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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Making of the Glass

While reading The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin I learned a lot about how the Murano glass was made. The entire first section of the book focuses on describing the methods and tools used in this trade among other things. While the descriptions were great, many people have complained that there is not a glossary for the Italian words – so I am providing one for the glass making process.

Borselle – tongs or pliers – used to form the hot glass
Canna da soffio – blowing pipe
Pontello – iron rod used to hold the glass object after the initial blowing to add the decorative touches
Scagno – glass makers work bench
Tagianti – glass cutting clipper

Now you may wonder how these tools all work together to make the beautiful glass you see above. Here is a video clip I found of some glass being made – all of the above tools are used. I always think that with these sorts of craft trades – it is better to see it happen than listen to it being described or reading about it.

Hope you have learned something about making Murano glass!

Here are the other events happening at the Round Table today:

Book review by Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine
Info on DRM’s upcoming 2011 Tudor novel TO SERVE A KING at HFBRT

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday Salon #5

Good morning! I hope you are all having a good weekend and I hope to have a much better week this week than the last. It’s been a little stressful around here, but being able to focus on blogging does relieve that a little. I have several things to discuss this week, so let’s get started.
I accomplished a lot of reading this week. I finished listening to Mercy by Jodi Picoult on audio book. I enjoyed the story a lot, but not as much as the previous two books I have read by Picoult, The Pact and Salem Falls. Now I just have to keep my eyes open at my library for more of her audio books. Yesterday I finished reading The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick for our March Round Table event. I will save my feelings on this book for my review – but I will share that it was quite enjoyable for a new Chadwick fan. I also finished reading the short inspirational book Alphatudes by Michele Wahlder yesterday for review. I decided that I would squeeze this one in before I got into my next book. I will have a giveaway for my copy when I post the review – in about a week. It was a beautiful book. So I have a couple of reviews to get caught up on now. Tomorrow I will be starting Dear John by Nicholas Sparks on audio book and I am currently reading Roeing Oaks by Kristina Emmons.
Today is the last day of the HFBRT February event for The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin. Check back here later today for my creative post on “The Making of the Glass”. I will be working on that after I finish this post. You can check out our Calendar of Events for links to all of the events that have happened this week. Also up today:
Book review by Lucy at Enchanted by Jospehine
Info on Donna Russo Morin’s upcoming 2011 release To Serve A King at HFBRT

Also, I have a winner to announce in the giveaway of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. The winner is: Sarah E! Congrats, you will very much enjoy this book. I will be emailing you shortly for your address. Thank you to everyone who entered.
This week will be a Dolley Madison week here at The Maiden’s Court. Dolley Madison was the wife of the 4th president, James Madison. I recently received for review Dolley Madison: America’s First Lady, an episode from the American Experience series on PBS. I will likely have another segment of Caught on Tape, a review of the episode, and an informational post on Dolley this week. But I wanted to alert you all to the episode – it will air tomorrow, Monday March 1 (check your local listings). I watched it this morning and loved it – very well done and Dolley has always been one of my heroes.

Here is a preview for your enjoyment:

Thanks everyone for sticking around for this lengthy Sunday Salon. Look forward to seeing you around this week.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Secret of the Glass - Giveaway Round Up

We are about halfway through The Secret of the Glass week at the Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table and I thought I would do a round up of the giveaways going on.


Murano Venetian Glass Pendant - Open to All and Ends March 1, 2010.

1 Paperback Copy of The Secret of the Glass - Open to All and Ends March 1, 2010.

At Historical-Fiction.com:

1 Paperback Copy of Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel - Open to All and Ends March 1, 2010.
At The Burton Review:

Bookmark and ARC of The Secret of the Glass - Answer an intriguing question to answer this giveaway.

Enter as many as you want - best of luck to all!

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review: The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin

The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin
ARC, Paperback, 384 pages
Kensington Press
March 1, 2010
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: From Author for Review for Historical Fiction Bloggers Round Table Event
“The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she, too, is a glassmaker. Her crime is being a woman. . .

Sophia is well aware that her family would be crushed by scandal if the truth of her knowledge and skill with glass were revealed. But there has never been any threat. . .until now. A wealthy nobleman with strong connections to the powerful Doge has requested her hand in marriage, and her refusal could draw dangerous attention. Yet having to accept and cease her art would devastate her. If there is an escape, Sophia intends to find it.

Now, between creating precious glass parts for one of Professor Galileo Galilei's astonishing inventions and attending lavish parties at the Doge's Palace, Sophia is crossing paths with very influential people--including one who could change her life forever. But in Venice, every secret has its price. And Sophia must decide how much she is willing to pay.”
Sophia Fiolario is the daughter of one of the great glassmakers of Murano. The making of the glass is a secret that only the men of Murano are allowed to know or partake in – except one woman knows the secret – Sophia. Sophia is betrothed to marry a man that she despises and who really has no interest in her – except so that he can carry on his own interests. At the same time she falls in love with someone she can’t have. As her life starts to spiral out of control, Sophia worries as to what will happen to the glassworks factory and what will happen to her now that she knows the secret…

I have to admit that going into this book I had no idea what “the secret” of the glass was, and I was oblivious to it for awhile – although it was fairly obvious now that I look back at it. I loved learning all about how glass was made – I could almost see it happening in my mind (I can make some beautiful glass in my mind). This is the second book in a short time that I have read about artisans – the previous one being The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent. It was enjoyable to read about something other than royalty for a little while.

I loved the character of Sophia. I could feel all of her emotions and desires. I also was fascinated by her love interest, Teodoro – she picked a good one all right! The characters were very well developed – even the minor characters. I also enjoyed how Galileo was a prominent character, without being the main character. I found him very likeable and it encouraged me to look up a little more about him (someone I didn’t care too much about in school).

There were a couple of small issues I had with this book. I wished the ending had a little more to it. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy with the twist at the end, but I wish there was a little bit more after the twist. I felt like it ended a little abruptly. I also would have liked a little more explanation regarding this mysterious illness that Galileo had that affected him frequently – I’m a little perplexed about that one.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. This strengthened my enjoyment of books that focus on the more obscure characters.

You can read an excerpt of the book here to sample the author's writing. 
Reviews of this book by other bloggers


Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Donna Russo Morin:

The Courtiers Secret

The Courtier's Secret

To Serve A King

To Serve A King
[My Review]

The King's Agen

The King's Agent
[My Review]

portrait of a conspiray

Portrait of a Conspiracy (Book 1 in Da Vinci's Disciples)
Coming in May 2016

Find Donna Russo Morin: Website | Facebook | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads 


Also featured today during the HFBRT event:


Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Mailbox Monday #29

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page and tends to lead to staggering TBR and wish list piles. At least, I know it does for me.

I received only one book this week - but it is sure to be a good one. I am very excited about reading this book and as soon as I read what it was about I had to have it. I was just having a conversation about why there are not too many US based historical fiction being released - and then this book catches my eye.

Impatient with Desire by Gabrielle Burton (Contacted by Author for Review)

"In the spring of 1846, Tamsen Donner, her husband, George, their five daughters, and eighty other pioneers headed to California on the California-Oregon Trail in eager anticipation of new lives out West. Everything that could go wrong did, and an American legend was born.

The Donner Party. We think we know their story—pioneers trapped in the mountains performing an unspeakable act to survive—but we know only that one harrowing part of it. mpatient with Desire brings us answers to the unanswerable question: What really happened in the four months the Donners were trapped in the mountains? And it brings to stunning life a woman—and a love story—behind the myth.

Tamsen Eustis Donner, born in 1801, taught school, wrote poetry, painted, botanized,
and was fluent in French. At twenty-three, she sailed alone from Massachusetts to North Carolina when respectable women didn’t travel alone. Years after losing her first husband, Tully, she married again for love, this time to George Donner, a prosperous farmer, and in 1846, they set out for California with their five youngest children. Unlike many women who embarked reluctantly on the Oregon Trail, Tamsen was eager to go. Later, trapped in the mountains by early snows, she had plenty of time to contemplate the wisdom of her decision and the cost of her wanderlust.

Historians have long known that Tamsen kept a journal, though it was never found. In Impatient with Desire, Burton draws on years of historical research to vividly imagine this lost journal—and paints a picture of a remarkable heroine in an extraordinary situation. Tamsen’s unforgettable journey takes us from the cornfields of Illinois to the dusty Oregon Trail to the freezing Sierra Nevada Mountains, where she was forced to confront an impossible choice."

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Salon and The Secret of the Glass Week

Good morning everyone! I hope you all are having a much better weekend than I am. We have had consistent running water here since Thursday because my father screwed something up with our water system. Then last night as we got the pipes fixed and the cold water working mostly right, we find out that we need to get a new hot water heater because he messed that up too. So hopefully with a new hot water heater today, we might be back close to correct. I would love to shower at home again, haha. But, enough with my problems.
I’m still reading The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick for our March Roundtable event. With all of the problems we have been having around here and the Olympics on, I have been slacking a little on my reading. I have started listening to Mercy by Jodi Picoult on audio book in the car. I am enjoying it, but not as much as I did her other books, Salem Falls and The Pact.

We also still have a giveaway going on here for 1 copy of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory. This is open until February 27th.
This week is the February event for The Historical Fiction Round Table and we are featuring The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin. Over at the main blog you can find the official announcement and the first giveaway – for a copy of the book. I have posted our schedule of events for this week below for easy access. The events being hosted here are on the 22nd and the 28th.

February 20thAnnouncement & opening of Giveaway at HFBRT.
February 21st - Book Review by Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com, “The History of the Venice Canal System and How it Works” by Susie at All Things Royal
February 22nd – Book Review by Heather at The Maiden’s Court, “Fact Checking the Island of Murano” by Lizzy at Historically Obsessed, Interview Questions with Author at HFBRT
February 23rd – Book Review by Marie at The Burton Review, “Venice Carnival” by Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine, Murano Venetian glass NECKLACE giveaway at HFBRT
February 24th – Book Review by Allie at Hist-Fic Chick, “The Life and Times of Galileo Galilei” by Arleigh at Historical-Fiction.com, Interview Questions with Author at HFBRT
February 25th – Book Review by Lizzy at Historically Obsessed, Article on The Courtier's Secret at HFBRT
February 26th – Book Review by Susie at All Things Royal, “Dowries in Italy” by Marie at The Burton Review, Interview Questions with Author at HFBRT
February 27th- Book Review by Amy at Passages to the Past, Creative Post by Allie at Hist-Fic Chick
February 28th – Book review by Lucy at Enchanted by Josephine, “Making the Glass” by Heather at The Maiden’s Court, Info on DRM’s upcoming 2011 Tudor novel To Serve A King

I hope you all are having a fabulous weekend and hope you drop by some of the Round Table events to come.

Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Caught on Tape: Katherine Howard

I am starting a new signature series of posts called Caught on Tape. Each of these posts will feature a historical person (usually royalty, but not always) and some of the films or tv appearances they make. First up, Katherine Howard – the 5th wife of Henry VIII.

Katherine Howard has appeared in several films – most of these tend to be small roles. Many of these films also characterize her as a very sexual person (because we all know sex sells) and portray her in not the most flattering light. I haven’t seen any movies with Katherine featured, so I don’t have any personal experience, but if you have seen any of the below or have seen any other Katherine Howard features, please leave a comment. All of these can be found on Netflix if you are interested in seeing any of them. The films I selected below all feature Katherine in a more prominent role.

The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)
“Charles Laughton makes the larger-than-life King Henry VIII seem even bigger in a stunning performance that centers on the ruler's romantic life. Acclaimed director Alexander Korda shows a mercurial king who is governed by love, lust and politics. The classic film traces Henry's six marriages, including the tragic story of Catherine Howard, and his disastrous fourth union with Anne of Cleves, played by Laughton's real-life wife, Elsa Lancaster.” (from Netflix)
Catherine Howard is played by Binnie Barnes. This is more of a comedy film with a wide interpretation of history.

Masterpiece Theatre – The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)
“Starring Keith Michell in an Emmy-winning turn as King Henry VIII, this BBC historical drama recounts the lusty monarch's reign from 1509-47 -- and the sometimes-bloody splits from his unlucky wives. Assuming the throne of the House of Tudor as a strapping lad of 17, Henry inherits his brother's widow -- the first in a succession of six women he would marry before injury, illness and obesity led to his demise in 1547.” (from Netflix)
This is a 6 episode tv miniseries. There is one episode for each of his wives. There is an 89 minute episode featuring Katherine. She also appears in the episode on Anne of Cleves. Katherine is played by Angela Pleasence.
“A sexually promiscuous, cruel and vain teen, Catherine Howard shamelessly flirts with the king and helps nurse him back to health. Henry marries her, but
when he learns Catherine is cheating on him, the repercussions are deadly“ (from Netflix)

Henry VIII (2003)
“Wedded bliss didn't come easily to England's most infamous serial husband, Henry VIII. Desperate for a male heir, Henry (Ray Winstone) married then tossed aside a succession of wives that included Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn (Helena Bonham-Carter), Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard (Emily Blunt) and finally Katherine Parr. Sexual intrigue and twisted rivalry were the hallmarks of Henry's reign. First aired on British television.” (from Netflix)
This is a two part tv miniseries. Emily Blunt plays Katherine Howard in this film – everything I have seen her in, she is wonderful, so I would guess that she might be decent as Katherine. This appears to be another, not-quite-historical film and more like a television soap.

The Tudors (2009)

Season 3 Episode 8 (and will appear again in Season 4)
“Henry moves swiftly to annul his loveless marriage to Anne of Cleves, and beds a new mistress, 17-year-old Katherine Howard (Tamzin Merchant); Princess Mary falls in love with Duke Philip of Bavaria; Cromwell's fall from favour is sudden and dramatic. The season ends with Cromwell's beheading, and 'Your Majesty' being called by Katherine Howard.” (from Wikipedia)
I haven’t seen this episode yet, but in the vein of the Tudors, I am sure it is a sexualized story.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Giveaway - The Boleyn Inheritance

I just had a moment of realization yesterday, as I was posting my review of A Rose Without A Thorn by Jean Plaidy and comparing it to my review of The Boleyn Inheritance. I recently acquired a gently used copy of The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory at my library's book sale. I am very excited to be able to offer this up for giveaway this week to coincide with my Katherine Howard theme.

This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only and the winner of the giveaway will be announced on February 28, 2010.

Rules for Entry:
• Leave a comment with your email address for 1 entry
• Leave a comment of my review of A Rose Without A Thorn or The Boleyn Inheritance for 2 entries each (if you previously commented on either of these, just let me know!)
• (Re)Tweet or Blog about this giveaway for 1 entry each (leave a link)
• Become a follower of this blog for 1 entry (let me know if you already are)

Good Luck everyone!

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Book Review: The Rose Without A Thorn by Jean Plaidy

The Rose Without A Thorn by Jean Plaidy
Book 11 in the Queens of England series
Paperback, 288 pages
Three Rivers Press
June 24, 2003
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal collection

From the pen of legendary historical novelist Jean Plaidy comes an unforgettable true story of royalty, passion, and innocence lost.

Born into an impoverished branch of the noble Howard family, young Katherine is plucked from her home to live with her grandmother, the Duchess of Norfolk. The innocent girl quickly learns that her grandmother's puritanism is not shared by Katherine's free-spirited cousins, with whom she lives. Beautiful and impressionable, Katherine becomes involved in two ill-fated love affairs before her sixteenth birthday. Like her cousin Anne Boleyn, she leaves her grandmother's home to become a lady-in-waiting at the court of Henry VIII. The royal palaces are exciting to a young girl from the country, and Katherine's duties there allow her to be near her handsome cousin, Thomas Culpepper, whom she has loved since childhood.

But when Katherine catches the eye of the aging and unhappily married king, she is forced to abandon her plans for a life with Thomas and marry King Henry. Overwhelmed by the change in her fortunes, bewildered and flattered by the adoration of her husband, Katherine is dazzled by the royal life. But her bliss is short-lived as rumors of her wayward past come back to haunt her, and Katherine's destiny takes another, deadly, turn.

I read this book immediately following Philippa Gregory's The Boleyn Inheritance, which made sense seeing as they both cover the same characters. You can see my review of Gregory’s book here. I liked reading them back to back in order to get a more well-rounded view of the character of Katherine Howard.

Plaidy's Katherine is looking back on her life retelling all of the events that have led up to her present state of confinement. You even get some little side notes like "if I had only known" or "I would have done that differently". It's refreshing to see someone of that time period recognizing their faults, but I’m not sure that, in reality, Katherine actually realized what was happening. Plaidy makes Katherine likeable, naive, and comes of age very quickly at a time when one needed to fully understand the world around them. I actually enjoyed Katherine in this novel, where as in some other books, she is whiny, overly sexual, and just unlikable.

This was my first Plaidy read and it definitely made me a Plaidy follower. Her characters feel very real and there are so many little details about the world around them that you don’t get sometimes in other books. A wonderful read.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Jean Plaidy:

Jean Plaidy  also has written many other historical fiction books under several pen names.  The other books in this series include:

Loyal in Love

Loyal in Love (Book 1)

Queen of this Realm

Queen of this Realm (Book 2)

Victoria Victorious

Victoria Victorious (Book 3)

The Lady in the Tower

The Lady in the Tower (Book 4)

The Courts of Love

The Courts of Love (Book 5)

In the Shadow of the Crown

In the Shadow of the Crown (Book 6)

The Queen's Secret

The Queen's Secret (Book 7)

the reluctant queen

The Reluctant Queen (Book 8)

The Merry Monarch's Wife

The Merry Monarch's Wife (Book 9)
[My Review]

The Queen's Devotion

The Queen's Devotion (Book 10)

My other reviews by this author:

Find Jean Plaidy: Royal Intrigue Blog


Copyright © 2010 by The Maiden’s Court

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday #28

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. Intentional or not, your wish lists will grow exponentially.

I received one book this week and I can't wait to get to read it.

Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self Made Woman by Chloe Schama - received from Inkwell Management (thanks Allie!)

Here is a video clip of the author talking about her upcoming book:

Did anything interesting come in your mailbox?

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Winner of O, Juliet

Happy Saturday everyone! What better way to start of a Saturday morning than to announce the winner of the O, Juliet giveaway. There were 65 entries into this giveaway, which is a very good turnout. Now without further adieu, the winner is...
...Helen! Congratulations to the winner, and thank you to everyone that entered. I will be sending out an email to the winner for their address.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Thursday, February 11, 2010

William Marshall and… Robin Hood?

As I was reading through The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick, I kept thinking that King Richard and Prince John sounded like the King Richard and Prince John of Robin Hood lore. And guess what? I was right! So I figured that if William Marshall was actively involved with Richard and John, and they were involved in the tale of Robin Hood, maybe the Marshall and Robin would come together at some point? Right again!

I’m sure many of you have seen or heard about the new Robin Hood movie coming out soon staring Russell Crowe. But how many of you knew that William Marshall would be in this movie? I certainly didn’t. William Hurt will be playing William Marshall. Here is the trailer for the movie – I couldn’t tell if Hurt was in it or not, I’m not too familiar with him, but maybe some of you might spot him.

If I wasn’t completely convinced of seeing this movie before, I have to now, just to see how they present William Marshall.

Copyright © 2009-2011 by The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Book Review: The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Book cover of The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
Book 2 in the William Marshall series
Paperback, 552 pages
Sourcebooks Landmark
September 1, 2009
goodreads button

Genre: Historical Fiction

Source: Personal Collection

“A penniless young knight with few prospects, William Marshal is plucked from obscurity when he saves the life of Henry II's formidable queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. In gratitude, she appoints him tutor to the heir to the throne, the volatile and fickle Prince Henry. But being a royal favorite brings its share of danger and jealousy as well as fame and reward "

The Greatest Knight is the first part of a tale about William Marshal. He begins his life as a lowly hearth knight scrabbling his way up the social hierarchy of the medieval period.

When this book first came out, a bunch of my blog friends were reading this book and raving about it, and I felt left out because I didn’t have the book or have any time to read it. Then, when I heard about the sequel coming out, The Scarlet Lion, I knew I had to read this before I could read the sequel.

I really enjoyed reading about the life of a knight during the medieval period. I had not read anything from this time period so the whole world was very new to me. Chadwick did a phenomenal job at describing all the aspects of this world. I gained an entirely new vocabulary as well (like mesnie!). After reading about the Tudor period for so long – it is a very, very different world – which was very refreshing.

The characters were so well rounded and very real. I loved all of the women in his life – Clara, Isabelle, and Eleanor. Each one brings out a different part of William and contributed to the growth and evolution of his person. Without all of them, he wouldn’t be the same person. William is definitely someone you can admire.

The pages just flew by and before I knew it I was finished with 500+ pages. I luckily have The Scarlet Lion on hand to jump right into, and it feels like I am reading one continuous book. The only complaint I have is that almost each chapter jumps at least 2 years. I found it difficult to remember how much time had passed between events and had to keep flipping back to figure out the year. I will need to become a little more familiar with the layout of France (where many of the events take place), I don’t know the map all that well. Other than that, a fantastic introduction to the medieval period and William Marshal.

If you are interested in this book, why not check out a sample?

Why not check out this video trailer too?

Other great reviews of The Greatest Knight:

Buy the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia
Also by Elizabeth Chadwick:
Elizabeth Chadwick has written many wonderful novels, among those in the William Marshall series are:
A Place Beyond Courage
A Place Beyond Courage (Book 1)
The Scarlet Lion
The Scarlet Lion (Book 3)
For the King's Favor
For the King's Favor (Book 4)
AKA - A Time for Singing
To Defy a King
To Defy a King (Book 5)
You can find a complete list of Chadwick novels here.
I have also reviewed the following other novels by Elizabeth Chadwick:


Find Elizabeth Chadwick: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Copyright © 2009 by The Maiden’s Court