Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What We're Reading: Cathy

Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
This is the continuation of Thomas Cromwell's story which began in Wolf Hall. Ex-Queen Katherine finally dies but this doesn't bring the legitimacy to her queenship that Anne Boleyn thought it would. Instead, on the day of Katherine's funeral, Anne miscarries a boy. Her last chance at keeping Henry VIII is gone.  And Henry has decided he wants to marry Jane Seymour. The book covers only about 6 months (1535-6), in which we see Cromwell amassing the evidence needed to annul Henry's current marriage and convict the queen of adultery and treason. He gains new allies in this endeavor: the old noble families who want to restore the Catholic Church to England. Cromwell is leary of them but they are useful in their support of Henry's marriage to Jane. The foundations for the final part of the story have been laid.

The author says in her note at the end: "I am not claiming authority for my version; I am making the reader a propsal, an offer." I think this is a wonderful way of looking at historical fiction.

Friday, May 25, 2012

What We're Reading: Cathy

London Under: the Secret History Beneath the Streets by Peter Ackroyd
Did you ever wonder what is under your feet as you walk around a city? Well it turns out there's an awful lot down there. Peter Ackroyd gives us a short account of what's under London - the historical items such as Roman tile floors, Saxon ruins, coins, monasteries, graveyards, medieval tools, etc. He tells us about the wells and streams that used to flow through the area now covered by London's streets. Unseen and unheard by today's Londoners for the most part but definitely still there: London must pump 15,400,000 gallons of water a day from below to preserve the city. You can get a map and see where they used to be by following his descriptions (this book really should have had a map in it). He tells us the story of the sewers. And, of course, he tells about the building of The Underground. It opened in 1863 and has served not only as a convenient transport system but also as a bomb shelter in WWII. The deepest tunnels are over 200 feet below the surface. Lots of interesting stuff!

Friday, May 18, 2012

What We're Reading: Edward

The Hope Vendetta: a novel

by Scott Mariani

Ben Hope was tired of all the killing he saw as an SAS operative. He tried working as a private contractor to right the wrongs in the world but ended up losing even more of himself. Ben decides to return to Oxford University and continue his study of theology and become a minister. But his favorite professor's daughter goes missing. Ben gets a former colleague to search for the girl. But when Ben's colleague is killed, Ben sets out to exact revenge on the party behind the kidnapping and murder.Ben ends up in the United States on the trail of a minister, who believes that the end of days is near. When Ben is almost killed, he realizes that there are forces at work that hope to bring about the final conflict for political reasons. Will Ben be able to stop these forces before they bring about the biblical end of the world?

Soon to be a major motion picture.

But read the book first and be sure to get more of Ben's story in the "Mozart Conspiracy".

Monday, May 14, 2012

What We're Reading: Edward

Weep, Shuder, Die: a guide to loving opera

By Robert Levine

Most people think that opera lovers are aging codgers. But Time magazine online states that the age of the average opera attendee is 48. In 2009 over a million tickets were sold for the Metropolitan Opera's HD Live Broadcast. In his book, Levine describes fifty of the most produced operas. First he divides the operas by country and composer. The Levine gives the plot of the operas act by act. Memorable music and performances are also mentioned. Opeera is even keeping up with the newest technology with the release of Bizet's Carmen on a 3D DVD. Levine's book would be great to read before attending one of the operas he describes. Excellent, si vous apprenez a aimer l'opera!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What We're Reading: Edward

Mozart's Last Aria: a novel

by Matt Rees

On her death bed Mozart's sister, Nannerl, gives her nephew, Wolfgang, a diary filled with the results of her investigation into her brother's death. Nannerl travelled to Vienna, when she learned of her brother's death. While in Vienna she meets with Mozart's wife, Constanze, his patrons and friends. Nannerl is able to fit into her brother's clothing.Dressed as Wolfgang, she participates in concerts celebrating his life. She hopes that this deception will reveal how and why Wolfgang died. Nannerl even meets with the Emperor and is almost killed. Was her brother poisoned? Was his death the result of his Masonic ties? Did he believe in too much equality? Rees makes Mozart's Vienna come to life. Could he be right about the reason for Mozart's death? One of the best books of the year!