Book Review: The Confessor’s Wife by Kelly Evans (@ChaucerBabe) #rbrt #historical fiction #middle ages

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I purchased this book for review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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 find 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, 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 face 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.

About the author (Amazon)

Kelly Evans was born in Canada of Scottish extraction and graduated in History and English from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. After graduation, she moved to the UK where she worked in the financial sector and continued her of history, focusing on Medieval England and the Icelandic Sagas.

She now lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband Max and two rescue cats, retiring after twenty years to write full time. She’s a voracious reader and enjoys history, music (she plays the medieval recorder), and watching really bad horror and old sci-fi movies. To that end, she has written books featuring zombies and the walking dead.

She’s currently working on my next novel, The Beggar Queen, set in Merovingian France.

You can find Kelly Evans

On her website: https://kellyaevans.com/

On twitter: @ChaucerBabe

And The Confessor’s Wife on Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07T61F2S5/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

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Taking a respite and some photos you need to see

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You probably wonder why I say I am taking a respite, because I have already been doing that, not blogging much – but not really, since I’ve been working hard on a second edit of my historical novel.

Now I AM taking a respite, for the next two weeks, from writing, blogging, face booking and texting.

 

Related image

Really.

In the meantime, I would like to direct you to the following blog site:

https://tibaraphoto.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/proud-parents/

Takami Ibara is the MOST amazing photographer of birds (and other things) but the birds are like small gems and a photograph from Takami is a gift. The site above is the latest blog – take time to have some real visual pleasure in your day!

Sláinte!

A hint as to what I will be doing!

A Trip to Plymouth and a Visit to the Standish Burial Ground

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I was back in Plymouth – ostensibly to celebrate our anniversary, as I was married in St. Peter’s Church there – but also to make some visits to historic sites I had missed

One of these is the shady and peaceful Old Burying Ground in Duxbury also known as the Myles Standish Cemetery – one of the oldest cemeteries in the country, coming into use in the late 1630s.

TThe most prominent feature of the cemetery is a striking monument placed over what is believed to be Myles Standish’s family plot. Martial in appearance, in keeping with Standish’s profession, the monument includes a castellated stone enclosure and four 19th century cannons and cannon balls from the Boston Navy Yard.

According to tradition, Captain Standish was buried beneath two rough, pyramid shaped fieldstones. Stones matching this description were located within the Old Burying Ground and two exhumations (one was not deemed enough) revealed a male skeleton between those of two women (consistent with Standish’s request in his will to be buried between his daughter and daughter-in-law). They also found the remains of two boys, probably Charles and John Standish, the Captain’s sons, both of whom had died young. Examining the remains of the man believed to be Captain Standish, a doctor proclaimed that he had been a man of great physical strength. The poor man was exhumed a third time so his remains could be placed in a hermetically sealed copper box which would then be placed in a new cement chamber. One can only hope Captain Standish can now rest in peace.

You can hardly expect to find any of the Mayflower passengers’ burial sites still marked there. They would have had wooden tomb markers after all, and this cemetery fell into neglect for many years.

But I did find some stones that gave me goosebumps because I recognized who had been buried there. The oldest stone (1697) marks the burial site of Jonathan Alden, son of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins. Both his parents were buried in this place but since no one knows where, there are some stone tablets to note their existence. His sister Sarah, married to Myles Standish’s oldest son, Alexander, is also interred here…somewhere.

I also found a tombstone for Deacon William Brewster. He was not THE Elder Brewster but the son of Love Brewster, who was the son of the Elder. The family helped to settle this area, along with the Standishes, the Aldens, the Bradfords and the Howlands.

 

I also found the tombstone of Gamaliel Bradford and his wife, Abigail. He is descended from William Bradford, second governor of the Plymouth Colony via William Bradford, Jr., and his son, Samuel Bradford.

Many of the Mayflower descendants were active participants in the Revolutionary War, and I hope to write about this at some time.

Up, Up and Away

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I am facing a couple of plane flights – one shortish to Boston this month and one long to Ireland next month. I am not looking forward to either of them.

Why you might ask? First, I hate the anthills of airports, the endless walks between gates and to baggage claim (have you ever checked out the Amsterdam airport? I believe if you got lost there, you might never be found – either that or reappear as a well-toned marathoner).

Second, the airplane seats have gotten small and smaller. At first I just thought my derriere was getting bigger and bigger, and I figured the airlines should create a business, persuading people to diet to be more comfortable.  And some new seats are made of hard plastic – just what my piles appreciate!

It also occurred to me that my legs must have grown longer, since I had so little room in which to squish them. Since I was born in the Dark Ages, I should be in a medical journal for leg growth after forty.

Third, when the person in front of you puts their seat back, voila! – you have the food on your tray table right under your chin, so you don’t need a napkin.

Forth, there are the bathrooms, or the ‘lavs’ in flight lingo. I already suffer from claustrophobia when I get into one and close the door, elbows hitting the walls. Now they are even smaller. You have to enter sideways and then attempt to turn around to close the door and lower yourself to the toilet seat. Lowering your pants is akin to playing Twister. Remember that game? And you can only wash one hand at a time. I recommend the airlines offer catheters to anyone with a wide-body or in a wheel chair.

I have heard of some interesting proposals for future air travel. The first is that passengers will travel standing up. Two visions come to mind – the packing of passengers like sardines (pass the oil, please, and we can slither in a few more) and the chaos that would ensue in turbulence if you are just tethered to the ceiling. Maybe they will have a steel rod to which you will be affixed to prevent you from moving around. And what happens when your flight is delayed by seven hours on the tarmack? Instant venous thrombosis!

Actually, this is not a fantasy, folks.  At the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2018 in Hamburg, the SkyRider 2.0 design on display aimed to help airlines squeeze in more passengers by allowing an “ultra-high density” and reducing the space between rows. The seats have high backs and a seat shaped like a short saddle, akin to standing in the stirrups on a horse. Aviointeriors , the developer, actually compared the seating position to that of a horseback rider, pointing out that cowboys can sit on saddles for hours without feeling uncomfortable. Oh yeah? I’m no cowboy and just where did the term saddlesores come from? I guess we could call them giddy-up seats.

The other proposal is actually more benign: changes to middle seats – those torture boxes of confinement between two elbows and spreading fat rolls. To get more people to select them, a company plans on  offering middle seats that are set back a little from the ones on either side, and are also a little lower to the ground, thus preventing the intrusion of elbows. Oh, and they would be a teensy bit wider, too.

Needless to say, Hubs and I now fly business class unless it’s a short flight. We flew what I call subtourist on a recent flight to Chicago, where we sat rigidly forced into a child-sized seat that sloped down and forward so we would slide off without the seat belt. It’s called a change in the seat pitch, to decrease leg room.

Happy flying!

Check out Elizabeth Calwell’s   Dear Passenger: Welcome to My Wacky World as a Flight Attendant.

Dear Passenger: Welcome to My Wacky World as a Flight Attendant

or any of Barb Taub’s posts on travel – she’s way funnier than I am! Find her n her blog: Writing and Cofee. Especially Coffee. https://barbtaub.com/

Let Me Introduce You to a Flight Attendant

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Dear Folks:

One of the more interesting people I’ve met as a result of switching my career to writing is a flight attendant, Elizabeth Calwell. She has a great sense of humor, and turned it, along with her experiences for many years in air, into a book, Dear Passenger.

Elizabeth Calwell lives in Cary, North Carolina with her husband and her dog, along with three box turtles that live in the back yard, Trudy, Miss Piggy and Little Louis. Having grown up in what used to be a small town gives Elizabeth a unique Southern perspective on the antics of passengers and unusual happenings while traveling. Elizabeth still enjoys bouncing around in a metal tube at 35,000 feet. When she is not flying she enjoys writing, painting landscapes, gardening and trips to the fabulous North Carolina beaches.

    I am going to let her tell you about her book, which I highly recommend. I’ve read it twice!

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Dear Passenger: Welcome to My Wacky World as a Flight Attendant

By Elizabeth Calwell

Hey y’all, I’m a “High Altitude Safety Technician”. That’s a highfalutin way of saying I’m a flight attendant.

It’s just not possible to get trained for all the bizarre things that happen on airplanes these days. You’ve watched the stories on the TV news from the comfort of your recliner, but I’m locked in with this insanity going on.

If you all think this inflight craziness has only been happening the last few years, let me tell you about my very first international flight over twenty-five years ago.

We were on the way to Jamaica. I was standing in the galley with several of the flight attendants when a woman tapped me on the shoulder and yelled, “You need to do something about that thing.”

“I’m the brand new flight attendant here but is there something I can help you with?”

She said, “I’m not kidding. That thing’s waking my baby.”

Then we heard a strange noise. “Cock-a-doodle-doo.”

Cock-a-doodle-doo?” We all looked at each other then rushed to investigate.

A Jamaican man had snuck a rooster on board in a brown-paper bag and shoved it under the seat in front of him. Do you know what a cock does when it wakes up? “Cock-a-doodle-doo. Cock-a-doodle-doo!”

Everyone was laughing and all the passengers were pointing at the man, who didn’t understand all the excitement. He said, “Hey Mon, No problem here. It’s my dinner.”

Speaking of dinner, back when we regularly served meals on flights we hustled as fast as we could to get the passengers served as quickly as possible. Each new row, we repeated in rapid succession, “Beef? Or chicken? Beef or chicken? Beeforchicken?”

When I moved the cart forward to the next row, a man sitting next to the window declared in a booming voice, “I think I’ll have some of that thar’ beaver-chicken.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yeah. Beaver-chicken.”

There are things that just don’t bear explaining. I served him the chicken without a word. After all, doesn’t everything taste like chicken?

When we got closer to the back of the plane, we ran out of chicken. I asked a passenger, “Would you care for the beef for dinner?”

He demanded, with a Spanish accent, “I require cheeken.”

I said, “I’m so sorry, but we don’t have any more chicken, all we have is beef.  

“I require cheeken. My ticket say I require cheeken.”

 “Really! OK, show me your ticket.”

Sure enough, he pulled out his boarding pass and pointed to where it was printed in bold letters, CHECK IN REQUIRED.

Why couldn’t that man have been on my very first international flight?  I could have handed him some really fresh poultry in a brown paper bag!

******

Elizabeth Calwell

You’ll find lots of amusing situations like these in my comedy memoir, Dear Passenger: Welcome to My Wacky World as a Flight Attendant. It’s humorous, light-hearted and entertaining with some vital information about air travel slipped in. My small town upbringing has given me a unique Southern perspective on the antics of passengers and unusual happenings while traveling.

Have you ever wondered about the life of a flight attendant? Or maybe you’ve had a hard day at work and need to escape your on the ground job. Well, fasten your seat belt and join me at 35,000 feet. I can tell you all about it.

Welcome aboard!

Elizabeth Calwell

Elizabeth@elizabethcalwell.com

 

To all my readers: Get this book for your next flight. And don’t forget to buckle your seat belt.

Book Review: Death of a Good Samaritan, an Adam Bascom Georgian Mystery by William Savage (@penandpension) #RBRT #Georgian mystery #historical fiction

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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.

About the author:

William Savage grew up in Hereford, on the border with Wales and took his degree at Cambridge. After a working life largely spent teaching and coaching managers and leaders in Britain, Europe and the USA, he retired to Norfolk, where he volunteers at a National Trust property and started to write fiction as a way of keeping his mind active in retirement. He had read and enjoyed hundreds of detective stories and mystery novels and another of his loves was history, so it seemed natural to put the two together and try his hand at producing an historical mystery. To date, he has focused on two series of murder-mystery books, both set in Norfolk between 1760 and around 1800 — a period of turmoil in Britain, with constant wars, the revolutions in America and France and finally the titanic, 22-year struggle with France and Napoleon.

Norfolk is not only an inherently interesting county, it happens to be where the author lives, which makes the necessary research far easier. The Georgian period seemed natural choice for him as well, since he lives in a small Georgian town, close by several other towns that still bear the imprint of the eighteenth century on many of their streets and grander buildings. It also had the attraction of being a period he had never studied intensively, and so far he has not regretted his choice. The period has far exceeded his expectations in richness of incidents, rapidity of change and plentiful opportunities for anyone with a macabre interest in writing about crimes of every kind. He cannot see himself running out of plot material any time soon!

You can find Death of a Good Samaritan on Amazon:

William Savage’s blog is Pen and Pension: http://penandpension.com  I highly recommend his blog for his fascinating posts on all aspects of life in Georgian England.

You can also find him

On Twitter: @penandpension

And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100009908836774

Childbirth in the Plymouth Colony

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In writing about the life of Mary Allerton Cushman, who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 as a four-year-old, I knew I would have to research childbirth. The Separatist women were awesomely fertile – for example, Priscilla Mullins Alden had thirteen children. I shudder at that thought, but the descendants of those children number in the millions.

Luckily, I stumbled upon a book – The Midwives Book or The Whole Art of Midwifery Discovered. The author is Jane Sharp, an actual midwife in the seventeenth century. We don’t know who she was, but she was among a group of women occupying an extraordinary position in that time. At some point in the future, I will write more about midwives.

The book by Jane Sharp was edited by Elaine Hobby, and I was awed by Sharp’s knowledge of anatomy and obstetrics. Even my husband, the OB-GYN, was impressed.

The midwife for the women of Plymouth Colony was Bridget Fuller, wife of their physick, Samuel Fuller. Based on the number of successful births and healthy women in the colony, I would say she was extraordinarily skilled, birthing being one of the most deadly things for women of that time.

Circling back to my next book, The Last Pilgrim, here is an excerpt from the chapter in which Mary gives birth to her first child.

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By the middle of September, I had grown large with child, making some tasks difficult, but Thomas would oft help me. My back hurt and my ankles swelled, but I was happy – until the ache in my back turned to pains in my belly, which grew stronger and more rhythmic.

My time had come, and despite having been present for the birth of Alice Bradford’s three children, I knew not what it would feel like. Certainly not this? As the pains grew stronger, I walked to relieve the building pressure and panted with each contraction. Thomas had sailed to Rocky Nook early in the morning to ask Mistress Bradford to come and had then gone on to Mistress Fuller’s house, not far away. All three returned mid-afternoon, along with Mercy Bradford, who looked as I must have when her mother first gave birth – scared and anxious.

In the meantime, Elizabeth Warren stayed with me. Since the death of her husband, she oversaw his estate plus a household of five daughters and two sons. She was indeed a formidable woman.

With this group of women, I now had my own gossip, but I missed Priscilla Mullins. She lived in Duxborough with her seven children and was carrying her eighth, so her life was now too full.

The pain was terrible and I felt like I was being cleaved in two. Mistress Bradford made a meal for Thomas since he had not eaten, but, he just grabbed cheese and bread and left the house. Mercy milked our goat and her mother gave me warm goat’s milk to drink and held my arm as I walked around the garden between the pains. Midwife Fuller had brought her stool and had me sit in it so she could examine me from beneath. She clucked each time, but said the birth was well progressing. She had me drink broth, wine with cinnamon, and some water with mugwort and feverfew during that day, to keep up my strength. By that evening, I removed all of my clothes and wore only my linen smock. I had been laboring for some twelve hours and was drenched in sweat, crying out as the pains grew closer together.

I was so focused on the pain that I knew not whether Thomas was even nearby. My groans and moans would certainly have driven him elsewhere for his evening meal and longer.

“Will this never end?” I gasped out when one pain had subsided.

“Let me check you again, dear,” answered Mistress Fuller. She motioned for me to sit in her chair, and lowered herself to look beneath. “You are nearly there. Not much longer and all will be well.”

Just then, I felt a great need to push down, and Mistress Fuller said, “Push again! I can see the head.” She massaged me below with an oil containing what smelled like chamomile, rose and lavender, saying, “This will ease the baby’s passage and prevent any tearing of the flesh.”

Tearing of the flesh? At that point I was far from caring. I gasped and pushed again…and again. After a final scream, I felt a great release and there in Mistress Fuller’s hands was a red, crying mite. I fell back, caught by Mistress Warren.

“You have a fine boy, Mistress Cushman,” my midwife announced. “I need to tie off his birth string, then you can hold him.” This she did and then, taking the clean linen from Mercy Bradford, wrapped him well and gently placed him, still bawling, in my arms. “You need now to deliver the after-burden, Mistress. Here drink this.”

Mistress Fuller told me later that she had had Mercy boil the juice of mugwart, tansy and featherfew down to a syrup. She had added a bit of sugar to make it more palatable, but it still had an unpleasant taste. Soon after drinking it, the pain of contraction occurred again – I thought not to feel that anymore! – and the after-burden was delivered into a bowl.

I was wrapped below in a napkin and helped into a clean smock before I gratefully went to my bed, where I lay, cradling my newborn until he finally slept. The members of my gossip gave me many instructions about taking him to the breast, although I was so tired myself, I heard them as through a fog. Before I slept, Mistress Fuller gave me something to quicken the discharge of my milk.

When Thomas returned and learned all was well, he came to my side and kissed me, then stood back, wordless, in awe of his son, Thomas.

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*****

I hope you enjoyed this snippet and will want to read the entire book! It won’t be too long, since it is written and I am in the first major edit.

Book Review: Arthur: Shadow of a God by Richard Denham (@britanniaseries) #RBRT #Historical research #King Arthur

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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 conclusion that he was not a real man at all but 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!

 About the author (from Amazon)

Richard Denham was born in the military town of Aldershot, the son of a sergeant in the British Army. He is a self-taught Roman historian with an exhaustive knowledge of this period.

Ever since studying the Romans at school, he has taken a keen interest in them, specifically Romans in Britain. As a boy growing up with swords, knights, tanks and all things military he also developed an interest in the legends of King Arthur. He then discovered that Roman Britain was much more interesting. The inspiration for the Britannia series was the cold, impassive footnote Richard would constantly come across “Romans leave Britain”. This would have been, for those who lived it, an apocalyptic time never known before; with the Romans having lived, fought, laughed, married and raised children on our island, “leaving” could never be as simple as that.

Richard is the co-author of the popular ‘Britannia’ series with M. J. Trow. These books follow a group of soldiers and their descendants through the madness of a chain of events which will eventually lead to the fall of Roman Britain and the descent into the Dark Ages.

His exhaustive research of this period eventually led him to Arthur.

You can find the author on

Twitter: @britanniaseries

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8049810.Richard_Denham/blog

And his book, Arthur Shadow of a God on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Arthur-Shadow-God-Richard-Denham/dp/1094689092/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Richard+Denham&qid=1561472457&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Book Review: Jane the Quene by Janet Wertman (@Janetwertman) #RBRT # historical fiction #Tudor-Seymour saga

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Jane Seymour is one of the Tudor characters about whom I have read little, other than incidentally in stories of Henry VIII or Anne Boleyn. The Tudor period has been so over-written, I approached this book with some hesitancy, thinking it would be another rehash of everything I’ve read.  I was pleasantly surprised – Jane Seymour comes across as a unique and layered individual, in contrast to the colorless, vapid, and upright woman described in so many other books.

In the England of 1535, Jane Seymour is 27 years old, edging to spinsterhood. She wants more than anything a marriage that will give her a future and a real place in society, but she is a shy and unspoiled woman who manages everything but is only part of the background. When the court of Henry VIII visits Wolf Hall, her family’s manor, she directs the event with such poise and efficiency that she finally gets noticed, and by Henry VIII himself.

Henry’s wife, Anne Boleyn, has become something of a curse to him: he changed England’s religion to divorce his first wife, Queen Katherine, to marry her (both unpopular moves with the English people) and Anne has given him only a girl child, followed by several miscarriages. He is desperate for a son and sees Jane’s honesty and innocence as a means to his redemption as well as a male heir.

Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious man who has, as the King’s clerk, managed to satisfy his every desire, also sees redemption for Henry in Jane and engineers the plot to have her become queen.

The author has woven a story in which we can see Jane as she was before the King’s visit and watch her develop into a confident queen. Her thoughts, fears and experiences through the plot to remove Anne and Anne’s her subsequent beheading create a three dimensional person trying to manage the ardor of the King and her new and unprepared- for position at court. Her ambition, nascent at first, grows as she marries Henry and becomes Quene Jane, and I enjoyed the contrast the author made between the sweet story of her early life and encounters with the King and her developing ambition, which seemed to get the better of her as time went on.

As seems normal for the treachery and intrigue of the Tudor court, relatives tend to direct he loves of the women, and in this respect Jane is not different – her brothers regulated her life from the beginning and I was quite thrilled when she finally stood up to them, although she did take their advice to manipulate the king through his affection for her.

There are many unanswered questions about Jane – what were her feelings about the haste with which Anne Boleyn was removed and executed, her unduly swift marriage to the King, her insertion into the Tudor Court and the gossip associated with it. The author does a good job getting into Jane’s thoughts: guilt, joy, and growing strength and ambition. One can only wonder what would have happened if she had not died following childbirth. Would the King have tired of her and moved on?

I will freely admit I did not like the person Jane became as she moved fully into the role of queen. She lost the humility and sweetness that I had come to love about her. But I believe this is probably what would have happened, and the author has the pulse of this character. The historical detail is wonderful and the dialogue smooth, which made this an easy and fun read.

If you like historical fiction and are a fan of the Tudors, this is a good book for you! An I am more than ready for the next book in the author’s trilogy on the Seymours – The Path to Somerset

About the author (from her blog site):

Janet Wertman grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West. Her grandfather was an antiquarian book dealer who taught her that there would always be a market for quirky, interesting books. He was the one who persuaded Janet’s parents to send her to the French school and then Barnard College.  She spent fifteen years as a corporate lawyer in New York, doing a little writing on the side (The Executive Compensation Answer Book), but when her first and second children were born, she decided to change her lifestyle.  She and her husband transformed their lives in 1997, moving to Los Angeles and switching careers. Janet became a grant writer and took up writing fiction.

Janet has always harbored a passion for the Tudor Kings and Queens since her parents let her stay up late to watch the televised Masterpiece Theatre series (both The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R) and is thrilled to have released the first two books in The Seymour Saga trilogy: Jane the Quene, which has been nominated for several book awards, and The Path to Somerset, which chronicles Edward Seymour’s rise after Jane’s death to become Lord Protector of England and Duke of Somerset. They will be joined in 2020 by The Boy King, which will cover the reign of Jane’s son, Edward VI.

You can find Janet Wertman

On Twitter @JanetWertman

On facebook: https://janetwertman.com/

And on her site: https://janetwertman.com/

Jane The Quene is available on Amazon:

Book Review: Mahoney by Andrew Joyce (@andrewjoyce76) #RBRT #historical fiction #family saga

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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 Kux 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.

About the author (from Amazon):

Andrew Joyce left home at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until years later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written seven books. His first novel, Redemption: The Further Adventures of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, was awarded the Editors’ Choice Award for Best Western of 2013. A subsequent novel, Yellow Hair, received the Book of the Year award from Just Reviews and Best Historical Fiction of 2016 from Colleen’s Book Reviews.

Joyce now lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

You can find Andrew Joyce

On twitter: @andrewjoyce76

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/andrewjoyce76/

And at his site: https://andrewjoyce76.com/

Mahoney is available on Amazon: