Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “historical”

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #100 An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer

An Infamous Army was the novel Georgette Heyer was most proud of.  It tells the story of a romance set during Waterloo.  Heyer is famous for her attention to detail and her research but in this book she absolutely surpassed herself in learning every detail of the the circumstances leading up to Waterloo and of the battle itself.  At one point, the book was studied at Sandringham for its excellent descriptions of the battle.  Unfortunately, this book just did not work for me.  I applaud its ambition but I found it almost interminable.  For one thing, I didn’t care very much about the couple whose love story is supposed to move the plot along.  For another, the pages and pages of descriptions of Wellington’s interactions and thoughts, of battle-scenes, did not really marry very well to the love story that’s supposed to tie this story together.  I think if Heyer had simply written a novel of Wellington and the Battle of Waterloo, this book might have been more satisfying but the different elements of this novel were not woven together well.  I think this book is worth checking out for people who love this period and hunger for well-constructed descriptions of Waterloo, otherwise, I don’t really recommend it.

Advertisements

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #99 The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer

The Talisman Ring is another of Georgette Heyer’s swashbuckling 18th century romances, very much in the vein of the Scarlet Pimpernel.  It’s light and fun and entertaining and forgettable.  An enjoyable read.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #97 Devil’s Cub by Georgette Heyer

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been rereading Georgette Heyer’s historical romances chronologically.  Devil’s Cub is a sequel to These Old Shades (which is one of my all-time favorite of Heyer’s novels) and has as its hero Vidal, the son of Avon and Léonie from the earlier novel.  Because the book is set a generation after These Old Shades, it can be read on its own.  While this book isn’t my favorite of Heyer’s books, it’s easily in the top ten of her best books.  It’s laugh out loud funny, moves along at a smart pace and is peopled by vivid characters.  Great fun.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #95 The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

If I were to write a top five list of my all-time favorite Georgette Heyer novels, this one would definitely qualify.  Set in the 18th century, this romantic comedy has one of Georgette Heyer’s most captivating heroines – the stammering, diminutive Horry.  The Convenient Marriage is one of the first Heyer novels to be enlivened a pack of dimwitted and silly young society men (think Wooster in PG Wodehouse’s books) whose antics add a dimension of hilarity to the storyline.  This bright, light, witty romantic comedy is an absolute delight to read.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #94 The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer

As a close and passionate reader of Georgette Heyer’s novels (some of them I’ve read easily a dozen times), I’ve noticed that she seems to be heavily influenced by William Shakespeare’s comedies.  The Masqueraders shows this influence more than any of her other books.  In it a con artist brother and sister, fleeing the disastrous Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, hide their identities by cross-dressing.  The brother dresses as a woman, the sister as a man.  They rescue a damsel in distress at an inn and are soon drawn into the expected romantic hijinks.  This is by no means the best of Georgette Heyer’s novels, but it is a light, entertaining, fun read.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #93 These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer

This is absolutely one of my favorite Georgette Heyer novels.  It is almost a sequel to her first novel, The Black Moth.  Almost all the main characters are here but with different names and slight adjustments to their back stories (hence the title).  It’s a swashbuckling historical romance in the vein of Scarlet Pimpernel and Alexandre Dumas and is absolutely delightful to read.  Georgette Heyer is one of the most elegant and witty prose writers I’ve ever come across.  She’s like a cross between Jane Austen and PG Wodehouse but with an air of sophistication and an exquisiteness of taste that is all her own.  This book is an excellent example of why Heyer’s writing has been so admired by various more famous writers such as A.S. Byatt.  But this book is not just well-written – it’s blessed with one of her best plots and most memorable characters.  It’s a book that will make you laugh and cry and which you will close with a smile on your face.  If you are only going to read one Georgette Heyer novel, then I nominate this as one of the contenders for that slot.

meilufay’s #CBR4 review #92 Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer

Although Georgette Heyer is most famous as THE Regency romance novelist, she did not write her first Regency romance until she was ten years into her career.  Up until that point she played around with several different types of historical novels and mysteries.  As a teenager, Baroness Orczy (of Scarlet Pimpernel fame) was one of her favorite novelists and so quite a few of Heyer’s earlier romantic comedies are set in the 18th century and are very much in that adventurous, swashbuckling mode.  Powder and Patch is a straight up romantic comedy (almost no swashbuckling, though there is a duel) set in the 18th century and it is probably my least favorite of her romantic comedies.  It’s only her second novel, and she still hadn’t found her voice as a writer.  Unless you’re a completionist and want to read all the Heyers, I’d say give this one a pass.

Mrs Smith Reads The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, #CBR4 Review #26

Le Déjeuner des Canotiers by Pierre-August Renoir (Charles Ephrussi is the gentleman in the background wearing a top hat, with his back to the viewer.)

Le Déjeuner des Canotiers by Pierre-August Renoir
(Charles Ephrussi is the gentleman in the background wearing a top hat, with his back to the viewer.)

Another Half Cannonball… Just under the wire!

Author Edmund de Waal is a London-based ceramicist descended from the Ephrussi family, a dynasty of secular Jews who dominated the grain and banking markets in Odessa, Paris and Vienna in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. When his great-uncle Iggie Ephrussi passed away, de Waal inherited a collection of Japanese Netsuke that had been passed down for five generations. In The Hare with the Amber Eyes, de Waal takes readers on a journey with these 264 immaculately carved miniature artworks, originally purchased as a group lot by Charles Ephrussi in Paris, in the 1870s.

The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

Prolixity Julien’s #CBR4 Reviews #23-26 – The Mackenzie Series by Jennifer Ashley

There are only two romance genre hero types and five storylines. That’s it. The hero is either a Rake or a Protector. If, for some heretofore unimaginable reason, I was asked to, I could slide down The Shameful Tally and instantly assign Rake/Protector status to all of the heroes listed**. I prefer a “reformed rake who will make the best husband” myself, with an occasional big lug thrown in for variety. If the hero is sardonic and calls the heroine “Sweetheart”, I am SO IN. The Rakes are generally charming, dry, seemingly indolent, and very experienced. The Protector is a warrior: probably taciturn, very kind, gentle, and uncommonly stalwart. So you take one of these two men, make him either wry or laconic, and match him to one, or more, of these storylines: The Reformation of the Rake; The Revenge Plot ; The Road Trip; The Mystery; or The Tortured Hero.

The Tortured Hero moves through the other stories and, depending on your taste, can be as thoroughly or as gently tortured as is your preference. Many of the characters have sleep issues in these books and PTSD comes up a fair amount, too. Traumatized soldiers and child abuse survivors are common. Unless you are reading one of the really good authors, the psychological issues are not particularly realistic and seemingly easy to overcome.

But let’s move on to the more fun kaleidoscope of spoilers and annoyance with the author part of the review. These books each have an exhaustively tortured hero. The spoilers will help get my point across and, more importantly, the endings are foregone conclusions, so how much can I ruin anyway? Here is what you need to know about Jennifer Ashley:

When she is good she is very, very good, but when she is bad, she is horrid.

The entire range exists in every book. It’s kind of mesmerizing.

Read more…

rdoak03’s #CBR4 review 40: Vlad: The Last Confession by CC Humphreys

Vlad: The Last ConfessionVlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the perspective of this book, as it was told by three very important people in Vlad’s (the “real” Dracula)life: his boyhood friend and right-hand man, his mistress, and his confessor. These three are brought together to construct a compassionate picture of Vlad, one that will hopefully mitigate the negative propaganda that labeled him “the Impaler”.
The story begins with Vlad as a child, captured by a country at war with his native Wallachia. Here begins not only his rich education in history, religion, art and literature, but also his indoctrination into war and torture. The three story-tellers weave over and under each other throughout Vlad’s life, giving us a unique look at the man, his country, surroundings, and decisions. We are horrified and moved by him.
All along, something seems off. I just couldn’t put my finger on it. If you decide to read this book,  there’s a very nice surprise ending waiting for you at the end!

View all my reviews

Post Navigation