Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Mesmerist (Author Barbara Ewing)

Barbara Ewing is fast becoming one of my favourite authors thanks to her strong female lead characters and rich story telling. The Mesmerist is no exception. Set in London in the year 1838 we meet Miss Cordelia Preston, an ageing out of work actress struggling to find work and battling the stereotypes of an unmarried woman. Following in the footsteps of her aunt she re-invents herself as a Lady Phreno-Mesmerist working out of Bloomsbury basement with her friend Rillie Spoons. What started as a fraudulent expedition to survive a poverty stricken life soon turns into a journey that sees Miss Preston at the centre of a murder investigation which threatens to revel the secrets of her past.

The Mesmerist is an engaging read with complex characters and a fascinating insight into the world of what would later be known as hypnotism. A truly captivating read. If you haven't read anything from this author yet The Mesmerist is a great place to start.

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Call the Midwife (Author Jennifer Worth)

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Call the Midwife is the true story of the author working as a midwife in the East End of London in the 1950s. It is the first in a three part series of books which are quite possible my favourite I have read this year. Focused very heavily on the characters in her life, Jennifer Worth is a captivating story teller. Call the Midwife follows her journey as she lives in a convent as a trained midwife and practices in the war-scarred Dockland area of London. We could never imagine some of the conditions in which women had to gave birth in, and only 50 years ago. It really opens your eyes to an entire different way of life.

Living with an order of nuns who have been practising midwifery since the late 1980s allows Worth to not only explore the lives of the patients she meets but also the extraordinary women who have devoted their lives to helping others. A touching, funny and poignant story capturing a fascinating time in social history, this book is a must read for every woman.

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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Madame Serpent (The Medici Trilogy: Volume 1) - author Jean Plaidy

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Full Book Review:
Catherine de Medici, the protagonist of this first book of three which chronicles her life, makes for an addictive read. Following her early life as an Italian girl married off by her relative Pope Clement VII to Henry, second son of King Francis I, through to motherhood. Thrust into a strange country she grows to deeply love her husband who ascends the throne only to have to face the humiliation of her husbands devotion to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Out of this life grows a fierce women determined to win her husbands love and the power of ruling France, but her methods grow evermore ruthless.

This is the first Jean Plaidy book I have read and was surprised to find it was published in the 1950s, not knowing much of the writer. As a fan of Historical Fiction I found this book an enlightening take on the French court. It was a quick read and although I think the book had enough to hold your attention and allow you to grasp the main characters others may find the book too short on secondary character development. I had conflicting feelings for Catherine, swinging between feeling sorry for her and thinking her quite a mean young woman, but always intrigued to know the next development in her life.

I was pleasantly surprised by the writer and look forward to reading the other titles in this series.

Please note - my first review is a copy of one I wrote on Amazon. From now I will be writing reviews on my blog only.
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Books in the sun

There is something magical about escaping to another world through writing. In this fast paced world we need to make time for ourselves and the things we love. Come join me as I lie in the sun with a good book.