Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

Author: Philippa Gregory

Publication Date: 2001

Category: Historical fiction

Who'll want to read it? Anyone interested in history delivered with a fictitious twist.

Point of no return: Anne advising Mary on how to catch the king: "But don't run too fast, remember he has to catch you."

Classic line: "Anne can do it," my father agreed. "She could turn a polecat off the scent of a mouse."

What's it all about? The strength of the Boleyn family in their pursuit of the crown (and whatever else they could lay their hands on!) Anne, her sister Mary and their brother George are all brought to the king's court at a young age, becoming players in their uncle's plans to advance the family's fortunes. It is Mary who first wins King Henry VIII's favor when she is barely 14 and already married to one of his courtiers. But later her sister, Anne, insinuates herself into Henry's graces, displacing Mary as his lover and begins her machinations to rid him of his wife, Katherine of Aragon.

The recurring theme of this novel is the strategy and strength of the Boleyns to do whatever they could to raise the family status and fortune. Anne is described as a snake on several occasions and her behaviour in this novel certainly warrants that description.

Historical accuracy of the tale is discussed in a Wikipedia entry:
but I prefer the facts not to get in the way of a good story!

This book is currently being launched as a movie, raising the profile of the Boleyns again.
Publisher: HarperCollins

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Pig Did It

Author: Joseph Caldwell

Publication Date: 2008

Category: Humour, Parody

Who'll want to read it? Anyone

Point of no return: "Aaron McCloud had come to Ireland, to County Kerry, to the shores of the Western Sea, so he could, in solitary majesty, feel sorry for himself." 1st line.

Classic line: There isn't just one. Every line builds up to something in the next line, like a great epic poem: "Lolly McKeever stood on the far side of the bed and looked down at the skeleton that lay stretched out before her. After a pleased guffaw, she slapped her hands onto her chest. "For the sake of Jesus and Mary too!" Then she laughed and put one hand on the shoulder of the skeleton's coat and let it rest there." p65-66.

What's it all about? This story revolves around the main character - the skeleton of Declan Tovey. The more he the more he falls apart, the more we appear to know him. What should be macabre, somehow isn't. It's probably an unclassifiable read, but it is very funny, intriguing and mischievous. From the soliloquies of Kitty McLoud, Lolly McKeever and Kieran Sweeney, to the descriptions of Aunt Kitty's (a novelist) "corrections" of the classics there is much to keep the reader amused. Of course the whole book appears to be a "correction" of classic Irish tales, but I don't know much about them. Add a comment if you recognise any of them.

Publisher: Delphinium Books