3 Dec 2009


Not a thing I've done before but today I'm bringing you two book reviews for the price of one. As I was explaining yesterday, the first book I finished some days ago but it's only now that I've felt inclined to review it whilst the second book, I finished in the wee small hours. One book is set in 1325 and the other in the fifteenth-century but both contain passages on tapestries, the first story being about the making of one, hence my decision to do a double post.

THE LADY AND THE UNICORN by Tracy Chevalier.

Jean Le Viste, a fifteenth-century nobleman close to the King, hires an ambitious artist to design six tapestries celebrating his rising status at Court. A talented miniaturist, Nicholas des Innocents overcomes his surprise at being offered this commission when he catches sight of his patron's sumptuous daughter, Claude.

In Brussels, renowned weaver Georges de la Chapelle takes on the biggest challenge of his career. Never before has he attempted a work that puts so much at stake. Sucked into a world of temptation and seduction, he and his family are consumed by the project and by their dealings with the rogue painter from Paris.

..... From the back cover.

First Sentence: The messenger said I was to come at once.

Memorable Moment: She treats me like a girl yet expects me to be a woman too. she won't let me go out when I want - she says I'm too old to play at the Fair at Saint-Germain-des-Pres during the day and too young for it at night.

Hardly a memorable moment, it's just that it's an age-old debate that seems to rage between all mothers and daughters. The daughter seeing herself as an adult and the mother seeing her daughter as a child.

A book that, in yesterday's post, I described as 'neither nowt nor someit'. I'd heard such a lot about this author and her book THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING that I was delighted to discover this, her fourth novel, 'free' with a magazine. How disappointed was I to be?

Juvenile in parts, the author seemed, on occasion, to delight in 'nudge-nudge, wink-wink' humour that would have been more fitting in an adolescent boy. The characters, bar one or two, were awful with, seemingly, no redeeming features. As I say, a book that was neither one thing nor another - you couldn't say it was a good read and, then again, there was nothing overly bad about it either, totally nondescript in my opinion.

MY RATING: 1 out of a possible 5.



England is in turmoil. King Edward II is weak, his bloody reign staggering towards disaster. He has rejected his wife, Queen Isabella, and yet he still relies on her; she has been sent to France to negotiate peace with her brother, the French King, Charles IV.

King Edward knows his reign rests upon a knife edge, but his belief in the Prophecy of St. Thomas's Holy Oil gives him hope; it is said that a king who is anointed with the oil will be a lion amongst men. He must have it.

Meanwhile, Sir Baldwin de Furshill, Keeper of the King's Peace, and his friend, Bailiff Simon Puttock, return from France with an urgent message for King Edward. But the pair find themselves at the centre of a deadly court intrigue involving the most ruthless men in the country. In court politics, nothing is as it first appears ...

.... From the back cover.

First Sentence (from the prologue): Within his burnished steel shell the knight looked utterly impregnable, standing close to the place where he was about to die.

Memorable Moment: She was wearing a simple white woolen tunic, embroidered with a pattern of plain flowers, also in white. It trailed on the ground, concealing her feet, and was loose in the skirt, but tight over her bust, with a daring, scooped neck that showed a little of her breasts, though not indecorous quantities; her forearms too were exposed, the sleeves ending at the elbow, with long dangling strips that reached to her knees. Her hair was plaited, and partly concealed beneath a loose veil, that was little more than a square of flimsy cloth sitting over her head, leaving her face free.

The twenty-fifth book in this authors Knights Templar Mysteries series so perhaps the novels are becoming somewhat tired though not having read any of the others, let alone the earliest books in the series, I really cannot comment. It's just a feeling I have.

I love historical novels and especially historical novels of this type but I'm afraid to say that I found this particular book extremely disappointing and, at over 400 pages, too long. Not a word I like to use, but I also found it to be deadly boring, only my stubborn strike kept me reading until the last sentence.

The plot was 'all over the place', jumping from one strand to another but always coming back to the necessity of finding this Holy Oil. As for the Characters? In order for me to really enjoy a book, I find my 'relationship' with them to be very important. There was none of that here, there were simply too many of them, none of whom we really got to know which wasn't helped by the fact that the author sometimes chose to use their first name, at other times, their last and, sometimes, their title - all very confusing. And how many Bishops can one story have?

MY RATING: 1 out of a possible 5 (just).


Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

Peety i LOVE historical novels.
essays too.
i'll be back.

Smileyfreak said...

So neither of the books were really worth the look in,were they? I hate it when that happens. Well written reviews though :)

Betty Manousos:cutand-dry.blogspot.com said...

That one sounds interesting. thanks for sharing. it is amazing you love historical novels . One of the things i admire of your personality.
hugs hugs

Alyce said...

Wow, two blah books at the same time - how unfortunate for you! You made the reviews interesting though, and I really like your format.

RennyBA's Terella said...

What interesting read - thanks for sharing - makes me curious, so maybe :-)

Dorte H said...

Couldn´t you slow down the speed of that advent calendar? I had to click three times to read the words ;)

Kelly said...

Oooo, TWO disappointing books!! I read the first one awhile back, but don't remember disliking it. I never read her first (Girl with a Pearl Earring), but did read her latest (Burning Bright) this past year. I liked it.

I'm not familiar with the second one you reviewed. Think I'll steer clear of it, though.

I'm behaving myself with the advent calendar now and taking it one day at a time. :)