Book Review – East of the Sun: A Novel

East of the Sun: A Novel
Written by: Julia east-of-the-sunGregson
Published by: Simon & Schuster,
A Touchstone Book
Date: June 2009 – Reprint
(Originally published in 2008)
Pages: 604
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-1439101124

Top Pick

East of the Sun is a breathtaking, literary masterpiece!”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“As the Kaisar-i-Hind weighs anchor for Bombay in the autumn of 1928, its passengers ponder their fate in a distant land. They are part of the “Fishing Fleet” — the name given to the legions of Englishwomen who sail to India each year in search of husbands, heedless of the life that awaits them. The inexperienced chaperone Viva Holloway has been entrusted to watch over three unsettling charges. There’s Rose, as beautiful as she is naïve, who plans to marry a cavalry officer she has met a mere handful of times. Her bridesmaid, Victoria, is hell-bent on losing her virginity en route before finding a husband of her own. And shadowing them all is the malevolent presence of a disturbed schoolboy named Guy Glover.
From the parties of the wealthy Bombay socialites to the poverty of Tamarind Street, from the sooty streets of London to the genteel conversation of the Bombay Yacht Club, East of the Sun is graced with lavish detail and a penetrating sensitivity — historical fiction at its greatest.”

East of the Sun begins in London, England in September of 1928. Viva Holloway poses as an experienced chaperone and she takes on three charges for the voyage; two young women, Rose & Victoria, and a rather odd young man named Guy. They all make their way to Bombay, India on the luxurious ship, Kaisar-i-Hind. Viva is on her way back to Bombay to deal with unfinished business related to the death of her family and she chaperones the three young people as a way to pay for her passage to India. This story is beautifully described with picturesque images of India that capture the essence and the different customs found on the far away continent; the tastes, sights, aromas and sounds are so vivid, so tangible, that the reader experiences everything along with the characters and with the same impact. Many colourful, carefully-crafted characters dot the storyline, each of them unique and utterly captivating. I felt as if I had been transported to India where I became immersed in its unfamiliar culture and its earthy vitality.

Viva ran down the beach with them. There’d been days since she’d been back in Bombay when she’d positively hated it-too hot, too crowded, too smelly, too hard-but today, how could you not love it? This beautiful beach; the sun pouring out of the sky; the madcap bravery of these children forgetting so easily that they were orphaned and poor in one of the harshest cities on earth.

The narrative is vastly entertaining; at times it is humorous and witty, yet it has poignant moments that leaves the reader humbled with emotion and a deep sense of loss and sorrow. This story flows effortlessly, pulls at your emotions, and asks questions about your own humanity as it sweeps you up in its magnificence of scope and imagination.
This book is a long read, but it is worth every moment of your time!
I very highly recommend it to all historical fiction lovers and anyone with an interest in Bombay India or the “Fishing Fleet”.

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Read more about East of the Sun.
Find out where to buy this book.

Link to the Author’s Website:
http://juliagregson.net/

Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.simonandschuster.com/

A special thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The White Queen (ARC)

The White QueenThe White Queen - UK Book Cover
Book 1 in a new series – The Cousin’s War
Written By: Philippa Gregory
Published By: Touchstone/Simon & Schuster
Date: Available NOW!
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1847374554

Top Pick

The White Queen is another smashingly-successful novel from Philippa Gregory; this gifted writer gives us yet another breathtaking book about warring kingdoms, witches magic, bloody battlefields and so much more…YOU do not want to miss this one!”

Product Description- From Simon & Schuster
“Brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize, the throne of England, in this dazzling account of the wars of the Plantagenets. They are the claimants and kings who ruled England before the Tudors, and now Philippa Gregory brings them to life through the dramatic and intimate stories of the secret players: the indomitable women, starting with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.
The White Queen tells the story of a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition who, catching the eye of the newly crowned boy king, marries him in secret and ascends to royalty. While Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for the success of her family, her two sons become central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the missing princes in the Tower of London whose fate is still unknown. From her uniquely qualified perspective, Philippa Gregory explores this most famous unsolved mystery of English history, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.”

The White Queen is the 6th book written by Philippa Gregory, that I have reviewed. I am very pleased to share a little something with you all; like a fine wine that improves with age, so too, does Philippa Gregory’s writing. As a fan of Philippa’s work in general, I was hopeful that her latest book would sweep me up and transport me back in time with a historic tale that was convincing and very compelling; I am happy to tell you that I was not disappointed! The White Queen is book 1 in a new series called “The Cousin’s War” where we meet the young King Edward of York, not long after he has taken the throne. This is also considered to be the beginning of a time in English history called the “Wars of the Roses”. When the widowed Lady Elizabeth Grey meets the charismatic and handsome young King Edward, she can’t help her feelings and yearnings as she dreams of spending more time with him. Elizabeth is strong-willed, determined and fiercely loyal; though loving and kind, she is not a woman to be trifled with. This fast-paced story has a winding plot that pulses with conspiracy, betrayal, witchcraft, bloodied battles and some exquisite, g-rated romance threaded in among it all. This book was really hard to put this book down and I feel confident that the reader will enjoy this detailed, skilfully written story from beginning to end!
I very highly recommend this book to all Philippa Gregory and Historical Fiction fans!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!

Read more about The White Queen.
Find out where to buy this book in the UK, the US or Canada.

Watch a video with Philippa Gregory:
Seeing the Past Through 21st-century Eyes
 

Link to the Author’s Profile:
http://www.philippagregory.com/

Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/

A special thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – Escape

Escape: A Wyoming Historical NovelEscape
Written By: Jean Henry Mead
Published By: ePress-online, Inc.
Date: 2008
Pages: 251
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1934258217

Escape sweeps you back to the Wild West; where ranchers and outlaws battled for survival in an unforgiving landscape.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“ESCAPE creates a vivid account of the days when posses pursued Wyoming bank robbers. Andrea Bordeaux lives with her grandparents. When outlaws arrive, her grandmother shears Andrea’s long hair, puts her in overalls, and calls her Andy, hoping to protect her. Unfortunately, the outlaws take Andy with them and leave her grandparents injured. Andy finds herself thrust into the midst of Wild Bunch members who take her to the Hole in the Wall, where they plan the Belle Fourche Bank robbery. Only Billy knows the truth about her gender and she’s sworn him to secrecy. Following an attack by a vicious outlaw intent on carving her face, Butch Cassidy himself promises she can return home after their planned bank job. Meanwhile, the Four-State Governor’s Pact is enacted to rid the country of outlaws. ESCAPE provides a fascinating glimpse into the legendary outlaws of Wyoming. Historical fans will thoroughly enjoy their visit with Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch.”

Escape is gritty, authentic and brilliant! I’ve watched Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid and a few western movies in my time and I really have to hand it to Jean Henry Mead; she’s captured the essence and the vivid intensity of the Wild West in this novel. The story of Andy (Andrea Bordeaux) and her plight is the main focus of the story though a western wouldn’t be complete without the requisite hold-ups, saloons and posses hunts; this book has it all! When Andy is kidnapped by a gang of outlaws and taken away from her Grandparents, the gang assumes that she’s a boy and makes her an unofficial member of the gang for the time being. There is a lovely romantic element that is fairly subdued and compliments the rest of the story nicely. With skilfully written characters and breathtaking landscapes, this Western novel takes you on a daring ride over dusty hills and through sagebrush-dotted plains. We’re given some interesting glimpses of some of the West’s most notorious outlaws and we get to see things from their perspective. I’m not a western fan by nature but Jean sure has made a believer out of me!
I highly recommend this book for Historical Fiction readers who yearn for the old West and its untamed wildness!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Watch the video trailer for Escape.
Find out where to buy this book.

Link to the Author’s Website:
http://jeanhenrymead.com/

Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.epress-online.com/

A special thanks to Jean Henry Mead for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girlthe-other-boleyn-girl1
Written By: Philippa Gregory
Published By: Touchstone, a registered trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2003, First Touchstone Edition, 672 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-0743227445
(Movie cover version: ISBN 978-1416560609)
Top Pick

The Other Boleyn Girl is a vibrant, spell-binding tale of love, loyalty and betrayal in King Henry’s Court; you don’t want to miss this one!”

Product Description – Amazon.com
“Two sisters competing for the greatest prize: the love of a king
When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her familys ambitious plots as the kings interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king, and take her fate into her own hands.
A rich and compelling tale of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue, The Other Boleyn Girl introduces a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe and survived by following her own heart.”

The Other Boleyn Girl is absolutely fantastic! The full account as told by this novel, transcends the on-screen film adaptation by leaps and bounds; if you haven’t read this book you are missing out on 3/4’s of the story. As with many film adaptations, this book outshines the on-screen performances and the story it tells. This novel is full of manipulation, political manoeuvring, deceit and heart-wrenching treachery; as the Boleyn’s rise in power so to does their risk of safety and death by treason. Torn loyalties and familial affection become twisted into a grotesque mask of hatred, jealousy and spite. The flowing narrative is uninterrupted by any sluggishness and keeps the reader absorbed from start to finish. As the plot progresses a sense of impending doom grows; it gets diverted from time to time but it keeps building until the very end. With breathtaking prose, the Author creates a world and its various English settings with a poignancy that flows over you like the cool water from a stream; the picturesque beauty of the outdoor scenes nearly had me in tears. When a family is willing to throw away their morals, values and sell their very souls for a chance at the wealth, status and the throne of England, who knows what can happen. I 100% enjoyed this novel. I can’t recommend it highly enough!
If you enjoy Historical Fiction, romance, intrigue or any of the above I implore you to pick up a copy as soon as possible.
I very highly recommend this book!!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Link to the Author’s website:
http://www.philippagregory.com/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.simonsays.com/

A special thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The Queen’s Fool

The Queen’s Foolthe-queens-fool
Written By: Philippa Gregory
Published By: Simon & Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 2004, First Edition, 512 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-0743246071

The Queen’s Fool follows the life of Hannah Green as she questions and manoeuvres in emotionally-charged times as Elizabeth plots for the throne and Queen Mary holds fast to her faith; can Hannah find a life and love of her own?”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“It is winter, 1553. Pursued by the Inquisition, Hannah Green, a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl, is forced to flee Spain with her father. But Hannah is no ordinary refugee. Her gift of “Sight,” the ability to foresee the future, is priceless in the troubled times of the Tudor court. Hannah is adopted by the glamorous Robert Dudley, the charismatic son of King Edward’s protector, who brings her to court as a “holy fool” for Queen Mary and, ultimately, Queen Elizabeth. Hired as a fool but working as a spy; promised in wedlock but in love with her master; endangered by the laws against heresy, treason, and witchcraft, Hannah must choose between the safe life of a commoner and the dangerous intrigues of the royal family that are inextricably bound up in her own yearnings and desires.”

The Queen’s Fool is very compelling because of the main character, Hannah Green. When someone has gone through so much and lost loved ones in such a violent manner, it would scar you and should teach someone like Hannah, to ‘duck and cover’. This wonderfully-crafted character overcomes many fears and does what she has to do to survive, regardless of her own, internal struggles. Hannah’s goodness and her big heart endears her first to the young King Edward and then to Queen Mary. As the story unfolds and Hannah finds herself in Queen Mary’s service, thanks to the cunning Robert Dudley, she does the best that she can with her limited courtly talents and skills. Her integrity helps her to navigate her way through the perfidious court life and the dangerous schemes which she becomes embroiled in.
The story is skilfully written to give us time with Hannah Green while still supplying us with a very generous helping of the royals; including Robert Dudley, Elizabeth and Queen Mary. There are some interesting plot twists and the characters are vividly drawn to sweep us back to the times when your choice of faith and your loyalties could mean your unimaginable success or your plunging ruin and a traitor’s death.
I highly recommend this book!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Link to the Author’s website:
http://www.philippagregory.com/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.simonsays.com/

A special thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The Virgin’s Lover

The Virgin’s Loverthe-virgins-lover
Written By: Philippa Gregory
Published By: Simon & Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 2004, First Edition, 448 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-0743256155

The Virgin’s Lover reveals the stirring, emotional struggle of the new Queen Elizabeth I; a forbidden love affair, remorseless treachery and the new Queen’s precarious, first years on the throne.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen. One woman hears the tidings with utter dread. She is Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, and she knows that Elizabeth’s ambitious leap to the throne will pull her husband back to the very center of the glamorous Tudor court, where he was born to be. Amy had hoped that the merciless ambitions of the Dudley family had died on Tower Green when Robert’s father was beheaded and his sons shamed; but the peal of bells she hears is his summons once more to power, intrigue, and a passionate love affair with the young queen. Can Amy’s steadfast faith in him, her constant love, and the home she wants to make for them in the heart of the English countryside compete with the allure of the new queen?

Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin’s Lover answers the question about an unsolved crime that has fascinated detectives and historians for centuries. Philippa Gregory uses documents and evidence from the Tudor era and, with almost magical insight into the desires of Robert Dudley and his lovers, paints a picture of a country on the brink of greatness, a young woman grasping at her power, a young man whose ambition is greater than his means, and the wife who cannot forgive them.”

The Virgin’s Lover is a really interesting take on the romantic entanglement between the devastatingly handsome, Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth I. I enjoyed this story because it showed me how naïve a young Queen can be; how her fallibility and her weakness against the lustful pulls of the flesh could lead to a loss of power and control.
As the new Queen comes to power, the married Robert Dudley comes racing to be at Elizabeth’s side, as her favourite and as a passionate and all-consuming lover. By charming and seducing the Queen, Robert believes he will have control over the throne of England. Lady Dudley, Robert Dudley’s wife, is such a wonderfully morose character until her husband is near, when she shines like a beacon of unrequited love and hope. You can not help but feel badly for her state of affairs.
The story has wonderful flow and the plot is well written and well timed. The characters and their personalities are very carefully carried through from one novel to another. I love Philippa’s writing as she moulds and shapes the characters, developing and changing them because of their experiences and interactions. Some of the great highs and lows that the characters feel are often mirrored by my own emotions as I cheer for the victory of some and dearly wish for a humbling fall, for others.
I highly recommend this book!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (8 out of 10 Diamonds) – Thoroughly enjoyed it
 

Link to the Author’s website:
http://www.philippagregory.com/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.simonsays.com/

A special thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Review – The Boleyn Inheritance

The Boleyn Inheritancethe-boleyn-inheritance
Written By: Philippa Gregory
Published By: Simon & Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 2006, First Edition, 544 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-0-7432-7251-3
Top Pick

The Boleyn Inheritance is a skilfully-woven story of a families’ deceit, divided loyalties and ill-fortune that binds three women together.”

Product Description – From Amazon.com
“ANNE OF CLEVES She runs from her tiny country, her hateful mother, and her abusive brother to a throne whose last three occupants are dead. King Henry VIII, her new husband, instantly dislikes her. Without friends, family, or even an understanding of the language being spoken around her, she must literally save her neck in a court ruled by a deadly game of politics and the terror of an unpredictable and vengeful king. Her Boleyn Inheritance: accusations and false witnesses.
KATHERINE HOWARD She catches the king’s eye within moments of arriving at court, setting in motion the dreadful machine of politics, intrigue, and treason that she does not understand. She only knows that she is beautiful, that men desire her, that she is young and in love — but not with the diseased old man who made her queen, beds her night after night, and killed her cousin Anne. Her Boleyn Inheritance: the threat of the axe.
JANE ROCHFORD She is the Boleyn girl whose testimony sent her husband and sister-in-law to their deaths. She is the trusted friend of two threatened queens, the perfectly loyal spy for her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and a canny survivor in the murderous court of a most dangerous king. Throughout Europe, her name is a byword for malice, jealousy, and twisted lust. Her Boleyn Inheritance: a fortune and a title, in exchange for her soul.”

The Boleyn Inheritance is a marvellous story! The characters are so full of life and are superbly detailed. The story has a wonderful flow and the plot twists make you love the book all the more. I felt such a strong sense of loyalty to the new Queen Anne of Cleves and I very much wanted her to succeed on the throne. I was also very intrigued by the beautiful young and naive Katherine who was too immature and dense to realize that she was being manipulated by her betters, to influence and manoeuvre the king to their advantage. Jane is perhaps the most fascinating character in this novel because of the mysteriousness of her past and her absolute determination to rise in importance. She seems to live in a somewhat warped reality, no doubt caused by trauma of her husband’s death, for treason. The plot is very intriguing and I enjoyed all the stealthy manoeuvring and arrogance of many of the characters in this story; all vying for attention, riches and importance in a kingdom run by the overbearing tyrant, King Henry. The three main characters in this story are bound together by their connection to the throne of England. Anne, Katherine and Jane all have their duties to see to and family titles to enrich through their skillful work and scheming determination. One woman must spy on the new Queen. Another is involved in a plot to draw the kings attention away from the Queen, to herself. And one woman wants nothing more then to be a good queen to her people and have a happy, peaceful home and kingdom to live in.  Either through marriage or blood, they are  all a part of the Boleyn family.
This entertaining story will pull you in and satisfy your cravings for some mystery and romance, while stuffing you to bursting point with the scandalous delights and terrors of the Royal court.
I very highly recommend this book!!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (10 out of 10 Diamonds) – Absolutely LOVED it!!
 

Link to the Author’s website:
http://www.philippagregory.com/
Link to the Publisher’s Website:
http://www.simonsays.com/

A special thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy to review.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy