Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cover Art for Mary & Elizabeth by Emily Purdy

Here is a better quality image of the cover for the British edition of my next novel, due out in June 2011. It will be called Mary & Elizabeth by Emily Purdy in the UK and The Tudor Throne by Brandy Purdy in the USA.
MARY & ELIZABETH by Emily Purdy
This is the UK Edition of The Tudor Throne by Brandy Purdy
Two Sisters, United by Blood, divided by the Crown.

They shared childhood memories and one grand ambition.
Mary was England's precious jewel, the surviving child of the tumultuous relationship between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. However, when Henry fell passionately in love with the dark-eyed Anne Boleyn, he cast his wife and daughter aside.
Henry and Anne's union divides the country, and with the birth of Elizabeth, Mary becomes a pariah, stripped of all royal privileges. Yet, there is something enchanting about Elizabeth, and Mary soon grows to love her like a sister.
But every rose has its thorn, and following Anne Boleyn's execution, a rift begins to grow between the sisters. Mary assumes her place as queen, her reign of terror turning the people's love to hate. Elizabeth, whose true love is her country, must defy her tyrannical sister to make way for a new era...
Mary and Elizabeth is a rip-roaring story of a love, power, and rivalry that will delight fans of The Tudors.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Many Loves of Buffalo Bill by Chris Enss

This is one of those books where the title seems to promise a little more than the book actually delivers. Those hoping for a larger dose of romance and passion may be disappointed as this book reads more like a condensed biography of Buffalo Bill Cody with a greater emphasis on the women in his life whenever they come into the story, instead of allotting each woman a chapter to herself. By this I don't mean to imply that this is a bad book, just if you are expecting this to follow the same format as some of Ms. Enss’ previous books on women in the Old West you may be disappointed. Nonetheless, it is an interesting book filled with fascinating characters.

Here we meet Bill’s long-suffering wife, the jealous Lulu, who actually accused Queen Victoria and Princess Alexandra of showing her husband too much attention in a farce of a divorce trial in 1905, and get all the dirt on their never a dull moment marital drama, as well as the tragedies like the deaths of their only son and later one of the daughters to scarlet fever. We also meet Bill’s adoring mother and sisters. And some of his mistresses, including Mollie Moses, the lovelorn mistress who died of rat bites while living in squalor with her most precious possession a portrait of Bill upon the wall. And his most expensive mistake, actress Katherine Clemmons, her talent did not match her looks and all Bill’s attempts to make her a star ended in failure, but Katherine picked herself up, brushed herself off, and went on to marry a millionaire. We also meet some of the women whose involvement with Buffalo Bill was not at all amorous including “Little Sure Shot” Annie Oakley, the star of his Wild West Show, and Rosa Bonheur, the seventy year old artist who immortalized Bill and his favorite horse, Tucker, on canvas. When Bill’s house was burning Bill telegraphed his wife to save the portrait and let all the rest go to blazes.

If you are interested in the Old West, particularly the women, or Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show, and like a brisk, brief read, that tells you just enough to whet your appetite, even at the risk of leaving you wanting more, this just might be the right read for you.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

O. Juliet by Robin Maxwell

This novel is a more earthy, human story of the couple who became Shakespeare’s immortal lovers—Romeo and Juliet. It reminds us that they were after all, despite their era of courtly manners and long brocade gowns, a pair of teenagers in love.

Ms. Maxwell’s Juliet is eighteen years old and makes her home in 15th century Florence, she is the daughter of a prosperous silk merchant. As all her brothers have died of fever, Juliet is now her parents’ only surviving child, and her father plans to marry her to his new business partner, a rather disagreeable and secretly vindictive man named Jacopo Strozzi. But Juliet’s true passion is poetry, she idolizes the great Dante, and fueled by tales of Dante and his love for Beatrice, and other great lovers like Tristan and Isolde and Lancelot and Guinevere, longs for true love rather than a loveless marriage of convenience.

Enter Romeo Monticecco, a young dreamer just returned from studying at the university in Padua, who longs to extend the olive branch of peace between the feuding families of Capelletti and Monticecco. But peace is the last thing Juliet’s betrothed, Jacopo Strozzi, desires, and when Romeo and Juliet fall in love and old wounds are beginning to be healed and new friendships formed, the machinations of this devious man set the stage for tragedy.

I applaud Ms. Maxwell for taking a chance and giving us a fresh take on the familiar old story and bringing the lofty immortal lovers back down to earth.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

This well-written and enlightening novel delivers a sordid little known slice of history that may leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, sickened and saddened as you contemplate some of the cruelties and customs of our ancestors.

Wench tells the story of some of the habitual guests of a luxury summer resort hotel in Ohio called Tawawa House where rich white Southern plantation owners would bring their Negro slave mistresses for a few weeks’ vacation each year.

The vivid and haunting cast of characters includes Lizzie, a young slave woman who is literate in a time when it was illegal for a slave to know how to read, who tries to convince herself that she truly lovers her master even though he refuses to give their children the precious gift of freedom. Then there is voluptuous, baby-faced Sweet, pregnant yet again. And Reenie whose master is actually her half-brother, determined not to have more children by him, she has secretly “fixed” herself. Reenie dreads the summers at Tawawa House because her master has made some sort of arrangement with the hotel manager that involves giving Reenie to him for occasional sex. Then there is exotic, imperious, mysterious red-haired Mawu from New Orleans’, schooled in Voodoo by an old conjuring man, she has lost the ability to love after her master sold off each of the children she bore him, and incites the others to join her in a plot to runaway.

This is a very sad and moving story, the women and their feelings leap off the pages, and one can’t help but feel for them and hope each one will have a happy ending all the while knowing that given the prejudices of the era they lived in this is unlikely.