After enjoying Post Captain so much, I couldn’t really wait to get stuck into HMS Surprise, the third in Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series. It proved to be another excellent piece of Napoleonic naval fiction; rich in action and personal drama alike.
If Titans came in book form, Les Miserables would be the largest and strongest of them all. First published in 1862, it’s 1200 pages long – one of the longest novels ever written in fact – and it’s one of those works that transcends genre. It is, quite frankly, a literary masterpiece and it’s tied in first place with Persuasion as my all-time favourite novel.
There are few partnerships in English literature that can hold a candle to Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin and few regency-based authors who write with the meticulous assurance and perfect tone of Patrick O’Brien. It’s a recipe for perfect historical fiction.
When this was named as the choice for our January book club meeting, I had never heard of it. However, when I looked it up online and saw that it was historical fiction with a basis in genuine historical events, and also had scores of 5-Star reviews, I had high hopes for it. Continue reading “Book Review: The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson”
Happy New Year, everyone! After a couple of slightly lax months, it’s back to the book reviews.
My first read of 2019 was the fifth of Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraire series. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, they feature an alternate history in which sentient dragons are teamed up with human captains to form the Aerial Corps, a branch of the armed services which exists alongside the army and navy.
The Song of Achilles is the 40th book I’ve read this year, and so hits my Goodreads challenge for 2018 – hurrah! It’s not a book I was previously aware of, though it won the Orange Prize in 2012 and has a massive following online. The cover merely caught my eye in Waterstones in September and I picked it up with a few other purchases.
I’m so glad I did. I’ve had a great reading year, discovering a few new gems and this has undoubtedly been one of them. I’m unsure if you technically can spoil a story that’s been out there for millennia but if you’re totally unfamiliar with the legend of Achilles and still want to read the book, you may want to stop reading this review now.
What a read. Seriously, what a read! Written by double-Man Booker winner Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety is a titanic, mammoth of a novel. It’s not so much a book that you read as much as live through.
The story focuses on the lives of Maximilien Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins and George-Jacques Danton; three of the primary architects of the French Revolution. Set over 900 pages, Mantel takes the reader on a journey to discover how three misfit boys grew to be some of the most powerful men in eighteenth century France and then fell from grace. The tale closes as Danton and Demoulins, overthrown by their former friends, are taken to the guillotine.
Empire of Ivory is book four of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series and was my weekend choice of reading for a train journey to Edinburgh and back.
The below review is spoiler free.
Apologies for the total lack of posting these last couple of months. August was an absolute write-off for me reading wise – I had so much heavy health-related stuff going on that my concentration was utterly non-existent. While off work for two weeks I’d planned to read four-to-six books; I managed the grand total of zilch. I hadn’t the ability to focus on anything more complex than fanfiction.
Halfway through September found me still struggling with the health stuff and also way monstrously behind with my reading for my book club. I needed to read The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield in a week and then read my own selection for the club The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes-Gowar by the end of the following week. After all – I couldn’t turn up to book club not having read the book I chose myself!
I have something of a complex relationship with Sherlock Holmes pastiches – sometimes I really enjoy them, sometimes I’m completely ambivalent, sometimes I loathe them – but invariably I pick them apart with the relish of a pedant. Partly it’s because I’m too much of a book snob for my own good, but largely it’s due to the fact that Sherlock Holmes is a series so close to my heart that, although I always want more stories, I have almost unreasonably high standards when it comes to other people playing in the sandpit.
In the last ten days or so, I’ve got through three very different pastiches that between them showcase some of the best elements of Holmes imitations and also some of the reoccurring niggles I have with them. Here is a brief summary of what I thought about them – I will keep it spoiler free for any Holmes fans looking for a new mystery to enjoy.