Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mary of Carisbrooke

Author: Margaret Campbell Barnes
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reprint edition (April 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781402255953

Book Description:

The moving, tragic story of Charles I, the last absolute monarch of England, during his imprisonment in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. Richly drawn and inspired by the New York Times bestselling author's own experience living on the Isle of Wight, this dramatic retelling brings to life the cavalier king whom Cromwell deposed. But even more fascinating than the account of royal hopes and misfortunes is the tale of a charming servant girl who is as romantic and tender in love as she is bold and resourceful in plotting the king's escape.

About the Author

New York Times bestseller Margaret Campbell Barnes, now deceased, wrote several historical novels, including Brief Gaudy Hour, My Lady of Cleves, King's Fool, The Tudor Rose, Within the Hollow Crown, With All My Heart, Isabel the Fair, The King's Bed, Lady on the Coin, and Mary of Carisbrooke. Her novels have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.

My thoughts:

Here is another exciting historical romance by Margaret Campbell Barnes. It is the story of intrigue and danger; loyality and power. It flows nicely and is as rich in detail as any I have previously read. Skillfully told by one of England's most loved novelist, the author demonstrates her vast knowledge of the Middle Ages. This is one you will definitely want to add to your bookshelf.

(Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for my review copy.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dragonwyck by Anya Seton

Author: Anya Seton
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
(September 28, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9781556525810

Book Description:
First published in 1944, Dragonwyck was a national bestseller that was made into a major motion picture starring Gene Tierney and Vincent Price in 1946. A classic gothic romance, the story features an 18-year-old Miranda Wells who falls under the spell of a mysterious old mansion and its equally fascinating master. Tired of churning butter, weeding the garden patch, and receiving the dull young farmers who seek her hand in marriage, Miranda is excited by an invitation from the upstate New York estate of her distant relative, the intriguing Nicholas Van Ryn. Her passion is kindled by the icy fire of Nicholas, the last of the Van Ryns, and the luxury of Dragonwyck, and a way of life of which she has only dreamed. Dressed in satin and lace, she becomes part of Dragonwyck, with its Gothic towers, flowering gardens, acres of tenant farms, and dark, terrible secrets. This compelling novel paints a marvelous portrait of a country torn between freedom and feudal traditions; a country divided between the very wealthy and the very poor. Poor tenant farmers at Dragonwyck, the European royalty who visit, and American icons such as Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and the Astors are vividly brought to life. This is a heart-stopping story of a remarkable woman, her breathtaking passions, and the mystery and terror that await her in the magnificent hallways of Dragonwyck.

My Thoughts:
Although Dragonwyck was first published in 1944, it reads like a novel by one of the great victorian writers. In fact, it very much reminds me of Jane Eyre on a slightly smaller scale.

Dragonwyck is a Cinderella story with a dark background and gothic touch. Our beautiful Miranda arrives at Dragonwyck with storybook dreams, but finds in her hero a sinister mystery that only she can solve.

I am completely new to the writings of Anya Seton (where have I been?) and so taken with her that I have now ordered all of her works. I love a good gothic tale complete with the dark old homes and beautiful manners of the past; Dragonwyck completely mesmerized me and held my attention from the beginning. It is fast-paced, heart-stopping, and beautifully written. If you like entering a Cinderella world, you will love this book. 5+ stars*****