Never make a promise

I give up. Life has become so hectic as a parent and full-time employee, as well as doing my volunteer job for the HNS, that I can’t keep up with this blog. I don’t expect to have followers when I am unable to post regularly. Rather than trying to be a professional blogger, I am just blogging on a personal basis. Blah, blah, blah.

My book collection has gotten larger recently, but I haven’t been reading very fast. I did review Godiva by Nicole Galland for the August 2013 issue of the Historical Novels Review and here it is:

Set in Anglo-Saxon England, this is a reimagining of the legend of Lady Godiva, Countess of Mercia, an 11th-century noblewoman well-known for riding au naturel through Coventry to relieve her people of unfair and oppressive taxation. Godiva’s unlikely friendship with Abbess Edgiva of Leominster, who has her own troubles, and her playful relationship with her husband, Leofric, also play major roles.

The novel is well-written with colorful description and detail; however, this reader chafed at elements of predictable and clichéd plotlines, such as the abbess’s pregnancy resulting from a one-night stand, and Earl Sweyn’s attempt to “abduct” her from the abbey. The notion of a countess playing matchmaker for an abbess, in the first place, pushes the limits of believability.

The most troublesome aspect, however, is the difficulty sympathizing with Godiva’s plight, as the countess is not portrayed as a sympathetic character—she is a woman who outspokenly prides herself on her ability to manipulate men for personal gain and expresses no remorse about doing so. Therefore, when the king offers her a choice of punishments, either to literally bare herself to the people of her town, or surrender the lucrative holding of Coventry, this reader could not summon up sympathy for her dilemma. Godiva engages in a game against a crafty opponent, and King Edward gets the best of her. The plot’s power to engage hinges on the reader’s sympathy for Godiva, which is simply absent in this case.

As much as I want to be able to recommend this book, unfortunately I found Godiva uninspiring.

Obviously, I wasn’t very taken by the book, and I hope my review explains why well enough.

After returning from the HNS conference, I dove right into one of the books that was given away in our gift bags, Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole. I was in the mood for a good old-fashioned WW2 tear-jerker of a romance, and that’s exactly what I got. I loved it. A multigeneraltional tale of love and loss (to put it simply), it was smoothy written, fast-flowing, and engaging.

Right now I am working on another two review books, Jonathan Grimwood’s The Last Banquet (the Europa publicist raved about this one) and The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott. The latter novel struck my interest because when I lived in Boston, I was exposed to the fascinating history of the Lowell textile mills, and the class struggles that ensued in the factory towns. The smell of textiles is still pungent when you tour one of these mills. Many have been turned into condos and there is still that eerie smell when you walk inside- talk about living history! THIS is the reason I love historical fiction.


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