Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.
If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.
You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.
'On February 1, 1535, King Henry VIII's Act of Supremacy came into force, and one of the first groups he proceeded against were the Carthusian monks. Although this order had long been a respected and peaceful group, Henry labeling himself 'Supreme Head on Earth of the Church of England' made it possible for him to charge them with treason for their failure to accept his self-proclaimed level of spiritual power. His retribution was fierce and intended to be an example of any who considered refusing to take the Oath of Supremacy.'
A big THANK YOU to Tudor Times for inviting me to talk about Margaret Beaufort and her four husbands!
As Bright as Heaven is a novel that feels like a friend by the time one finishes it. The storytellers, a mother and her three daughters, each add their own perspective and emotion to the events of 1918: World War I and the Spanish flu on a global level, love and loss on a personal level. I was captivated from the beginning and sad when it ended.
The method of telling each chapter from the perspective of one of the women/girls of the Bright family reminded me of The Poisonwood Bible. Both books include families moved from all that is familiar with faith and expectations packed in their luggage. This book is not as academically written and does not make such an obvious political statement, but it also feels more real. The faith of the Bright family is ever-present but not overbearing. They struggle, make mistakes, love, forgive, and lose precious loved ones in the flu epidemic that stole more from the world than the war did.
If some of the plot twist in this novel was predictable, I think the author can be forgiven. The development of the Bright girls' characters as they grew up and the emotions elicited throughout the novel more than make up for the lack of mystery. The spotlight on the impact of the flu in Philadelphia and the setting of an undertaker business are brilliant choices that make this an original and inspirational story.
I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.
I loved listening to these two books! Therefore, I am incredibly disappointed to see that Hoopla does not have the third in audio. I will definitely have to check other sources - and get them all in paper format to read again. Great stuff!
Funny thing, I only started reading these because I am writing about Reginald Pole and he made his own annotated book of the writings of Cicero, so I thought I should get an idea of what Cicero was like. If these novels are any indication, I like him just as much as good old Reggie did.
I am a guest of Mary Anne Yarde today with a look at life during the mid-16th century. Mary's day was much different than that of those she reigned over!
Did you know that Reginald almost became pope?
The Tudor Book of Days is a more lovely and useful book than I had anticipated. Set up as a perpetual calendar, it can be used for multiple years with notes about special days accumulating through time. It comes fully stocked with Feast and Saints days that would have been an important component in the Tudor era Books of Hours that were prized possessions of their day. Each day also includes a notable event of the Tudor era, providing one with a link to the past to begin every day.
Besides all of this, an index is included which provides a summary of each person mentioned in the daily facts. Therefore it is easy to learn more if the notable person or event of the day is one that is unfamiliar to the user, and the book becomes much more than a simple daily diary.
This book is an example of the high quality standard I would expect of Tudor Times. A sturdy yet beautiful hardcover and thick pages make this a perpetual diary that will last for years to come. It is so lovely that I was at first hesitant to write in it!
I look forward to making use of this book to track important historic dates and organize my blogging schedule with relevant information. I have attempted to develop something like this diary on my own with mediocre results, so I am especially thrilled to have the Tudor Book of Days as an addition to my desk that is both useful and attractive.
This looks like something to look forward to!
Mark Stibbe is a guest on my blog today, announcing his new release The Fate of Kings and discussing the relevance of late 18th century politics to modern times.
Tony Riches has interviewed me for his blog today. Check it out. :-)
I am honored to be part of the 12 Days of Christmas Tudor Book Giveaway at On the Tudor Trail! Check it out for a chance to win a copy of Queen of Martyrs, and make sure you sign up for the many other fabulous books as well.
A series of talks on 'life, God, and other small topics,' this book is the thinking person's alternative to pop psychology and prosperity gospel (that will seem much more clever and applicable if you listen to the book).
Based upon other reviews, I can see that listening to the audio version of this book is much more enjoyable than reading the paperback. That makes sense, since the audiobook is a recording of the Socrates in the City events with different lecturers taking on a variety of topics before opening up the session to Q&A.
Listening to this made me think and added several new books to my TBR. Definitely worth a listen.
This novel is beautiful in its prose, fascinating in its historical detail, and emotive in its themes on humanity and the passing of time. I was first drawn in by the promise that renowned historian Ian Mortimer would be taking readers on an adventure through time. Finding that this book does that while also making thought provoking statements on the human condition, I was helpless to put it down once I started it.
The story of John of Wrayment and his brother begins in 1348 during a devastating outbreak of the plague. One would think that any time might be preferable as an escape from the fate of man during that time, but such does not prove the case through John's eyes. He sees the plague as 'a second Flood. God is clearing the land. Not with water but with pestilence.' Yet, he is even more horrified by what he discovers when he accepts a supernatural offer to live his remaining six days on earth, each 99 years further into the future than the last.
The brothers explore Exeter and its surrounding area through the ages, the cathedral where John has sculpted those he loves into the faces of angels and disciples, serving at their centering point regardless of the century. John at first finds comfort in finding the face of his wife there, but his fear and anxiety is enhanced as the statues that seemed so permanent crumble and wear away the further he gets from his own time. Out of all the changes he sees, this seems to impact him the most. The loss of his own work and what was supposed to be eternal memorial of his family.
When we think about traveling into the future, I think we expect to see progress and increased happiness. Certainly, we would think that one leaving the time of the plague would see that, but that is not what John notices. He is confused by what we would call advances. 'We worked long days and had straightforward pleasures. But now, so many things are easier - yet what does the world do? It revels in causing suffering and killing.' John is horrified at the loss of faith that he observes. 'We were far more united and accepting of God's will. In this new century, people are all divided and unsatisfied, hoping that God will smile on them personally.'
John wishes only to do good in order to please God, but the further he gets from his own time, the more he realizes that is no longer a key goal of the people. He is also frustrated by his inability to perform a heroic deed in any era. Due to his bedraggled state and lack of possessions, he finds himself at the mercy of others rather than able to help them. 'If Christ were living in this day and age, would He not have ended up in a workhouse?'
'Every day is composed of . . . of an unpredictable horror - no, of a horrific unpredictability.'
It seems that time travel is not all it is cracked up to be.
Each day/century brings John closer to his death and he grows eager for it. Though he is disappointed in his failure to do a great deed for God, he cannot tolerate what he witnesses occurring in the world. 'Men are starting to direct things that rightly only God should control.....Men've strived to compete and outdo one another, as if nothing is the will of God and everything is the will of man.' Instead of being impressed by progress, John sees only disintegration of faith and character.
Thankfully, there are a few bright spots included in John's six day journey. He meets at least one kind person in each time, and it is these small comforts that enable him to move forward.
I was eager to discover what would happen to John once his time was up, but I will not reveal it here. I will only say that the ending was satisfying and reiterated the message that John had already taught us, 'What is important is what does not change - that mothers and wives are so happy when they hear that their sons and husbands are alive that they run around the house yelling for joy; that men do their duty in the face of great danger not purely for themselves but for all their community.'
An amazing read - my favorite of this year.
The man who has no knowledge of the past has no wisdom.
I received this book through NetGalley. Opinions are my own.