical fiction book be recognized on such a high level. I can’t wait to read this book and explore the character of Thomas Cromwell some more.

You can read an excerpt from the book here to pique your interest.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

New Book Alert – The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

The Sisters Who Would Be Queen by Leanda de Lisle

Genre: Non-Fiction; Biography

Release Date: October 13, 2009 (US), January 19, 2009 (UK)

Publisher: Ballantine Books

“Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey–sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a kingdom and altered a nation’s destiny–are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle’s new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were victimized in the notoriously vicious Tudor power struggle and whose heirs would otherwise probably be ruling England today…

Exploding the many myths of Lady Jane Grey’s life, unearthing the details of Katherine’s and Mary’s dramatic stories, and casting new light on Elizabeth’s reign, Leanda de Lisle gives voice and resonance to the lives of the Greys and offers perspective on their place in history and on a time when a royal marriage could gain a woman a kingdom or cost her everything.”
From the moment I saw this book, it quickly jumped to the top of my “must have now” list. I actually preordered it a few days ago and am eagerly awaiting its arrival at my door. The story of Lady Jane Grey has intrigued me since the day I first heard about her. She was truly a pawn that was used by everyone and paid for it with her life. I knew nothing about her two sisters until I read about them in my recent read Elizabeth’s Women by Tracy Borman. I also feel that they got the short end of the stick.

I cannot wait to read this one!




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman


Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen
by Tracy Borman
UK Edition, Hardcover, 482 pages
Jonathan Cape
September 24, 2009
★★★★☆

Genre: Non Fiction, Tudor England

Source: Received from publisher for review

"Elizabeth’s Women contains more than an indelible cast of characters. It is an unprecedented account of how the public posture of femininity figured into the English court, the meaning of costume and display, the power of fecundity and flirtation, and how Elizabeth herself—long viewed as the embodiment of feminism—shared popular views of female inferiority and scorned and schemed against her underlings’ marriages and pregnancies.
Brilliantly researched and elegantly written, Elizabeth’s Women is a unique take on history’s most captivating queen and the dazzling court that surrounded her."

The story of Elizabeth I of England has been told many times. These stories tend to focus on the men in her life – Robert Dudley, her father Henry VIII, Thomas Seymour, just to name a few. This new book by Tracy Borman explores the effects that the women in Elizabeth’s life had on her – starting with her mother and moving on to courtiers, cousins, stepmothers etc. Don’t get me wrong, the men are still an integral part of the story, but they are not the focus.

This book was very interesting to me. I had only read one book about Elizabeth before and that book didn’t really focus on Elizabeth’s life but more of the effect her mother’s legacy had on her life. I had enjoyed the perspective of that book and Elizabeth’s Women took that perspective much further. This book was organized very well – each chapter focused on a different set of relationships in chronological order. You could see how interactions with women early in her life effected decisions she made later in her life. One of my favorite things about the book was that the author kept coming back to how these early relationships (particularly the deaths of her mother and stepmother, Katherine Howard) effected her decisions about men, marriage, and children.

The chapters that focused on her servants were sometimes hard to pay attention to. There were a lot of names that were thrown about and it was difficult to focus on who was who. I tended to just gloss over these parts. The only other part, and it was a very small part, that I had an issue with was there was a mention of a son between Jane Parker and George Boleyn that I can't find reference to anywhere else. Other than these small issues, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I feel that I learned a lot about Queen Elizabeth – what drove her as well as the way she ruled. I respect her more because of the way she paid homage to her mother when it wasn't a popular thing to do.

I would recommend this to anyone who doesn’t know much about Elizabeth as well as those who would like to see the Queen from a different perspective.

Author Tracy Borman also has written Henrietta Howard: King's Mistress, Queen's Servant and Queen of the Conqueror.  You can visit Borman's website for additional information about the book. 
 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marie from The Burton Review was my read-along buddy and we discussed this book and proposed questions to each other throughout our reading. You can find the first part of our discussion at her blog. The second part is as follows.

At this point in the book, (about Chapter 8) what is the most enjoyable thing for you or something that sticks out that you have learned so far?
Heather: I have really enjoyed learning about all of the ways that Elizabeth was similar to her mother and the ways that she tried honoring her. She was smart in the ways that she did this though, and did this is ways that wouldn’t upset her people. She promoted those who had been faithful followers of her mother (or in some cases their descendents), she modeled her coronation after that of her mother’s, adopted her emblem (the white falcon) as well as many others. Elizabeth had Anne’s attitude of requiring strict adherence of her women to her moral code and sharp punishment if they didn’t. She also had the power to charm the people, to a better degree than Anne ever could.

Marie: I am really enjoying seeing how these female relationships of Elizabeth's corresponded to what effected Elizabeth in her formative years. The fact that Kat Ashley was the most constant person in her life is sad but makes me glad that she did have someone to rely on, but it proved disastrous particularly with the Seymour scandal. I have now come to realize that Elizabeth probably felt at odds most of her young life, with the strained relationship of her half-sister Mary; and the fact there were a series of failed marriages of her father with deadly conclusions probably reinforced her fear of marriage altogether. Jane Seymour and Katherine Parr both died of the puerperal fever brought on by childbirth, which also could have greatly helped formed opinions regarding having a family of her own. Another person who was once close to Elizabeth was Jane Grey, and she was executed as a direct result of her family's greed for power. After being in a dysfunctional family herself and witnessing how family used Lady Jane Grey, what could have been Elizabeth's feelings about the strength and importance of family bonds? It becomes more understandable how Elizabeth learned to cope, and rule, as one person with no strict relationships as far as marriage or children, and knowing to not fully trust others.

In the chapter The Queen’s Hive, the author mentions how Elizabeth promoted many members of her family once she was queen. One of this people was the son of Jane Parker and George Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s brother. What do you think of this?
Heather: I was under the impression that George and Jane did not have any children. I had heard that there was someone who was thought to be their son by historians, but was most likely to be just another distant relative. Even though it was just a one sentence mention, it bothers me a little bit.

Marie: I noticed it too and raised a red flag as well. I carried on and forgot about it till you brought it up again. I then googled it and can see no trace of the mention of any children at all issued to George and Jane, and I don't remember reading anything about it all either. All I can find on the post of the Dean of Lichfield which Borman says was given to this son, was that it a post in the Comerford family at that time, from the transition of Mary's reign to Elizabeth's. there was certainly upheaval and the posts were taken from Catholics (or Mary's favorites) and given to Elizabeth's favorites, but I can't see who held what post after Elizabeth became Queen.

Although no mention of the Boleyn's, an interesting history that comes from Patrick Comerford's site at http://revpatrickcomerford.blogspot.com/2009_08_14_archive.html:
"Henry {Comerford} was summoned before the Privy Council on 27 February {1559}. He was deprived of all his benefices because of his extreme Catholicism, and he was held in prison until April. Four months later, in June 1559, Ralph Baynes was deprived as Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield. At the same time, the Dean of Lichfield, John Ramridge, was sent to the Tower – when he was released on bail, the dean made good his escape to Flanders, where he was later murdered. In addition, the Chancellor of Lichfield, Alban Longdale, was deprived, the Treasurer, George Lee, resigned, and many of the prebendaries and cathedral clergy were deprived or forced to resign between 1559 and 1564"

From British canon resident records I found the list of canons and of Deans, and at that time period:
Henry Williams B.D. (dean) 1536-1554
From: 'Canons residentiary of Lichfield', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese (2003), pp. 78-94. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=34773

John Ramridge D.D. (dean) 1554-1559. {The Same John Ramridge mentioned above}
Instal. 2 Apr. 1554; depriv. c. 1559 (see Deans).
From: 'Canons residentiary of Lichfield', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese (2003), pp. 78-94.
but the most important coming:
Lawrence Nowell M.A. (dean) 1560-1576.
Instal. 29 March 1560; d. 17 Oct. × 22 Nov. 1576 (see Deans).
George Boleyn D.D. (dean) 1576-1603.
Instal. 22 Nov. 1576; d. Jan. 1603 (see Deans).
From: 'Canons residentiary of Lichfield', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese (2003), pp. 78-94.
24 Oct. 1599: Boleyn (dean), Babington (Bishop's Itchington, precentor), Bagshaw (Colwich), Exton (Offley) + Merrick (Bobenhull) (D30/2/1/5 f. 11) = 5]
From: 'Canons residentiary of Lichfield', Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541-1857: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese (2003), pp. 78-94.

We know that Anne's brother, George Boleyn, was married 1525 to Jane Parker. He was executed in 1536, she was executed in 1542. There is indeed a possibility they had a child, but since there was no mention of it, it is hard to believe there was. Yet, as a countess, Jane may have had the necessary provisions to allow offspring to be raised and educated elsewhere while Jane was a courtier and Lady in Waiting to Queen Catherine Howard. So who is the George Boleyn who was given the post later in 1576 and held it till the end of Elizabeth's reign?
George and Anne Boleyn's father thomas was one of about ten children, giving Thomas at least three brothers to help carry on the Boleyn name. There is of course the possibility that one of these uncles had offspring that had offspring etc. that may have had the first name of George, who we see in the above role of Dean. I am not so sure of the fact that the George, Dean of Lichfield, that we see held the post from 1576 to 1603 is the offspring of George and Jane. If he was a son of George and Jane he would probably have been born between 1526 and 1535. This makes him between 51 and 61 when first given the post as dean, and holding it until age 68 or 78.. which seems highly unlikely in Tudor times. So I would go with the belief that this George, Dean of Lichfield is a descendent of one of George and Anne's uncles.

Midway through the book, Borman writes of Mary, Queen of Scots in the Cousins chapter 9. Was there anything that surprised you here, and what were the effects of Mary's many uncouth political actions onto Elizabeth?
Heather: There were actually quite a few things that surprised me in this part about Mary, Queen of Scots. I didn’t know much about Elizabeth and I knew virtually nothing about Mary. I was surprised by all of the turmoil that she went through after her seemingly great life in the French court. Her choice of husband, her second, turned out to be not quite what she wanted. Then she was forced to marry her third husband who raped her, and then she was forced out of the position of queen. I think that these relationships further showed Elizabeth how marriage wasn’t something she wanted – she didn’t need to suffer the abuse of men and the agony of children. She also saw how easily she could lose her throne if the people didn’t like some of her choices.

Marie: I had read several books pertaining this cousins relationship, and most of it was old news. This is the point in the book that was a little tougher to get through, this chapter being 50 pages long. The decisions of Mary Queen of Scots could have helped to solidify Elizabeth's negative views on marriage due to the fact that Mary's choices in men were very disastrous, which made Mary an object of ridicule. There was no way that Elizabeth would put her title as Queen in such peril that Mary Queen of Scots did, who was forced to abdicate Scotland in favor of her infant son.

After completing the book, who has now become an intriguing character to you?
Heather: I am very interested in Arbella Stuart and Mary, Queen of Scots. I had never heard of Arbella before this and hadn’t read anything about Mary before. From the description of Arbella in the book, she sounded kind of crazy – I would like to read more and see how other people described her and her personality. I had originally thought that I would dislike Mary (for some reason, I really had no base for the assumption) – but when looking at the situation between Elizabeth and Mary – I ended up liking Mary better. I would love to explore her life a little more.

Marie: Bess of Hardwick and her granddaughter Arbella Stuart have always been intriguing to me, but the author mentions more of the Boleyn cousins, the Howards, and the Careys who were Elizabeth’s first cousins as well. These relations were promoted to higher posts once Elizabeth finally had the crown, and I can imagine that they were very much involved in politics and the outcomes of some of Elizabeth’s decisions. This is where I would like to continue my reading, into more of the familial connections now that I have satisfied my thirst for the intrigues of the peers of Elizabeth in this book.






Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Review Policy

Attention Authors & Publishers!
Updated 2/21/2011

Hello! I would love to hear from you if you have a book that you would like for me to review. Below you will find my review policy to give you a sense of what I will and will not review and what you can expect from me.

I operate this blog purely on my own time and I am uncompensated for my work on this blog. As I also have a full time job, my reading time is precious and I will be very selective as to what books I will accept for review. Also, I make every effort to respond to my emails in a timely fashion but I do not always respond to every one; please don’t hesitate to contact me again in the future regarding another reviewing opportunity nonetheless.

I will also participate in blog tours, host author interviews or guest posts, and conduct giveaways. Please contact me in regards to these opportunities as well.

If you are interested in having me review your book please send me an email at dolleygurl@hotmail.com with the information or fill out the contact form at the bottom of this page. I try to respond to most pitches for reviews - but sometimes will not if it is not something I will consider (as expanded below).

What I Will Review: The genres I am currently reviewing are historical fiction, biblical fiction, contemporary fiction, and non-fiction (focusing on royalty mostly right now for the non-fiction). I will review some YA novels within the historical setting as well.

At this time I am only accepting bound books and some audio books.

What I Will Not Review: I do not review books that have a contemporary setting – as my blog is essentially a historical based blog (fiction and non-fiction). I also do not review science fiction and most fantasy books (unless they are based more in the real world). I do not review books that are heavily erotic.

I will not review e-books or pdf’s. I don't have an e-reader and I will not read books on my computer (I spend too much time on the computer for my day job!).

What You Can Expect In My Reviews: I make it my top priority to write my honest opinions about the books I review. If there is something that doesn't work for me, I will write about it with support for why I feel that way. On this regard, even if I don't like the book, I will always be respectful in my reviews. I will not, under any circumstances, change my review.

If I cannot finish reading a book accepted for review because it is not working out for me, I will post a review of what I have read. I will also discuss what it was about the book that caused me to not finish reading it. At that time I will most likely offer the book to another blogger to read and review.

My Typical Reviews Include: A photo of the book cover, a link to the author's website/publisher's website/author's blog (whichever is applicable), some form of a summary of the book (usually the back cover blurb), and my opinions on the book.

I will never sell and ARC - I respect books too much for that. Almost under all circumstances I will keep the book; sometimes I will offer them to a blog reader in a giveaway.

Where I Will Post Reviews: All reviews I write will be posted on my blog and at least one other book site (Amazon.com, Goodreads, Shelfari, etc). I also make an effort to email you a link to my review.

At the time of posting the review a link will be posted on my Twitter page @dolleygurl as well as on my Facebook Fan site and Networked Blogs.

Time Frame for Reviews: I try to post my reviews during the month that the book is being released. If there is a specific day that you would like the review posted (such as during a tour or the like) let me know and I will work it into my schedule. Most requests are able to be scheduled.

If the book has already been published prior to contacting me about a review, it may take me a little longer to review it. I usually have a few laid out in advance, and I will read it as promptly as I can (usually within 2-4 months depending on how many reviews I have lined up).

I will accept unsolicited books but they will not necessarily be reviewed. If the book is not a good fit for me I will likely pass it on to another blogger for review or offer it through a giveaway on my blog. If the book is something I will read, I will make every effort to review it in a timely fashion, but be aware that because it was unsolicited I may already have a full review schedule and it may take some time.

Some Blog Traffic Details: As of January 2011, I have posted 450+ posts collecting in excess of 2,500 comments. Currently, over 300 people subscribe to my blog feed and over 250 people follow my blog publicly through Google. I also communicate information about my blog through my Twitter account (@dolleygurl) which has over 100 followers and through my blog's page on Facebook. I have surpassed 30,000 page views during the life of this blog with an average of 2,000 page visits per month.

My blog has an Alexa rank of 5,453,402, a blog grader score of 91%, and a Google PageRank of 4.

Additional Information:
• 2010 Book Expo America attendee in New York City
• 2010 Book Blogger Convention attendee in New York City
• Founding member of Historical Fiction Blogger Round Table website
• Intend to attend Historical Novel Society Conference in San Diego, CA


foxyform.com

Thank you to Galleysmith, Devourer of Books and Maw Books Blog for helping me to create this review policy.



Copyright © 2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, October 9, 2009

Author Interview with Michelle Moran

I had an amazing opportunity to talk with Michelle Moran - author of Nefertiti, The Heretic Queen, and Cleopatra's Daughter. She has been so easy to work with and is very enthusiastic about her work and communicating with bloggers and readers. I asked her some questions about Cleopatra's Daughter as well as her upcoming book, Masks of the Revolution.


In the novel, Selene works with Vitruvius to plan and help build some of the great buildings that are still standing today in Rome. Was she known to be interested in architecture and really work with this amazing architect?


There is evidence from her time in Mauretania that Selene was very interested in architecture, particularly Greek architecture. While we will never know if she studied with Vitruvius, it is almost certain that she would have met him and learned – directly or indirectly – from his building in Rome.

The way that Alexander and Selene were treated by Octavian was different from the way he had treated other royalty from nations that had been conquered (such as the Gauls). Why were they treated differently or with more respect than these other people?


How you were treated as a captured enemy of Rome depended on several things: your race, your parentage, and often your age. If Selene and her brother had been the children of a “barbaric” Gaul, they would have been either killed or enslaved, like Vercingetorix, the King of the Gauls. However, because Alexander and Selene were the children of a highly respected Roman citizen and an Egyptian Queen, they were taken to Rome and educated with Octavian’s heirs. It wasn’t unheard of for Romans to take the children of conquered kings and raise them as Roman citizens. However, this only occurred in the case of respected enemies.

Why did Octavia, the former wife of Mark Antony, take in his children with Cleopatra and treat them like they were her own children?


I think it had to do with personality. Contrary to her portrayal in HBO’s Rome Series, the real Octavia was a very quiet, kind, compassionate woman. She was raised in an extremely conservative household where she would have been taught to smile and accept the bitterness of loss, whether that loss pertained to battles or husbands. Marc Antony was her second husband. It was a political alliance, and probably not a love match (although we’ll never know). His betrayal may not have been as bitter to her as we might imagine, given his reputation and given the fact that she probably never lost her heart to him. However, the presence of Marc Antony’s “bastard” children (I put bastard in quotes, since he considered himself married to Cleopatra), would have caused most women at the time acute embarrassment. It says a great deal about Octavia’s compassionate nature that she not only raised them, but from all accounts seemed to have treated them like her own children.

In the novel there are several major trials that take place regarding situations between slaves and masters. Was this a common occurrence in the Roman world, where 1/3 of the population was enslaved? Why was there such a high slave population?

I’m not sure slave trials were common place, but they certainly happened frequently enough to be remarked upon and recorded. The reason the slave population was so large was twofold: the economy was based on slave labor, and human trade was incredibly lucrative. The Romans were very good at conquest and capture. And the slave holders benefitted both economically and socially from owning other human beings.

You took a trip to many of the places that Selene encountered during her life in Rome. Did you have a favorite place and why?

Oh – that’s a hard question! I think my favorite place was probably the Tabularium, where the Romans kept their records. It was cold and dark and felt very much like stepping back in time to 30 BC.

Your next novel, Masks of the Revolution, takes us to the French Revolution and the life of Madame Tussaud. How difficult was it to leave Egypt behind and move to France? What inspired this new novel?

It is a huge leap in time. But adjusting to a new period hasn’t been very difficult, probably because my husband and I spend so much time in France, and the 18th century has always fascinated me, which means I’ve been reading about it and discussing it with others for many years. My decision to write on Madame Tussaud came from a visit to – where else?! – her wax museum in London. This was many years ago, and I can still clearly remember seeing the wax figure of a young Tussaud holding up a lantern in Madeleine Cemetery, looking through the severed heads of her guillotined friends. I never forgot that image. It stayed with me for years until finally I decided I wanted to know more about her life. What was she doing in the cemetery? Why was she looking through the severed heads? Whose heads were they? Did she know those people? When I learned what she’d been through – who she’d met, where she’d gone, and what she’d seen during the French Revolution – I decided I had to tell her story.


Thank you so much Michelle for the time you took to answer these questions. They are some phenomonal answers and helped understanding immensely. I have truly enjoyed working with you and can't wait for the next book.

Michelle Moran was born in the San Fernando Valley, CA. She took an interest in writing from an early age, purchasing Writer's Market and submitting her stories and novellas to publishers from the time she was twelve. When she was accepted into Pomona College she took as many classes as possible in British Literature, particularly Milton, Chaucer, and the Bard. Not surprisingly, she majored in English while she was there. Following a summer in Israel where she worked as a volunteer archaeologist, she earned an MA from the Claremont Graduate University.  Michelle has traveled around the world, from Zimbabwe to India, and her experiences at archaeological sites were what inspired her to write historical fiction.

You can visit Michelle at her website for additional information about her and her books.



Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Book Review: Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult


Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Unabridged, 18 hr. 45 min.
Recorded Books
Julia Gibson (Narrator)
June 8, 2007
★★★★ ½☆

Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Audiobook

Source: Borrowed Audiobook from Library

"A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: Once a teacher at a girls' prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student's crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets -- and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him."

All Jack St. Bride wanted to do was find somewhere quiet to start his life over; somewhere people wouldn’t know who he was or what baggage he brought with him. Unfortunately for him, a small town is not the place to do this. In a small town people come together to protect their own from outsiders at ANY cost.

Gillian Duncan has everything a teenage girl could want – her father is the wealthiest man in town, she is pretty, and has a bunch of girlfriends. She is also carrying around some heavy secrets, such as…she’s a witch. One night when her and her friends are celebrating a pagan ceremony things get very out of control. When the dust settles Jack St. Bride is accused of felonious sexual assault on Gillian Duncan – the second time in a year he has been accused of this type of crime! Jack adamantly denies this charge, as he had with the previous one, but no one believes him. How will he ever get out of this situation? How many times does lightning strike the same place?

I had started reading this book in hardcopy about two years ago, but I didn’t get very far – for reasons that I can’t remember now. Once I started listening to the audio book I quickly fell into the story. The story jumps back and forth in time between Jack’s youth, his first charge of sexual assault, and the present (the second charge). It was relatively easy to follow these time shifts because Jack’s life is so radically different. One of my favorite characters was Jack’s lawyer, Jordan McAfee. His perception of Jack from when he first comes to town, to representing him as his lawyer and flip flopping as to whether he believes him or not mirrored many of my own thoughts. If you have read The Pact, another Picoult book, you might recognize him as the defense attorney for Chris.

The ending will absolutely blow you away! A traditional Picoult book with that hook ending that you never see coming, but once you read it, you recognize all the signs that were pointing there all along. Amazing!

Jodi Picoult also has written more than a dozen novels.  You can visit Picoult's website for additional information about the books.  If you would like to preview the story before reading it, you can read an excerpt from the book here.


★★★★ ½☆



The narrator was easily able to capture the essence of Gillian as a teenage girl. She also really kept my attention on a book that I couldn't get through in a print copy.

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).

 



Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Expand Your Vocabulary Part Deux

Here we are with another installment of Expand Your Vocabulary. Today there are words from my last 2 reads, The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy and Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran.

From The Triumph of Deborah:
• Surfeit – (n) excess; an excessive amount
• Inured – (v) to accustom to hardship, difficulty, pain, etc
• Magnanimity – (n, pl) the quality of being generous in forgiving an insult or injury


From Cleopatra's Daughter:
• Portent – (n) an indication or omen of something about to happen, esp. something momentous
• Stadia – (n) a method of surveying in which distances are read by noting the interval on a graduated rod intercepted by two parallel cross hairs mounted in the telescope of a surveying instrument, the rod being placed at one end of the distance to be measured and the surveying instrument at the other.
• Phalanx – (n) (in ancient Greece) a group of heavily armed infantry formed in ranks and files close and deep, with shields joined and long spears overlapping
• Cuirasses – (n, pl) Also called corselet. defensive armor for the torso comprising a breastplate and backplate, originally made of leather.
• Auspices – (n, pl) an augur of ancient Rome (see below)
• Augur – (n) one of a group of ancient Roman officials charged with observing and interpreting omens for guidance in public affairs.
• Porphyry – (n) a very hard rock, anciently quarried in Egypt, having a dark, purplish-red groundmass containing small crystals of feldspar
• Manumit – (v) to release from slavery or servitude




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Author Event - Esther Friesner

Today I went to another author event - this time with young adult author Esther Friesner and her new book Sphinx's Princess (released September 22, 2009). The book is the first book of a two part series about Nefertiti - as a young girl in this one and as a queen in the sequel Sphinx's Queen (due out Fall 2010).

This was a small event - there were about a dozen people there, and Esther was the sweetest lady. We talked all about Egypt, the culture, her research, past and future works. She had a door prize raffle for a scarab beetle bead and my boyfriend won! Pretty cool since I brought him along for company. It being a small setting we got to ask all kinds of questions and it was nice compared to the huge one I was at for Audrey Niffenegger.

You may be familiar with Esther's previous works, Nobody's Princess and Nobody's Prize - about Helen of Troy. She also has another book coming out at the end of 2010 about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory tragedy, tentitively titled Threads and Flames - if you don't know anything about this, check out the Wikipedia entry. I was very excited when she mentioned this, because I had to write a paper on this incident in my women's history/sociology class a year ago - so I will be looking forward to that one.




Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court