*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!

Here is a quick sticky link to my Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge and Read-a-Thon.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Interview with Author Margaret Skea

Today I have the opportunity to welcome author Margaret Skea to The Maiden’s Court and to introduce her and her work to you all.  Her novel, Turn of the Tide was released in November 2012. 

TurnoftheTide

Has writing a novel been a long-held goal for you, or something that came on you more recently?

It was always something I wanted to do, but never felt capable of. My comfort zone was 3000 words – just right for short stories. So for many years I concentrated on writing them until, as part of my way of dealing with a difficult situation, I channeled all the emotions of that period into writing Turn of the Tide.

What has been the most difficult aspect of writing / publishing this novel?

The writing itself went very well, though I re-drafted several times, but the most difficult aspect was trying to find an agent to represent me. Eventually after many frustrating months and a growing pile of ‘glowing’ rejections – complimentary about the writing, but questioning the novel’s commerciality, I decided to leap-frog the agent stage and approach publishers direct. As a result I very quickly received two offers to publish and I chose to accept the Scottish publisher’s offer.

What is the significance of the title, Turn of the Tide?

Ah, if I disclosed that, it would be a serious ‘spoiler’ - all I can say is that there is both a metaphorical and a physical turning of the tide in the novel and both are central to the story.

Your book was released at the end of 2012. Did you do anything to celebrate this monumental event?

The timing of the launch was amazing, in that it coincided both with a Scottish history festival called ‘Previously’ and the first Scottish Book Week. As a result, as well as a launch in a major Edinburgh bookshop, I was invited to share a ‘Writing History’ event with an established author in another major bookshop and was a keynote speaker at a Book Week event in a lovely old historic house. All in all an exciting week, but no time to celebrate!

How did the fact that you live in Scotland contribute to how you wrote the setting of your novel?

I‘ve been told that I write weather very well – I’m sure that’s because I experience plenty of it! I also live in a rural area with many tower houses dating from the period of my novel, both complete and ruinous. They and the landscape that surrounds me help to ensure that descriptive details are accurate.

Do you have any future writing plans?

I am part-way through the sequel to Turn of the Tide - the working title of the second book is A House Divided - and although my publisher has an option on it, whether it will be taken up or not depends on how well this current book does.

I also have a ‘bank’ of contemporary short stories, many of which have either won or been listed in competitions and I am hoping that a collection of them will soon be available, initially as an e-book on Kindle.

My first historical short story is to be published by the Historical Novel Society in an anthology of the finalists in their recent short story competition, and following my success there I would like (when I have a moment) to write more historical shorts.

Portrait

Margaret Skea grew up in Ulster at the height of the ‘Troubles’, but now lives with her husband in the Scottish Borders.

An interest in Scotland’s turbulent history, and in particular the 16th century, combined with PhD research into the Ulster-Scots vernacular, led to the writing of Turn of the Tide. which was the Historical Fiction Winner in the 2011 Harper Collins / Alan Titchmarsh People’s Novelist Competition.

An Hawthornden Fellow and award winning short story writer – her recent credits include, Overall Winner Neil Gunn 2011, Chrysalis Prize 2010, and Winchester Short Story Prize 2009. Shortlisted in the Mslexia Short Story Competition 2012 and long-listed for the Matthew Pritchard Award, Fish Short Story and Fish One Page Prize, she has been published in a range of magazines and anthologies in Britain and the USA.

You can visit Margaret at the following sites: website and Facebook.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Alert–Holly Bush Novels + Giveaway

Today I am hosting a stop on the virtual tour for two of Holly Bush novels: Reconstructing Jackson and Romancing Olive.  Read to the end for a giveaway option.

Reconstructing Jackson

Reconstructing Jackson
By Holly Bush
E-book, 191 pages
BookBaby
ASIN- B009LMKGUW
September 25, 2012

Book Blurb:

1867 . . . Southern lawyer and Civil War veteran, Reed Jackson, returns to his family’s plantation in a wheelchair. His father deems him unfit, and deeds the Jackson holdings, including his intended bride, to a younger brother. Angry and bitter, Reed moves west to Fenton, Missouri, home to a cousin with a successful business, intending to start over.

Belle Richards, a dirt poor farm girl aching to learn how to read, cleans, cooks and holds together her family’s meager property. A violent brother and a drunken father plot to marry her off, and gain a new horse in the bargain. But Belle’s got other plans, and risks her life to reach them.

Reed is captivated by Belle from their first meeting, but wheelchair bound, is unable to protect her from violence. Bleak times will challenge Reed and Belle's courage and dreams as they forge a new beginning from the ashes of war and ignorance.

Romancing Olive

Romancing Olive
By Holly Bush
E-book, 205 pages
BookBaby
ASIN- B0068RPKZ4
November 1, 2011

Book Blurb:

In 1891, spinster librarian, Olive Wilkins, is shocked to learn of her brother’s violent death at a saloon gaming table and her sister-in-law’s subsequent murder, traveling far from her staid life to rescue her niece and nephew, now orphans. She arrives to find the circumstances of her brother’s life deplorable and her long held beliefs of family and tradition, shaken.

Accustomed to the sophistication of Philadelphia, Olive arrives in Spencer, Ohio, a rough and tumble world she is not familiar with, facing two traumatized children. Her niece and nephew, Mary and John, have been living with a neighboring farmer, widower Jacob Butler, the father of three young children of his own and a man still in pain from the recent loss of his wife.

Real danger threatens Olive and Mary and John while Jacob and his own brood battle the day-to-day struggles for survival. Will Olive and Jacob find the strength to fight their battles alone or together? Will love conquer the bitterness of loss and broken dreams?

Holly Bush Tour Banner

You can following along with the rest of the tour at the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #HollyBushVirtualTour.

And I have a great giveaway for you.  This is a giveaway for the winner's choice of either Reconstructing Jackson or Romancing Olive on e-book.  The winner will also have the choice of e-book format: e-pub, mobi, or pdf.  The giveaway is open internationally and will be open until March 10th. Entries through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mailbox Monday #135

MM

Welcome to another Monday!  I just realized that Monday’s just might not be so bad when I can consider all the wonderful books I got the week before.  Something to make up for starting up the work week again.

This week I again picked up three books and again all in different book formats. 

As an audiobook I received Hour of Peril by Daniel Stashower from the publisher via the Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer program.  This is a NF about the first assassination plot against Lincoln on his way to the White House after being elected.  I was interested in this one because part of this story was introduced to me in The Lincoln Conspiracy by Timothy O’Brien last year and the fact that this NF is supposed to read like a thriller.

Daniel Stashower, the two-time Edgar award–winning author of The Beautiful Cigar Girl, uncovers the riveting true story of the “Baltimore Plot,” an audacious conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln on the eve of the Civil War in THE HOUR OF PERIL.

In February of 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a “clear and fully-matured” threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of thirteen days the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart the plot, assisted by a captivating young widow named Kate Warne, America’s first female private eye.

As Lincoln’s train rolled inexorably toward “the seat of danger,” Pinkerton struggled to unravel the ever-changing details of the murder plot, even as he contended with the intractability of Lincoln and his advisors, who refused to believe that the danger was real. With time running out Pinkerton took a desperate gamble, staking Lincoln’s life—and the future of the nation—on a “perilous feint” that seemed to offer the only chance that Lincoln would survive to become president.  Shrouded in secrecy—and, later, mired in controversy—the story of the “Baltimore Plot” is one of the great untold tales of the Civil War era, and Stashower has crafted this spellbinding historical narrative with the pace and urgency of a race-against-the-clock thriller.

As an e-book I received City of Lights by Melika Lux as a part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour. 

What would you risk for the love of a stranger?

Ilyse Charpentier, a beautiful young chanteuse, is the diva of the 1894 Parisian cabaret scene by night and the unwilling obsession of her patron, Count Sergei Rakmanovich, at every other waking moment.

Though it has always been her secret desire, Ilyse's life as "La Petite Coquette" of the Paris stage has turned out to be anything but the glamorous existence she had dreamt of as a girl. As a young woman, Ilyse has already suffered tragedy and become estranged from her beloved brother, Maurice, who blames her for allowing the Count to drive them apart.

Unhappy and alone, Ilyse forces herself to banish all thoughts of independence until the night Ian McCarthy waltzes into her life. Immediately taken with the bold, young, British expatriate, Ilyse knows it is time to choose: will she break free and follow her heart or will she remain a slave to her patron’s jealous wrath for the rest of her life?

And as a traditional print paperback, I received Through a Dusty Window by Delancy Stewart from the publisher as a part of the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

New York City is a place full of whispers and ghosts. It is impossible to walk the sidewalks there without considering the lives and paths of those who walked them before; those who left their imprints – visible and hidden – on everything that makes up the city today. Through a Dusty Window is a collection of ten short stories spanning a century between 1910 and 2001, all of which take place in the same Upper West Side brownstone apartment. Through each vignette, readers are given perspective on historical events that deeply influenced the city, filtered and understood – or misunderstood – through the eyes of Stewart’s characters. From Prohibition to World War II; the Vietnam-era Summer of Sam killings to John Lennon’s murder – Stewart’s stories give modern day explorers a chance to see the city as it was, and to answer the question: who was here before me?

What wonderful books did you get this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of February it is being hosted by Audra at Unabridged Chick.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Book Alert – Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard + Giveaway

Author Cynthia Haggard is currently touring with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and is making a stop here today with a giveaway. 

Thwarted Queen

Thwarted Queen
By Cynthia Haggard
Paperback, 496 pages
Createspace
ISBN: 978-1-480-15539-8
October 29, 2012

Book Blurb:

THWARTED QUEEN is a portrait of a woman trapped by power, a marriage undone by betrayal, and a King brought down by fear.

Cecylee is the apple of her mother’s eye. The seventh daughter, she is the only one left unmarried by 1424, the year she turns nine. In her father’s eyes, however, she is merely a valuable pawn in the game of marriage. The Earl of Westmorland plans to marry his youngest daughter to 13-year-old Richard, Duke of York, who is close to the throne. He wants this splendid match to take place so badly, he locks his daughter up.

The event that fuels the narrative is Cecylee’s encounter with Blaybourne, a handsome archer, when she is twenty-six years old. This love affair produces a child (the “One Seed” of Book II), who becomes King Edward IV. But how does a public figure like Cecylee, whose position depends upon the goodwill of her husband, carry off such an affair? The duke could have locked her up, or disposed of this illegitimate son.

But Richard does neither, keeping her firmly by his side as he tries to make his voice heard in the tumultuous years that encompass the end of the Hundred Years War - during which England loses all of her possessions in France - and the opening phase of the Wars of the Roses. He inherits the political mantle of his mentor Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, and become’s the people’s champion. The rambunctious Londoners are unhappy that their country has become mired in misrule due to the ineptitude of a King prone to fits of madness. Nor are they better pleased by the attempts of the King’s French wife to maneuver herself into power, especially as she was responsible for England’s losses in France. But can Richard and Cecylee prevail? Everywhere, their enemies lurk in the shadows.

This book is filled with many voices, not least those of the Londoners, who forged their political destiny by engaging in public debate with the powerful aristocrats of the time. By their courageous acts, these fifteenth-century Londoners set the stage for American Democracy.

Thwarted Queen Tour Banner FINAL

You can follow along with the rest of the tour at the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #ThwartedQueenVirtualTour.

And now a giveaway for you all.  I have one paperback copy up for grabs to one resident of the USA.  Giveaway will be open until March 10th.  Entry by Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

shanghai girls

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
Unabridged, 13 hr. 29 min.
Random House Audio
Janet Song (Narrator)
May 26, 2009
★★★★½☆

Genre: Historical fiction

Source: Downloaded audio from my local library

“In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, a city of great wealth and glamour, the home of millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business, twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister, May, are having the time of their lives. Though both sisters wave off authority and tradition, they couldn’t be more different: Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and carefree . . . until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from California to find Chinese brides.

As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the Chinese countryside, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the shores of America. In Los Angeles they begin a fresh chapter, trying to find love with the strangers they have married, brushing against the seduction of Hollywood, and striving to embrace American life even as they fight against discrimination, brave Communist witch hunts, and find themselves hemmed in by Chinatown’s old ways and rules.

At its heart, Shanghai Girls is a story of sisters: Pearl and May are inseparable best friends who share hopes, dreams, and a deep connection, but like sisters everywhere they also harbor petty jealousies and rivalries. They love each other, but each knows exactly where to drive the knife to hurt the other the most. Along the way they face terrible sacrifices, make impossible choices, and confront a devastating, life-changing secret, but through it all the two heroines of this astounding new novel hold fast to who they are–Shanghai girls.”

I have adamantly avoided novels set in Asia because I have never had that much interest in the part of the world. Not because I have any negative opinions of the people or the history of this area, but the lifestyle is outside of my typical comfort zone of the European sphere. Shanghai Girls made this transition to Asian settings painless for me because Shanghai in the 1930’s is very metropolitan, Westernized, and modernized.

This book is a family story. It is the story of two sisters (as well as various extended family members and false family members) and the things that they will go through and do for each other. I don’t have any siblings so I can’t personally connect to the sibling experience, however the author makes the sister relationship so tangible that you can connect with it. You get to see the family dynamics of new immigrants, old immigrants, and subsequently the generations born in the United States. I absolutely loved the characters that Lisa created – all of them, even the ones I didn’t like were so well written that they hang around with you for a long time after finishing the book.

My favorite aspect of this novel was the immigrant experience. I have always been fascinated with immigrant stories after hearing my own family’s immigration stories from my grandparents years ago. In this book you are exposed to the total immigrant experience from the logistics of how to get to the United States, what they endured at Angel Island (which was a substantial portion of the novel), what still hung over their heads following arrival, and what the immigrant status meant in the United States. This was the type of depth I was looking for, and thought I was going to get when reading Ellis Island by Kate Kerrigan, but didn’t get. I know that the Ellis Island and Angel Island experiences were quite different but I was looking for real stories and that is what I got with Shanghai Girls. You really got the feeling of what it might have been like to have been in their shoes. I also can truthfully say that I learn A LOT from this novel.

This book has some very heavy and dark moments and is certainly not for the light at heart but I feel that it totally captured the experience of the times. I couldn’t put this one down and will definitely be reading Dreams of Joy which is a continuation of this story.

audiobookimpressions

★★★★★

This is a book that I am very glad to have selected to listen to on audio book. The narration was wonderful and added so much to the reading experience. Her voice set the tone for the book and I certainly appreciated being able to hear the pronunciations of the Chinese words. The pacing of the reading was perfect.

Author Lisa See also has written the following novels: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Dreams of Joy, On Gold Mountain, and Peony in Love. You can visit See’s website for additional information about the books. Each book has some awesome features on its page for additional exploration. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?

You can also watch this book talk with the author about Shanghai Girls where she provides some historical background and her connections with the novel.  It is quite fascinating and doesn’t give any spoilers that you don’t get out of the book blurb:

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 © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Caught on Tape: Richard III

caught on tape

When trying to decide on the historical figure to feature in this segment of Caught on Tape I couldn’t help but be drawn in by all of the talk about the discovery of the remains of King Richard III of England. With the discovery that he did indeed of a spinal deformity it brings to mind the Shakespeare portrayal, which is probably the most widespread depiction. Accordingly, the majority of films take on the Shakespeare angle. I tried to cover a wide range of Richard dramas from the very early 1900’s through the 1990’s to see if Richard is portrayed differently throughout time.

Richard III (1912)

Shakespeare's tragedy of the hump-backed Duke of Gloucester, who rises to the throne of England by chicanery, treachery, and brilliance, only to find that his own methods have prepared the groundwork for his downfall.

Did you know that this is considered the oldest surviving American feature-length film? It was believed to be lost until the mid-1990s when a movie projectionist turned in a copy to the American Film Institute and they were able to preserve the film. This film is based on the Shakespeare play and stars Frederick Ward as Richard III. The clip I have for you below is from the scene where Richard woos Anne – and a scene that actually portrays Richard rather favorably. It is a silent film so the gesticulations are overacted and you can’t be quite sure what they are discussing, but Richard obviously wins her over in the end of the scene. From the reviews I have read – this film is not for those who are not big movie buffs – it was breaking ground for its time but apparently rather unwatchable today.

Tower of London (1939)

In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power.

Tower of London features Basil Rathbone as Richard III and Boris Karloff as his accomplice Mord. Vincent Price has a role as Richard’s brother, George. The film is best described as a quasi-historical horror film (as I would expect from the involvement of Karloff). The film was later remade in 1962 with Vincent Price in the lead role and with a stronger emphasis on the horror aspect. Tower of London is not based on Shakespeare. None of the video clips I could find of this movie had a great focus on Richard; however this one features the death of George and is actually rather interesting.

Richard III (1955)

Laurence Olivier stars as England's storied ruling monarch in one of Shakespeare's greatest historical drama. In a Machiavellian masterstroke, Richard III plays relatives against each other and ascends to the throne amid the War of the Roses. But things start to go bad when he murders two young princes he'd imprisoned in the infamous Tower of London. Cedric Hardwicke, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson co-star.

Laurence Olivier made three Shakespearian historical films, and this one was considered at the time of its release the lesser of the three, it has however stood the test of time and is now considered the film that has most popularized Shakespeare. Olivier’s performance as Richard was nominated for an Academy Award however he did not win it. His performance is ranked 19th in Premiere magazines 100 Greatest Performances. I don’t know that I would agree with that after watching the death scene clip I have below – now I haven’t seen the whole film, but the death scene was kind of cheesy. And the setting of the Battle looks nothing like what I would imagine it would have looked like.  As one Youtube commenter said, “It looks more like the Battle of Botswana than the Battle of Bosworth Field”.

Richard III (1995)

Ian McKellen stars in the title role in this visually inventive adaptation of Shakespeare's classic drama, which is set in 1930s England after a civil war has torn the country apart and left the people under fascist rule. Richard plots against his brother, Edward (John Wood), in his quest to usurp the throne, and will stop at nothing in pursuit of his goal. The film received Oscar nominations for art direction and costume design.

First I want to point out that this movie has quite the cast: Ian McKellen as Richard, Annette Bening as Elizabeth Woodville, Robert Downey Jr as Lord Rivers, Nigel Hawthorne as George, Kristin Scott Thomas as Lady Anne, and Maggie Smith as the Duchess of York. This is an adaptation of the Shakespeare play but brings it into a more modern time period, the 1930s (it is similar to how the 2009 adaptation of Hamlet was modernized starring Patrick Stewart). The film has received very positive reviews for its uniqueness and adaptation of the classic although I’m having a hard time connecting to it because it is so far gone from the history. The scene I included below is the death scene – compare it with the above Olivier death scene.

If I were to choose to watch any of the above in their entirety, I would probably choose the 1955 and 1995 versions to compare and to see a classic vs. a modern interpretation.  These are the only 2 of the films you can get through Netflix.  So have you seen any of the above films? What did you think of them? Any that you want to see but haven’t? Did I miss any good ones?

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mailbox Monday #134

MM

I received three books this week all for review and all in different formats.

Received through Netgalley via the publisher – I picked up Battleship: The Story of a Champion by Dorothy Ours.  This might not be my typical NF but there is a story behind it.  This book is about a famous racehorse name Battleship.  You might recollect back in May of last year I took a trip to Virginia and visited the Montpelier estate that belonged to President James Madison (here is a link back to the post of my virtual tour).  During that visit I noticed that there were three grave makers toward the side of the property – they were for Accra, Annapolis, and Battleship.  The DuPont’s who owned the property following the sale by the Madison family owned racehorses and Battleship was one of their champions.  It was an interesting tidbit to learn and when I saw the book I had to read it because it has a connection to Montpelier and my trip last year.

The youngest jockey, the smallest horse, and an American heiress. Together, near Liverpool, England, they made a leap of faith on a spring day in 1938: overriding the teenage jockey’s father, trusting the boy and the horse that the British nicknamed “The American Pony” to handle a race course that newspapers called “Suicide Lane.” As a result, Battleship became the first American horse to win England’s monumental, century-old Grand National steeplechase—the smallest National winner ever. At age seventeen, British jockey Bruce Hobbs became the race's youngest winner.

Hobbs started life with an advantage: his father, Reginald, was a superb professional horseman. But Reg Hobbs also made extreme demands, putting Bruce in situations that horrified the boy’s mother and sometimes terrified the child.  Bruce had to decide just how brave he could stand to be.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the enigmatic Marion duPont grew up at the estate now known as James Madison’s Montpelier—the refuge of America’s “Father of the Constitution.”  Rejecting her chance to be a debutante, denied a corporate role because of her gender, Marion chose a pursuit where horses spoke for her.  She would be pulled beyond her own control by Battleship and leave her film star husband, Randolph Scott, to see this quest to its end. With its reach from Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight to Cary Grant’s Hollywood, Battleship’s story is an epic true adventure.

The second book I received was an audiobook download from the publisher Simon & Schuster Audio.  The book is Iscariot by Tosca Lee.  It is Biblical fiction set during the New Testament and focuses on the story of Judas.  I have started to read this one and am enjoying it so far.

In Jesus, Judas believes he has found the One—a miracle-worker. The promised Messiah and future king of the Jews, destined to overthrow Roman rule. Galvanized, Judas joins the Nazarene’s followers, ready to enact the change he has waited for all his life.

But Judas’ vision of a nation free from Roman rule is crushed by the inexplicable actions of the Nazarene himself, who will not bow to social or religious convention—who seems in the end to even turn against his own people. At last, Judas must confront the fact that the master he loves is not the liberator he hoped for, but a man bent on a drastically different agenda.

Iscariot is the story of Judas—from his tumultuous childhood and tenuous entry into a career and family life as a devout Jew, to a man known to the world as the betrayer of Jesus. But even more, it is a singular and surprising view into the life of Jesus himself that forces us all to reexamine everything we thought we knew about the most famous—and infamous—religious icons in history.

The final book I received this week is in physical book form and was Like Chaff in the Wind by Anna Belfrage from the author.  This if for a HF Virtual Book Tour later in March.

Matthew Graham committed the mistake of his life when he cut off his brother's nose. In revenge, Luke Graham has Matthew abducted and transported to the colony of Virginia to be sold as indentured labour. Matthew arrives in Virginia in May 1661 and any hope he had of finding someone willing to listen to his story of unlawful abduction is quickly extinguished. If anything, Matthew's insistence that he is an innocent man leads him to being singled out for the heaviest tasks. Insufficient food, gruelling days and the humid heat combine to wear him down. With a sinking feeling, he realises no one has ever survived their seven years of service on the plantation Suffolk Rose. Fortunately for Matthew, he has a remarkable wife. Alex  Graham has no intention of letting her husband suffer and die. So she sets off from Scotland on a perilous journey to bring her husband home. Alex is plagued by nightmares in which Matthew is reduced to a wheezing wreck by his tormentors. Sailing to Virginia, she prays for a miracle to carry her swiftly to his side. But fate has other plans, and what should have been a two month crossing turns into a year long adventure - from one side of the Atlantic to the other. Will Alex find Matthew in time? Will she be able to pay the price of setting him free? Like Chaff in the Wind continues on from The Rip in the Veil, taking Alex and Matthew's love story to a new continent.

What did you get this week?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of February it is being hosted by Audra at Unabridged Chick.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Cooking: Martha Washington’s Great Cake

Weekend Cooking

This being President’s Day Weekend I thought it would be appropriate to do a First Family themed Weekend Cooking post. 

I first came across mention of this recipe while reading The Winter of Red Snow from the Dear America diary series.  In this book the main character, Abigail learns of this cake that Martha Washington was making for the officers in the Valley Forge camp, but she didn’t know all the ingredients/directions all she remembered was that there were 40 eggs!  Now I found this interesting because in my head I was thinking 2 things: 1. That cake must have been the size of one of those cakes you see people pop out of! 2. That must have been more of a custard if it was normal size due to all those eggs!

The-Winter-of-Red-Snow

Well with a little digging I found the recipe for this cake.  I am not making the cake because, honestly, who can afford 40 eggs just to try out a cake!  A co-worker of mine just started raising chickens, and if I could get 40 eggs off of him I might try this at some point in the future and share it with my co-workers because I’m sure it would be huge.  You have to imagine that this would likely have been something that only the wealthy could make, because as Abigail’s mother points out in the book, a common person couldn’t afford to waste 40 eggs (not to mention the other ingredients) on a cake.  According to the Mount Vernon website – this was usually made as a celebratory cake – and Martha served this at the Yuletide festivities at Mount Vernon the Christmas following Washington farewell from office. 

With regard to taste and texture: “The end result was a risen cake similar to pannetone, the Italian delicacy that lies somewhere between a cake and bread in texture and is also commonly eaten at Christmas. However Martha Washington's Great Cake would have had a denser texture than pannetone and contained greater quantities of fruit and spice than the Italian sweet” (Mount Vernon website).

However, here is the recipe for your viewing pleasure. 

greatcake
Copy of the Martha’s actual recipe as penned by her granddaughter

Martha Washington’s Great Cake
Makes 1 Cake

Ingredients:
40 eggs (divide whites from yolks)
4 lbs. butter
4 lbs. sugar
5 lbs. flour
5 lbs. fruit
Half ounce mace (1 Tablespoon)
Half ounce nutmeg (1 Tablespoon)
Half pint wine (1 cup)
Fresh brandy

Directions:

1) Take 40 eggs and divide the whites from the yolks and beat them to a froth.
2) Work 4 pounds of butter to a cream and put the whites of the eggs into it a spoonful at a time until it is worked in.
3) Then put the 4 pounds of sugar into it in the same manner, then add the yolks, 5 pounds of flour, and 5 pounds of fruit.
4) Bake for 2 hours over a medium heat.
5) Add to it half an ounce of mace and nutmeg, half a pint of wine, and some fresh brandy.

greatcake1
Photo Credit: Mount Vernon Ladies Association for Christmas at Mount Vernon event

Some notes:

  • The cake made by the Mount Vernon staff (as pictured above) follows the original recipe, however it does not specify the types and quantities of fruit.  They use: 2 pounds raisins, 1 pound currants, and 2 pounds of apples.
  • The staff also bakes the cake in 2 14-inch round cake pans and bakes for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees. 
  • The icing they use is a stiff egg-white icing flavored with rosewater or orange flower water.

Also, I guess the cake isn’t as large as I imagined!

 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and any post remotely related to cooking can partake!

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Suddenly Sunday–President’s Day Edition

Suddenly Sunday

Hope everyone has been staying warm!  It is snowing a little bit here and quite windy.  I think I’m just going to curl up with a book for a little bit this morning until it is time to go to the grocery store.  Hoping to finish Lady of Ashes by Christine Trent – less than 100 pages to go.  I also started listening to Iscariot by Tosca Lee this week.  It is Biblical fiction which tells the story of Judas from his perspective.  I’m not too far into it yet, but I’m really enjoying the writing and the story.   What is everyone else reading? 

I’m so glad I have tomorrow off – so much stuff to do!  This is the last week of classes for both myself and my boyfriend – so excited!  I will then have the whole month of March off before starting my next class and he will have two weeks off before beginning 14 months of veterinary rotations.  So looking forward to our cruise to the Bahamas in March as well!!!  Hoping to accomplish some major reading in the next month.

Today I have a couple winners to announce!  The winner of A Tainted Dawn by B.N. Peacock is…Lara!!  The winner of The Forgotten Queen by D. L. Bogdan is…Angela!! Congrats to you both.  I have sent an email to the winners already for their mailing address.  If I do not receive a response within 5 days I will select a new winner.

**UPDATE** – I received notification that Lara had already won a copy of A Tainted Dawn and have drawn a new winner.  That winner is…Kimberly!!!

This week was the week for guest posts – I hosted two.  One was with Sarah Pleydell, author of Cologne.  Her guest post is about her selection of 1960’s London as her setting in the novel.  The second was with Alana White, author of The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, about her inspiration and writing on said novel. 

There are currently two giveaways running.  The giveaway for The Ambassador’s Daughter by Pam Jenoff ends next Sunday, February 24th and is for one copy open to the US and Canada.  The second giveaway is for The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White, which ends March 3rd and is for one copy open internationally.  This upcoming week will bring one more giveaway into the fray for a copy of Thwarted Queen by Cynthia Haggard.

That’s about it for me.  Stay tuned later for my Weekend Cooking segment that should have went up yesterday but I didn’t have the time to finish the post.

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Muse in the Fog.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

nexttolove

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
ARC, Hardcover, 304 pages
Spiegel & Grau
July 26, 2011
★★★★☆

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Received for Review as part of the Amazon Vine Program

“Set in a small town in Massachusetts, Next to Love follows three childhood friends, Babe, Millie, and Grace, whose lives are unmoored when their men are called to duty. And yet the changes that are thrust upon them move them in directions they never dreamed possible—while their husbands and boyfriends are enduring their own transformations. In the decades that follow, the three friends lose their innocence, struggle to raise their children, and find meaning and love in unexpected places. And as they change, so does America—from a country in which people know their place in the social hierarchy to a world in which feminism, the Civil Rights movement, and technological innovations present new possibilities—and uncertainties. And yet Babe, Millie, and Grace remain bonded by their past, even as their children grow up and away and a new society rises from the ashes of the war.

Beautifully crafted and unforgettable, Next to Love depicts the enduring power of love and friendship, and illuminates a transformational moment in American history.”

This novel covers a lot of history and emotion within the short 300+ pages – I would recommend a box of tissues handy when reading it. The novel covers a period just before the men are sent off to the European theatre of World War II, follows the women’s life on the new home-front while the men are away, and then shows them all dealing with what fate had dealt them following the end of the war. The experiences of these women, Millie, Babe, and Grace, cover a pretty decent range of life experiences and outcomes from the war. We see everything from lost friends and family members, the effects of PTSD [pretty much unknown of at the time], evolution of the role of women, and the new generation of their children. The book was well rounded in its coverage of the home-front and I applaud this effort as many books sent in and around World War II either ignore the home-front or spend very little time on it. I also appreciated that the author addressed issues that African Americans and Jews faced in the military and on the home-front. I had considered the treatment of African Americans before but had not really considered the impact on those of Jewish descent – even considering that they were sometimes fighting against those who had carried out some terrible atrocities against Jews.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the section of letters sent between the women and their men overseas. It was interesting to see what types of things they would tell each other and the things that they would omit – women trying to keep the men’s spirit up and the men trying to take some of the fear away from their women.

There was however a rather big issue I had with this book and that was with the layout. It would alternate between sections focusing on each woman, Babe, Grace, and Millie, and would then break these sections up by date. That I was ok with, and had the book proceeded in continuous chronological order that would have been fine. However it became confusing when each time I would start a section about one of the other women we would go back over the same period of time that I had just read about from one of the other’s perspective. I understand the direction that the author was going – to show the same events through the different perspectives, however I found it to be more confusion than beneficial.

As a side note: While I don’t really like any of the cover versions that this book has had, I’m glad they changed it from the cover on the ARC. The envelope on the cover I’m assuming was supposed to represent a letter sent between the home-front and battlefield during the war (WWII), however the envelope had a 1938 cancel stamp date on it. The events in the book didn’t take place until the 1940’s. This anachronism really bothered me throughout the reading of the book – so very glad they changed it for publication.

Author Ellen Feldman also has written Scottsboro, The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank, and Lucy. You can visit Feldman’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of 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).

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Inspiration and Writing The Sign of the Weeping Virgin: Guest Post by Alana White + Giveaway

Author Alana White is touring with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for her book release, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin.  This is to be the first book in an ongoing series and Alana White has taken some time to explain to us what led to her writing this novel, and subsequently the series.

Inspiration and Writing The Sign of the Weeping Virgin

Guest Post By Alana White, Author of
The Sign of the Weeping Virgin

TSOTWV

Lorenzo de' Medici, Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli: Renaissance Italians, all. Which is shorthand for saying the first thing that drew me into the Italian Renaissance was the burning desire to write about the people who made fifteenth-century Florence the Golden Age in Europe, bursting with brilliant painters and scheming politicians just dying to be captured on the page.

Years ago, when I first read of the attempt in 1478 to assassinate Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici in Florence Cathedral during Easter Sunday Mass, I was intrigued. I read all the books I could find on the event. The more I read about the Medici family and its circle of friends (which included my protagonist, lawyer Guid'Antonio Vespucci, and Guid'Antonio's precocious nephew, Amerigo) the more my fascination with them grew. Here were the lives of the rich and famous: Leonardo, Toscanelli, Michelangelo and Botticelli, complete with Botticelli's gorgeous paintings of breathtakingly beautiful young women and men. They all knew one another, loved and lost one another. Fought one another. They are all forever linked, and many of them are portrayed in the artwork of the day, making them real to us, almost six centuries later.

I am currently pondering the next book in the series, and I am drawing on some of the amazing and inspiring true incidents I have come across in my Italian Renaissance library. For years I have collected nonfiction articles and books on that special time in history. In these books, I discover all manner of family entanglements, vendettas and colorful mayhem. I enjoy drawing parallels between events then and now. I find this old saying true: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." And so here I am, and here I remain, in this time and place with these fascinating people.

You can visit Alana at her website for more information on her book.

Alana White

Romance and intrigue abound in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin an evocative historical mystery that brings the Italian Renaissance gloriously to life.

In 1480 Florentine investigator Guid Antonio Vespucci and his nephew Amerigo are tangled in events that threaten to destroy them and their beloved city.

Marauding Turks abduct a beautiful young Florentine girl and sell her into slavery. And then a holy painting begins weeping in Guid Antonio s church. Are the tears manmade or a sign of God s displeasure with Guid Antonio himself?

In a finely wrought story for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere Guid Antonio follows a spellbinding trail of clues to uncover the thought-provoking truth about the missing girl and the weeping paintings mystifying and miraculous tears all pursued as he comes face to face with his own personal demons.


TSOTWV Tour Banner

You can follow along with the rest of the blog tour by visiting the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour site or on Twitter with the following hashtag: #SignOfTheWeepingVirginTour.

I also have a giveaway to offer you – I have one copy of the book to giveaway and it is open internationally!  The last day to enter the giveaway if March 3rd.  Fill out the Rafflecopter below to be entered to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Why 1960’s London?: Guest Post by Sarah Pleydell

Today I am welcoming author Sarah Pleydell who is touring to promote the release of her novel, Cologne.  This novel is set in 1960’s London, England – not a typical place where you see a novel set.  Her guest post today will help provide some insight as to why she chose that setting for this novel.

Why 1960’s London?

Guest Post by Sarah Pleydell, Author of
Cologne

cologne

I originally chose nineteen sixties London as the setting for my novel for sentimental reasons. That was how it felt anyway. After living for twenty years in the United States, I developed an overwhelming nostalgia for England, the country of my birth, a longing for the consolation of native not adoptive soil. I loved the United States but felt in my bones that these were not my lands, mountains, rivers or streams. I think this is true for many expatriates. As I journalled and reflected, I realized that Kew Gardens, the affluent London suburb where I grew up, presented the perfect setting for a novel. It had a beguiling beauty and melancholia than was distinctively British but also fertile soil for more universal themes.

As I wrote, the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew became a central motif; it represented (as Christmas does for so many) the idealized childhood that every child yearns for but especially those – and certainly for the two sisters in my book – whose domestic world has been invaded by personal and historical trauma. It was the sanctuary where Caroline and Maggie Whitaker went every afternoon with their au pair, Renate, to play, to fantasize and to escape. They climbed the steps of the tropical hot house imagining themselves big birds flying away to a locale outside time and history. But then had to come back down to earth and endure yet more conflict, discord and they dreaded it.

Returning to the London of my own childhood was challenging, as I found myself reliving not only sensory details but also the sensate experiences they evoked, replete with both kinds of “feeling”: I felt them on my skin and I knew them as emotions. As the book addresses child abuse this was both difficult and cathartic.

The novel covers nine months in London in the Whitaker girls’ lives, so I had to track the changes in setting over four seasons. I derived great joy from recalling the landmarks of London: Victoria Station, the Strand, the neighborhoods and last but not least the London Underground, but I also relived the dreariness, the damp, the pervasive grey of typical London weather.

I realized that not only were these details – the sights, sounds and scents of London – essential for me as the British writer, but they were also the lures that would make this foreign environ tangible to the American reader. In addition, therefore, I added signature tastes of the period – sweet and starchy puddings, kippers, kidneys and tripe. Every sense would come alive, every sense would draw the reader in and every feeling could be tasted.

You can visit Sarah Pleydell at the following locations: Facebook, and Goodreads.

sarah pleydell

London, 1960: Renate von Hasselmann, a nineteen-year-old German au pair, arrives at Victoria Station prepared to meet her new charges, Caroline and Maggie Whitaker. Yet she is ill-prepared for their parents: the mother, Helen, knows more about Nazi Germany than Renate does, and the father, Jack, disarms Renate with his quicksilver charm.

In Sarah Pleydell's debut novel, childhood and history collide, blurring the distinctions between victim and victor, ruin and redemption. With delicate humor, Pleydell presents a portrait of a family on the cusp of great social change, while reminding us that the traumas of war revisit the children of the peace.


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You can follow along with the rest of the Cologne tour by visiting the tour site.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mailbox Monday #133

MM

Well, I’m hoping by now that the postal service will be able to get around – they had suspended delivery due to the blizzard.  We are fine, but man is there some snow out there!  I haven’t checked the mail since Wednesday due to so many things so this will only be a partial mailbox.

The first book that I received this week is for review – and it is the only book I received in physical book format.  I received The Turncoat by Donna Thorland from the publisher.  I was excited to get my hands on this one because it will be my first entry in the War Across the Generations Challenge.

They are lovers on opposite sides of a brutal war, with everything at stake and no possibility of retreat. They can trust no one—especially not each other.

Major Lord Peter Tremayne is the last man rebel bluestocking Kate Grey should fall in love with, but when the handsome British viscount commandeers her home, Kate throws caution to the wind and responds to his seduction. She is on the verge of surrender when a spy in her own household seizes the opportunity to steal the military dispatches Tremayne carries, ensuring his disgrace—and implicating Kate in high treason. Painfully awakened to the risks of war, Kate determines to put duty ahead of desire, and offers General Washington her services as an undercover agent in the City of Brotherly Love.

Months later, having narrowly escaped court martial and hanging, Tremayne returns to decadent, British-occupied Philadelphia with no stomach for his current assignment—to capture the woman he believes betrayed him. Nor does he relish the glittering entertainments being held for General Howe’s idle officers. Worse, the glamorous woman in the midst of this social whirl, the fiancĂ©e of his own dissolute cousin, is none other than Kate Grey herself. And so begins their dangerous dance, between passion and patriotism, between certain death and the promise of a brave new future together.

Through Netgalley I requested and received an awesome sounding non-fiction - Helen of Troy: Beauty, Myth, Devastation by Ruby Blondell.  I have always been fascinated by the Greeks and am currently finishing up a class on the Ancient Greeks right now so this is great timing. 

The story of Helen of Troy has its origins in ancient Greek epic and didactic poetry, more than 2500 years ago, but it remains one of the world's most galvanizing myths about the destructive power of beauty. Much like the ancient Greeks, our own relationship to female beauty is deeply ambivalent, fraught with both desire and danger. We worship and fear it, advertise it everywhere yet try desperately to control and contain it. No other myth evocatively captures this ambivalence better than that of Helen, daughter of Zeus and Leda, and wife of the Spartan leader Menelaus. Her elopement with (or abduction by) the Trojan prince Paris "launched a thousand ships" and started the most famous war in antiquity. For ancient Greek poets and philosophers, the Helen myth provided a means to explore the paradoxical nature of female beauty, which is at once an awe-inspiring, supremely desirable gift from the gods, essential to the perpetuation of a man's name through reproduction, yet also grants women terrifying power over men, posing a threat inseparable from its allure. Many ancients simply vilified Helen for her role in the Trojan War but there is much more to her story than that: the kidnapping of Helen by the Athenian hero Theseus, her sibling-like relationship with Achilles, the religious cult in which she was worshipped by maidens and newlyweds, and the variant tradition which claims she never went to Troy at all but was whisked away to Egypt and replaced with a phantom. In this book, author Ruby Blondell offers a fresh look at the paradoxes and ambiguities that Helen embodies. Moving from Homer and Hesiod to Sappho, Aeschylus, Euripides, and others, Helen of Troy shows how this powerful myth was continuously reshaped and revisited by the Greeks. By focusing on this key figure from ancient Greece, the book both extends our understanding of that culture and provides a fascinating perspective on our own.

Then I received the Kindle e-book of A Rip in the Veil by Anna Balfrage.  This is book one in her Graham Saga.  I will be hosting a tour stop for book two, Like Chaff in the Wind, toward the end of March.

On a stifling August day in 2002, Alexandra Lind is thrown several centuries backwards in time. She lands at the feet of Matthew Graham - an escaped convict making his way home to Scotland in this the year of our Lord, 1658.

Matthew doesn't quite know what to make of this concussed and injured woman who has seemingly fallen from the skies. What is she, a witch?

Alex gawks at this tall, gaunt man with hazel eyes, dressed in what to her mostly looks like rags. At first she thinks he might be some sort of hermit, an oddball, but she quickly realizes the odd one out is she.
Catapulted from a life of modern comfort, Alex grapples with this new existence, further complicated by the dawning realization that someone from her time has followed her here - and not exactly to extend a helping hand.

Potential compensation for this brutal shift in fate comes in the shape of Matthew - a man she should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him. He quickly proves himself a willing and most capable protector, but Matthew comes with baggage of his own, and on occasion it seems his past will see him killed. At times Alex finds it all exceedingly exciting, longing for the structured life she used to have.

How will she ever get back? And more importantly, does she want to?

So that’s it for me – what sort of goodies did the mailman bring you?

Mailbox Monday is on a monthly blog tour and for the month of February it is being hosted by Unabridged Chick.

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

Friday, February 8, 2013

Interview with Anne Easter Smith Regarding Richard III

I had the chance to interview author Anne Easter Smith about the discovery of the bones of Richard III, King of England.  She is a member of the Richard III Society and knows a lot about the man and has a lot of great insight on the subject to offer.  Anne is touring with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours in support of her upcoming book, Royal Mistress, and reflecting on the discovery of the bones of Richard III.

Royal Mistress

What was the first thing you thought upon hearing that they may have found the body of King Richard III of England under a parking lot?

Yippee! comes to mind ;-) It has always bothered me that Richard’s bones have never been found. It means none of we Ricardians have had anywhere to go and pay our respects except for a stone memorial in a field at Bosworth (and even that is now thought not to be the spot where he died).

Why has it taken such a long period of time for researchers to discover the resting place of Richard III? 

Once the Tudors were firmly on the throne and their historians did a good job of blackening Richard’s name, people probably didn’t care where his remains were. Henry VII actually loosed his tightly laced purse strings and forked out for a modest stone memorial placed in the Greyfriars monastery somewhere several years after Richard’s death, but with the dissolution of the monasteries in Henry VIII’s time, the monastery was ransacked and desecrated. Rumor had it that the plunderers found Richard’s body and threw it in the Soar River. End of story. But then another story said that Richard’s “sarcophagus” was then dragged outside and used as a horse trough. There was no way Richard had anything as fancy as a sarcophagus--who would have paid for it? And so I think the way they found his body -- by itself in the nave near the altar --would have been the most reverent burial the monks could have given the former king. It was not until Philippa Langley, chair of the Scottish branch of the Richard III Society, began her passionate research to uncover the mystery of his resting place a few years ago did interest (and funding) come into play.

Reconstructed Richard
Reconstructed face of Richard III based on skull discovery

Has there been any discussion of what will happen with the body if it was determined to be Richard?  What do you think would be the best option?

Much discussion has ensued, I can assure you. Most Ricardians would like to see him buried in York Minster, which is said to have been Richard’s wish. There was even a debate in the House of Commons when York, Leicester and Westminster Abbey were considered. I believe the City of Leicester won out, having owned the remains for more than 500 years. And there is already a large memorial plaque in the nave of that cathedral for him. Richard never liked the south, and I doubt he would have been happy to be in London!

What is it about the Plantagenets that put you in their corner, so to speak, in your novels?

I became obsessed--yes, you could say that!--with Richard from my early 20s when I read Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. She put doubt in my mind that Richard really was the monster our history books (and Shakespeare) depicted. I began to read everything I could about him. However, before that I had adored Anya Seton’s Katherine and had learned a lot about the 14th century Plantagenets (although John of Gaunt, whose mistress Katherine was a Lancastrian). I am a staunch Yorkist now!

King_Richard_III

Your novel, A Rose for the Crown, is a revisionist version of the reign of Richard III.  What does this mean and why choose to write your novel this way?

When I joined the Richard III Society back in the early ‘90s, I took their mission statement seriously, which was to “...promote in every possible way research into the life and times of Richard III, and to secure a reassessment of the material relating to this period, and of the role in English history of this monarch.” I had done so much research on him by that time, I had decided he was not the man I had been traditionally taught he was, so I wanted to try my hand at writing Richard’s real story. It turned out to be more Kate Haute’s story (a woman I imagined might have been the mother of his bastard children), but Richard’s personality and life was told through her very loving and biased eyes (mine perhaps??).

You have written several novels where Richard is a character – has your way of thinking/writing about him changed at all over time?

I think you will be surprised by Richard in Royal Mistress! Because I am telling the story of Edward IV’s final and favorite mistress, Jane Shore, who was--it could be admitted-- not treated kindly by Richard, I had to look at him through her eyes, and the eyes of her very good friend and subsequent patron, William Hastings, who was executed by Richard. I chose to write this book in omniscient narration, which means I can jump around into different people’s head. This was new for me but, I have to say, very freeing. It meant that I could speak from Richard’s heart as well as Jane’s and Will’s, and I hope I have shown the terrible dilemma a man of his piety and sense of duty had in making the decisions he did from April to July 1483 following his beloved brother Edward’s death. I do not show Richard as pure white as perhaps he was in A Rose for the Crown, but in many (but not 50!) shades of grey.

What can you tell us about your upcoming release, Royal Mistress (to be released in May)?

I have already had a few family and close friends read the book and they have told me they think it is my best! I know many readers will never like any of my books as well as Rose, but I really believe my writing has improved and my themes and characterizations have deepened since then. I hope you will enjoy it!

Anne Easter Smith

You can follow along with the rest of the Royal Mistress tour at the Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours site or on Twitter using the following hashtag: #RoyalMistressBlogTour

Royal Mistress Tour Banner FINAL

 

Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court