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THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES: A Novel ~Sally Christie

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Once again we are delighted with the historic fiction of Sally Christie in book two of the trilogy about the Versailles Court of France’s Louis XV (1745) Hopefully, the reader was delighted with the SISTERS OF VERSAILLES and all the mistresses of the King – particularly the 5 Nestle sisters of which 4 became his mistress each in turn.

In 1730, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, a stunningly beautiful 9 –year- old girl from the middle classes has her fortune told by a gypsy at the local fair.  She is to become the lover of a King and very powerful.  And with some luck and of course planning and maneuvering, she makes her entrance into the Court in 1745 after the death of the Kings favorite mistress.  For 25 years she leads the country and proves the prophecy to be true. She has become Marquise de Pompadour. The Court is against her from the start and she must protect herself from all the rivals to her position all the while the King becomes totally absorbed with luxury and his depravities.  France is now at war and moving closer to the Revolution.

Sally Christie is a marvelous researcher and tells history wrapped in tinseled, modern detail and the reader can feel the swish of the skirts and the flicker of the candle light; falling prey to the necessary manipulations to keep power and the King within the palm of Jeanne’s hand.

“Sally Christie is the author of THE SISTERS OF VERSAILLES and THE RIVALS OF VERSAILLES.  She was born in England and grew up around the world attending eight schools in three different languages.  She spent most of her career working in international development and currently lives in Toronto. Visit www.SallyChristieAuthor.com to find out more about Sally and the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy.” (From book)

I will repeat that I believe this is a wonderful way to learn history and I was quite captivated by the rich details and the twinkle of Christie’s writing which holds the reader through all the story details.  Once again this is a section of history that I really know little about and the story fills me in with one aspect of the crisis, which was brewing and exploding into our history.   I would have loved reading this book from about high school on, although I think some of the sexual material and scheming would certainly put the “Mean Girls” of today to shame.

I so enjoy how Christie includes letters that she uncovered into the story as it makes the history come alive.  There is a third book coming that will include the series – THE ENEMIES OF VERSAILLES.

The uncorrected proof of this book was sent to me by TLC Book Tours and one can go to the link and see what other readers thought about the story.

Related:
The Sisters of Versailles
Mistress of the Court
Whistling Women

A REMARKABLE KINDNESS: A Story About Friendship ~Diana Bletter

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

TLC Book Tours  asked me to read and review this book and after reading the promotion material I was looking forward to this very good book about women and friendship.  The book arrived by UPS with a squeak and a promise before the scheduled review.  I set everything aside and read the book cover to cover in one day, with as much speed as I could muster.  I think it would have been a much better read at a slower pace, but I enjoyed the book even with the great push.

About A Remarkable Kindness
• Paperback: 416 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 11, 2015)

Through a largely hidden ceremony . . . four friends discover the true meaning of life.
It’s 2006 in a seaside village in Israel, where a war is brewing. Lauren, Emily, Aviva and Rachel, four memorable women from different backgrounds, are drawn to the village. Lauren, a maternity nurse, loves her Israeli doctor husband but struggles to make a home for herself in a foreign land thousands of miles away from her beloved Boston. Seeking a fresh start after a divorce, her vivacious friend Emily follows. Strong, sensuous Aviva, brought to Israel years earlier by intelligence work, has raised a family and now lost a son. And Rachel, a beautiful, idealistic college graduate from Wyoming, arrives with her hopeful dreams.

The women forge a friendship that sustains them as they come to terms with love and loss, and the outbreak of war. Their intimate bond is strengthened by their participation in a traditional ritual that closes the circle of life. As their lives are slowly transformed, each finds unexpected strength and resilience.

Brimming with wisdom, rich in meaningful insights, A Remarkable Kindness is a moving testament to women’s friendship, illuminating a mostly unknown ritual that underscores what it means to truly be alive.” (From the TLC website)

What I enjoyed when reading this story was the constant loss and the women’s reaction to each loss.  Loss of a favorite city and an expectation, loss of a partner, loss because of war, loss because of change or choices, and loss because of old age and life’s patterns.  I enjoyed reading about loss because we ignore it in our culture and it is a big part of living, that often defines our lives – first we acquire and then we let go.  The four women friends were connected because they all moved from the USA to Israel and they were all active in their Jewish Faith, although that was verbally downplayed in the story, they were all programed to rely on their faith and the rules of their lives and living.  The story very much paralleled the author’s own life and story.

The descriptions of another country and the Jewish traditions were very nice and opened my perspective on the friendship shared by these women and their families.  It was not just foxhole faith, but rather served them well as they interacted and took care of their children, husbands, and homes.

The writing was often simplistic and although the author was writing about what she knew from her own story, it left me wanting for some more meaning and character interpretations of the war and the politics; not just a study of loss.   I think 4 American women would have had a lot more to say about the politics on the ground and not been so dependent on husbands and fathers in their new country.  There was not a lot of depth to the characters and just one perspective.  Lots of sobbing and crying and very little wisdom or deeper thinking was involved.   I read the book in very short order, and I do not think I am inclined to re-read it; I very often want to read more about women’s friendships but once was enough for A REMARKABLE KINDNESS.

About Diana Bletter  (From TLC website)

“Diana Bletter is a writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Commentary. Her first book, The Invisible Thread: A Portrait of Jewish American Women, with photographs by Lori Grinker, was shortlisted for a National Jewish Book Award. In 1991, she moved from New York to a seaside village in northern Israel where she lives with her husband and children, and volunteers in a burial circle.”

Related:
Dog Crazy
The Divorce Diet
Mrs. Kaplan and the Matzoh Ball of Death

THE THING ABOUT GREAT WHITE SHARKS and other stories ~Rebecca Adams Wright

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

“These are ceaselessly inventive stories, witty, wry, and wondrous, by turn, and all graced with an emotional sincerity that ensure they never dip into mere whimsy.  This is speculative fiction with both a head and a heart.”  -Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl. (From the cover)

THE THING ABOUT GREAT WHITE SHARKS and Other Stories is that it is a collection of fine boned stories that connect in the present moment, while drawing close history and future into the reader’s comprehension while evolving into a truly original possibility.

I grabbed the Uncorrected, Unproofed book as I was heading for a doctor’s appointment.  One more stories and one more test turned into an incredible 9 hour waiting event and THE THING ABOUT GREAT WHITE SHARKS held my attention through each test and waiting for an outcome.  The stories grabbed hold of the mind’s eye and held on until the story stopped.  The stories swirled around in my head while sleep was induced and pain relieved.  My advocate perused the stories while I rested.

The chapter titles caught my attention:

  • Sheila
  • Tiger Brigh
  • What to Expect When You’re expecting an Alien Parasite
  • Orchids
  • Melville loves Hawthorne
  • The Other Husband
  • Barnstormers
  • The Space We Share
  • Poland, 1952
  • Keeper of the Glass
  • Yuri, in a Blue Dress
  • Storybag
  • The Thing about Great White Sharks
  • Aleph Bat
  • The White Chalk Road

How amazing would it be to be flying in an ornithopter in an air show and to know that you just saved your teams future by flying a new and dangerous configuration?  How hard would it be to give up your dog companion and good friend because the law said it was to be done? How would you rationalize or explain a school locker turning in homework after the student died?

I was very pleased to be reviewing these stories for TLC Book Tours so I could share them with you.   I did not like every story in the book with equal delight and yet the book got me through a difficult day with the clever, heartfelt writing

About the author from TLC web page:

“Rebecca Adams Wright is a 2011 graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop and a former University of Michigan Zell Writing Fellow. She has an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and has won the Leonard and Eileen Newman Writing Prize. Rebecca lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with her husband and daughter.”

Rebecca Adams Wright Facebook
Rebecca Adams Wright Website 

Related:
What the Zhang Boys Know
Flings
No Longer And Not Yet 
Half As Happy Stories 

RYDER: An Ayesha Ryder Novel ~Nick Pengelley

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

“The conference, timed to coincide with the summit meeting between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders – to be held at the Tower of London for security reasons – was already fully booked.  The attention of the whole world would be on the summit, and on everything to do with the talks in which so much hope was invested.  It would not have mattered what they called her paper.” (Location 77% on my Kindle – uncorrected, unproofed copy )


TLC Book Tours  sent me an uncorrected and unproofed copy of this book for review.   It was released on Amazon on September 30th of this year. A very good read for those who enjoy political suspense.  I will read and review book two in this series in 2015.

RYDER reminds me of THE Da Vinci Code novel with a bigger area of history included, such as the Arc of the Covenant search in the story.

RYDER is quite the read and if you enjoy history lessons with contemporary outcomes this will prove to be one of the best reads you will encounter.  Ayesha Ryder was a Palestinian terrorist when she was 16 and currently she lives in London working at the War History Museum and has her doctorate in Middle Eastern Studies.   She is preparing a speech to give at the Israeli- Palestine Peace Summit in a few days to be held at the Tower of London, when she hears that a very important figure in her life has been tortured and murdered.   He has left clues as to what the murderers hoped to attain and he is an expert on Laurence of Arabia; his life story and spying adventures.  The twists and turns through 1935 to present fictional days and pursuits are an amazing journey and a huge history lesson.  The writing is excellent, tense and not sloppy or over the top localizing.

What if in 1935 Israel and Palestine were made into just one country – Holy Land- and if Laurence’ Peace Treaty had been signed and ratified by Parliament?  It is assumed that there would not be as much conflict and war over all this time, rather a peaceful country.

I was very glad I had read THE LEMON TREE, last year which is a history of the division of the country into two states and why the conflicts continue and how the politicians fuel those disputes and attacks.  How we train violence and hate in the children.   The history was fresh in my mind.   I did not know about possible secret agreements in England with the Nazi regime.  Very interesting and very exciting reading here – RYDER is a good spy story too.

I so enjoyed all the terms I had to look up and understand, not only the British local terms, but also Middle Eastern references.   Do you know about madrigalisms? Now that was a fascinating clue and I even attempted to write one!

“Nick Pengelley is the author of the Political Thrillers RYDER and RYDER: American Treasure.  Australian by birth, he’s had careers in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom as a law professor, legal consultant, and analyst on Middle East politics, which is his passion.  Pengelley lives in Toronto with his wife, Pamela.” (from the author page of the e-book)

www.nicholaspengelley.com
@ NicholasPengell 

Related:
The Lemon Tree
The New Men
The Landgramm Affair
The Condor Song