Showing posts from February, 2012

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova...Dracul...Not Dracula...A Review!

"To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history...."
Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to "My dear and unfortunate successor," and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of—a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known—and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up thi…

My review of Gillespie and I by Jane Harris

As she sits in her Bloomsbury home, with her two birds for company, elderly Harriet Baxter sets out to relate the story of her acquaintance, nearly four decades previously, with Ned Gillespie, a talented artist who never achieved the fame that she maintains he deserved.

It would appear that I am to be the first to write a book on Gillespie. Who, if not me, was dealt that hand?

Back in 1888, the young, art-loving Harriet arrives in Glasgow at the time of the International Exhibition. After a chance encounter, she befriends the Gillespie family and soon becomes a fixture in all of their lives. But when tragedy strikes - leading to a notorious criminal trial - the promise and certainties of this world all too rapidly disintegrate into mystery and deception. 

I have to begin by saying narrator of this nineteenth century Scottish Victorian story of 'friendship,' Harriet Baxter is not the easiest woman to warm up to! She is that dreaded 'S&#…

Cornwall Calling Daphne du Maurier

Mine is the silence
And the quiet gloom Of a clock ticking In an empty room, The scratch of a pen, Ink-pot and paper, And the patter of the rain. Nothing but this as long as I am able, Firelight - and a chair, and a table.

Not for me the shadow of a smile,
Nor the life that has gone, Nor the love that has fled, But the thread of the spider who spins on the wall, Who is lost, who is dead, who is nothing at all. 
Daphne du Maurier was born in London, England, in 1907. The du Mauriers were a privileged and prosperous family. Her father, Gerald, was a well-known actor and theater manager whose own father, George, had been an artist for Punch magazine and a published author of three bestselling novels. Her mother, Muriel Beaumont, was an actress until the birth of her third child in 1911. Du Maurier had both an older sister, Angela, and a younger sister, Jeanne.

Gerald du Maurier was a devoted and affectionate father, especially to Daphne. His longing for a son prompted her to dress like a boy, cut her…

Moments In Time with Virginia Woolf

“I met your mother, in a gloom happily encircled by the firelight, and peopled with legs and skirts. We drifted together like ships in an immense ocean and she asked me whether black cats had tails. And I answered that they had not, after a pause in which her question seemed to drop echoing down vast abysses, hitherto silent.” Virginia Woolf describing older sister Vanessa Bell

A series of untimely family deaths affected Virgina Woolf in such a way to cause her first mental breakdown at age 13. Her mother died in 1895, her step-sister Stella in 1897. In 1904 her father died, and then her beloved brother Toby died in 1906. It was shortly after her father’s death that her older step-brother George Duckworth, bullied and sexually abused Virginia.

Adeline Virginia Woolf was a true survivor. She was an astute observer of human nature. A woman with keen insights on life, death, suffering, disease, loneliness, art and love. She turned to writing essays then novels as a way of proving to h…

A Review of Marie Antoinette The Journey by Antonia Fraser

France's iconic queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous 'Let them eat cake," was alternately revered and reviled during her lifetime.
For centuries since, she has been the object of debate, speculation, and the fascination so often accorded illustrious figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted child was thrust onto the royal stage and commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in European history. Antonia Fraser's lavish and engaging portrait excites compassion and regard for all aspects of the queen, immersing the reader not only in the coming-of-age of a graceful woman, but in the culture of an unparalleled time and place.

So, who was Marie Antoinette, born Maria Antonia of Austria, married at fourteen and executed at the guillotine at age 38, at the height of the French Revolution?
Was she a lioness or a lamb? A sexually promiscuous harpy or an undereducated, over-p…

Ellen Terry: Much Ado About Something

“I hold very strongly that a child’s earliest impressions mould its character perhaps more than either heredity or education”

She was born in Coventry on 27 February, 1848, to actor parents of Irish descent. She had few childhood recollections that stood out and suffered from what she called, ‘A bad memory’! She described one fond memory of falling asleep nightly holding her father’s hand and said she was, ‘her father’s pet’ or family favorite! Being a sibling of nine children, I could see as that would stand out in a person’s memory.

When it came to her mother, Terry described a woman who did not shrink from her duties, who worked hard at her profession and raised her children to be healthy, happy, and theatre-minded! When her parents were performing on stage, her mother would bring them to the theatre with her wrapped up in a shawl and let them sleep in the dressing room. So, you could say the theatre and the need to perform on stage was in her blood! For instance, her first chi…

Famous Love Letters on Valentines Day

Just wanted to share a few of my favorite romantic love letters from famous composers and writers on such a romantic day!

 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91) a portion of a letter sent to his wife Constanze 

Mainz October 17, 1790 
PS.--while I was writing the last page, tear after tear fell on the paper. But I must cheer up -- catch! -- An astonishing number of kisses are flying about --- The deuce!-- I see a whole crowd of them! Ha! Ha!...I have just caught three-- They are delicious!-- You can still answer this letter, but you must address your reply to Linz, Poste Restante-- That is the safest course. As I do not yet know for certain whether I shall go to Regensburg, I can't tell you anything definite. Just write on the cover that the letter is to be kept until called for. 
Adieu--Dearest, most beloved little wife-- Take care of your health-- and don't think of walking into …

My review of Queen Elizabeth in the Garden by Trea Martyn

In Orlando, Virginia Woolf describes the Elizabethan world as a place where colours were brighter and life was lived more intensely:

The age was the Elizabethan; their morals were not ours; not their poets; nor their climate; nor their vegetables even. Everything was different. The weather itself, the heat and cold of summer and winter, was, we may believe, of another temper altogether. The brilliant amorous day was divided as sheerly from the night as land from water. Sunsets were redder and more intense; dawns were whiter...
The rain fell vehemently, or not at all. The sun blazed or their was darkness.

BOOK DESCRIPTION Imagine a time when, to win a woman’s love, the ardent suitor had to create a garden more beautiful, more sensual, more unusual than his competition. Seen through Trea Martyn’s fascinating lens, the fate of England in the 16th century rested on just such a competition, waged by Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and William Cecil, Elizabeth’s Lord Treasurer. Cecil created …