A Mile Of River

A Mile Of River

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Ekaterinburg The Last Days of the Romanovs

Ekaterinburg The Last Days of the Romanovs by Helen Rappaport.

I read Elaine's review about this book on Random Jottings and immediately added the book to my list to read. Having recently read Magnificent Obssesion by this author I was drawn in.

Helen Rappaport's written account of the the Last days of the Tsar and Tsaritsa of Russia and their children is very well researched.

The family are taken from their palatial home and held captive at Ipatiev House in 1918 this would be the last residence the royal family would live in before their tragic deaths.

Alexei the heir to the throne inherited Hemophilia from his mother Alexandra, a condition that could be traced back to her paternal Grandmother Queen Victoria. Alexei's parents were very protective of him trying to avoid any accidents and injuries. He was the youngest of five chidren having four older sisters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastacia. The two elder sisters, Olga and Tatiana nursed wounded soldiers in a military hospital until the family were arrested.

The actual murders of the family were very graphic and shocking. The   families bodies were later moved and hidden in a dense place in the forest called The Four Brothers.

 Reading this book I wanted to learn more about Rasputin who was said to have healing powers and of whom Alexandra had faith. I also have 'Beautiful For Ever Madame Rachel of Bond Street Cosmetican, Con Artist and Blackmailer' on my list to read.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Arsenic Labyrinth

The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards.

This is the third book in the Lake District Series. It has been 10 years since Emma Beswick disappeared. Hannah Scarlett and her cold case team reopen the investigation. The book also features Daniel Kind the Oxford Historian who has moved from the city life to live in the Lake District and Miranda, Daniel's girl friend who becomes increasingly unhappy in the Lake District and hankers after city life once more.

The arsenic labyrinth in Coniston is a place where arsenic a byproduct of copper mining was once proccessed deep underground.A great place for the murder victims to have been buried for a long time.

Themes are the rise and fall of family fortunes, murder, greed, dishonesty and gambling adiction to name a few.

There are a whole load of twist and turns to keep the reader on edge. Lots of amazing characterisation. The reader learns of the mystery of the connections with the Clough and Inchmore families. There are quite a few more complicated relationships within the story which all add to the suspense and uncertainty. I never guessed who did it until the very end.

Great to meet up again with some of the characters from the previous books. This is excellent British crime fiction at its best, skillfully written by Martin Edwards.

I look forward to reading the rest of the series

Monday, 21 May 2012

The Chevalier

The Chevalier by Cynthia Harrod Eagles is the seventh book in the Morland Dynasty.

Continuing my reading of this marvellous series and I am enjoying them so much. I read one then take a short break but I am always happy to return.

 Annunciata Morland once again continues to be the Central character but in this book I found her to be a much likable character than previously. India Neville is the new mistress of Morland Place and she is one nasty piece of work.

Annunciatia has followed King James 11 into exile and has left her Grandson Matt in charge. What follows is his destructive marriage to India. Themes in the book are love, passion, tragedy, death and defeat.

The later half of the book tells of James 111 The Chevalier's return to claim the Stuart throne. Loyalty to the King is shown to be of chief importance.

Historical fiction at its very best.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant.

The setting for the novel is 15th century Florence. The books protagonist  Alessandra is the main focus of the story and is a very engaging character. Alessandra has a great love for drawing and painting and is very talented. Alessandra's father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the walls of the chapel in the family's Florentine palazzo. Alessandra becomes besotted with the painters artistic abilities.

Alessandra then undergoes an arranged marriage to Savanarola who is an older man.Savanarola and Alessandra's brother Thomaso share a secret and Alessandra has no knowledge of this until after her wedding. Her true real love is the painter and as the story progress's she realises her concern for the painter has turned to love. Alessandra's green snake tattoo is also another one of the mysteries in the novel and the ending brings a solution to this.

Great characterisation in the novel. I also read Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant last year and loved it.

Monday, 30 April 2012

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

An excessively fanatical Baptist minister called Nathan Price and his wife Orleanna and four daughters,  move to Africa on a mission.

Nathan feels overwhelmed with guilt as he was the only member of his army regimen to escape the  Batten death march. Nathan's mission is to save as many souls as he can as he feels that God despises him for being such a coward. He is so self-absorbed in this that he inevitably puts his wife and children at risk.

I liked that the book was set out with books from the Bible. Genesis,  Revelations and Judges.
The book is also narrated by the four daughters Rachel Price, who is known for her prettiness and vanity. Leah, who is a classic tomboy and is known for her devotion to her father. Leah's devotion is later transferred to Africa,  Adah, who is Leah's twin sister and was crippled from birth. Adah later finds a religion that she can truly believe in the religion of science. Ruth May Price the youngest daughter. Ruth May dies a tragic death. Their intertwined stories are compelling. Ultimately each of them must make their own paths to salvation.

This book was a fairly long read and I felt it could have been a tad shorter. The story and setting made me want to know more about this fascinating country.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Magnificent Obsession Victoria, Albert and the death that changed the monarchy.

I have got a bit behind with my blog of late. but I wanted to review a book that I had read earlier in the year and enjoyed.

The Magnificent Obsession and the Death that changed the Monarchy by Helen Rappaport.

 The book focuses on the grief that Victoria suffered on the death of her mother and her beloved husband Albert.  The author describes a number of set elaborate rituals of that time to commemorate the dead. Social behaviour was also curtailed for a set period of time. After Albert's death  Victoria became a virtual recluse and stayed in mourning for 25 years. On Albert's death Queen Victoria  commissioned a great many memorials in Albert's honour. British manufacturing went into mass production for mourning outfits.

Victoria was named Empress of India in 1878 but did not  start to reappear in public until after her Golden Jubilee in 1887

Victoria refused requests by her government to open Parliament in person she withdrew completely from the public eye , spending much of her time at Balmoral Castle, her home in the Scottish Highlands. Then the question was being asked was Victoria earning the money that the state payed her. The public and Parliament were losing their patience with the Queen who was neglecting her duties. Victoria's popularity was at that time at a very low ebb.

Over the years Victoria was again able to regain her popularity and she once again attended public functions and charitable causes.

The cause of Albert's death has said to have been Typhoid fever. Albert died at the age of just 42, years. Helen Rappaport has done a lot of research into this and believes he actually succumbed to a very modern affliction chrohn's disease.

The book is beautifully written and very well researched and one of my best reads of the year!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition

Mrs Chippy's Last Expedition is a journal of Mrs. Chippy the ship cat of the Shackleton expedition. The cat accompanied Ernest Shackleton and his crew on board the Endurance  when they set sail from the East India Docks in London on 1 August 1914, bound for the Antarctic.

Mrs Chippy belonged to Henry McNeish the ships carpenter and soon became an important member of the crew. The cat was the chief mouser and rat catcher on board ship and endeared himself to the other crew members. He always seemed to find the warmest and comfortablest places on board ship and enjoyed being fed titbits by the crew.

Mrs Chippy was a real character and regarded the sledge dogs with such contempt and aloofness. The cat tormented the dogs when prowling around and walking on top of the dog kennels. Mrs Chippy was scornful of their howling and noise.

The Endurance became trapped on the ice and despite the crews best efforts to free the ship the crew eventually had to leave the ship and venture forth on the ice and head to the nearest land. They were ordered to carry with them only things of crucial importance, absolute necessities.

The book does not dwell on Mrs Chippy fate but it is clear enough and very sad indeed. I intend to read more about Shakleton's Antartic expedition.