Category Archives: historical fiction

Book Review of Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English by Natasha Solomons


In Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, Natasha Solomons shares the story of her grandparents’ move to England in the 1930s. It tells about their adjustment to a new life, her grandfather’s determination to become a “proper Englishman” and her grandmother’s sadness at everything that they left behind.

Sadie couldn’t help feeling that the English language was deliberately designed to confound outsiders.  She refused to speak another word to him in that verrdammt tongue for the rest of the afternoon, and since he would not chat in German, they sulked side by side in silence, until Jack went out.  He insisted that they spoke only in English (something in that cursed pamphlet for sure) but speaking with her husband in her disjointed newcomer’s tongue transformed him into a stranger.  He looked the same, but the easy intimacies were lost. 
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English: A Novel by Natasha Solomons

In 1937, with Germany’s antisemitism is on the rise, the Rosenblum decide to relocate to England.  Unable to bring their extended family,  Jack, Sadie and their young daughter arrive in Harwich and disembark from a boat full of refugees.  A member of the German Jewish Aid Committee hands Jack a pamphlet entitled “While you are in England: Helpful Information and Friendly Guidance for every Refugee.”

“Please study this with great care.”

“And this?  He will truly tell me everything that I must be knowing?”

The man smiled tightly, impatient to be moving down the lines.  “Yes. It tells you everything you need to know about the English.”

Jack takes this advice to heart and pores over the list of prescribed behavior.   He switches to speaking only English, buys British, and aspires for and acquires what he believes to be the trappings of a true English gentleman.  The one thing that remains is membership to the right golf club.

Jack tries — he applies to all the clubs in his vicinity,  reaches out to members, offers to buy his way in.  In the end, when it becomes clear that the regular golf clubs won’t admit him.  And since Jack refuses to join a Jewish golf club, Jack Rosenblum makes a life changing decision.  He decides to build his own golf club — to make the best golf club in South West England.  He sells their house and uproots his wife to Dorset. 

Jack Rosenblum doesn’t realize how some of his old habits remain.  He retains the European habit of  tips lavishly (surely, they appreciate it — for their good service) and is carefully polite.  He doesn’t see the contempt that his attempts inspire in the regular English  around him.   But in Dorset, as he approaches this seemingly impossible task of creating a golf course,  his determination, hard work, kindness and good bring him the acceptance that he deserves.


Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English: A Novel is whimsical, beautifully written, funny and poignant at turns.  Natasha Solomon captures the heartache of the diaspora and the yearning for a true home with accuracy, sensitivity and humor.   Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English: A Novel is a book that will resonate with readers of all ages — it’s a book to share with good friends and to revisit over time.

ISBN-10: 0316077585 – Hardcover $23.99
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books (June 21, 2010), 368 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Natasha Solomons is a twenty-nine-year-old screenwriter who lives in Dorset, England. She based this story on the experience of her own grandparents. Learn more about Natasha, check out the reading group guide to Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, see photos of the grandparents that inspired the book all on her blog at http://natashasolomons.com/

Thank you to Henry,  Reagan Arthur Books and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!
CymLowell

The Book Review of The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips


Although she was a logical, practical person, she believed that in books there existed a kind of magic.  Between the aging covers on these shelves, contained in tiny, abstract black marks on sheets of paper, were voices from the past.  Voices that reached into the future, into Claire’s own life and heart and mind, to tell her what they knew, what they’d learned, what they’d seen, what they’d felt.  Wasn’t that magic? – The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

The Devlin Diary
Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips! The Devlin Diary is Christi Phillips’ second novel, and follows her bestselling The Rossetti Letter.   This second novel  carries over two lead characters from The Rossetti Letter:  Harvard History PhD Claire Donovan and Cambridge History Professor Andrew Kent and spans two different time periods:  London in 1672 and Cambridge in 2008.  In The Devlin Diary,  Claire Donovan and Andrew Kent are drawn to a mystery at the court of Charles Stuart  — a mystery with dangerous consequences in the 1670s and in the present.

The blurb:
From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a “thrilling” novel of intrigue, passion, and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England.

London, 1672. A vicious killer stalks the court of Charles II, inscribing the victims’ bodies with mysterious markings.  Are the murders the random acts of a madman?  Or the violent effects of a deeply hidden conspiracy?

Cambridge, 2008.  Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan’s dream come true — until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam.  The only key to the professor’s unsolved murder is the seventeenth-century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king’s mistress.  Through the arcane collection of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire and fellow historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Hannah left behind, uncovering secrets of London’s dark past and Cambridge’s murky present and discovering that the events of three hundred years ago still have consequences today.

Review:
I haven’t read The Rossetti Letter, so I approached The Devlin Diary as a standalone novel.  On its own, The Devlin Diary is a satisfying read.

The book opens in 1670 in the Palace of Saint-Cloud in Paris at the sickbed of Princess Henriette-Anne, the wife of the Duc d’Orlean, sister-in-law to King Louis XIV of France and sister to King Charles Stuart of England.   Princess Henriette-Anne has suddenly fallen sick and is in great pain, it is clear that she is not expected to live much longer.  Surrounded by courtiers from France and England, the Princess has little privacy.  In her last moments, she calls on an obscure Englishman, Robert Osborne, and it is to him that she whispers her last instructions.

The book jumps to London in 1672 where we meet Mrs. Hannah Devlin, the widowed daughter of two doctors who practices medicine as a physician and a “physick.”  Under the laws of the time, the College of Physicians and medical societies exclude women;  Mrs. Devlin cannot qualify to practice medicine and risks a criminal charge of practicing medicine without a license.  But Mrs. Devlin’s practice is limited to poor and common folk with whom she has established a reputation for competence and skill, and she is safe as long as she remains unnoticed.  It should be noted that Mrs. Devlin’s medical training and skill is impeccable – she’s learned from her parents who were both respected doctors.   Her father had been physician to the King until a political disagreement caused him to be exiled from Court.   Her mother had trained and practiced medicine in France, but upon her marriage was limited to acting as a “physick” and assisting her husband in his medical practice.

Mrs. Devlin is grabbed off the streets and brought to the King’s residence at Whitehall to treat a favorite’s suspicious illness.   The diagnosis and treatment are within Hannah Devlin’s competence, but the politics and intrigue at court may be her downfall.   Hannah Devlin parries with Lord Arlington, a powerful man whose stormy relationship with her father threatens Hannah’s own safety.   Through her work at court, Mrs. Devlin befriends Dr. Edward Strathern who is newly appointed to run the anatomy theater at the College of Physicians.  When members of court are murdered in a grisly and disturbing manner,  Mrs. Devlin and Dr. Strathern work together to make sense of the killer’s clues and to hunt down the murderer before he can kill again.

The Devlin Diary alternates between the story of Mrs. Devlin in the 1680s and Dr. Claire Donovan at Trinity College, Cambridge in 2008.  Soon after solving the mystery behind The Rossetti Letter, Claire Donovan has been offered a prestigious fellowship at Cambridge University.   While exploring an arcane collection in one of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire Donovan comes across a slim volume written in code in the 1600s.  As Claire deciphers the text, she realizes that she’s found an account of unsolved murders during the time of King Charles Stuart.  When a fellow historian is murdered,  Claire Donovan and Andrew Kent search for links between the recent murder and the mysterious journal.

Christi Phillips combines historical fiction with a complex and well crafted mystery.  If you’re fond of unusual mysteries and historical fiction and looking for an engrossing, satisfying read,  check out The Devlin Diary.  I enjoyed it so much that I’ve just ordered the earlier novel, The Rossetti Letter.

ISBN-10: 1416527397 – Trade Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Pocket (May 12, 2009), 448 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Christi Phillips is the author of The Rossetti Letter, which has been translated into seven foreign languages.  Her interest in European history has led her all over the continent.  She lives in the San Fransisco Bay Area, where she is at work on her next novel, set in France.  Visit Christi Phillips’ website at www.christiphillips.com to learn more.

Would you like to learn more about The Devlin Diary?  Check out other reviews at these participating blogs:

Rundpinne: http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com/
Frugal Plus: http://frugalplus.com/
My Five Monkeys: http://www.tableforsevenjulie.blogspot.com/
The Bibliophilic Book Blog: http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
A Journey of Books: http://ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net/
My Book Addiction and More: http://mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com/
Just Another New Blog: http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/
The Book Girl: http://www.thebookgirl.net/
Just One More Paragraph: http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com
Booktumbling: http://booktumbling.com/
Books Gardens & Dogs: http://maryinhb.blogspot.com/
Renee’s Reads: http://www.renees-reads.blogspot.com/
Taking Time For Mommy: http://takingtimeformommy.blogspot.com/
Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/
Star Shadow: http://www.starshadowblog.com/
My Book Views: http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/
Write For A Reader: http://www.writeforareader.blogspot.com/
Bibliophile’s Retreat: http://bibliophilesretreat.com/
Jeanne’s Ramblings: http://www.jeannesramblings.com
Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com
Avid Reader: http://www.tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com/
Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks: http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com/
Lucky Rosie’s: http://www.luckyrosiescreations.blogspot.com/
Celtic Lady’s Reviews: http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/
Books Like Breathing: http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/
A Room Without Books Is Empty: http://detweilermom.blogspot.com/
Chrissy’s World of Books: http://chrissysworldofbooks.blogspot.com/
DK’s Everything Books Blog: http://dkay401-challenges.blogspot.com/
A Musing Reviews: http://www.amusingreviews.blogspot.com/
Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/
I Heart Book Gossip: http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/
That’s A Novel Idea: http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com/
Reading Extensively: http://reading-extensively.blogspot.com/
Knitting and Sundries: http://www.jewelknits.blogspot.com/
Thrifty and Frugal Living: http://www.thriftyandfrugalliving.com/
See Michelle Read: http://seemichelleread.blogspot.com/
‘Til We Read Again: http://tilwereadagain.blogspot.com/
Reminder List: http://reminderlist.blogspot.com/
Loving Heart Mommy: http://www.lovingheartmommy.com/
Pam’s Private Reflections: http://hip2bhomeschooling.blogspot.com/
The Book Tree: http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/
The Down Home Diva: http://thestuffyouneedtoknow.blogspot.com/
Once Upon a Twilight: http://twilightsdance.blogspot.com/

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster and PocketBooks for this review opportunity!

The Book Review of The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips


Although she was a logical, practical person, she believed that in books there existed a kind of magic.  Between the aging covers on these shelves, contained in tiny, abstract black marks on sheets of paper, were voices from the past.  Voices that reached into the future, into Claire’s own life and heart and mind, to tell her what they knew, what they’d learned, what they’d seen, what they’d felt.  Wasn’t that magic? – The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips

The Devlin Diary
Welcome to the Book Blog Tour of The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips! The Devlin Diary is Christi Phillips’ second novel, and follows her bestselling The Rossetti Letter.   This second novel  carries over two lead characters from The Rossetti Letter:  Harvard History PhD Claire Donovan and Cambridge History Professor Andrew Kent and spans two different time periods:  London in 1672 and Cambridge in 2008.  In The Devlin Diary,  Claire Donovan and Andrew Kent are drawn to a mystery at the court of Charles Stuart  — a mystery with dangerous consequences in the 1670s and in the present.

The blurb:
From the bestselling author of The Rossetti Letter comes a “thrilling” novel of intrigue, passion, and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge, England.

London, 1672. A vicious killer stalks the court of Charles II, inscribing the victims’ bodies with mysterious markings.  Are the murders the random acts of a madman?  Or the violent effects of a deeply hidden conspiracy?

Cambridge, 2008.  Teaching history at Trinity College is Claire Donovan’s dream come true — until one of her colleagues is found dead on the banks of the River Cam.  The only key to the professor’s unsolved murder is the seventeenth-century diary kept by his last research subject, Hannah Devlin, physician to the king’s mistress.  Through the arcane collection of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire and fellow historian Andrew Kent follow the clues Hannah left behind, uncovering secrets of London’s dark past and Cambridge’s murky present and discovering that the events of three hundred years ago still have consequences today.

Review:
I haven’t read The Rossetti Letter, so I approached The Devlin Diary as a standalone novel.  On its own, The Devlin Diary is a satisfying read.

The book opens in 1670 in the Palace of Saint-Cloud in Paris at the sickbed of Princess Henriette-Anne, the wife of the Duc d’Orlean, sister-in-law to King Louis XIV of France and sister to King Charles Stuart of England.   Princess Henriette-Anne has suddenly fallen sick and is in great pain, it is clear that she is not expected to live much longer.  Surrounded by courtiers from France and England, the Princess has little privacy.  In her last moments, she calls on an obscure Englishman, Robert Osborne, and it is to him that she whispers her last instructions.

The book jumps to London in 1672 where we meet Mrs. Hannah Devlin, the widowed daughter of two doctors who practices medicine as a physician and a “physick.”  Under the laws of the time, the College of Physicians and medical societies exclude women;  Mrs. Devlin cannot qualify to practice medicine and risks a criminal charge of practicing medicine without a license.  But Mrs. Devlin’s practice is limited to poor and common folk with whom she has established a reputation for competence and skill, and she is safe as long as she remains unnoticed.  It should be noted that Mrs. Devlin’s medical training and skill is impeccable – she’s learned from her parents who were both respected doctors.   Her father had been physician to the King until a political disagreement caused him to be exiled from Court.   Her mother had trained and practiced medicine in France, but upon her marriage was limited to acting as a “physick” and assisting her husband in his medical practice.

Mrs. Devlin is grabbed off the streets and brought to the King’s residence at Whitehall to treat a favorite’s suspicious illness.   The diagnosis and treatment are within Hannah Devlin’s competence, but the politics and intrigue at court may be her downfall.   Hannah Devlin parries with Lord Arlington, a powerful man whose stormy relationship with her father threatens Hannah’s own safety.   Through her work at court, Mrs. Devlin befriends Dr. Edward Strathern who is newly appointed to run the anatomy theater at the College of Physicians.  When members of court are murdered in a grisly and disturbing manner,  Mrs. Devlin and Dr. Strathern work together to make sense of the killer’s clues and to hunt down the murderer before he can kill again.

The Devlin Diary alternates between the story of Mrs. Devlin in the 1680s and Dr. Claire Donovan at Trinity College, Cambridge in 2008.  Soon after solving the mystery behind The Rossetti Letter, Claire Donovan has been offered a prestigious fellowship at Cambridge University.   While exploring an arcane collection in one of Cambridge’s most eminent libraries, Claire Donovan comes across a slim volume written in code in the 1600s.  As Claire deciphers the text, she realizes that she’s found an account of unsolved murders during the time of King Charles Stuart.  When a fellow historian is murdered,  Claire Donovan and Andrew Kent search for links between the recent murder and the mysterious journal.

Christi Phillips combines historical fiction with a complex and well crafted mystery.  If you’re fond of unusual mysteries and historical fiction and looking for an engrossing, satisfying read,  check out The Devlin Diary.  I enjoyed it so much that I’ve just ordered the earlier novel, The Rossetti Letter.

ISBN-10: 1416527397 – Trade Paperback $15.00
Publisher: Pocket (May 12, 2009), 448 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Christi Phillips is the author of The Rossetti Letter, which has been translated into seven foreign languages.  Her interest in European history has led her all over the continent.  She lives in the San Fransisco Bay Area, where she is at work on her next novel, set in France.  Visit Christi Phillips’ website at www.christiphillips.com to learn more.

Would you like to learn more about The Devlin Diary?  Check out other reviews at these participating blogs:

Rundpinne: http://www.rundpinne.blogspot.com/
Frugal Plus: http://frugalplus.com/
My Five Monkeys: http://www.tableforsevenjulie.blogspot.com/
The Bibliophilic Book Blog: http://www.bibliophilicbookblog.com/
A Journey of Books: http://ajourneyofbooks.halfzero.net/
My Book Addiction and More: http://mybookaddictionandmore.wordpress.com/
Just Another New Blog: http://justanothernewblog.blogspot.com/
The Book Girl: http://www.thebookgirl.net/
Just One More Paragraph: http://tweezlereads.blogspot.com
Booktumbling: http://booktumbling.com/
Books Gardens & Dogs: http://maryinhb.blogspot.com/
Renee’s Reads: http://www.renees-reads.blogspot.com/
Taking Time For Mommy: http://takingtimeformommy.blogspot.com/
Starting Fresh: http://startingfresh-gaby317.blogspot.com/
Star Shadow: http://www.starshadowblog.com/
My Book Views: http://my-book-views.blogspot.com/
Write For A Reader: http://www.writeforareader.blogspot.com/
Bibliophile’s Retreat: http://bibliophilesretreat.com/
Jeanne’s Ramblings: http://www.jeannesramblings.com
Blog Business World: http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com
Avid Reader: http://www.tarmyblogspot.blogspot.com/
Michelle & Leslie’s Book Picks: http://booksandmakeup.blogspot.com/
Lucky Rosie’s: http://www.luckyrosiescreations.blogspot.com/
Celtic Lady’s Reviews: http://www.celticladysreviews.blogspot.com/
Books Like Breathing: http://bibliophile23.wordpress.com/
A Room Without Books Is Empty: http://detweilermom.blogspot.com/
Chrissy’s World of Books: http://chrissysworldofbooks.blogspot.com/
DK’s Everything Books Blog: http://dkay401-challenges.blogspot.com/
A Musing Reviews: http://www.amusingreviews.blogspot.com/
Readaholic: http://bridget3420.blogspot.com/
I Heart Book Gossip: http://juniperrbreeeze.blogspot.com/
That’s A Novel Idea: http://thatsanovelidea.blogspot.com/
Reading Extensively: http://reading-extensively.blogspot.com/
Knitting and Sundries: http://www.jewelknits.blogspot.com/
Thrifty and Frugal Living: http://www.thriftyandfrugalliving.com/
See Michelle Read: http://seemichelleread.blogspot.com/
‘Til We Read Again: http://tilwereadagain.blogspot.com/
Reminder List: http://reminderlist.blogspot.com/
Loving Heart Mommy: http://www.lovingheartmommy.com/
Pam’s Private Reflections: http://hip2bhomeschooling.blogspot.com/
The Book Tree: http://thebooktree.blogspot.com/
The Down Home Diva: http://thestuffyouneedtoknow.blogspot.com/
Once Upon a Twilight: http://twilightsdance.blogspot.com/

Thank you so much to Simon & Schuster and PocketBooks for this review opportunity!

Book Blog Tour of Sunrise in the West: Book One of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter


Welcome to the Summer Reading Club & Book Blog Tour of Edith Pargeter’s The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet.  We begin with  Sunrise in the West:  Book One of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter.   Organized by Danielle at Sourcebooks, the Summer Reading Club & Blog Tour covers the novels  Sunrise in the West, The Dragon at Noonday, The Hounds of Sunset, and Afterglow and Nightfall over a period of four months.

The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet: Comprising Sunrise in the West, the Dragon at Noonday, the Hounds of Sunset, Afterglow and Nightfall

The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet: Comprising Sunrise in the West, the Dragon at Noonday, the Hounds of Sunset, Afterglow and Nightfall 


 //<![CDATA[ document.write('View Larger Image‘); //]]>Brothers of Gwynedd

The opening lines:
“My name is Samson.  I tell what I know, what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.  And if it should come to pass that I must tell it so certainly that I tell it as though I had been present.  And I say now that there is no man living has a better right to be my lord’s chronicler, for there is none ever knew him better than I, and God He knows there is none, man or woman, ever loved him better.”

The blurb:
Lleweln, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English.  But first he must combat enemies nearer home.  His brothers vie with him for power among themselves, and their infighting  threatens the very soil of their fathers.  David, brought up in the English court of King Henry III and torn between two loyalties, may be Llewelyn’s most dangerous foe — especially since Llewelyn has no sons.  Simon de Monfort promises his daughter to Llewelyn, but the quest to give Wales an heir may not be enough to prevent tragedy for the country and its prince.


Acclaimed novelist Edith Pargeter spins an absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.


Review:
In Sunrise in the West, Edith Pargeter shows us Wales in the 1200s with its royal family in conflict.  Under the law of Wales, an illegitimate son has an equal right to inherit and succeed his father, so that the firstborn son would succeed regardless of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of his birth.  In contrast, under English law, illegitimate children are removed from the line of succession and it is the first legitimate son who holds the right to succeed.  This difference in the law of succession comes to play in the history of Wales to tragic effect.

In the 1200s, the Prince of Gwynedd, Llewelyn Fawr,  has four children but his firstborn son, Griffith is illegitimate while his second child, David is legitimate. Wales’s relationship to England is not fully certain — though Gwynedd and his children acknowledge the power of King Henry III of England.  King Henry III supports David’s claim to the throne over that of his older and illegitimate brother Griffith.  Griffith, his wife Senena, and their children become bitter over David’s ascendancy and believe that he has wrongly usurped power, land and riches that by right should go to Griffith.   England’s support of David’s claim has resulted in a split among the different Welsh nobility, with Griffith at the losing end.  Griffith’s wife Senena decides to approach Henry with the offer of an alliance against David with the intention of wresting power and the Welsh throne for her husband.  What is intended often differs from the actual result — more so when dealing with kings and princes.  

The story of  David and Griffith and that of Griffith’s children Owen Goch, Llewelyn and David,  is a story of jealousy, loyalty, greed, pride, treachery, love and patriotism.  After both David and Griffith are dead, the heirs to the throne of Wales are heirs to many of the same mistakes and jealousies.  Just as King Henry III benefited from the fight between David and Griffith,  Henry III and his son Edward are ready to wrest Wales from Griffith’s sons.  Edith Pargeter tells us the story from the point of view of Samson, the son of a “waiting woman in the service of Lady Senena.”  Lady Senena takes a liking to Samson and sends him to be educated by the priests.  When Senena and her children leave Wales, he accompanies them to England and is in service to the family from then on.  He is tutor to the younger boys and eventually aide to the elder ones.   As England and Wales come into conflict, Samson is much in the thick of it.  


Samson was much shaped by his family and his education.  Upright, scrupulously honest, and idealistic, he is a loyal vassal to his lord and a knowledgeable guide through this time of upheaval.


Sunset in the West opens with Samson talking about his lord. As Samson goes on to tell us the story of the brothers, their love for Wales and their rivalry for the throne, I was drawn in.  The language is of an older time and the narrative runs slow, but it’s rich in detail.  I found myself absorbed in the time period and sympathetic to many of the competing characters.  To be honest, I hadn’t immediately realized that the volume that I had of  The Brothers of Gwynedd: A Quartet contained all four novels.  But as I was finishing Sunset in the West, I was glad to have all the stories in one.  It is hard to stop reading about Owen Goch, Llwelyn, David and Samson and I’ve found myself reading the next book in the series the night I finished the first.

ISBN-10: 140223760X – Paperback $16.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (May 1, 2010), 800 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Do join us on Monday, May 24, from 7PM-9PM EST, for a blog chat to discuss Sunrise in the West at http://www.passagestothepast.com/


Visit the sites on this blog tour:

May 17 Reviews
The Burton Review
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Rundpinne
A Reader’s Respite
History Undressed
Linda Banche Romance Author
A Hoyden’s Look at Literature
Royal Reviews


May 18 Reviews
Between the Pages
The Broken Teepee
Books and Coffee
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Tanzanite’s Shelf and Stuff
Passages to the Past
The Book Faery
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
Martha’s Bookshelf


May 19 Reviews
Beth Fish
Deb’s Book Bag
Book Tumbling
A Work in Progress
Stiletto Storytime
Queen of Happy Endings


May 20 Reviews
The Literate Housewife
Reading Adventures
Books Like Breathing
Kailana’s Written World
Confessions of a Muse in the Fog
Wendy’s Minding Spot
Mrs. Q Book Addict
The Life and Lies of a Flying Inanimate Object
Starting Fresh


May 21 Reviews
Loving Heart Mommy
Peeking Between the Pages
Celtic Lady’s Ramblings
Bookfoolery
One Literature Nut
The Book Tree
My Reading Room


May 23 Reviews
Carla Nayland’s Blog





Thank you so much to Sourcebooks and Danielle for this review opportunity!
CymLowell

Book Blog Tour of Sunrise in the West: Book One of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter


Welcome to the Summer Reading Club & Book Blog Tour of Edith Pargeter’s The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet.  We begin with  Sunrise in the West:  Book One of The Brothers of Gwynedd by Edith Pargeter.   Organized by Danielle at Sourcebooks, the Summer Reading Club & Blog Tour covers the novels  Sunrise in the West, The Dragon at Noonday, The Hounds of Sunset, and Afterglow and Nightfall over a period of four months.

The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet: Comprising Sunrise in the West, the Dragon at Noonday, the Hounds of Sunset, Afterglow and Nightfall

The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet: Comprising Sunrise in the West, the Dragon at Noonday, the Hounds of Sunset, Afterglow and Nightfall 


 //<![CDATA[ document.write('View Larger Image‘); //]]>Brothers of Gwynedd

The opening lines:
“My name is Samson.  I tell what I know, what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears.  And if it should come to pass that I must tell it so certainly that I tell it as though I had been present.  And I say now that there is no man living has a better right to be my lord’s chronicler, for there is none ever knew him better than I, and God He knows there is none, man or woman, ever loved him better.”

The blurb:
Lleweln, prince of Gwynedd, dreams of a Wales united against the English.  But first he must combat enemies nearer home.  His brothers vie with him for power among themselves, and their infighting  threatens the very soil of their fathers.  David, brought up in the English court of King Henry III and torn between two loyalties, may be Llewelyn’s most dangerous foe — especially since Llewelyn has no sons.  Simon de Monfort promises his daughter to Llewelyn, but the quest to give Wales an heir may not be enough to prevent tragedy for the country and its prince.


Acclaimed novelist Edith Pargeter spins an absorbing tale of tragedy, traitors, and triumph of the heart.


Review:
In Sunrise in the West, Edith Pargeter shows us Wales in the 1200s with its royal family in conflict.  Under the law of Wales, an illegitimate son has an equal right to inherit and succeed his father, so that the firstborn son would succeed regardless of the legitimacy or illegitimacy of his birth.  In contrast, under English law, illegitimate children are removed from the line of succession and it is the first legitimate son who holds the right to succeed.  This difference in the law of succession comes to play in the history of Wales to tragic effect.

In the 1200s, the Prince of Gwynedd, Llewelyn Fawr,  has four children but his firstborn son, Griffith is illegitimate while his second child, David is legitimate. Wales’s relationship to England is not fully certain — though Gwynedd and his children acknowledge the power of King Henry III of England.  King Henry III supports David’s claim to the throne over that of his older and illegitimate brother Griffith.  Griffith, his wife Senena, and their children become bitter over David’s ascendancy and believe that he has wrongly usurped power, land and riches that by right should go to Griffith.   England’s support of David’s claim has resulted in a split among the different Welsh nobility, with Griffith at the losing end.  Griffith’s wife Senena decides to approach Henry with the offer of an alliance against David with the intention of wresting power and the Welsh throne for her husband.  What is intended often differs from the actual result — more so when dealing with kings and princes.  

The story of  David and Griffith and that of Griffith’s children Owen Goch, Llewelyn and David,  is a story of jealousy, loyalty, greed, pride, treachery, love and patriotism.  After both David and Griffith are dead, the heirs to the throne of Wales are heirs to many of the same mistakes and jealousies.  Just as King Henry III benefited from the fight between David and Griffith,  Henry III and his son Edward are ready to wrest Wales from Griffith’s sons.  Edith Pargeter tells us the story from the point of view of Samson, the son of a “waiting woman in the service of Lady Senena.”  Lady Senena takes a liking to Samson and sends him to be educated by the priests.  When Senena and her children leave Wales, he accompanies them to England and is in service to the family from then on.  He is tutor to the younger boys and eventually aide to the elder ones.   As England and Wales come into conflict, Samson is much in the thick of it.  


Samson was much shaped by his family and his education.  Upright, scrupulously honest, and idealistic, he is a loyal vassal to his lord and a knowledgeable guide through this time of upheaval.


Sunset in the West opens with Samson talking about his lord. As Samson goes on to tell us the story of the brothers, their love for Wales and their rivalry for the throne, I was drawn in.  The language is of an older time and the narrative runs slow, but it’s rich in detail.  I found myself absorbed in the time period and sympathetic to many of the competing characters.  To be honest, I hadn’t immediately realized that the volume that I had of  The Brothers of Gwynedd: A Quartet contained all four novels.  But as I was finishing Sunset in the West, I was glad to have all the stories in one.  It is hard to stop reading about Owen Goch, Llwelyn, David and Samson and I’ve found myself reading the next book in the series the night I finished the first.

ISBN-10: 140223760X – Paperback $16.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (May 1, 2010), 800 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

Do join us on Monday, May 24, from 7PM-9PM EST, for a blog chat to discuss Sunrise in the West at http://www.passagestothepast.com/


Visit the sites on this blog tour:

May 17 Reviews
The Burton Review
The Bibliophilic Book Blog
Rundpinne
A Reader’s Respite
History Undressed
Linda Banche Romance Author
A Hoyden’s Look at Literature
Royal Reviews


May 18 Reviews
Between the Pages
The Broken Teepee
Books and Coffee
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
Tanzanite’s Shelf and Stuff
Passages to the Past
The Book Faery
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore
Martha’s Bookshelf


May 19 Reviews
Beth Fish
Deb’s Book Bag
Book Tumbling
A Work in Progress
Stiletto Storytime
Queen of Happy Endings


May 20 Reviews
The Literate Housewife
Reading Adventures
Books Like Breathing
Kailana’s Written World
Confessions of a Muse in the Fog
Wendy’s Minding Spot
Mrs. Q Book Addict
The Life and Lies of a Flying Inanimate Object
Starting Fresh


May 21 Reviews
Loving Heart Mommy
Peeking Between the Pages
Celtic Lady’s Ramblings
Bookfoolery
One Literature Nut
The Book Tree
My Reading Room


May 23 Reviews
Carla Nayland’s Blog





Thank you so much to Sourcebooks and Danielle for this review opportunity!
CymLowell

Book Review of The Founding: Book One of the Morland Dynasty Saga by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles



The blurb:
Seeking power and prestige, grim and ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere “sheep farmer”; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.

Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that so often divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home. But from peace and plenty, love and loyalty, greed and envy, come the foundations of a dynasty that will last the might of the British Empire.

Review:
The Founding, set in Yorkshire in the early 1400s, is the start of an engrossing historical saga. The Founding is the first in the Morland Dynasty series, and in it we meet Edward Morland, a wealthy sheep farmer, who pairs his only son with a well connected but orphaned Eleanor Courtney. Though Edward Morland is unpolished, he is ambitious and has a long view that holds him and his family in good stead. Though Eleanor never fully warms to her gruff and bullying father-in-law, he teaches her well and they, along with the gentle and industrious Robert, the three of them lay the foundation for one of the largest fortunes in England. Vast wealth is only one part of the Morland legacy.

Arguably, the Morland’s greatest asset is Robert Morland’s beautiful and spirited wife, Eleanor Courtney. Though Eleanor had initially resented being forced to marry into trade, she proved to be an astute businesswoman in her own right. Robert’s steadiness and industry and Eleanor’s ambition and connections gave the Morland family an edge which they used to go forward. The Founding takes us from the very start of the Morland’s rise to their early ties to the House of York and to their place in King Richard III’s court.

One of the longest and most successful family sagas, Morland Dynasty saga draws you in and you soon find yourself caring what happens to Robert, Eleanor, Job, and the other members of their extended family. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles weaves historical figures and events into the dramas, failures, and successes of the Morlands. Reading the first in the series, gave me much the same feeling that I had when I first discovered R.F. Delderfield’s trilogy of the Swann family, but while Delderfield’s series captured the Industrial Age in the UK, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’s is 34 volumes and spans five hundred years. The Founding is a fascinating read and I’m eager to dive into the next book in the series.

ISBN-10: 1402238150 – Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reissue edition (April 1, 2010), 560 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd’s Bush in London. The birth of the Morland Series enabled her to become a full-time writer in 1979. The series was originally intended to comprise twelve volumes, but it was proved so popular that it has now been extended to thirty-four. Harrod-Eagles still lives in London and has a husband and three children, and apart from writing, her passions are music (she plays in several amateur orchestras), horses, wine, architecture, and the English countryside.

Learn more about Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and the Morland Dynasty on her website http://www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com/morland1.htm

Thank you so much to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!

Book Review of The Founding: Book One of the Morland Dynasty Saga by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles



The blurb:
Seeking power and prestige, grim and ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere “sheep farmer”; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.

Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that so often divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home. But from peace and plenty, love and loyalty, greed and envy, come the foundations of a dynasty that will last the might of the British Empire.

Review:
The Founding, set in Yorkshire in the early 1400s, is the start of an engrossing historical saga. The Founding is the first in the Morland Dynasty series, and in it we meet Edward Morland, a wealthy sheep farmer, who pairs his only son with a well connected but orphaned Eleanor Courtney. Though Edward Morland is unpolished, he is ambitious and has a long view that holds him and his family in good stead. Though Eleanor never fully warms to her gruff and bullying father-in-law, he teaches her well and they, along with the gentle and industrious Robert, the three of them lay the foundation for one of the largest fortunes in England. Vast wealth is only one part of the Morland legacy.

Arguably, the Morland’s greatest asset is Robert Morland’s beautiful and spirited wife, Eleanor Courtney. Though Eleanor had initially resented being forced to marry into trade, she proved to be an astute businesswoman in her own right. Robert’s steadiness and industry and Eleanor’s ambition and connections gave the Morland family an edge which they used to go forward. The Founding takes us from the very start of the Morland’s rise to their early ties to the House of York and to their place in King Richard III’s court.

One of the longest and most successful family sagas, Morland Dynasty saga draws you in and you soon find yourself caring what happens to Robert, Eleanor, Job, and the other members of their extended family. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles weaves historical figures and events into the dramas, failures, and successes of the Morlands. Reading the first in the series, gave me much the same feeling that I had when I first discovered R.F. Delderfield’s trilogy of the Swann family, but while Delderfield’s series captured the Industrial Age in the UK, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles’s is 34 volumes and spans five hundred years. The Founding is a fascinating read and I’m eager to dive into the next book in the series.

ISBN-10: 1402238150 – Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reissue edition (April 1, 2010), 560 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd’s Bush in London. The birth of the Morland Series enabled her to become a full-time writer in 1979. The series was originally intended to comprise twelve volumes, but it was proved so popular that it has now been extended to thirty-four. Harrod-Eagles still lives in London and has a husband and three children, and apart from writing, her passions are music (she plays in several amateur orchestras), horses, wine, architecture, and the English countryside.

Learn more about Cynthia Harrod-Eagles and the Morland Dynasty on her website http://www.cynthiaharrodeagles.com/morland1.htm

Thank you so much to Danielle and SourceBooks for this review opportunity!