Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Depression Era #HistoricalFiction THREADS by @CWhitneyAuthor #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Threads by Charlotte Whitney

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Threads is my introduction to Charlotte Whitney and I have discovered a talented writer. Threads follows the lives of three sisters growing up on a hardscrabble farm during the depression, and the story alternates among their points of view. Nellie is the youngest and in second grade, and she has the most pronounced mid-Michigan farm dialect. Irene is in sixth grade and a definite middle child. She and Nellie attend a one room school. The oldest sister, Flora, is in high school.

Nellie is a real tomboy with a vivid imagination. One afternoon, while she explores the meadows and woods surrounding the farm, she spots a tiny black hand poking out of a mound. Nellie is terrified and listening to her parents talking that night – she can hear them if she puts her ear to the heat register in the floor of her bedroom – she learns it was a baby boy. The sheriff had been called but no one had any idea about whose baby it was. Her parents worry they will be blamed.

Irene is sassy, intelligent, and has become the pet of the school’s teacher Miss Flatshaw. She thinks Nellie is stupid. Flora is on the cusp of adulthood. She is a caring and perceptive young woman who has considerable responsibility in the work of the farm and realizes that her life will be one of a farmer’s wife, despite her desire for a career.

The three girls’ personalities are wonderfully wrought – you can hear their voices in your head. You live with them over the next years, through all the details of running a farm, struggling to put enough food on the table to feed everyone, the penny-pinching and making-do, the sharing of whatever they have with those more in need, and the whims of the weather on which their livelihood depends. The descriptions take the reader into life on a farm, into a loving but stressed family, and through all of life’s transitions: from one grade to another, graduation, first love, surprising traumas. Woven in is the continuing mystery of the dead baby’s origins. I particularly liked the last chapter, which presents us with the girls as adults with lives of their own.

I highly recommend this book. It was a joy to read. The author’s knowledge of, and passion for, this era shines through.

Book description

It’s a boring, hardscrabble life for three sisters growing up on a Michigan farm in the throes of the Great Depression. But, when young Nellie, digging for pirate treasure, discovers the tiny blue-black hand of a dead baby, rumors begin to fly. Narrated by Nellie and her two older sisters, the story follows the girls as they encounter a patchwork of threatening circumstances and take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Tudor #HistoricalFiction KATHERINE – TUDOR DUCHESS by @tonyriches

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Katherine – Tudor Duchess by Tony Riches

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I was first introduced to Tony Riches historical novels when I read the books in his Tudor Trilogy, about the founding and growth of the Tudor family. The history is compelling. For Mary – Tudor Princess, and this book, Katherine – Tudor Duchess, the reader experiences the Tudor family from a woman’s point of view. The author hasn’t lost a step in the transition.

Katherine Willoughby was born at Parham Hall in Suffolk in 1519, daughter of the 11th Baron of Willoughby and his second wife, Maria de Salina, who had come to England as a lady-in- waiting to Katherine of Aragon. With her father’s death, Katherine inherited the barony. Her wardship fell to King Henry VII, who sold it to Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk, his brother-in-law.

Her story begins as she is about to leave to join the Duke’s household. Her mother, who will continue in her service to Queen Katherine, sees her daughter as a good match for Henry Brandon, the Duke’s five-year-old son who is in the line of succession to the throne. Katherine is not so sure.

After traveling to the impressive Westhorpe Manor, Katherine becomes a part of the Brandon family, joining Henry and his two sisters, who are close in age to Katherine. She immediately is drawn to the beautiful, clever and elegant Lady Mary, wife of the Duke and sister to the King. (See Mary – Tudor Princess). When Katherine meets the Duke, she is immediately drawn to this rich and powerful man.

When Princess Mary dies after a lingering illness, Katherine mourns her deeply and is surprised when the Duke proposes to marry her. She is but fourteen and he is forty-nine. Beating the odds, theirs is a long and successful marriage, weathering the vicissitudes of the King’s many marriages and the reigns of Henry’s children. Katherine’s quick wit, devotion to learning and outspoken advocacy for the English reformation help her navigate the politics of the time. Through Katherine’s eyes, you meet the famous women of Henry’s court: Anne Boleyn, Katherine Seymour, Catherine Parr. You suffer with the deaths of her children and experience terror when Katherine’s faith puts her and her entire family in danger.

As impressed as I was by the story of Princess Mary, Katherine’s life left an even more indelible vision of an indomitable woman who not only survived a tumultuous time, but thrived. As always, the author’s attention to detail and depth of knowledge of the intrigue of the English court is superb.

I highly recommend yet another well-written and richly ornamented book by Tony Riches.

Book description

She stands up for what she believes in…
but such courage has consequences.

Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey.

When her father dies, Katherine becomes the ward of Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.

Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, Katherine marries Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. After the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the tragic death of Jane Seymour, Katherine and Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England.

When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform. Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, but when Edward dies his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen. Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery BEYOND THE YEW TREE by @RachelJwalkley #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Beyond The Yew Tree by Rachel J. Walkley

I loved the Women of Heachley Hall, so I jumped at the chance to read another mystery by Rachel Walkley. I enjoyed this one just as much, probably because I like books with women protagonists, and especially if they are a little flawed.

For Beyond the Yew Tree, the author has created Laura Naylor, who has been called for jury duty and who reluctantly shows up on the appointed day. Having been on juries, I immediately related to the descriptions of the process, the jurors, and Laura’s experience. In this case, the man on the stand is accused of defrauding a charity for the blind.

It all seems very mundane, as is Laura’s life, until she begins to hear a hissing sound in the courtroom, one that no one else hears. At the same time she begins to have recurring nightmares of a Victorian jail and a suffering woman somehow connected to it. Laura thinks it’s related to the fact the court is actually within the walls of an old castle, which also houses an ancient prison and an equally old cemetery, where people who had been executed or died in prison were buried.

The author cleverly compounds Laura’s growing misery with anxiety of another sort: her Italian, live-in boyfriend, Marco, left suddenly for Italy because of an unexplained family matter, and his communication with her has dried up.

When the hisses resolve into a child-like whisper, Laura is lead to the prison graveyard and a spot near an old yew tree and also to the site of a long-gone bakery, where she experiences the smell of freshly baked bread. Assistance comes in the form of Sean, the curator of the prison museum, who helps her discover that her dreams and the whisper are related to a woman hung for murder a century earlier.

I won’t say more other than the fate of the man and the child of the hanged woman converge. Will Marco ever come back? Is Sean a serious match for Laura? Who is the wretched woman and who is the child only Laura can hear? You will love following the twists and turns of this story to discover the answers!

The intertwining of history with the present is a skill of this author and one again she has made a place, in this case the castle, a character in her story. Her characters are interesting and believable, with good depth, and the descriptions of places are clear and crisp.

I recommend Beyond the Yew Tree as a satisfying and enjoyable read, especially as a diversion from world events.

Book description

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts reluctant juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman. Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.
The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.
Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder.
If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery THE ALEXANDRITE by Dione Jones

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Alexandrite by Dione Jones

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I purchased the book for review as a member of Rosie Amber’s book review team.

This book covers multiple generations of the titled Scawton family of England. The center of the story is the current Lady Scawton, Pamela, who discovers the body of a stranger in the woods near the family home of Ashly House.

Pamela represents perhaps the last generation of the English upper class raised to be waited on and respected for their title alone, but she is, in fact, rather down to earth. She endured years of emotional and psychological trauma at the hands of her husband, CJ, and her only son, Charles, now Lord Scawton, is as selfish and overbearing as her husband.

In the pocket of the stranger is a letter addressed to Lord Scawton and an odd stone, one which changes color from green to pink, depending on the light. Pamela has no idea why the stranger, who had come to England from New Zealand, wanted to see her husband, what the abbreviated letter means, nor the reason for the stone. Eventually, she, against the strong wishes of her son, travels to New Zealand to get answers. The stone, an alexandrite, mined in Tsarist Russia, gives its name to the book.

The book has numerous flashbacks to scenes involving the family and their servants during the two decades after WWI, and from Ashly House to New Zealand farmland. Pamela’s trip reveals how the flashbacks to events after WW I are woven into the present.

I enjoyed the book, but for me it was a long read, with a great deal of exposition and some confusion with the many characters in the various time lines and places and multiple points of view. A character list at the beginning of the book would have been helpful. The site transitions within chapters also created some difficulties for me as I struggled to identify and remember the characters.

That being said, the author does a wonderful job creating the main characters. I felt pity for Pamela having such a difficult married life, knowing she was trapped there, and having a son who treated her disrespectfully. She is such a good character that I wanted to shake her and tell her to stand up for herself. It was gratifying that eventually she did. Her son Charles, the butler Godfrey, Ginny, the daughter of Pamela’s friend Di Williams and Theodore Cook, the brother of the dead man and a shambling old wreck in and out of his memories, made strong impressions. I also liked the scenes set in New Zealand, where the author resides, especially the sheep shearing and Karekare Beach.

Another strong element for me was the description of the different roles of women set against the British class system, class conflicts and changing societal values.

This book had much to recommend, but the numerous characters and their relationships are  difficult to sort out through the various stories winding within the book.

Book description

Who is the stranger found dead in the woods, outside Pamela Lady Scawton’s family home? Why was he carrying a stone that changes colour and a threatening letter?
The quest leads from World War One to the present day and from an English village to New Zealand farmland, to discover how past events are intertwined with the present. To unravel the mystery Pamela is forced to confront truths that shatter her beliefs about her family and their place in the world.
The Alexandrite is a story of class conflict, hidden sins, and deceit.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Witch Trials And A Scottish #HistoricalRomance THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR by @AilishSinclair

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Mermaid And The Bear by Ailsish Sinclair

Ailish Sinclair has written a captivating romantic fairy tale for adults, set in 1597 Scotland.

Isobell has been pledged by her father to marry a man she calls Wicked Richard. Together with two boys, Ian and Jasper, she flees her intended husband and a life of privilege in London, sailing in the hold of a ship to a smugglers cave below a remote castle in Scotland. There she will work as an assistant cook.

With no training for her menial job, she is taken under the wing of Bessie Thom, the castle’s cook – a large, jolly woman who is also an herbalist – who reminds me strongly of Mrs. Fitz in Outlander. Isobell meets Agnes, a sour and bitter young woman who is the governess to Wee Thomas and who loves to tell tales of witchcraft; the handsome Duncan McCulloch, Greeve of the castle; Christen Michel, an elderly woman who is the mother of the Laird’s first wife, Mary, who died giving birth to Wee Thomas; and finally the Laird himself, Thomas Monteith. All of these characters are so well drawn, I could easily see and hear them. The authentic use of Scottish words and phrases draws the reader into this medieval world.

I called this a fairy tale – Isobell falls in love with the laird, a bear of a man who is kind and gentle and sad – and the reader is lulled into contentment by both their love and the beauty that surrounds the castle: fairy pools and standing stones and beautiful woods. But this tale turns grim and gritty when it delves into accusations of witchcraft and witchcraft trials, prevalent at the time.

Thus the narrative encompasses hope and despair, good and evil, friends and enemies. The author writes beautiful descriptive prose of the Scottish countryside and delves into the heart of Isobell in an astonishing way, encompassing her views of conflicts between the Protestant and Catholic faiths and the feeling of the ancient religion, carried on by women, when Isobell finds the standing stones.

I really liked this book, despite the fact I expected and got a satisfying conclusion.  Isn’t this usual for fairy tales?

A truly enchanting tale!

Book description

Isobell needs to escape. She has to. Her life depends on it.

She has a plan and it’s a well thought-out, well observed plan, to flee her privileged life in London and the cruel man who would marry her, and ruin her, and make a fresh start in Scotland.

She dreams of faery castles, surrounded by ancient woodlands and misty lochs… and maybe even romance, in the dark and haunted eyes of a mysterious Laird.

Despite the superstitious nature of the time and place, her dreams seem to be coming true, as she finds friendship and warmth, love and safety. And the chance for a new beginning…

Until the past catches up with her.

Set in the late sixteenth century, at the height of the Scottish witchcraft accusations, The Mermaid and the Bear is a story of triumph over evil, hope through adversity, faith in humankind and – above all – love.

AmazonUK | AmzonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic #Mystery A SICKNESS OF THE SOUL by @penandpension

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading A Sickness Of The Soul by William Savage

This book was purchased for review.

I will admit I am a fan of William Savage’s mysteries. He has two series, one about Adam Bascomb, MD, and the other about Ashmole Foxe, bookseller, stylish dresser and man about town. Both are set in or around Norwich, England in the period between 1760 and 1800, a period of great turmoil in the country.  I enjoy both, but Ashmole Foxe is a favorite character of mine.

Although Ashmole Foxe is not of the nobility, he is a tradesman of the highest order and has a friend in Alderman Halloran. Halloran serves as a link between Foxe and the mayor of the city and its wealthy merchants, who frequently employ his investigative talents and logical mind in solving the murders of noblemen and women, merchants, and tradesmen. Mr. Foxe has developed nicely through the series (each book of which is stand-alone) with the gradual creation of an extended family that assists him in his pursuit of murderers: Mrs. Susannah Crombie, a widow who runs his bookshop; Charlie, a street urchin whom Foxe is grooming to be a bookbinder and who interacts with street urchins in pursuing clues for Foxe; and Miss Tabitha Studwell, a Cunning Woman (wise woman), herbalist and healer.

In this outing, Foxe finds himself with three murders to solve, and they each present him with different challenges. The first, and most important to the mayor, is the stabbing death of the son of Lord Frederick Aylestone, son of Viscount Penngrove, at a masquerade. The second is the death of an elderly collector of books of the occult, found stabbed in his library following an interview with a rare visitor. The third, and the one which Foxe is most emotionally involved, is the stabbing death of a man the street urchins called ‘Uncle’ – a poor person who lived on the streets but who was good and kind to them and whose body was discovered to have a valuable pendant around the neck, bearing the crest of a local semi-noble family.

The various paths Foxe chooses takes in solving each mystery are intertwined but are taken slowly and deliberately – after all, this is a historical period when life proceeds at a slow pace and within the confines of social norms. I enjoyed the challenge of seeing if I could keep up with, or ahead of, Foxe in his thinking. This only happened with the first murder but was enjoyable nonetheless. The twists and turns of each path keeps readers on their toes and second-guessing.

The author is a past master of the history of the times and manages to include a wealth of detail – the city and its underbelly of crime, the people, and the social strata, not to mention the clothes, the food, manners and the décor. All of this makes the reader feel they are living there with Ashemole Foxe. Each character is well-drawn and compelling for their sins, foibles, or goodness. The mysteries are always drawn to a suitable conclusion, and there is always a teaser at the end. In the last book, Foxe, a heretofore confirmed bachelor who satisfied his needs in elite brothels, proposed to Lady Arabella Cockerham. Her response led him to believe he had been rejected. Or had he? This time around we learn more about Lady Arabella.

This was a thoroughly satisfying book and for fans of William Savage and for those who have not yet had the pleasure of being introduced to his two sleuths, I highly recommend this as a great read.

Book description

“Many people wear masks. Some to hide their feelings; some to conceal their identity; and some to hide that most hideous plague of mankind: a sickness in the soul.”

Ashmole Foxe, Norwich bookseller, man-about-town and solver of mysteries will encounter all of these in this tangled drama of hatred, obsession and redemption.

This is a story set in the England of the 1760s, a time of rigid class distinctions, where the rich idle their days away in magnificent mansions, while hungry children beg, steal and prostitute themselves on the streets. An era on the cusp of revolution in America and France; a land where outward wealth and display hide simmering political and social tensions; a country which had faced intermittent war for the past fifty years and would need to survive a series of world-wide conflicts in the fifty years ahead.

Faced with no less than three murders, occurring from the aristocracy to the seeming senseless professional assassination of a homeless vagrant, Ashmole Foxe must call on all his skill and intelligence to uncover the sickness which is appears to be infecting his city’s very soul.

Can Foxe uncover the truth which lies behind a series of baffling deaths, from an aristocrat attending a ball to a vagrant murdered where he slept in a filthy back-alley?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction THE CONFESSOR’S WIFE by Kelly Evans @ChaucerBabe

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Confessor’s Wife by Kelly Evans

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The Confessor’s Wife is an engaging tale of the wife of Edward the Confessor. Edith of Wessex , daughter of Godwin, the Earl of Wessex, spends her early years in a household with two older brothers, Harold and Sweyn, and a beloved younger brother, Tostig.  Her father, knowing that she must make a good marriage in support of her family, sends her as a teenager to the royal abbey of Wilton. There she is to be educated in the running a household, along with the artly skills of the high-born and with fluency in various languages. Despite her despair at having to leave her home, she finds a friend in Aethel, also the daughter of a nobleman but who has taken her vows as a nun, and also in the Abbess. After years, during which she comes to feel at home at the abbey, her brother Sweyn, a pompous, self-centered man, comes to retrieve her. She is to be married – to Edward, the King of England.

Edith’s nemesis in her marriage is her mother-in-law, Emma, who despises Godwin and his family, believing Godwin is responsible for her oldest son’s death. Edith finds herself in an untenable situation – married to an older man, hated by her mother-in-law who thwarts her at every turn, and her family obligations. She must prove herself worthy to all of them.

In time, her relationship with Edward becomes respectful and deeply caring, yet she bears him no children – a cause for a man to cast his wife aside. Royal politics sway this way and that, and at one point Edith is sent back to the abbey, when her family falls from grace. And yet Edward does not remarry.

How does she navigate the political waters that swirl around the king? How can she ensure the promotion of her family’s men to the highest offices in the land, and help raise her brother to the throne? And how can she do this, when criticized over many years for being a barren wife?

Kelly Evans has taken a woman who is little more than a footnote in history and created a story around her that makes her real and emphasizes the perils of a queen in that period.

I had not known of Edith prior to reading this book and had barely heard of King Edward the Confessor, so the history of the story fascinated me. The strength of the author’s writing is definitely in the dialogue, which gives three-dimensionality to the speakers and had me drawn in from the beginning. I felt the love of Edith for her brother Tostig, even when he proved feckless and disloyal, through her dislike of the ceaselessly critical Sweyn, and her tolerance of the scheming Emma and her simpering mother, Gytha.

While much less descriptive than the writings of other authors of historical fiction – and there were times when I absolutely yearned for more detail – the dialogue kept me reading. The author made Edith’s life and the obstacles she faced very real despite the sparseness of the background elements. There were a few lapses into modern expressions, which brought me up, but not enough to drag me away!

The author has written several other historical novels. One of them is The Northern Queen about Edith’s mother-in-law, Emma. I think readers of historical fiction will enjoy this book, and I am definitely interested in reading The Northern Queen.

Book description

In the 11th Century, when barren wives are customarily cast aside, how does Edith of Wessex not only manage to stay married to King Edward the Confessor, but also become his closest advisor, promote her family to the highest offices in the land, AND help raise her brother to the throne? And why is her story only told in the footnotes of Edward’s history?

Not everyone approves of Edward’s choice of bride. Even the king’s mother, Emma of Normandy, detests her daughter-in-law and Edith is soon on the receiving end of her displeasure. Balancing her sense of family obligation with her duty to her husband, Edith must also prove herself to her detractors.

Edward’s and Edith’s relationship is respectful and caring, but when Edith’s enemies engineer her family’s fall from grace, the king is forced to send her away. She vows to do anything to protect her family’s interests if she returns, at any cost. Can Edith navigate the dangerous path fate has set her, while still remaining loyal to both her husband and her family?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistoricalFiction #Mystery Death Of A Good Samaritan by William Savage @penandpension

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Death Of A Good Samaritan by William Savage

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William Savage is the author of two Georgian mystery series, one featuring Ashmole Fox, a colorful book seller, and the other Adam Bascom, a physician. I will confess that despite my medical background, I have been drawn more to Ashmole Fox, but this latest in the Adam Bascom series has changed my mind.

This book is located in Norfolk market town of Aylsham in 1794 and as well as Millgate and the Bure Navigation – the upper reaches of the river Bure, which extended from from Horstead to Aylsham and which included locks. The author has included a map, which greatly helped in my understanding of the area. Agricultural produce and bricks were among the main cargoes on the new navigation, carried by wherries, which to readers on this side of the pond, is a long, light, shallow-draft rowboat used for transporting goods and passengers.

Now to the story: Dr. Adam Bascom wants nothing more than to be fully engaged in his medical practice, but he is wildly distracted –first by his love for Lady Alice Fouchard and then by the murder of a kindly surgeon on the outskirts of Aylsham. The death is ruled an accidental death by the local coroner, who has no medical background nor any evidence to support his conclusion. Bascom, who has an established record of solving cases of mysterious deaths, is drawn to discover what happened to his fellow physician but finds no more than tidbits of information and is frustrated by the reluctance of the locals to talk to some of a high social status.

As a reader, I was getting very frustrated myself until the good doctor meets the surgeon’s former housekeeper, Rose Thoday. Ms.Thoday is not your usual housekeeper, being something of a wise woman (skilled in the use of herbs and plants in healing) and having learned a great deal of medicine from her former employer. She wants to be an equal partner in the investigation, posing a conundrum to Bascom – he needs her information and help but how can he collaborate on equal terms with a mere woman? What will upper-class society — and Lady Alice — think of him if he does?

What Rose and Bascom eventually find, with many stops and starts, is a conspiracy of clever, desperate and ruthless men, deeply involved in smuggling and murder. All face the gallows if they are brought to justice, and one will not hesitate to kill again in order to avoid discovery.

As usual, the author does an incredible job bringing the reader into the Georgian Age. Competition from railroads and a disastrous flood that caused major damage to the locks on the river early in the 20th century led to the end of the Bure Navigation, which has not been restored. Thus the author has done a yeoman’s job helping the reader see this historical navigation as it was in its heyday.

The detail is outstanding and the characters, many introduced in previous books, are compelling. Lady Alice is intelligent and gracious and knows well and accepts Bascoms foibles. His closest friend, the apothecary Peter Lassimer, does not figure as largely, but offers humor to counter the doctor’s gloominess. Rose Thoday is a very forward woman, whose fearlessness I enjoyed.

The plot was tortuous and I was constantly rearranging my suspects. I’ve learned from the previous books in both series that the pace of life in the 1700s was slow compared to today, and thus the mysteries in these books develop at the same deliberate pace. It makes the reading of the book leisurely, which contributes to the absorption of the details.

I liked this book the best of the Adam Bascom series and I highly recommend it to mystery readers and especially lovers of historical mysteries.

Book description

A new investigation is the last thing that Dr Adam Bascom wants. He’d much prefer to devote himself to sorting out his future. But when a kindly surgeon living on the edge of Aylsham is brutally murdered, and the local coroner does all he can to bring in a verdict of accidental death, Adam knows he has no choice.
At first, a grave shortage of direct evidence and the reluctance of the locals to talk freely to someone so far above them socially look set to prevent any progress. Still, Adam persists, drawing on whatever help he can muster from friends and contacts. Even so, progress is slow until more help arrives in the unexpected form of the surgeon’s former housekeeper, Rose Thoday. Can our young doctor accept collaborating on equal terms with a mere woman? What will upper-class society — and Lady Alice — think of him if he does?
Adam must grapple with much more than the dispassionate mental challenges he’s been used to. This time, he’s up against against a conspiracy of clever, desperate and ruthless men. All face the gallows if they are brought to justice. One at least will not hesitate to kill again to save himself.
This is a contest which may very well cost Adam and Rose their lives.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #NonFiction ARTHUR: Shadow of a God by Richard Denham @britanniaseries

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Arthur: Shadow Of A God by Richard Denham

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I have read all of Richard Denham’s Britannia Series and enjoyed them immensely – they are fascinating historical fiction with attention to true detail. Arthur: Shadow of a God is quite different. Here we have an in-depth analysis of the possible reality of a British king called Arthur and the possible truth that he was not a man at all but became a god, based on Celtic tales and Druidic traditions.

A historical fiction novel this is not! What it is: a compilation of research done by the author in an attempt to define who Arthur really is, based on research of ancient texts and stories. Nevertheless, this is not a dry book. Its contents are fascinating!

Like most people, I have been drawn to stories of Arthur since childhood, and I always believed he was real. The author digs for his reality in the history of Britain before, during and after the Roman occupation based on previous scholarly consensus that Arthur was a Romano-British warlord. That worked for me until it became obvious from this book that much of the research on which this idea was based is guesswork – guesswork compounded by a lack of archeological information and fact-based sources from what would have been his time. The magical swords, wizards, dragons and faeries interweaving Arthur’s story added to my doubt. Do you see Arthur as a knight in shining armor? Such men, mounted on destriers and armed with swords and lances are the stuff of medieval times!

What was evident to the author, based on many sources and his own scholarship, is that Arthur is a god in the appearance of a king, drawn from Celtic folklore and Druidic tales handed down orally from generation to generation. Legend and myth, human imagination and perhaps a longing for such a hero combined to produce Arthur.

If you are as fascinated by King Arthur as I have always been, then you need to read this book. It is rich in detail and peels away, like the layers of an onion, all of the mystery surrounding him to get to the truth. It is your choice to believe or not!

Book description

King Arthur has fascinated the Western world for over a thousand years and yet we still know nothing more about him now than we did then. Layer upon layer of heroics and exploits has been piled upon him to the point where history, legend and myth have become hopelessly entangled.

In recent years, there has been a sort of scholarly consensus that ‘the once and future king’ was clearly some sort of Romano-British warlord, heroically stemming the tide of wave after wave of Saxon invaders after the end of Roman rule. But surprisingly, and no matter how much we enjoy this narrative, there is actually next-to-nothing solid to support this theory except the wishful thinking of understandably bitter contemporaries. The sources and scholarship used to support the ‘real Arthur’ are as much tentative guesswork and pushing ‘evidence’ to the extreme to fit in with this version as anything involving magic swords, wizards and dragons. Even Archaeology remains silent. Arthur is, and always has been, the square peg that refuses to fit neatly into the historians round hole.

Arthur: Shadow of a God gives a fascinating overview of Britain’s lost hero and casts a light over an often-overlooked and somewhat inconvenient truth; Arthur was almost certainly not a man at all, but a god. He is linked inextricably to the world of Celtic folklore and Druidic traditions. Whereas tyrants like Nero and Caligula were men who fancied themselves gods; is it not possible that Arthur was a god we have turned into a man? Perhaps then there is a truth here. Arthur, ‘The King under the Mountain’; sleeping until his return will never return, after all, because he doesn’t need to. Arthur the god never left in the first place and remains as popular today as he ever was. His legend echoes in stories, films and games that are every bit as imaginative and fanciful as that which the minds of talented bards such as Taliesin and Aneirin came up with when the mists of the ‘dark ages’ still swirled over Britain – and perhaps that is a good thing after all, most at home in the imaginations of children and adults alike – being the Arthur his believers want him to be.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilySaga #HistoricalFiction MAHONEY by @huckfinn76

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading Mahoney by Andrew Joyce

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I am a big fan of Andrew Joyce’s books, and I think this may be the best one yet. Perhaps it’s because the book is so entertaining, perhaps it’s because I’m part Irish through the migration during an Gorta Mór (the Irish potato famine or great hunger), or perhaps because I am a sucker for history and family sagas – but probably all three.

Mahoney is the story of the family by that name and was written as a trilogy tied together by common ancestry. The reader is first introduced to Devin, who is the last of the Mahoneys, famine and sickness having taken everyone else in his family. He lies on the dirt floor of the single room in his small, dark home in Ireland, waiting to die. When given the opportunity to take a ship to America, which looms large in his mind as a place where he can grow rich, he takes it.

The author has done some incredible research for his book, as he has for all the previous ones. Devin’s voyage to Quebec in the crowded and disease-ridden hold of a ship is richly drawn in its sordid and dangerous details. The story of how Devin makes his way and his living in cities prejudiced against the Irish is intense and his letters as a soldier in the Civil War are heart-breaking.

The next Mahoney we meet is Dillon, son of Devin. His life is a tapestry of adventures, from working on the transcontinental railroad, to becoming a cowboy on a vast cattle ranch, to earning a reputation as a gunslinger in the Wild West, to earning a fortune as an oil wildcatter in California.

Finally there is David, the dissipated and spoiled son of Devin. The disappointment I initially felt with this character is gradually lifted with his foray into the South during the time of the Depression and the Klu Klux Klan.

All in all, an adventurous ride I could not put down. The writer’s strengths are in his ability to paint the history in succinct brush strokes, in the development of his characters, and most of all, in the dialogue. The story of Devin is perhaps the strongest of the three, as this characters has the most to overcome and does it mainly on his own. I wanted to stay with his story, but events of the time interfered. Dillon and David have somewhat miraculous help at critical times (who’s not to say they wouldn’t?) to move their story forward.

Nevertheless, Andrew Joyce gives us a rich and colorful picture of America, with all its faults, from the Irish migration to the Deep South of the 1930s, covering a lot of history with an engrossing story.

I highly recommend Mahoney if you want a great read.

Book description

 

In this compelling, richly researched novel, author Andrew Joyce tells a story of determination and grit as the Mahoney clan fights to gain a foothold in America. From the first page to the last, fans of Edward Rutherfurd and W. Michael Gear will enjoy this riveting, historically accurate tale of adventure, endurance, and hope.

In the second year of an Gorta Mhór—the Great Famine—nineteen-year-old Devin Mahoney lies on the dirt floor of his small, dark cabin. He has not eaten in five days. His only hope of survival is to get to America, the land of milk and honey. After surviving disease and storms at sea that decimate crew and passengers alike, Devin’s ship limps into New York Harbor three days before Christmas, 1849. Thus starts an epic journey that will take him and his descendants through one hundred and fourteen years of American history, including the Civil War, the Wild West, and the Great Depression.

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