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Friday, February 26, 2010

Lady Vernon and the Devil's Queen... books to read in this dead of winter

I finished a couple of great books recently.  The first is entitled Lady Vernon and her Daughter, by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway.  This book is written in the style and period of Jane Austen's novels.  If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you'll appreciate this novel.  Full of early 19th century English drama - mothers concerned with marrying their daughters off to eligible young men of considerable income, fancy dinners and balls, family ties and double-crossing, and of course the fate of women left widowed and their property entailed to others.  It's a take on Jane Austen's novel "Lady Susan", which I haven't read and cannot make a comparison with.
This one, though, is worth the time to read.  The first few chapters were a bit slow, but once you wrap your head around all the central characters and the plot heats up, it flies by.  A great novel to read in the cold of winter.

I saved the best for last.  This one was a fabulous read.  Called "The Devil's Queen: The Story of Catherine de Medici".  I happened to see this one on the library shelf and was intrigued: I had recalled hearing a lot about the infamous Medici family in several European history classes in college.  A very famous family involved in banking.  Well, apparently the Medici found their way into the ruling classes of Kings, Queens, and even Popes.  This thick novel was amazing.  If you love history you'll really enjoy this one.  I must warn you, though, there is a lot of astronomy (and some black magic) in the book.  If this would offend you, I suggest you skip this book.  Apparently, though, Catherine de Medici was very involved in astronomy in real life (even consulting with the infamous Nostradamus).  This novel followed her life from a young girl held prisoner, to an unwilling bride in a foreign land, to Queen of France, and mother of heirs, betrayed by many, and believed to have been one of the most intelligent women to rule France.  I have had a hard time reading Phillipa Gregory's historical novels (The Other Boleyn Girl, The Dutchess), and have never been able to finish one of hers, but this historical novel by Jeanne Kalagridis was much easier to read, even hard to put down.

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