Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tamburlaine Must Die by Louise Welsh

This taut little mystery revolves around my favourite Elizabethan bad boy--Christopher Marlowe, the brilliant poet and playwright who not only flirted with danger but took it to bed, leading a secret life as a spy,a bisexual by nature and inclination, dabbling in homosexuality and atheism at a time when both were considered crimes as well as sins and could lead to a fiery death at the stake.

When the novel begins, Marlowe is comfortably ensconced at his patron's country estate, hard at work on his poetry, enjoying fine food, luxurious accommodations, the beauties of nature, and tolerating Walsingham's caresses while avoiding the plague in London when a summons from the Privy Council shatters his peaceful interlude.

A firebrand signing himself Tamburlaine, after the savage Scythian shepherd-kIng in Marlowe's most violent play, has been making dangerous mischief in London, and Marlowe finds himself under suspicion.

Marlowe has three days to clear his name and save his life. Three days in which he will face betrayal by friends and lovers, confront double agents, and even consult the mysterious but learned and respected alchemist Dr. John Dee.

In this brief novella, Ms. Welsh does a fine job of capturing the eloquence of Elizabethan language without making it ponderous for the modern day reader or bogging them down with archaic language and unfamiliar words, with a judicious touch--not to little or too much-- of crudity and slang to authentically capture the world of Christopher Marlowe and the din, colour, and chaos of late sixteenth century London.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tabby: After Her Bath and With Her Birds

Hearts West True Stories of Mail Order Brides On The Frontier by Chris Enss

During the Gold Rush when men from all walks of life dropped everything to follow their dreams of riches in the uncivilized wilds, they soon discovered that they greatly outnumbered women sometimes by as many as 12 to 1. As many began to hanker for a helpmate, matrimonial agencies and lonely hearts newspapers began to do a thriving trade in the Mail Order Bride business.
This book tells the stories of several women who took a chance and ventured into the unknown hoping to find their soulmates in the wild, wild west. A surprising number of these matches made by letter turned out very happily, but there were also frauds and heartaches.
One particularly poignant tale included in this slim but fascinating little volume is the story of schoolteacher Eleanor Berry, who, at age 22, feared spinsterhood and spending the rest of her life alone. She began a correspondence with a lonely miner named Louis Dreibelbis, which culminated in a proposal of marriage, which Eleanor accepted. As she neared her destination her stagecoach was held up by a masked man who gallantly spared her trousseau at her request, taking the trunk down before he used gunpowder to blow open the strongbox positioned on the luggage rack beside it. When the shaken bride and the trunk of dresses she planned to start her new life in arrived for the wedding she noticed the groom had a jagged, lightning bolt scar on his hand.; a scar she recognized. She had seen it when her trunk was being lifted down. Eleanor fled back to her hometown and tried to keep what had happened secret, fearing ridicule if people found out about her harrowing and humiliating experience as a mail-order bride, but the truth eventually came out, and Eleanor attempted suicide. What happened after that, if Eleanor ever found love or grew old alone, is unknown.
There is also the inspiring tale of a woman who fled a lazy ne'er-do-well husband and became the first female doctor in Oregon.
I have read several of Ms. Enss' books and have found them all fascinating, and though they tend to be short in length they never fail to tell me something new and make me want to know more about the fascinating women of the Old West she writes about.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Announcement: Rights To My Next Two Novels Sold

The rights to my next two historical novels have been sold to my American publisher, Kensington Books, in a two book deal. My next novel, about the daughters of Henry VIII, Mary and Elizabeth, is scheduled for publication sometime next year by both Kensington Books in the USA and Harper/Avon in the UK. I will post more details as I have them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New Reviews of The Boleyn Wife a.k.a. The Tudor Wife

A new review of The Boleyn Wife (pubished in the UK as The Tudor Wife) has been published at has also posted a review at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Featured Review of The Tudor Wife in Closer Magazine

Closer, a glossy British gossip and lifestyle magazine, has published a featured review of The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy (published in the USA as The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy).

The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy, reviewed by Claire Bowen.

The Tudor Wife is a historical tale of love, intrigue and revenge based on real events at Henry VIII's court.

It's love at first sight when the handsome George Boleyn meets Lady Jane Parker, maid to Henry VIII's wife, Catherine of Aragon. Before long, Jane knows she wants to spend the rest of her life with George. However, the course of true love doesn't run smoothly and over time Jane finds herself playing second fiddle to George's sister Anne, causing great resentment and envy.

But when allegations of incest surface involving George and Anne, George is imprisoned in the Tower of London.

This tale combines the joys of love with raw emotions of jealousy, malice, and spite. I really enjoyed this classic story of a woman scorned, who is after revenge of the most truly bloody kind.

Please note The Tudor Wife by Emily Purdy is published in the USA as The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton

This sentimental British classic about a beloved schoolmaster at a prestigious boys' school fully deserves its place in the pantheon of beloved books.

Created as a loving tribute to the teaching profession, "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" tells the story of Mr. Chipping, affectionately known as "Chips," who came to serve in the hallowed halls of Brookfield School as a young man of twenty-two as Latin master. As the years passed, he seemed destined to make no great mark on his pupils' lives, to be just another teacher, gruff, and reserved, respected, but not particularly liked, much less loved.

Then love came unexpectedly into the life of this crusty, confirmed, old bachelor, in the form of vivacious and kind Katherine, a woman young enough to be his daughter, who espoused distinctly modern views and even rode a bicycle. It was the most unlikely of matches, but it made Chips a new man; Katherine brought out the best in him. And with her at his side, he opened like a flower and even let his long suppressed sense of humor shine, using it as a tool to educate, with clever little jokes and puns to help his pupils learn and remember their lessons.

Though Chips' marital happiness was short-lived (Katherine died in childbirth), the lessons Katherine taught the teacher stuck, and Chips himself began to take root in his pupils' hearts, and by the time a brash new headmaster tried to force him into retirement he was considered a venerable Brookfield institution, a sort of school mascot, who had taught generations of boys, and they rallied to his defense and saw that he was assured a place at Brookfield as long as he lived.

Though Chips chose to retire voluntarily in 1913, taking rooms across the street from the school so he could always be nearby and have the boys for tea and cake, he temporarily returned to see the school through the war years (World War I), and with tears in his eyes read out the names of the fallen, the former students and faculty of Brookfield who had lost their lives on the battlefields of Europe, every evening in Chapel. He died after giving sixty-three years of his life to Brookfield, well beloved and fondly remembered.

"Goodbye Mr. Chips" is a simple story, short in pages though long in years, but it goes straight to the heart. Though some readers may find it a tad reserved, like Chips himself, and the style somewhat dry and terse, it is nonetheless an endearing story.

It was made into a wonderful film, as true to the book as a film can be, for which Robert Donat, in the title role, won a well-deserved Oscar, though up against Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in "Gone With The Wind" it was a close match and not a universally popular decision, which "Gone With The Wind" fan that I am--it is my favorite movie--I can well understand. Greer Garson as Katherine was also nominated, as Best Actress, but lost out to Vivien Leigh's Scarlett O'Hara.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Last Child by John Hart

"The Last Child" is a gripping tale of a cold missing child case and the victim's thirteen-year-old brother who refuses to give up.

Johnny Merrimon had a picture perfect life with his loving, caring parents and beloved twin sister, Alyssa, in a small North Carolina town until the evening Alyssa disappeared while walking home. After Alyssa vanished, grief destroyed what was left of his family as surely and completely as an atom bomb blast. Johnny's father, wracked by guilt because of the part he unwittingly played in Alyssa's disappearance, deserts his wife and son, while Catherine Merrimon, Johnny's ethereally beautiful mother, dissolves into a drug and drink addled wreck, her condition enabled by a predatory and abusive boyfriend.

Under the circumstances, Johnny is forced to grow up quick, to take care of the parent who should be taking care of him, and to learn to fend for himself. The one thing that sustains him, and keeps him going, is his undying conviction that Alyssa is still alive. He doggedly and painstakingly searches for her, putting himself and his own safety in peril by venturing into dangerous neighbourhoods and confronting registered sex offenders and known pedophiles.

Through it all, watching over him, is Detective Hunt, a seasoned investigator, who is haunted by the case, and has seen his own family disintegrate because of his obsession and refusal to let go.

When a tantalizing clue literally falls at Johnny's feet, the cold case suddenly grows dangerously warm. And a mysterious "gentle giant" escaped convict who hears the voice of God just may hold one of the puzzle pieces that will bring Alyssa back home.

I won't say any more about the plot, as I always hate to spoil a mystery. But if you are interested in mysterious disappearances or like mystery and suspense novels in which a child becomes a junior Sherlock Holmes, I recommend "The Last Child."