#70 ~ The Lady Elizabeth

May 21, 2008 at 9:13 pm | Posted in Books, Henry VIII, Historical Fiction | 5 Comments
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The Cover to The Lady Elizabeth

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

I had eagerly anticipated this book from the moment I first heard about it. When I heard that Tracy had a copy, there was virtually no stopping me from purchasing it and reading it immediately. While the writing was equally good here as it was in Innocent Traitor, the euphoric reading high I felt while reading Weir’s first novel did not carry forward into her second. The story of Elizabeth I‘s youth leading up to her rise to the English throne feels like well covered territory to me. That which was new or different in this novel wasn’t enough to have me hanging on every last word like before. Perhaps that is the danger of anticipating anything too much.

It’s not that The Lady Elizabeth wasn’t enjoyable. It was never boring. It just was never the captivating novel I was hoping it would be. There was a point fairly early in the novel where a rivalry was building between Kat, Elizabeth’s governess, and the final wife of Henry VIII, Queen Katherine Parr. My mouth almost watered with anticipation when it felt like this was ramping up to something. For me, that build up led no where. Even her encounters with Lord Seymour didn’t capture my imagination the way that they have in The Last Wife of Henry VIII or The Queen’s Fool. In fact, they felt a little flat and forced. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve already read about some of these scenes before or if it is because they were better seen through the eyes of other characters.

The most enjoyable aspect of this novel for me was Weir’s exploration of the father-daughter relationship between Henry and Elizabeth. How strange it must have been for him to fully embrace the daughter of a woman he had tried and condemned for high treason, especially if he had doubts about her guilt. How troubling it must have been for a young girl to feel such strong love for both parents while wondering where her loyalties should lie in the deadly fight that was between them long before she was old enough to know any better.

At the end of the novel, the author points out several aspects of the novel that she felt might be quite controversial. I didn’t find those things controversial at all. This is a work of fiction and, with the exception of making a three year old much wiser for her years than any three year old I have ever met, they were all quite plausible journeys into the “what ifs” of Elizabeth’s life.

I do not say these things to dissuade people from reading this novel. Alison Weir is a skilled author and this book is an good read about Elizabeth’s early life in one place. I would suggest it more to those who have yet to discover her in fiction. For others, it might feel a bit like reviewing for a test you could easily pass without studying.

To buy this novel, click here.

Home, Sweet Home

May 19, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, Reading | 2 Comments
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Long time, no posts.  I hope that you all had a wonderful week last week.  I’ve now returned from a much enjoyed trip to the Land of Dolly.  As much as I enjoyed my vacation, it feels good to be in my own home and sitting in my own bed as I type.  We did not have Internet access after Tuesday.  Wow!  That was a long time to be without.  I’ve got a lot of email and blogs to catch up on!

The first part of our vacation was spent with my parents, my four siblings, and their families.  It was so nice to all be together in one place, even though we experienced a good deal of trauma during  those first few days…

  1. The first full day Danny threw his back out at our hotel by walking from the bathroom to the refrigerator.  He was down that entire day and most of next two.
  2. While taking the girls to the pool that same day, I tripped on my really cute but dangerous heals and fell down a few stairs.  I twisted my ankle pretty bad and it still hurts tonight.
  3. The next day, while at the pool once again, Ally, my youngest, slipped through her Dora swimming ring and went under water.  I had left my bathing suit at the hotel, so I dove into the pool fully clothed.  My brother called to me that he had her, but I wasn’t aware of anything else other than my baby underwater waving her arms helplessly.  This all took only a matter of seconds, but it felt like an eternity to me.  She’s fine, but the color from the beach towel I wrapped myself up in afterwards bled onto my new turquoise capris.

After that, things looked up considerably.  We enjoyed the rest of the time with my family and then my best friend Trista and her family from Michigan came down.  We rented a chalet up in the mountains a few minutes from Dollywood.  Trista’s two children fall between mine in age.  Despite the bickering that comes with preschoolers living together, they had a great time.  It’s so nice to be able to watch them play.  Together, we went to the Gatlinburg aquarium, an arcade on the strip, Cooters, Dollywood, miniature golfing, to a petting zoo, and to Dixie Stampede.  Have I mentioned we had a great time?

I even got some reading done along the way.  I’ll post official reviews later this week, but I finished The Lady Elizabeth (well written, but no new territory explored there), Last Night at the Lobster (an excellent novella!), and Trauma (I finished that up a half hour ago while soaking in a hot tub – superb.  One of McGrath’s better novels).

Tomorrow I’ll be drawing for my May Book Give Away after work.  There’s still time if you’d like a chance to get a free book in the mail!

Smoky Mountain Vacation

May 12, 2008 at 8:43 am | Posted in Barnes & Noble, Books, entertainment, Family, Historical Fiction, LibraryThing, My Life with Books, Reading | 5 Comments
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Greetings from Gatlinburg, TN, located in heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s beautiful here despite the rain and I’ve enjoyed seeing my parents (I haven’t see my mother on Mother’s Day for at least 10 years), siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews. The kids did a great job on the drive. Even if they hadn’t, it’s just nice being out of the Roanoke Valley.

Although we’ll be away from home for 9 days, I’m planning on getting some good reading in:

  • Taking Lisa’s advice from Books on the Brain, I rented Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan from the library.
  • I snagged the latest book by Patrick McGrath, Trauma on the way to the checkout desk I was at the library.
  • The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block, which I received through a trade with another Early Reviewer on LibraryThing.
  • I picked up The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani for under $5 at Barnes and Noble last week. I’ve been wanting to read this since I read a review by Divia on HistoricalFiction.org.
  • Finally, I’m finishing up The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. I’d love to say that I’m loving it, but it’s just okay. No offense to Last Night at the Lobster, but I shouldn’t be looking forward to my next book. I should be savoring this one. Sigh…

Book Lust

May 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Barnes & Noble, Books, Historical Fiction, LIfe, Philippa Gregory, Reading, What's Up | 12 Comments
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When Tracy left a comment that she had a copy of The Lady Elizabeth, the latest novel written by Alison Weir, book lust set in to my reader’s heart fast and furious. Were I the Incredible Hulk, I would have ripped through my clothes and turned green within minutes of reading Tracy’s comment (which wouldn’t really be so bad – green is my favorite color). I read Innocent Traitor last May while I was vacationing at the beach and absolutely loved it. So, I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and how wonderful I am hoping it will be. Thankfully, a merciful 15% coupon arrived in my email from Barnes & Noble and I immediately put it to good use. My very own copy of The Lady Elizabeth will be arriving today. Although I’m about a third of the way through Mistaken Identity, I don’t think I’m going to be able to wait. I’m afraid thoughts of any other book are going to be lost the second I see that package on my door step.

Cover to The Lady Elizabeth

One of the main reason’s I’m curious about this book is to see how I feel about Elizabeth I as a result. Although I love Philippa Gregory, The Virgin’s Lover was not my favorite book in her Tudor series. I also had really been looking forward to Elizabeth: The Golden Age and was sadly disappointed by how boring it was. So much so that I was never able to muster up the motivation to write my review of the movie afterwards. Yet, I’ve enjoyed novels where Elizabeth is not the main character. I’m wondering if this is because I didn’t find Elizabeth that interesting or was it the treatment she received in the book and movie? I’m hoping it’s the later. How can Elizabeth not be an intriguing character?

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