I love this period of Plantagenet history and always found it fascinating that Elizabeth Woodville (aka the White Queen) was called “the most beautiful woman in the Island of Britain” with “heavy-lidded eyes like those of a dragon”,’suggesting a perhaps unusual criterion by which beauty in late medieval England was judged’.
The book shows her rise to power (which seems to happen in an instant in the book) from being the widow of not royal Lord John Grey to captivating a fairly young at 22 King Edward IV, she is 5 years older.
It does not go down well as a match made in heaven – badly received by the Privy Council, who according to Jean de Waurin told Edward at the time with great frankness that “he must know she was no wife for a prince such as himself.” Gregory hints that Elizabeth’s mother may have offered a helping hand through witchcraft …
The book portrays the love affair between Elizabeth and Edward (he was not a specially faithful man) and her family’s rise to power . It touches on the rumour of Richard 111 wanting to marry her daughter.
Not Hilary Mantel as characters are a bit one dimensional but an enjoyable read — Next book is about Margaret Beaufort, mother to Henry Tudor!!
The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman covers same story.
TV series later this year Borrow book from Leeds Libraries – lots of copies
Does anyone like to read stories which evoke an atmosphere of Leeds in bye-gone days? You might like to try, if you haven’t already, the Richard Nottingham novels by Chris Nickson. With 5 in the series, there’s plenty to go at!
Chris says: ‘Nottingham is the Constable of the city, and his deputy is John Sedgwick. The books are about more than murder. They’re about the people of Leeds and the way life was – which mean full of grinding poverty for all but the wealthy. They’re also about families, Nottingham and his and Sedgwick, and the way relationships grow and change, as well as the politics, when there was one law for the rich, and another, much more brutal, for everyone else’.
The latest book, which will be in libraries very soon, is called ‘At the dying of the year’ and is set in Leeds, 1733.
Here’s a quick synopsis -
Three children are found dead in a disused bell pit; their bodies battered and bruised, each of them stabbed through the heart. As an atmosphere of fear and suspicion pervades the city, Richard Nottingham and his team find themselves hunting a ruthless child-killer, a monster who preys on abandoned street children.
Chris did a lovely talk last night at Leeds Library and often does author events in libraries. Here’s the link for books to borrow from Leeds Libraries
“The book is written in a gentle way, it completely reflects the behaviours and feelings of the characters. This quiet welsh town where people are very careful of the way they act and speak and emotions and secrets are kept very much to themselves.”
“This book made me laugh and made me sad. I thought the depiction of lifestyle and social thinking of the 1920s was well done. All the characters were well described. There are several beautifully written descriptive passages”
“At first I thought that this a nicely written but slow story. Then I realised this is to balance the second half of the book which moves more quickly – we know the characters well and are emotionally involved with them. Very much a story of its time and setting. The events wouldn’t occur now because society thinks differently. An intense thought provoking tale.”
“My thoughts having read thirty pages were “what a load of nothing, rubbish”. I was so glad that I read on. Within another thirty pages I was won over. The ending was a complete surprise. A lovely read. Let’s have more of this authors work.”
For further details of Wetherby’s and other library readers group, click here. If this has whetted your appetite you can reserve The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price online and pick it up from your nearest library.
‘Every week thousands of people advertise for love either in newspapers, magazines or online. It’s not a modern phenomenon though, people have been placing ads for over three centuries. ‘Shapely Ankles Preferr’d’ tells the story of these ads, of all kinds, in this history of the lonely hearts ad, covering 1695-2010.
‘Classified’ is another fascinating look at the history of relationships and attitudes to relationships in 20th-century Britain, explored through the medium of the personal ad. Since 1998, the world’s most erudite readers have congregated in the small ads section of the London Review of Books in the hope of finding love. ‘They call me naughty Lola’; the London Review of Books personal ads: a reader brings together the work of the ‘edgy’, the ‘irascible’ and the ‘flatulent’ to provide a glimpse into the most notorious, endearing and funny lonely hearts ads.
The follow up is called Sexually I’m more of a Switzerland - this makes engrossing reading with lots of witty one-liners and laugh-out-punchlines, laced with lots of pathos and passion.
Tales from a country matchmaker is by Patricia Warren, the founder of the first lonely hearts agency for farmers and country dwellers, with amusing and poignant stories of love in the countryside.
Couldn’t resist this most unromantic title. Not personal ads as such but Dating for dummies which says it will keep readers up-to-date on how to enhance their romantic opportunities and avoid common pitfalls as the internet becomes a more prevalent part of the dating scene. Very romantic. All books available from Leeds Libraries
Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ was on telly over Christmas, originally set in Cornwall but transposed to Bodega Bay Califonia, it is one of many atmospheric stories by Daphne Du Maurier that have been turned into films - Rebecca, Don’t Look Now, and many more.
Of course one of the the very popular Lee Child ‘Jack Reacher’ novels has been adapted for the big screen with Mr Tom Cruise starring as Reacher! If you like reading the book first, here’s a few upcoming films for 2013.
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson – A mild-mannered Chicago professor becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany just before the Nazis began to assert an iron grip across Europe. Natalie Prtman and Tom Hanks star. This book is rated 5 start by one reviewer!
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, will star Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson. Changez is living an immigrant’s dream of America. He thrives on the energy of New York, his work at an elite firm, and his budding relationship. For a time, it seems that nothing will stand in the way of his meteoric rise to success. But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his relationship crumbling and his exalted status overturned
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (rated 5 star by 2 reviewers) Ethan longs to escape his small Southern town. He meets a mysterious new girl, Lena. Together, they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history and their town. Film stars Alice Englert, Viola Davis, Emma Thompson.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Baz Luhrman film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan. Nick Carraway, a Midwesterner now living on Long Island, finds himself fascinated by the mysterious past and lavish lifestyle of his neighbor, Jay Gatsby. He is drawn into Gatsby’s circle, becoming a witness to obsession and tragedy.
The Host by Stephanie Meyer. A parasitic alien soul is injected into the body of Melanie Stryder. Instead of carrying out her race’s mission of taking over the Earth, “Wanda” (as she comes to be called) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid other free humans. With Saorsie Ronan, Jake Abel, Max Irons.
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks (2 five star ratings) A romantic drama about a woman who must learn to trust again in order to love again, by the bestselling author of ‘The Notebook’, ‘Best of Me’ and ‘The Last Song’. Stars Cobie Smulders, Julianne Hough, Josh Duhamel.
If you like reading ghost stories, here’s 3 recommendations for short stories to dip in and out of. Plus recommended reads from Rebecca Armstrong’s list in the Independent for Halloween. The Penguin book of ghost stories: from Elizabeth Gaskell to Ambrose Bierce. Also includes Edith Wharton who also wrote ghost stories that are definitely worth a read. ‘As elegant and class-obsessed as her novels, these are unlikely keep you up at night, but will give you plenty to ponder.’ Rebecca Armstrong Independent
Collected Ghost Stories, By M R James ’The Bible of ghost stories, if you like a fright this should have pride of place on your bookshelf. Cambridge provost James wrote some of the finest tales ever to have creeped out readers.’ Rebecca Armstrong Independent
Virago Book of ghost stories Featuring some of the finest writers of the 19th and 20th centuries, these stories gather to haunt and horrify – an irresistible read for those with a taste for being spooked
Dark Matter, By Michelle Paver January 1937. 28-year-old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to join an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. After they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp for the next year, Gruhuken, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave
The Little Stranger, By Sarah Waters In a dusty post-war summer in rural Warwickshire, a doctor is called to a patient at Hundreds Hall. Home to the Ayres family for over two centuries, the Georgian house, once grand and handsome, is now in decline. But are the Ayres haunted by something more sinister than a dying way of life? It was a bestseller in 2009.
Dolly: A Ghost Story, By Susan Hill Told through the eyes of a lonely child, then his adult self, it traces the fall out of a fraught summer spent with a peculiar cousin.
The Ghost of Thomas Kempe, By Penelope Lively When James and his family move to an ancient cottage in Oxfordshire, odd things start happening. Doors crash open, and strange signs appear, written in an archaic hand. James finds that the ghost is the spirit of Thomas Kempe a 17th-century apothecarie. He is less terrifying and more curmudgeonly than most ghosts but this children’s book still has some alarming moments.
Ghostwalk, By Rebecca Stott When Elizabeth, a reclusive historian, is found drowned in a tributary of the River Cam, she is clutching a glass prism and has left behind her unfinished magnum opus, a book on Isaac Newton’s alchemy. Her son turns to Lydia Brooke, a young writer and friend of Elizabeth’s, and asks her to complete the last chapter of the book
The Winter Ghosts, By Kate Mosse ’A great introduction to Mosse’s work if you haven’t read her longer novels. A young man, mourning his brother who died in the Great War, gets caught in a snow storm in the Pyreneese. He finds a village in which to take refuge and learns more about love and loss. Mosse’s book takes in 13th-century Cathar life.’ Rebecca Armstrong Independent
Some of the newspaper comments put me off – I don’t want my heart broken or my gut wrenched. However having got into the book I found it very well written, very clever in giving everything from a child’s view, and absorbing.
There is no cloying sentimentality, and no dwelling on sensational aspects. I admired ‘Ma’ for her dedication in shielding him from the dreadfulness of their situation, she made a positive out of the most awful circumstances.
Whether a ‘real life’ mother could have coped so well – I doubt. Her behaviour after thir release – more erratic, occasionally losing her temper – did show her returning to the world and to ‘normality’. A really good read.
A Halton Library Readers Group Member
You can reserve a copy of Room online and pick up from your nearest library.
It does indeed do so, but in a very small scale and human way. The event in question is the mugging of Charlotte, an elderly ex-teacher. She breaks her hip, and has to move in with her daughter Rose whilst she recovers. This causes Rose to miss a trip to Manchester with her employer Henry , who is accompanied instead by his niece Marion. What happens in Manchester has implications for both Henry and Marion, and for their friends, family and acquaintances.
And so it goes on. Like a pebble dropped into a pond, the ripples reach out, and Charlotte’s mishap affects the lives of a whole circle of people she will never know, in ways that she could not imagine.
It’s not a book that is driven by the plot, although there is quite a lot going on. Its strength is in the closely-observed characterisation, and the seemingly mundane detail of everyday life. The central concept of spiralling consequences underpins the story, but it is never laboured. Altogether a very satisfying read for anyone who is fascinated by the secret everyday lives of other people.
Book Review by a Leeds Library Reader
You can reserve How it all Began online and pick it up at your local library.
A short novel but is one that it is packed and one that is very easy to read. It deals the past and how we can often our memories of events can be affected by the passage of time. Are we remembering events or are we remembering our interpretation of events?
The book is in two parts. The first part deals with the narrator, Tony Webster, his life at school and his friendship with three chums including the very intelligent Adrian Finn. The four friends discover girls, sex and university and swear to stay friends for ever. Tony meets the enigmatic Veronica and spends a really awkward weekend with her family. The relationship fails and Adrian subsequently takes up with Veronica. Letters are exchanged between Adrian and Tony that will haunt Tony later in the book. Adrian’s suicide is a shock to all his friends. Tony drifts away from his school friends and has a fairly dreary and meaningless life. He marries but divorces but is still on good terms with his ex-wife and has a close relationship with his daughter.
The second part of the book begins with Tony receiving a letter out of the blue from solicitors saying that Veronica’s mother has died but has left him a bequest. The bequest leads him into contact with Veronica and her brother once again and an eventual re-examination of the events told in part one of the book.
There is a twist at the end of the book that I did not foresee. Personally I would have preferred more background information about events leading up to the twist. The characters in the book are excellently portrayed. There is humour in the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would heartily recommend it.
A Leeds Libraries borrower
Reserve a copy of Sense of an Ending online and pick it up from your nearest library.