Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Tudor Enthusiast blog is hosting a special Q&A and giveaway for The Queen's Pleasure and The Queen's Rivals, to read the interview and enter please visit
Mr. Faber’s novel The Crimson Petal and the White is one of my favorites, I hope someday to be able to read it again and review it here on this blog; in my opinion it’s one of the best novels I have ever read, peopled with characters who stay in your mind long after you've read the last page, the kind that keep you wondering what happened after the author chose to end his story.
For those who have not had the pleasure of reading it, The Crimson Petal and the White takes place in the 1870s and tells the story of a remarkable young woman, a prostitute named Sugar, who ends up working in her wealthy lover’s household as governess to his daughter, Sophie. Despite some very vocal reader dissatisfaction with a tantalizingly open ending, Mr. Faber has so far resisted writing a sequel, but he has given readers this slim volume of seven stories that revisit several characters from the original novel. One even proffers some clues about what happened afterwards.
Though I highly recommend reading the novel first, it is not, in my opinion, necessary to do so in order to enjoy these stories. For someone who has read the novel, reading this collection of stories is like being reunited with old friends, and learning a little more about them, and for a newcomer, it’s like meeting someone for the first time and being told a story from their life that makes you want to know even more.
In “Christmas in
seventeen-year-old Sugar goes out and buys some Christmas treats for
Christopher, the little boy who is employed in her mother’s brothel to collect
and deliver the girls’ laundry.
“Clara and the Rat Man” tells about a former lady’s maid, fallen to prostitution, who receives a rather unusual request from one of her clients.
In “Chocolate Hearts From The New World” Dr. Curlew despairs that his plain daughter Emmeline will ever catch a husband. When he learns that she is corresponding with gentlemen in
he finds new reason to hope. America
When a fly lands on a whore’s buttocks, it provokes a libertine to contemplate his own mortality and the futility of human existence in “The Fly, and Its Effects Upon Mr. Bodley.”
A female evangelist singing hymns outside the brothel awakens Sugar early one morning in “The Apple.”
“Medicine” finds an apathetic William Rackham sitting at his desk, taking patent medicines, pondering his business problems, and feeling sorry for the turn his life has taken since the coming and going of Sugar.
And in the final, and longest, story, “A Mighty Horde of Women In Very Big Hats Advancing,” Sophie’s son, now an elderly man, looks back upon his life and reminisces about the clash of middle class English respectability, Bohemian artists, and suffragettes that made his childhood so exciting.
Mr. Faber is a very talented author who has written in various genres. Besides this short story collection, and his historical masterpiece, The Crimson Petal and the White, I have also read one of his forays into science fiction, the fascinating and disturbing Under The Skin, and I recommend them all and look forward to reading more of his work in the future.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Heather Domin has just posted a review of The Boleyn Bride on her blog at http://heatherdomin.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/book-review-the-boleyn-bride-by-brandy-purdy/
she has reviewed all my novels, from the first, The Confession of Piers Gaveston, to the latest, you can find them all on her blog.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
This novel certainly was a tangled web, so many lives, so many complications, all tangled up together, but the author did a marvelous job, creating difficult but realistic, thought-provoking situations and characters I could understand and feel for.
Tia made the mistake of falling in love with Nathan, a married man with two sons. To him, she was just an affair. He had no intention of changing his life for her. After she got pregnant, he disappeared after first advising her to have an abortion. Instead of following his advise, Tia gave her daughter up for adoption, and a part of her has regretted it ever since. She’s been drinking and her life has been slowly falling apart ever since and the ghost of Nathan and their relationship has never stopped haunting her; she just hasn't been able to recover and move on.
Five years later, she impulsively sends Nathan copies of the pictures she receives each year from the couple who adopted her daughter. Nathan’s wife, Juliette, has the outwardly perfect life. She’s the part owner of a successful line of organic cosmetics and a happy wife and mother. After Nathan confessed his affair with Tia he promised he would never cheat on her again. Juliette believed him. So when she opens Tia’s letter she is devastated. She never knew there was a child inside, a little girl who looks so much like her own children. How could Nathan reject and deny his daughter? And what others secrets is he hiding? What other lies has he told?
Juliette goes in search of Nathan’s daughter.
she discovers was adopted by Caroline, a work-driven pathologist dedicated to
curing pediatric cancer, and her wealthy businessman husband Peter. But
Caroline, has secrets of her own. In her heart, she knows motherhood is the
wrong role for her. She just does not enjoy doing mommy things like playing
with her daughter, she’d rather be in her lab working. Savannah
As the novel progresses, everyone comes together with
at the heart of it all, as the knot tying them all together. Will it all
unravel or become an even more tangled mess? It’s definitely worth reading to
find out. I enjoyed this one so much that I immediately ordered the author’s
previous novel, The Murderer’s Daughters, which I hope to read and review
here eventually. Savannah
Thursday, November 28, 2013
The Tudor Enthusiast has published an early review of The Boleyn Bride at http://thetudorenthusiast.weebly.com/1/post/2013/11/review-of-the-boleyn-bride-by-brandy-purdy.html
Sunday, November 24, 2013
, Dellarobia Turnbow, a
discontented wife and mother, climbs a hill, to keep a rendezvous with a young
telephone line repairman. Although she’s only twenty-eight, she feels like
she’s given up on all her dreams. At seventeen she planned to go to college but
got pregnant and married instead. Now she’s the mother of two children and
living on a failing sheep farm. Tennessee
As she climbs higher up the mountain she beholds an incredible sight, like a wall of shimmering orange flame without heat or smoke, a forest fire that doesn't burn. She takes it as a sign from God and turns back. But whether it’s a God-sent miracle or not, it is a unique natural phenomena that will soon attract the attention of the entire world. Without her glasses on, Dellarobia didn't realize that what she was looking at was masses of monarch butterflies clinging to the trees. They usually go to
due to a devastating mud slide and climate changes they have come to instead. Tennessee
As scientists and sightseers gather, Dellarobia begins working part-time in a temporary lab studying the butterflies, and realizes that maybe it’s not too late and the life she once longed for is not beyond her. But it will mean change and sacrifice if she is prepared to make it.
This was an interesting book, both as an unhappily married woman’s personal dilemma and the plight of the Monarch butterflies. At times it seemed a little slow-paced and long to me, but overall it was an enjoyable read.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
At last, I finally get to revisit this old favorite. I've been wanting to reread it for years, but the “To Read” stacks just keep growing, and overflowing.
Spanning the years 1915 to 1952, this novel tells the story of Trudi Montag, a Zwerg (dwarf) woman, and collector of secrets, in the little German town of
, who, with her father, runs the
library, and hides Jews in the cellar during World War II. Burgdorf
Not only is this book a heart wrenching portrait of what it is like to be different, to be disdained and discounted because of one’s physical appearance, to want love but always be denied it, it also has a cast of the most vivid, memorable characters. There’s Trudi’s friend, Georg, whose mother will never forgive him for not being born a girl, and the mysterious Unknown Benefactor who leaves gifts for the townspeople, Frau Simon, the red-haired milliner who will never sell anyone a hat unless it looks good on them, and Frau Doktor Rosen, a female doctor whose husband, no one can ever decide, is either too lazy or sick to work, and her daughter, Eva, who is Trudi’s friend, but only in secret, and Emil Hesping, the manager of the gymnast club who has the wonderful gift of being able to make anyone smile, laugh, and feel better. Tragic, beautiful Ingrid. And many more. They’re wonderful, unique and special characters, it’s a treat to learn about and get to know.
When she is thirteen, Trudi goes to the circus and meets Pia, a dwarf woman like herself, but a beautiful, stylish one. She teaches Trudi not to feel so alone, and to embrace being special. It’s a life changing encounter. Trudi begins making changes, first with her clothes, she stops wearing the children’s clothes her father buys off the rack of local stores for her and instead learns to sew, making dresses that show her off to best advantage, she chops off her blonde braids, and affects a stylish bob, and begins to wear chic hats and high heels. She begins to exude a new confidence. And we see her first disillusioning brush with love and feel every bit of her pain at knowing she will never be a wife and mother, or belong to someone, like most women. Her loneliness touched me so deeply that many times I cried, both for her, and for myself, because I know what that’s like.
As Hitler becomes increasingly dominant, more and more the people seek solace in the library, finding comfort in books about handsome doctors and pretty nurses, cowboys and Indians, stories where love conquers all and good always triumphs over evil. It’s a terrifying time of suspicion, paranoia, book burning, Nazi youth groups, anti-Semitism, and Nazi propaganda. People Trudi has known all her life begin to disappear because they disagreed or dared to criticize the new regime.
As a person who knows what it is like to be different, Trudi understands better than most the plight of the Jews and helps those she can.
After the war, when so many people she knows, or knew, have been lost or changed, all anyone wants to do is go on, forget, and rebuild. But amidst the hope, as life goes on, there fresh tragedies, some of which will break your heart if, like me, you've come to care about these characters.
I love this book so much. It’s one of those stories where, reading it, I wanted with all my heart for it to have a happy ending, for everything to turn out all right, even though I knew it probably wouldn't ring true, life just isn't like that. I've read a lot of books over the years, some I’ve forgotten, some I've remembered, but this is one that has always stayed with me. I recommend it to everyone who loves historical fiction or any kind of novel with characters so real they reach right off the page and touch your heart.