WINNER and Runner-Up of the 2015 Historical Fiction Award #SundayBlogShare

Winner Historical Fiction

The 2015 Golden Rose Book Award for Historical Fiction

went to Zoe Saadia with Two Rivers

Zoe Saadia Two Rivers

Meet Zoe

Zoe Saadia is the author of several novels of pre-Columbian Americas. From the glorious pyramids of Tenochtitlan to the fierce democrats of the Great Lakes, her novels bring long-forgotten history, cultures and people to life, tracing pivotal events that brought about the greatness of Meso and North America.

Having researched various pre-contact cultures of this continent for more than a decade, she is convinced that it’s a shame that such a large part of history was completely overlooked, by historical fiction most of all. Both Americas has an extremely rich, diverse, fascinating history long before this continent came in contact with the rest of the world.
So her professional motto is set. America has not been ‘discovered’, not yet. Not in her novels.

Find Zoe on Twitter @ZoeSaadia

Book Description

Having survived the failed raid on the enemy lands, Tekeni had no illusions. He was nothing but an enemy cub, adopted into one of the clans, but not accepted, never for real. To fit in was difficult, to run away – impossible. To get into trouble, more often than not, was the only available option. They did not expect anything else from him, anyway.

However, when a meaningless row during a ballgame grew out of proportion, resulting in a fight, Tekeni has found himself in a truly grave trouble. Neither he nor anyone else could have foreseen the chain of events the consequences of this fight would release, when the highly esteemed but controversial Two Rivers decided to help Tekeni out.

Two Rivers was a strange person with unacceptable notions and ideas. He maintained that to war on and on was a mistake of disastrous consequences. He went as far as suggesting a negotiation of peace with some of the neighboring nations. Even Tekeni, the despised enemy, thought such ideas to be far-fetched and wild. And yet…

With their trouble mounting and the revengefulness of some people around them growing, both Tekeni and Two Rivers find themselves pushed beyond limits.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The Silver Award went to

Frances Evesham with Danger At Thatcham Hall

Frances Evesham and Danger at Thatcham Hall

Meet Frances

Frances Evesham writes mystery stories: the Exham on Sea contemporary crime series set in a small Somerset seaside town, and the Thatcham Hall Mysteries, 19th Century historical mystery romances set in Victorian England.

She collects grandsons, Victorian ancestors and historical trivia, likes to smell the roses, lavender and rosemary, and cooks with a glass of wine in one hand and a bunch of chillies in the other. She loves the Arctic Circle and the equator and plans to visit the penguins in the south one day.

She’s been a speech therapist, a professional communicator and a road sweeper and worked in the criminal courts. Now, she walks in the country and breathes sea air in Somerset.

Catch up with Frances on Twitter @FrancesEvesham

Book Description Danger At Thatcham Hall published by Wild Rose Press

Ambitious lawyer Nelson Roberts, embittered by war, jilted by his fiancée, and trusting no one, aims to make his name solving the mysterious thefts and violence at Thatcham Hall, a country house in Victorian England.

Olivia Martin, headstrong and talented, will stop at nothing to overcome the conventions of the day, avoid a miserable fate as a governess and fulfill dreams of a musical future.

The pair stumble on a body. Is the farmhand’s death a simple accident, or something more sinister? Who attacked the livestock at the Hall and why are the villagers so reluctant to talk? Can Nelson and Olivia overcome their differences and join forces to unravel the web of evil that imperils the Hall?

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Final congratulations to all our Historical Fiction nominees.

Alison Williams with THE BLACK HOURS

William Savage with AN UNLAMENTED DEATH

Tony Riches with OWEN

Vanessa Matthews with THE DOCTOR’S DAUGHTER

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #wwwblogs

Today’s team review comes form Alison, she blogs at alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com

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Alison chose to read and review The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

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The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

I had really high expectations of this novel having seen some excellent reviews. There is no doubt that Ms Matthews can write, and write well, and this is a very clever story, with some fabulously drawn characters, a wonderful attention to historical detail and a real sense of time and place that lends the novel a real authenticity.

The subject matter is dark in places and the characters are portrayed flaws and all, in an unflinching manner that some may find difficult to read. This wasn’t an issue for me – I prefer characters to be realistic, to behave in a way that is believable and admire and appreciate authors that don’t resort to happily-ever-afters or false sentimentality.

Marta is an intriguing character, and it is refreshing for a novel to feature such an interesting heroine. Elise, somewhat softer than Marta, is also a very readable character. I wanted to know more about them both and was interested in what happened to them.

The plot is dark and full of twists and surprises, all very gripping, well-paced and intelligently written.

So there is much to admire in this novel and much to admire in Ms Matthews’ writing. However, I felt so frustrated by this book. There is so much potential here but there is too much ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’. We are given a lot of background details about characters and their experiences and feelings in big sections of prose, rather than being ‘shown’ these things, experiencing them with the characters.

Dialogue sometimes felt rather unnatural and too formal.

The most frustrating thing for me though was that most of the dialogue was punctuated incorrectly throughout the book; not just once or twice, an error that could be overlooked, but consistently. The author obviously cares about her novel, about her craft, which is why I was so surprised by these errors. It may not seem like a big issue or something to be so frustrated by, but I found myself increasingly irritated. Maybe I’m being overly pedantic, but it’s frustrating that the author has obviously put so much into this book and yet has overlooked something so basic.

It’s a real shame, because this could be an absolutely brilliant novel.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

 

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #bookreview

Today’s team review is from Jessie, she blogs at http://behindthewillows.com

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Jessie chose to read and review The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

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The characters were dark. Very dark. They were dark with anxiety, dark with evil and dark with sadness and loss. Many of them were hard to like, some of them I loved to hate and all of them were dark.

The plot was fascinating, dark people, dark desires and dark motives made for more than a few surprises.

The historical time was equally fascinating and frustrating. “He was not convinced that women, even well-educated ones like Marta, could cope with consequences and accountability.” – The doctor of The Doctor’s Daughter was not my favorite person.

My only wish is that it had been longer. The characters and their motives were complex but there were still times that I wished the author had filled in a little more of what was in her head. Those were times that the characters’ actions didn’t seem to quite add up to what I had been told about them. I’d find myself stepping back from the flow of the story as I internally debated the believability of their actions. But, given the richness of what was told, I feel certain that information was there. It was within a backstory or a side note hiding in her mind and just didn’t make it into print.

Would I recommend it? Have I mentioned that this book was dark? It made for a hard read. Not a bad read mind you, just hard. The main character suffers from anxiety and self harms as her way of coping – it’s not for everyone. But those who are up for it will get treated to a very rich snapshot of history.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #Thriller

Today’s team review comes from Babus, she blogs at http://ajoobacatsblog.wordpress.com

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Babus chose to read and review The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

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This well-written dark historical mystery tells us about Marta Rosenthal, daughter of renowned psychiatrist Arnold Rosenthal in early nineteenth century Austria. Marta herself is a bright scientist, who yearns to conduct her own studies and be known for work in her own right, she is encouraged by family GP Leopold Kaposi, to plan to branch away from her father. Marta then meets the enigmatic Elise, a doctor, recently qualified from Paris, who has ambitions to further her career in the field of paediatrics and a gift for manipulation that has aided her to get far. Both women are trying to make it in what is very much a man’s world, however, they do not realise the extent to which both their lives have been manipulated.

This thriller unravels tantalizingly drawing you in to the characters, who are flawed and have much to hide. At times whilst reading this it has the theatrics to make quite a compelling stage-play but there is a lot of internal dialogue we are witness to from Martha particularly which gives the psychological element to the novel and wouldn’t translate as well to stage. What starts as a book about two bright women trying to make their way in a male-dominated competitive field turns into a dark thriller where the women face a ruthless antagonist who wields much power and is hell-bent on destroying them.

An intriguing historical read, I thoroughly enjoyed.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #bookreview

Today’s book review comes from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith chose to read and review The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

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Considering it is a disturbing novel, with themes of manipulation and emotional and mental cruelty it might seem odd to read that I enjoyed The Doctor’s Daughter. Yet I did; because I liked the writing style of Vanessa Matthews, because it is so sensitively written, and because of the compelling plot. Although I found it a little slow to begin (there is a lot of introspective internal dialogue) I soon became used to this and was more and more engrossed as the book progressed.

Mainly set in Vienna, in the early part of the last century, the story is populated by good rounded characters. Virtually isolated within her family, the protagonist, Marta Rosenblit, is complex yet with a certain naivety. Exposed to outside society but only within her father’s control as his protégé, and only as long as she doesn’t challenge his expertise and opinions. Even so she holds a dream of being able to connect and make her way in this most patriarchal of worlds. Elise Saloman, a recently qualified paediatrician, who becomes Marta’s friend, is shown as a foil for the protagonist, being a strong-willed, resolute character. But even so Elise has secrets of her own – one that is ultimately revealed to have connections with Marta. Arnold Rosenblit is portrayed as a controlling, self-centred and formidable character with no empathy for Marta and no time for anyone who doesn’t share his views on the female psyche. He could have been shown as a flat, unchanging character, but Matthews manages to show another layer to him by revealing his vulnerability in his relationship with his institutionalised wife. Leopold Kaposi, a physician and long-time friend of the family, is portrayed as self-obsessed, manipulative. As an antagonist he is the only character I felt didn’t grow throughout the story. But that was okay; he was a good one to dislike and therefore I felt justified as his motivations were gradually revealed.

The book is mainly written as third person point of view,  from Marta’s perspective. We are given access to her internal dialogue, which reveals the many facets of her given personality  and also gives the readers her thoughts on the other players in her world. This is  interspersed with the occasional viewpoint of other characters. The dialogue is excellent and remains true to each the characters all the way through the book.

There is little obvious intervention to describe the world the characters inhabit, yet throughout the novel the atmospheric narrative it is a subtle and integral part of the story and portrays a setting the reader can feel part of.

As I said at the beginning this is a dark and sometimes disturbing read, with many disquieting themes. It’s a challenge. But I think the reader will be surprised by the denouement. I know I was. And I have no hesitation in recommending this novel by Vanessa Matthews. She is a tremendously good writer and I look forward to reading more of her in the future.

Available on

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1J4Yu2V

Amazon .com: http://amzn.to/1fonSd3

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT The Doctor’s Daughter by @VanessaMatthews #bookreview

Today’s team book review comes from Olga, she blogs at http://olganm.wordpress.com

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Olga chose to read and review The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews

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The Doctor’s Daughter by Vanessa Matthews. A dark tale of a singular time and an empowering friendship.

I am a psychiatrist, and when I read the plot of this book I could not resist. A book set in Vienna about the early times of psychiatry, and a woman, the daughter of a psychiatrist, trying to develop her own ideas and become independent from her father’s overbearing influence. I had to read it.

The book is fascinating and very well-written. I suspect that somebody without my background might enjoy the story more for what it is, and not try and overanalyse it or over diagnose it. Arnold Rosenblit’s theories are suspiciously reminiscent of Sigmund Freud’s. And of course, he also had a daughter, Anna, who dedicated her life to study and develop child-psychology. I’ve read some of Freud’s works, but I haven’t read that much about his life, although from what I’ve seen, his relationship with his daughter was much more congenial than the one Arnold (a man difficult to like, although the description of his relationship with his wife is quite touching) had with Marta, the daughter of the title.

The book is written in the third person and mostly narrated through Marta’s point of view, although there are chapters from her friend Elise’s perspective, her father, and Leopold, a physician and long-time friend of the family.

Marta is a very complex character, and one I found difficult to simply empathise with and not to try and diagnose. Her mother was locked up in a psychiatric asylum when she was very young and she became the subject of her father’s observation. The father tried to keep her as isolated as possible from his other daughters, but the oldest daughter looked after her, even if minimally, and they were all in the same house. (It made me think of the scenario of the film Peeping Tom, although Arnold does not seem to have been openly and intentionally cruel.) She appears naïve and inexperienced, at least in how to behave socially and in her role and feelings as a woman, but she is a doctor, a psychiatrist, attends and organises her father’s talks and lectures, and teaches outside, therefore she’s exposed to society and has always been. This is not somebody who has truly grown up in isolation, although she has missed a guiding female figure in her life and the close emotional attachment.

She has her own psychological theories and ideas, but finds it difficult to make her father listen to her. She has very low self-esteem, self-harms and has been doing so for a long time, and when she enters a relationship with a man, she’s completely clueless as to standards of behaviour or how to interpret this man’s attentions (a much older man than her, but somebody with influence and who promises to help her). Although she was not brought up by her mother, I wondered how realistic some of her behaviours would be for a woman of her social class at that period. However, the novel does paint the fine society of the time as a close set-up with a very dark undercurrent, with drugs and alcohol being consumed abundantly, and adventurous sexual behaviours being fairly common, and perhaps Marta is reflexion of such contradictions. On the surface, very controlled (the ego), but with strong and dark passions underneath (the unconscious).

Eloise, the friend she casually meets (or so it seems at the time), is a formidable character, determined, strong-willed, and resourceful, prepared to fight the good fight for women in a society of men. It’s very easy to root for her.

There is a classical villain, that you might suspect or not from early on, but who eventually is exposed as being a psychopathic criminal. The difficulty I had with this character was that I never found him attractive enough or clever enough to justify the amount of power he had over everybody. He is narcissistic and manipulative but even he at some point acknowledges that he uses people but has no great contributions or ideas of his own. It is perhaps because we’re privy to Marta’s thoughts and we see behaviours most people wouldn’t see that we don’t fall for him, but later on he’s revealed to have behaved similarly with quite a few people, especially women, and for me, it was difficult to understand why they would all fall for him. Marta is a damaged individual and he takes advantage of it, but what about the other women? And the rest of society? Leaving that aside (it might be a personal thing with me), he’s definitely somebody you’ll love to hate. (I’m trying not to spoil the plot for readers, although the description of the books gives quite a few clues).

The ending, despite terrible things happening and much heartache, is a joy. Considering what has gone on before, everything turns very quickly, and it’s difficult to imagine that in real life psychological healing would be quite so complete and perhaps so smooth. But it is a fairy tale ending, and although a dark tale, one of sisterhood triumphant.

A word of warning, the book can prove a tough read, as some pretty dark things take place, and there are some cringe-inducing moments. It is not an easy read, but it will challenge you and make you think. And that’s not a bad thing.

I was offered a copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com