Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer

Georgette Heyer novels are comic regency gold.  When I read one of her novels, I feel like I am reading a 1930’s movie with the witty dialogue between lead characters set in the Regency Period.  If you’ve read all of Jane Austen’s novels and you are looking for something more, I highly recommend Georgette Heyer.  Her novels are historically accurate and well researched for the Regency period and the characters are always fantastic.

Sir Richard Wyndham is a fashionable nobleman during the regency period, thus a Corinthian.  He is being pressured into making an offer of marriage to a young woman of his acquaintance.  Unfortunately she comes from a family in dire circumstances and makes it clear to Sir Richard that she would only be marrying him for the money and not for love.  Sir Richard realizes that he wants something more, and that is a woman who truly loves him.

Penelope Creed is an heiress that is being forced to marry her odious cousin.  She decides to take matters into her own hands by dressing as a boy and escaping through her window.  It is during this escape that she meets up with Sir Richard Wyndham.  Sir Richard is quite drunk and agrees to help Penelope find her childhood sweetheart so they can marry. Sir Richard and Penelope are soon off on an adventure that will include mystery, comedy, and romance.

I loved this book and read it on a road trip to Marquette Michigan for a graduation party.  The witty dialogue had me laughing out loud several times during our journey.  I also though the mystery was good and it kept me guessing how it would all end.  Sir Richard and his finery were great especially when juxtaposed with his renowned prowess in the boxing ring.  I thought he was a wonderful hero and also thought that Penelope was a good accomplice, a young woman who wanted to find love on her own terms, but who had the wit and audacity to keep up with a man ten years her senior and social superior.  I also loved that the heroines name is Penelope – the same as my daughter.

I highly recommend this novel.  It was one of my favorite Heyer novels thus far, and that is saying something!

Book Source:  A birthday present from my best friend Jenn.  Thanks!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Summer Queen by Elizabeth Chadwick

The Summer Queen follows the life of Eleanor of Aquitaine from age thirteen to her late twenties.  Eleanor was the wife of two kings, the mother to three kings, and the ruler herself of the powerful Duchy of Aquitaine.  She often also appears in Robin Hood movies, shows, and novels as she is the mother of King Richard the Lionheart.  Eleanor is called Alienor in the novel, which Chadwick explains is the spelling of her name as it would have been in her lifetime (appeared in documents and such).

Alienor’s beloved father has died leaving her the heir of Aquitaine; as the eldest daughter with no brothers.  To protect Alienor and her inheritance, her father had made a pact with the King of France making him Alienor’s guardian.  The King sees his chance and immediately weds the thirteen year old Alienor to his son Louis.  The King of France dies shortly thereafter making the young couple the new King and Queen of France.

Alienor has trouble adapting, especially to the idea of not having her opinions accounted for by her spouse.  She is a highly educated woman for her time and was trained to rule her land.  As a married of woman of the time, she is not allowed to rule.  I found this intriguing and also intriguing that she was even able to inherit the Duchy, while most lands still had it so that you could only inherit through male lines.

Louis and Alienor are unequally matched.  They start their marriage happy, but Louis was trained to be a monk before his older brother’s death.  He listens to his church advisors more than his wife and seems to think intimacy is evil.  But he also wants heirs and blames Alienor for the lack although they don’t have any marital relations to create heirs.  This is highly frustrating to the sensual Alienor.

Their marriage disintegrates and the book ends at the beginning of Alienor’s second marriage to the young lion, Henry II of England.  Their marriage is fruitful and the book ends with the start of their reign of England.  I can’t wait to read Book II – The Winter Crown.

I found the treatment and understanding of mental illness in the middles ages to be intriguing.  Alienor’s younger sister Petronella is manic/ depressive and no one knows what to do with her or what is wrong.  This leads to a lot of pain for many people, including poor Petronella.  I also loved the description of the ill-fated crusade that Alienor and Louis take part in.

Overall, I love Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels and was glad to see her take on one of my favorite women in history, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Chadwick writes history so that it feels alive.    The drama of Alienor’s life and loves was riveting and I can’t wait to read the rest of this trilogy.

Book Source – Christmas Present from my Best Friend Jenn.  Thanks!

Book Source – Christmas Present from my Best Friend Jenn.  Thanks!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Cure for the Common Breakup is a fun romance novel that is perfect for a summer read.  I read it waiting at the airport and on the plane flying back from our family trip to Walt Disney World.  It was also the June pick for the FLICKS Book and Movie Club, but I sadly missed our meeting as it occurred while I was eating dinner with Pooh and Tigger at the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

Summer Benson is a flight attendant with the mantra of “walk it off.”  She walks it off by flying around the world and never staying in a relationship too long.  She discovers that her handsome pilot boyfriend is about to propose to her right before a tragic plane crash.  She finds herself single and untethered.  She decides to go to Black Dog Bay, Delaware, a place she has recently read about in a travel magazine described as the best place to bounce back from your break-up.  She starts off her visit to town by running over the roses of Dutch Jansen, the handsome mayor.  After a stay at the Better off Bed and Breakfast, Summer finds herself in love with the town and the town loves her as well. Will she be able to change her ways and confront her past to be able to finally settle in one spot and find true love?

This was a fun novel to read.  Summer has an entertaining personality and wit and I loved to see how she healed herself while also helping out the town of Black Dog Bay.  Summer is the type of person that likes to tell it as it is, which for at least one old cranky member of the community, was just what the town needed to hear.  I also loved the romance and the decision that Summer had to make, to give it all up for love or to sacrifice herself to save the town.

Overall, Cure for the Common Break-up is a great summer beach read that will make you laugh, and entertain you with a wide variety of great characters and humorous situations.

Book Source: The Kewaunee Public Library