Showing posts from May, 2013

review: ROYAL MISTRESS by Anne Easter Smith

Title:   Royal Mistress Author:   Anne Easter Smith Publisher:    Touchstone Publication Date:   May 7, 2013 How Acquired:   Through Net Galley What it’s About:   Jane Lambert, the quick-witted and alluring daughter of a silk merchant, is twenty-two and still unmarried. When Jane’s father finally finds her a match, she’s married off to the dull, older silk merchant William Shore. Marriage doesn’t stop Jane from flirtation, however, and when the king’s chamberlain, Will Hastings, comes to her husband’s shop, Will knows King Edward will find her irresistible. Edward IV has everything: power, majestic bearing, superior military leadership, a sensual nature, and charisma. And with Jane as his mistress, he also finds true happiness. But when his hedonistic tendencies get in the way of being the strong leader England needs, his life, as well as those of Jane and Will Hastings, hangs in the balance. Jane must rely on her talents to survive as the new monarch, Richard I

The Case Against Florence Maybrick

The story of Florence Maybrick in the late 19th century fascinated Victorian audiences.  Was she a vile poisoner or a Victorian victim? Because she was an American by birth, the case ended up involving the US press as well as the US government, as her lawyers worked frantically to get her sentence either commuted or overturned. The suspect:   Name:   Florence Elizabeth Chandler Born:   September 3, 1862, Mobile, Alabama. Parents:   William George Chandler, a banker and one-time mayor of Mobile, and the Baroness von Roques. Background:   Florence’s father died when she was a baby.   Her mother married twice more, the final time to a German baron. Florence grew up in Europe, educated privately by governesses, spoke French and German fluently. She was pretty, vivacious and sophisticated.   The Victim: Name:   James Maybrick Born:   October 25, 1838, Liverpool England Parents:   William and Susanna Maybrick.   Profession:   Cotton Broker.   His business r

Book of the Month: The Creation of Anne Boleyn

Title:   The Creation of Anne Boleyn Author:   Susan Bordo Publisher:   Houghton Mifflin Pub Date:   April 9, 2013 How Acquired:   Bought What it's about:  Part biography, part cultural history, The Creation of Anne Boleyn is a fascinating reconstruction of Anne’s life and an illuminating look at her afterlife in the popular imagination. Why is Anne so compelling? Why has she inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? Was she the flaxen-haired martyr of Romantic paintings or the raven-haired seductress of twenty-first-century portrayals? (Answer: neither.) And perhaps the most provocative questions concern Anne’s death more than her life. How could Henry order the execution of a once beloved wife? Drawing on scholarship and critical analysis, Bordo probes the complexities of one of history’s most infamous relationships. Bordo also shows how generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists, and filmmakers imagined and re-imagined Anne: whore,

Review: Black Venus

Title:   Black Venus Author:   James MacManus Publisher:   Thomas Dunne Books Pub Date:   May 7, 2013 How Acquired:   From the publicist What it’s About:   A vivid novel of Charles Baudelaire and his lover Jeanne Duval, the Haitian cabaret singer who inspired his most famous and controversial poems, set in nineteenth-century Paris. For readers who have been drawn to The Paris Wife, Black Venus captures the artistic scene in the great French city decades earlier, when the likes of Dumas and Balzac argued literature in the cafes of the Left Bank. Among the bohemians, the young Charles Baudelaire stood out—dressed impeccably thanks to an inheritance that was quickly vanishing. Still at work on the poems that he hoped would make his name, he spent his nights enjoying the alcohol, opium, and women who filled the seedy streets of the city.   One woman would catch his eye—a beautiful Haitian cabaret singer named Jeanne Duval. Their lives would remain forever intert