by Justine Saracen
Published by BOLD STROKES BOOKS
At the height of her career, opera singer Katherina Marow is brought crashing down by her father's suicide. Among his effects, she finds his wartime journal and reads the heart-wrenching entries of a soldier in Russia and in war-torn Berlin. She learns the crimes and secrets her father harbored, but cannot condemn him, for while she discovers his demons, she is facing her own. The stage-world she lives in draws her into a lawless ecstatic realm, and she is tempted, as he was, by forces which could destroy her. Has she too made a devil's pact? And if so, will she pay for it, as her father did, with her life?
A gripping thriller about opera in the old divided Germany of the 1980s and the repercussions of events occuring during and after WWII. Also there are women dressed as men and renegade Russian and East German soldiers for our heroines to contend with, not to mention a man who styles himself after the operatic devil himself. Highly recommended and I'm sorry I took so long to pick it up off the To Read pile and that I don't have the author's other books (yet).
Margaret of Anjou: Queenship and Power in Late Medieval England
by Helen E. Maurer
Published by The Boydell Press
Margaret of Anjou was a vengeful and violent woman, or so we have been told, whose vindictive spirit fuelled the fifteenth-century dynastic conflict, the Wars of the Roses. In Shakespeare's rendering she becomes an adulterous queen who mocks her captive enemy, Richard, duke of York, before killing him in cold blood. Shakespeare's portrayal has proved to be remarkably resilient, because Margaret's queenship lends itself to such an assessment. In 1445, at the age of fifteen, she was married to the ineffectual Henry VI, a move expected to ensure peace with France and an heir to the throne. Eight years later, while she was in the later stages of her only pregnancy, Henry suffered a complete mental collapse that left him catatonic for roughly a year and a half: Margaret came to the political forefront. In the aftermath of the king's illness, she became an indefatigable leader of the Lancastrian loyalists in their struggle against their Yorkist opponents. Margaret's exercise of power was always fraught with difficulty: as a woman, her effective power was dependent upon her invocation of the authority of her husband or her son. Her enemies lost no opportunity to charge her with misconduct of all kinds. More than five hundred years after Margaret's death this examination of her life and career allows a more balanced and detached view.
Continuing my investigation into important but sometimes overlooked women in history, particularly where they intersect with Shakespeare and the history plays, I picked up this volume on Henry V's 'she-wolf'. This gave an excellent overview of Margaret's expected role and how and when she kept within those bounds or didn't. Highly informative, but (necessarily) a little dry in places. Well worth reading, though a little heavy going at times.
The Guy to Be Seen With
by Fiona Harper
Published by Mills & Boon
London's most eligible guy-finally snared? Who can forget gorgeous adventurer Daniel Bradford? Especially after this commitment-phobe's on-air rejection of his girlfriend's marriage proposal sparked a scandal! But some people love a challenge. With Daniel suddenly back on the market, all of London's single ladies are on the lookout. Yet he's shown no inclination to get caught by anyone...until now.
So just who is special enough to catch his attention? Our sources reveal she's strong-willed blonde bombshell Chloe Michaels, orchid specialist and Daniel's new colleague. And rumor has it that with this tough cookie, London's very own Indiana Jones is in for the-romantic-adventure of a lifetime!
Companion piece to How to Get Over Your Ex by Nikki Logan, which I read recently, this one shows us the other side of 'The Year of Georgia'. Daniel has reasons for not wanting to commit, although it would have been sensible of him to explain them to people. Meanwhile Chloe had a crush on Daniel as a student, and his rejection caused her to reinvent herself from geek to vamp. I do like that Chloe is still big: when she strips, she worries about having lumps and bumps in all the wrong places. I also like that Daniel takes his responsibilities to his sister (recently separated and recovering from serious illness) and her children seriously (inviting Chloe to a date at his house so that he can babysit while his sister goes out) and that the Chloe has female friends and befriends Daniel's sister. I also love Chloe's houseboat. Light reading, but also delightful, even if Daniel manages to drive me up the wall at times.
Land of Entrapment
by Andi Marquette
Published by Regal Crest Enterprises
K.C. Fontero left New Mexico in the wake of a bitter break-up to take an academic fellowship in Texas. With a doctorate in sociology and expertise in white supremacist groups, she's on her way to an academic career. But a plea for help from her ex, Melissa, brings K.C. back to Albuquerque to find Melissa's troubled younger sister.
Megan has disappeared with her white supremacist boyfriend and K.C. knows she has the expertise to track the mysterious group, and she knows she'll be doing a public service to uncover it.
What she doesn't know is how far into her past she'll have to go to find both Megan and herself and the deeper she digs into the group, the greater the danger she faces.
An excellent start to a mystery series, in which we get introduced to all the main characters quickly, and then gradually learn their back stories. I found K.C. a little too trusting at times, but then I've read a lot of stories with complex twists of late. In this, though, the bad guys are thoroughly bad, the good guys really are good, and the missing person K.C. has come back to New Mexico to find, is mostly very mixed up. Now to track down the next in the series...
The Female Shipwright (Caird Library Reprints)
by Mary Lacy
Published by National Maritime Museum
Originally published in 1773, this fascinating autobiography recounts one woman's life on the high seas--all while disguised as a man. After running away from home at 15, the adventurous Lacy found employment as "William Chandler," first as a servant aboard the Sandwich, a 90-gun ship, and eventually as a shipwright with the Royal Navy. Such was the strength of her reputation as a strong, reliable worker who was popular with local ladies--her colleagues were in disbelief when she was exposed as a woman. When Lacy turned in her sea legs due to chronic health problems, she entered her real name on pensioner forms and was, surprisingly, acknowledged by the British Admiralty as the first female shipwright.
I've been wanting to read this one since writing poetry spinning off from it at the National Maritime Museum a year or so ago. Modern researchers have turned up a fair amount of detail about Mary Lacy after she left the docks, but her autobiography concentrates on her early life up to her marriage. Mary has man trouble and separate conflicts with her parents, so she steals clothes to disguise herself as boy and runs away with no real idea where to go. She ends up at the coast, and it is suggested that she joins a ship. The book then follows her life at sea and later working in the ship yards. Interestingly she's only challenged twice regarding her sex, and she gets out of that by confiding in men she trusts, who then tell everyone that of course she's a boy. Later on, the rumours are spread by a woman and Mary is eventually forced to reveal herself, but not before she's completed her apprenticeship and had a series of girlfriends. At last her health gives out and she is awarded a pesion of 20 pounds per year, after which she marries a Mr Slade and there the book ends.
Not an easy book to pick up and put down, since it's one constant narrative punctuated occasionally by Mary's letters to and from her parents (which she signs as Mary but requests that they reply to at her male persona's address) as well as some correspondance with others. A fascinating slice of life, but I recommend reading some background about Mary's life too.
That's me caught up for the time being, although my To Read pile never does get any smaller.