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 Giveaway – East of the Sun (IS CLOSED!)

East of the Sun

*** Congrats to the WINNERS: Chrysa(#105), Ann Fantom(#14), Kelly Grant(#102), R Hicks(#91) & Summer(#11) ***

** Five(5) chances to WIN! **

Thank you to Kelly at Simon & Schuster

To read more about East of the Sun, please click here.

To Enter: Please make sure to leave a reply in the comment section of this post.

♦The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only.
♦You must be 18 years of age or older.
♦The winner’s mailing address: NO P.O. Boxes.
♦Only one entry per household/IP address.
♦The contest ends at midnight on June 1st, 2009.
♦Five(5) winners will be picked in a random draw and will be notified by 5pm (MDT) by e-mail on June 2nd, 2009.

Good Luck Everyone and Have Fun!

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 Other Queen

The Other Queenthe-other-queen1
Written By: Philippa Gregory
Published By: Simon & Schuster, A Touchstone Book, 2008, First Edition, 439 pages, hardcover
ISBN 978-1-4165-4912-3

The Other Queen sees Mary Queen of Scots at her most cunning and manipulative; can her hosts survive ‘The Other Queen’s narcissistic plotting and manipulations?”

Product Description – From Simon & Schuster.com
“The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.”

The Other Queen is a very interesting historical fiction novel. Philippa Gregory’s clever writing style and her attention to historical detail is clearly evident. The story has good flow, momentum and transports you back to a time when revolutionary Queens ruled the land, leaving little room for error.
This is the most recent book released from the author and I believe it is more focused on the historical and less on the romantic side, for those who disliked the romantic elements of some of her previous books.
I was captivated by the whirls of subterfuge, the spies, treachery and underhanded machinations going on in Queen Elizabeth’s court, surrounding Mary Queen of Scots and her caretakers as well. Heaven help anyone who got caught in between these two, great Queens.
I fell under Queen Mary’s spell as I read this novel and at the same time I felt badly for her hosts, George and Bess. There subsequent state of affairs was a definitive case of  ‘being careful what you wish for’.
While reading the story, I found myself compelled to switch sides, my own loyalty in question and I felt torn by making the choices. As a reader, I wondered which of the Queens I would have followed. Could I have made a choice where thousands upon thousands of others had struggled?
They were glorious women, Queens in their prime, competing for a crown and utterly willing to die for its sake.
I really enjoyed this novel and I highly recommend it!

♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ (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 and an extra copy to give away.

Copyright ©  Book Reviews By Bobbie — Bobbie Crawford-McCoy

Book Giveaway of ‘The Other Queen’ (IS CLOSED!)

the-other-queen

***Congratulations to Christina Brunetti(#101) on winning (1) copy of The Other Queen***

*** Book Giveaway of One(1) hardcover copy of The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory *** 

This dazzling novel from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory presents a new and unique view of one of history’s most intriguing, romantic, and maddening heroines. Biographers often neglect the captive years of Mary, Queen of Scots, who trusted Queen Elizabeth’s promise of sanctuary when she fled from rebels in Scotland and then found herself imprisoned as the “guest” of George Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, and his indomitable wife, Bess of Hardwick.

The newly married couple welcome the doomed queen into their home, certain that serving as her hosts and jailers will bring them an advantage in the cutthroat world of the Elizabethan court. To their horror, they find that the task will bankrupt them, and as their home becomes the epicenter of intrigue and rebellion against Elizabeth, their loyalty to each other and to their sovereign comes into question. If Mary succeeds in seducing the earl into her own web of treachery and treason, or if the great spymaster William Cecil links them to the growing conspiracy to free Mary from her illegal imprisonment, they will all face the headsman.

To Enter: Please make sure to leave a reply in the comment section of this post.

♦The giveaway is open to Canadian and US residents only.
♦You must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
♦The winner’s mailing address: NO P.O. Boxes.
♦Only one entry per household/IP address.
♦The contest ends at midnight on January 16th 2009.
♦One(1) winner will be picked in a random draw and will be notified by 5pm (MDT) by e-mail on Saturday, January 17th 2009.

Good Luck Everyone and Have Fun!!