some really cool Alison Weir news!

Via Alison Weir Website...


This event will take place on the evening of 9th September 2009, and will be a joint event with Tracy Borman, whose book, Elizabeth's Women, is being launched at the same time. The evening has been arranged as follows:

6.30: Guests arrive, and will walk along part of the route that Anne Boleyn trod on the day of her arrest (from the Court Gate in the Byward Tower to the Royal Lodgings) to the event venue above the New Armouries Cafe.

: "The Whore and the Virgin": Joint presentation by Alison Weir and Tracy Borman, followed by drinks, canapes and a book-signing session.
Alison and Tracy will then conduct guests (in two groups) on a short guided tour, visiting the site of the Queen's Lodgings, where Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth were both imprisoned, and the site of the scaffold on which Anne Boleyn met her end.

9.00: Carriages.    


In the Spring of 2010, Alison will be Study Leader on a tour of Tudor England organised by The Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. Details are as follows:
A Tudor Tapestry

11 Days - April 6-16, 2010
Tudor England - the England of Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare -comes alive as best-selling author Alison Weir and other historical experts escort you on a journey into the past. At Windsor Castle and Hampton Court, major exhibitions mark the 500th anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne. At the Tower of London, learn about Arbella Stuart's famous and daring escape and see the spot where Anne Boleyn and other Tudor victims were beheaded. Enjoy special tours of castles steeped in Tudor history, as Hever, Leeds and Sudeley, as well as Eltham Palace and Acton Court. In Portsmouth, home to the Royal Navy, view the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship, The Mary Rose, and visit Winchester, where Mary Tudor married Philip of Spain.
  • Alison Weir will accompany the tour and her lively narratives will help bring to life the dramatic lives of the Tudors.
  • Meet historians Sarah Gristwood, Tracy Borman, and Kate Williams, who together with Alison Weir, form The History Girls, who have created events for BBC radio and are currently developing a major television series.
  • Enjoy connoisseur tours and private openings at historic castles and gardens.
  • Take private tours of two major exhibitions dedicated to Henry VIII’s Quincentenary.

I SOOOOO want to go!!!!  It would be like 11 days of pure heaven =)  They would have a hard time getting me to leave, for sure!

The Lady In The Tower:  The Fall of Anne Boleyn is due out on December 29, 2009.

Other Alison Weir News:  She has been signed on for 3 more non-fiction novels and is working on one about Mary Boleyn!  I'm very interested to see what she does with Mary!

Sacred Hearts Giveaway!

The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God’s protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina’s new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.

Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant–young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.

As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena–with her history of visions and ecstasies–locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess’s job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.

Giveaway 411:

* Giveaway ends on July 13th. Winner will be announced on July 14th.
* Open to all domestic and international entries. Passages loves our neighbors across the water =)
* For 5 additional entries sign up as a follower; if you already are a follower you will automatically get this.
* For another additional one entry:  post, sidebar, facebook or twitter about this giveaway. 
Please note this giveaway is for one ARC of Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant.


I am now a Royal Reviewer!

What's up buttercups? Hope this Monday is treating you well and if it isn't, well it's almost over! I wanted to let all of you know that I am now a member of the Royal Reviewers!

So, what do you think of the name? I love how they gave her the evil eye and everything! Not that I'm evil in any way....just a little naughty when I wanna be =)

For those of you that aren't familiar with Royal Reviews, let me school you. The 3 lovely ladies that created Royal Reviews are Annie (Princess of the Past), Alaine (Queen of Happy Endings) and Teddyree (Empress of Good & Evil) and they are some of the nicest women you could meet! When the email went out looking for new reviewers, I just had to jump on the chance - couldn't pass up this cute avatar now could I?

As for what this means for PTTP, there really will be no changes. Reviews will be posted on both sites, but I will be over at Royal Reviews for some really cool theme weeks!

Please stop on by and check out Royal Reviews - it's a fantastic site for historical fiction and romance lovers! This week they are introducing all the new reviewers - come and see what other book bloggers heard the call!

I look forward to seeing you all over there!


don't kill the messenger part deux

US/UK Release Date: January 1, 2010

This early, unusual romance by Georgette Heyer features a young country gentleman driven by jealousy to transform himself into a sophisticated dandy to win the lady he loves.

In the glorious days of the mid 18th century, sophisticated men wore high heels, powdered wigs, and plenty of lace. Philip Jettan, however, is just a stolid country gentleman, happy with his estate, plainspoken, and plainly dressed. When a London dandy visits the neighborhood and attracts entirely too much attention from Philip's beautiful young neighbor Cleone Charteris, Philip goes to Paris to learn how to become what he thinks Cleone wants. When he encounters Cleone again, he is powdered and patched, and Cleone discovers a preference for the simple, plainspoken gentleman he used to be. Now that he has transformed for her sake, it's up to her to understand her own heart…


US/UK Release Date:  January 7, 2010

The richest and most powerful noble family in Britain, after the king himself, the Howards regarded themselves as the power behind the throne and regularly tried to act as 'kingmakers'. Thomas Howard, the second duke of Norfolk, fought for Richard III at Bosworth and was imprisoned in the Tower by Henry VII. A brilliant politician, he negotiated his way out and became a key minister in the new Tudor regime. Late in life he commanded the English army that annihilated the Scots at Flodden in 1513. However, his descendants were a louche lot of plotters and conspirators; Henry VIII and Elizabeth I both beheaded a Norfolk for treason (although another led the Royal Navy against the Spanish Armada).


US/UK Release Date:  October 31, 2009

As the son of Mary Queen of Scots, born into her 'bloody nest', James had the most precarious of childhoods. Even before his birth, his life was threatened: it was rumoured that his father, Henry, had tried to make the pregnant Mary miscarry by forcing her to witness the assassination of her supposed lover, David Riccio. By the time James was one year old, Henry was murdered, possibly with the connivance of Mary; Mary was in exile in England; and James was King of Scotland. By the age of five, he had experienced three different regents as the ancient dynasties of Scotland battled for power and made him a virtual prisoner in Stirling Castle. In fact, James did not set foot outside the confines of Stirling until he was eleven, when he took control of his country. But even with power in his hands, he would never feel safe. For the rest of his life, he would be caught up in bitter struggles between the warring political and religious factions who sought control over his mind and body. Yet James believed passionately in the divine right of kings, as many of his writings testify. He became a seasoned political operator, carefully avoiding controversy, even when his mother Mary was sent to the executioner by Elizabeth I. His caution and politicking won him the English throne on Elizabeth's death in 1603 and he rapidly set about trying to achieve his most ardent ambition: the Union of the two kingdoms. Alan Stewart's impeccably researched new biography makes brilliant use of original sources to bring to life the conversations and the controversies of the Jacobean age. From James' 'inadvised' relationships with a series of favourites and Gentlemen of the Bedchamber to his conflicts with a Parliament which refused to fit its legislation to the Monarch's will, Stewart lucidly untangles the intricacies of James' life. In doing so, he uncovers the extent to which Charles I's downfall was caused by the cracks that appeared in the monarchy during his father's reign.


US/UK Release Date:  October 31, 2009

This book will address the origins of witch-hunting in England in the sixteenth century, the methods by which it was conducted, its distribution, its causes and consequences, and its decline. While addressing a general readership it will be a scholarly work that is informed by the historiography of the subject - e.g. feminist perspectives, functional explanations, post-modern interpretations. The text will be rich in primary source material including trial records and contemporary literature, including demonological texts and the papers of the Royal Society. Most of the illustrations will also be engravings from the period but some maps and location photographs will be included.


UK Release Date:  September 24, 2009

Elizabeth I was born into a world of women. As a child, she was served by a predominantly female household of servants and governesses, with occasional visits from her mother, Anne Bolyen, and the wives who later took her place. As Queen, Elizabeth was constantly attended by ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honor who clothed her, bathed her and watched her while she ate. Among her family, it was her female relations who had the greatest influence: from her sister Mary, who distrusted and later imprisoned her, to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who posed a constant and dangerous threat to her crown for almost thirty years. Despite the importance of women in Elizabeth's life, most historians and biographers have focused on her relationships with men. She has been portrayed as a 'man's woman' who loved to flirt with the many ambitious young men who frequented her court. Yet it is the women in her life who provide the most fascinating insight into the character of this remarkable monarch. With them she was jealous, spiteful and cruel, as well as loyal, kind and protective. She showed her frailties and her insecurities, but also her considerable shrewdness and strength. In short, she was more human than the public persona she presented to the rest of the court. It is her relationships with women that hold the key to the private Elizabeth. In this original chronicling of the life of one of England's greatest monarchs, historian Tracy Borman explores Elizabeth's relationships with the key women in her life. Beginning with her mother and the governesses and stepmothers who cared for the young princess, including her beloved Kat Astley and the inspirational Katherine Parr, "Elizabeth's Women" sheds new light on her formative years. Elizabeth's turbulent relationships with her rivals are examined: from her sister, 'Bloody' Mary, to the sisters of Lady Jane Grey, and finally the most deadly of all her rivals, Mary, Queen of Scots who would give birth to the man Elizabeth would finally, inevitably have to recognize as heir to her throne. It is a chronicle of the servants, friends and 'flouting wenches' who brought out the best - and the worst - of Elizabeth's carefully cultivated image as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, in the glittering world of her court.


US Paperback Release Date:  August 6, 2009

England's medieval queens were elemental in shaping the history of the nation. In an age where all politics were family politics, dynastic marriages placed English queens at the very centre of power - the king's bed. From Matilda of Flanders, the Conqueror's queen, to Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor consort, England's queens fashioned the nature of monarchy and influenced the direction of the state. Occupying a unique position in the mercurial, often violent world of medieval state-craft, English queens had to negotiate a role that combined tremendous influence with terrifying vulnerability. Lisa Hilton's meticulously researched new book explores the lives of the twenty women who were crowned queen between 1066 and 1503, reconsidering the fictions surrounding well-known figures like Eleanor of Aquitaine and illuminating the lives of forgotten figures such as Adeliza of Louvain. War, adultery, witchcraft, child abuse, murder - and occasionally even love - formed English queenship, but so too did patronage, learning and fashion. Lisa Hilton considers the evolution of the queenly office alongside intimate portraits of the individual women, dispelling the myth that medieval brides were no more than diplomatic pawns.


US Release Date:  November 1, 2009

Which 'ill-prepared' monarch was on the English throne at the turn of the last millenium? How many English monarchs have been crowned on St George's Day? When, how and why did England 'lose' eleven days? "Monarchs, Murders & Mistresses" answers these questions and many more, presenting a royal event for each day of the calendar year in vivid detail with close-ups of the personalities involved. The book reveals the recurring occupational difficulties faced by the royal family over the centuries: as Shakespeare's Henry IV so memorably concludes, 'Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown'. Today the royal family is plagued by the press, but even 300 years ago Charles II felt the need to apologise to a crowd of onlookers for taking so long to die. This book contains topics ranging from the death of William III, who was killed by a mole to the beheading of Mary, Queen of Scots. These, and over 300 other tales of royal days, bring alive the drama of what it was, and is, to be a king or a queen.


Anna Elliott reveals cover of Dark Moon of Avalon

Anna Elliott posts here about the preliminary cover (with only slight changes still to be made) of the second novel in her Trystan & Isolde series, Dark Moon of Avalon!

Isn't it gorgeous?  I think I'd pick it up based on the cover alone.

If you haven't read the first novel of the series, Twilight of Avalon, you are seriously missing out on a great read my friend!  My review should be posted within the week of Twilight and I now eagerly await more of Trystan & Isolde in Dark Moon of Avalon!

 Dark Moon of Avalon is slated for release in May 2010.


Coming soon to a bookstore near you!


US & UK Release Date:  June 26, 2009

Everybody thinks they know the tale of King Henry VIII's wives: divorced, beheaded died; divorced, beheaded, survived. But behind this familiar story, lies a far more complex truth. This book brings together for the first time the 'other women' of King Henry VIII. When he first came to the throne, Henry VIII's mistresses were dalliances, the playthings of a powerful and handsome man. However, when Anne Boleyn disrupted that pattern, ousting Katherine of Aragon to become Henry's wife, a new status quo was established. Suddenly noble families fought to entangle the king with their sisters and daughters; if wives were to be beheaded or divorced so easily, the mistress of the king was in an enviable position. While Henry VIII has frequently been portrayed as a womanizer, author Philippa Jones reveals a new side to his character. Although he was never faithful, Jones sees him as a serial monogamist: he spent his life in search of a perfect woman, a search that continued even as he lay dying when he was considering divorcing Catherine Parr thus leaving him free to marry Katherine d'Eresby. Yet he loved each of his wives and mistresses, he was a romantic who loved being in love, but none of these loves ever fully satisfied him; all were ultimately replaced. "The Other Tudors" examines the extraordinary untold tales of the women who Henry loved but never married, the mistresses who became queens and of his many children, both acknowledged and unacknowledged. Philippa Jones takes us deep into the web of secrets and deception at the Tudor Court and explores another, often unmentioned, side to the King's character. 


a few more Heyers on the way!


US Release Date:  September 1, 2009

The superlatively analytical Inspector Hemingway is confronted by a murder that seems impossible—no one was near the murder weapon at the time the shot was fired. Everyone on the scene seems to have a motive, not to mention the wherewithal to commit murder, and alibis that simply don't hold up. The inspector is sorely tried by a wide variety of suspects, including the neglected widow, the neighbor who's in love with her, her resentful daughter, and a patently phony Russian prince preying on the widow's emotional vulnerability and social aspirations. And then there's the blackmail plot that may—or may not—be at the heart of the case…

US Release Date:  December 1, 2009

In an age of slippery politics, Robin and Prudence Tremaine, the children of the notorious and brilliant Viscount of Barham, find themselves on the wrong side of the Jacobite rebellion. The Viscount sends his offspring on the road to London, each masquerading as the opposite sex.

In her guise as a young gentleman, Prudence attracts a mentor in Sir Anthony Fanshawe, who soon uncovers her true identity and becomes an accomplice in their escape. Robin and Prudence rescue the lovely Letitia from an unwanted elopement, and Robin, disguised as a lady, becomes her confidante. The plot unwinds with a great deal of adventurous doings—sword fights, narrow escapes, blackmail, and highwaymen—until Robin must reveal his true identity and woo Letitia in earnest. But when she finds out the truth, will she accept an adventurer for a husband? Or will his masquerade be Robin's undoing?

 US Release Date:  November 1, 2009

Devil's Cub is another of readers', booksellers', and librarians' favorite Georgette Heyers. In this acclaimed followup to These Old Shades, Dominic Alastair, fiery son of the Duke of Avon, is forced to flee England after a duel. He intends to take and set up as his mistress the young lady whose attentions he's been courting, but her virtuous sister Mary gets in his way and finds herself carried off to France instead.

Discovering that he has met his match when she shoots him in the arm to protect her virtue, Dominic tries to persuade Mary to marry him, but she'll have none of it. A chase ensues that in the end embroils the Duke of Avon himself and his passionate and impetuous wife, Leonie, who is forced to admit that Mary might just be the best thing in the world for her beloved son.


Review: Frenchman's Creek by Daphne DuMaurier

Frenchman's Creek
by Daphne DuMaurier


Lady Dona has grown weary of her high society life.  She is fed up with the endless parties filled of people with too much money and too less to do.  It's an inane and nonsensical existence - sleeping until noon and staying up all night in the card houses.  Playing silly jokes just to pass time.  Boredom of the rich is nothing to scoff at.

Finally, she can't take it anymore, the urge to flee is too overwhelming.  Telling her husband that she would like some time alone, she grabs her two kids and a nurse and sets off at break-neck speed to their house at Navron in Cornwall.  Upon arrival, she finds there is only one servant, William with the strange accent that she can't quite place.  He and Lady Dona seem to almost click at once, then develop a relationship throughout.  They have some great repartee!  

Dona settles nicely into life at Navron.  Playing with the children, getting dirty and enjoying the country suit her just fine and you can feel the real Dona emerging.  And the woman here is much more likeable than the woman in the beginning.  She is mischievous and funny, laid back and a realist.  It's solely to her precariousness that she stumbles across the Frenchman in his hidden creek - she figures quickly that this must be the pirate the locals have told her about.  The French pirate that's been stealing from them, the one they have been unable to catch.  She also links him to her servant, William, thus securing him as a partner in crime to her meetings with the Frenchman.  Adventure awaits her upon La Mouette and she is not going to let this opportunity go by.

DaMaurier writes a smartly crafted novel about one woman's need to escape, the need to feel something real, something tangible.  At the same time Dona is a realist and appreciates that she can't escape forever - above anything, she is a mother and knows her place is with them.  But, she'll always have that memory, that moment, that is truly hers alone - and she can escape there anytime...with her mind.


The French Mistress Giveaway!

The daughter of a poor nobleman, Louise leaves the French countryside for the court of King Louis XIV, where she must not only please the tastes of the jaded king, but serve as a spy for France. With few friends, many rivals, and ever-shifting loyalties, Louise learns the perils of her new role. Yet she is too ambitious to be a pawn in the intrigues of others. With the promise of riches, power, and even the love of a king, Louise creates her own destiny in a dance of intrigue between two monarchs—and two countries.
 Giveaway 411:
  • Giveaway ends on July 6th. Winner will be announced on July 7th.
  • Open to all domestic and international entries. Susan Holloway Scott & Passages loves our neighbors across the water =)
  • For 5 additional entries sign up as a follower; if you already are a follower you will automatically get this.
  • For another additional one entry, post about this giveaway.
 Good luck!

Special thanks to Susan Holloway Scott for making this giveaway possible!! 


Author Interview with Donna Woolfolk Cross of Pope Joan

I am truly delighted to bring you an interview with the author of the fabulous novel Pope Joan, Donna Woolfolk Cross!

Welcome to Passages to the Past and thank you so much for gracing our humble site!  It's been a pleasure getting to know you and Pope Joan!

Finding Inspiration: With some authors a character comes in a dream, some discover an interesting character while researching another…what was it that prompted you to write Joan’s story?

I had already decided to make the leap from the books I had been writing (non-fiction books about words and language) to historical fiction--my favorite form of leisure reading.

Then I happened to come across a passing reference that I originally thought was an amusing typo ("Joan" for "John"--an easy "slip of the pen"). But a few weeks later, I had to drive my daughter to the library for a school assignment. While waiting for her, I had time to kill. Idle curiosity led me over to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, just to check on that odd reference to a "Pope Joan". 

I didn't expect to find anything. So imagine my surprise when there WAS an entry for her! I stood in that library with my jaw dropped open. How was it possible that the story of such a remarkable woman had existed for centuries--and I hadn't even HEARD of her?

I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to write about. In the book business, they call this a “drop-dead” story. I couldn't believe I'd had the enormous good fortune to stumble across it!

Research: You referred to ancient texts for research – how do you find such information? How long was the research process for Pope Joan?

Forever. Or so it seemed. It took so long that I had started to refer to the work as “my posthumous work”--for I began to think that I might end before it did!

I spent over seven years researching and writing Pope Joan. Nothing mysterious about the process; I just slogged away, beginning with easy-to-access sources, readily available in U.S libraries--sometimes even from inter-library loan! From those I retrieved references and bibliography that led to harder-to-obtain sources available only in rare book rooms and special collections, often in other languages, sometimes in other countries. Fortunately, I can read French, Spanish, Italian, and some Latin, which was an enormous help.

The Movie: Congratulations on Pope Joan becoming a big Hollywood movie! What has been the most exciting aspect of this project for you? Did you have much say in the screenplay? Was it hard to share “your baby” with the screenwriters?

It took ten years to get “Pope Joan” to the silver screen. There were four different production companies, six different directors, and eight separate screenplays. The word “vicissitude” doesn’t begin to describe all that I went through. Best way to describe it is to say that I finally understand, for the first time in my life, why everyone in Hollywood is on crack cocaine!

Constantin Film, the same production company that made “Name of the Rose” finished filming Pope Joan in January. Though I had no contractual rights with regard to the screenplay, they were generous enough to take many suggestions from me about the script-in-progress. I’ll be listed as “Creative Consultant” in the film credits.

The most exciting part of the project was being on-set in Germany and Morocco. Fascinating! They had to drag me off the set at the end of each day’s shooting,. It was extraordinary to observe so many people--actors, cameramen, makeup people, extras, even animals--enacting scenes and pieces of dialogue that I remember writing in the solitude of my little study.

I can’t wait until the premiere! If any of your readers would like to join me, they should check out my “walk the red carpet” offer at

Historical Accuracy: Given that there wasn’t a lot of information available, what historical liberties did you take with Pope Joan?

You are certainly right about about there not being a lot of information available about Joan. But that’s not surprising. The lives of ALL of the 8th and 9th century Popes are told in exactly the same way-- -in very abbreviated form. Chronicle records in the "Darkest of the Dark Ages" were written with uncertain ink on nubbly animal skin (for that's what parchment is). They were short and woefully lacking in detail. If you took one of these papal records off the hand-written page, it wouldn't take up more than about 15 pages of modern print.

So all I had was a skeleton of a story. That’s the beauty of writing historical fiction--it allowed me to put flesh on those dry old bones, to give this inspirational story laughter, smiles, tears--all the things that make a story human. I tried, however, always to base my "imaginative leaps" on what might reasonably be deduced from the evidence at hand. And the details of the ninth-century setting, strange and savage as they now seem, are all factual.

Future Novels: Are you working on a new novel at the present time? What can readers look for in the future from Donna Woolfolk Cross?

I'm writing about another strong woman from history, this time from 17th century France. I admire her very much, as I do Joan. What draws me to both women is best expressed with a quote from George Bernard Shaw: "Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people persist in trying to adapt the world to themselves. Therefore, all progress depends on unreasonable people." (n.b. Shaw actually spoke of "reasonable and unreasonable men"; I've altered this to make it inclusive of women).

In this complimentary sense of the word, Joan was certainly an "unreasonable" woman. So is my next heroine--whose name, I'm sure you've noticed, I have artfully not mentioned (largely because my agent has told me she'll cut out my tongue if I do!).

I hope my readers will enjoy my next heroine’s delicious "unreasonableness" as much as I do.

What are you reading at the moment? 

“La Vie Quotidienne au Marais au XVIIe Siecle”--in other words, “Daily Life in the Marais in the 17th Century.” Research for my next novel--but actually more interesting than one might think! 

Who are your top five authors? 

What an excruciating question! I have so many more than five--all writers of historical fiction, the best of all reading adventures, for it combines pleasure with learning--an unbeatable combination! 

Forced to the task, however, I’ll provide the names that pop into my mind first: Mary Renault, Cecelia Holland, Gore Vidal, Zoe Oldenbourg, Judith Merkle Riley. Also a wonderful up-and-comer: C.W. Gortner.

Book that changed your life?

You’re killing me here, Amy, for this is another excruciating question. (You’re very good at this. Perhaps I should call you “Torquemada”? )

 So many books changed my life--made me literate; introduced me to other cultures and different ways of “conjuring the world”; helped me become more tolerant and broad-minded; taught me history I had never learned in school. At every stage of my life, there was a book that changed me and influenced my life choices. 

But as you’ve put my foot to the fire, I guess I’d have to say “A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Woolf--a book that made me realize how important it is to for a woman to secure an education--and with it, economic independence, upon which all true choices depend.

Favorite line from a book? 

“Isn’t it pretty to think so?” from “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway. A line filled with romantic yearning but also skepticism born of experience--a combination that I understand and am moved by.

Book that you most want to read again for the first time?

“Memoirs of a Geisha”. I would linger over it, soaking in the wonderful evocation of an alien culture, if I had another “first time”. But though I would enjoy it, I would be mindful that another “first time” is impossible to come by, for as the old saying goes, “You can only be a virgin once!”

My Review of Pope Joan | Pope Joan Website


Books that make you go hmmmm.....

Here's another book I found, but I'm not quite sure about it.  It could be really good or really bad!  Has anyone read this or read Helen Humphreys in general?


US Release Date:  July 10, 2009 

From Publishers Weekly

Inspired by the Victorian photography of Julia Margaret Cameron, Canadian author Humphreys creatively invents the world behind the images of a costumed house maid. Acknowledging a debt to Jane Eyre, Humphreys sets her beguiling tale in the mid-19th-century English countryside, where doe-eyed Annie Phelan comes to work at Middle Road Farm. What she encounters there is alien to her strict, religious upbringing as a servant after her family died in the Irish famine. Her new mistress, Isabelle, is the unconventional daughter of local gentry and a passionate artist attempting to prove her skill in the new medium of photography. Isabelle uses her house staff as models in elaborately concocted photo shoots and discovers the obedient Annie to be an expressive and intriguing portrait subject. Viewing Annie dressed up as Ophelia, Sappho or the Madonna, 30ish Isabelle begins to feel an attraction to the younger woman the kind of attraction she no longer feels for her husband, Eldon. He is a mapmaker with ambitions to be a world explorer, and he also admires Annie, whom he calls "Phelan" when she becomes a participant in his imaginary expedition to the Arctic. He also helps her to satisfy her own obsession, which is reading, by allowing her to borrow books from his library. The atmosphere that encloses this evolving love triangle is sometimes erotic, sometimes poignant and always complicated by Victorian class issues. A fiery denouement causes Annie to question her past and reconsider her future with Isabelle. Humphreys, author of four books of poetry and the acclaimed novel Leaving Earth, has an impeccable command of imagery, and her prose finds strengths in its subtlety. A hauntingly beautiful reproduction of a Cameron photo on the jacket should pull readers to this finely wrought novel.


Mailbox Monday!

One woman holds the key to England's most glorious empire in this intimate retelling of the launch of the Tudor dynasty

A magnificent portrait of Elizabeth of York, set against the dramatic background of fifteenth century England. Elizabeth, the only living descendant of Edward IV, has the most valuable possession in all of England—a legitimate claim to the crown. Two princes battle to win Britain's most rightful heiress for a bride and her kingdom for his own. On one side is her uncle Richard, the last Plantagenet King, whom she fears is the murderer of her two brothers, the would-be kings. On the other side is Henry Tudor, the exiled knight. Can he save her from a horrifying marriage to a cut-throat soldier?

Thrust into the intrigue and drama of the War of the Roses, Elizabeth has a country within her grasp—if she can find the strength to unite a kingdom torn apart by a thirst for power. A richly drawn tale of the woman who launched one of the most dramatic dynasties England has ever seen, The Tudor Rose is a vibrant, imaginative look at the power of a queen.

The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God’s protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina’s new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.

Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant–young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.

As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena–with her history of visions and ecstasies–locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess’s job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.

A dazzling novel in the most untraditional fashion, this is the remarkable story of Henry DeTamble, a dashing, adventuresome librarian who travels involuntarily through time, and Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare's passionate love affair endures across a sea of time and captures the two lovers in an impossibly romantic trap, and it is Audrey Niffenegger's cinematic storytelling that makes the novel's unconventional chronology so vibrantly triumphant.

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Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

My Cousin Rachel
by Daphne Du Maurier


Orphaned at 18 months, Philip Ashley is taken in and raised by his cousin, the consummate bachelor, Ambrose. Their relationship is a close one as they share not only looks, but emotions and mannerisms as well.

Ambrose travels to Italy one summer, leaving Philip to watch over the house. Letter writing is how they keep in touch and it's the information written within these letters that carries the story. Ambrose writes to tell Philip that he has met his cousin Rachel, soon followed by another letter stating that they are now married and not long after that the letters become mysterious and full of paranoia - Ambrose has been suffering an unknown illness and seems to think his new wife is trying to poison him. Philip decides to go to Ambrose in Italy and find out for himself what is really going on. But when he gets there he finds that Ambrose has been dead for two weeks and cousin Rachel had already fled the villa. Convinced that Rachel killed Ambrose and makes a promise to himself to make her pay.

Back in England, Rachel shows up at Philip's manor unexpectedly. His mind is already made up to hate her, however when they meet his image of her is thrown right out the door. She's charming and dainty and sweet - she bewitches Philip from the start. She can't possibly have had anything to do with Ambrose's death. Or can she?

My Cousin Rachel explores the complicated mind of a woman and the men who try to decipher it. Du Maurier's writing flows very well and the pace is fluid throughout. The gothic atmosphere combined with the mystery of who Rachel really is, kept this reader enthralled and turning the pages quickly.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for giving me the opportunity to read such a wonderful novel!

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