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Category: Books

Books 14

The Constant Princess

Throughout my life I am constantly reading about the history of women, their position in society, and the struggle for power. The more I read about them as the background rulers in a particularly male world, the more inspiration I find, the more I identify myself.

The last in the series (from the Book of Wars of the Cousins, ie War of the Roses) is Catherine of Aragon – the first woman of King Henry VIII, daughter of Isabelle Castillas and Ferdinand Aragon, who for the first time united Spain, and the mother of the Scottish Queen, Bloody Mary.

Her rise to english throne starts as a wife of older brother of Henry VIII. Catherine was three years old when she was betrothed to Arthur, Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the English throne. They married in 1501, but Arthur died five months later and she married Henry the VIII who later will separate from Vatican church and establich English Church in order to gain Ann Boleyn.

In 1507, Catherine of Aragon held the position of ambassador of the Aragonese Crown in England, the first female ambassador in European history!

Her and Henry’s  daughter,  was the future Mary I of England.

Regardless of her warlike spirit, she was not Henrik’s true love…

 

Books 2

Midnight in St Petersburg

midnight in st petersburg Revolutionary Russia, the main character Inna Feldman, who decides to flee Kiev after witnessing the assassination of Prime Minister Stolypin in a theatre, is  a Jewish orphan and by that fact almost inappropriate in a society.

She is travelling to  St Petersburg to a distant relative in search of safety and security. There she faces two men she is torn between. First is a violin-maker who is filled with revolutionary fervour. The other man who will feature in this love triangle is the Englishman Horace Wallich, who works for the famous jeweller Fabergé. Even more Prince Youssoupof is mentioned in the novel as well, as the Father Grigory, revealed to be the notorious Rasputin –  a Russian mystic and self-proclaimed holy man who befriended the family of Tsar Nicholas II and gained considerable influence in late imperial Russia.

The author Vanora Bennett was  inspired by and based on her own great-uncle, which adds a personal twist to the novel.

Through the book, I discovered artist Alexey Titorenko: http://www.alexeytitarenko.com/ Photographer from St Petersburg famous by photos of Nomenklatura of Signs, as his view on the Communist regime as an oppressive system.

Books 3

Winter in Madrid

Winter in MadridSet in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, Winter in Madrid, by C. J. Sansom is about three British citizens already scarred by their experiences of life and warfare when they come to Madrid.

Harry Brett accepts a Special Intelligence Service mission in Franco’s Spain, when the armies of fascism seemed invincible and the Communist revolution was utterly betrayed by the Stalin-Hitler Pact.

His old school collegue, the cynical and resentful Sandy Forsyth, is involved in a secretive business project which some believe could tip the balance toward an alliance between Spain and Nazi Germany. Barbara Clare is his lady but shattered by the loss of her lover some yeaers ago, when she realizes the love of her life might be alive and imprisoned in old war labor camp in Cuenca. It was surprising to read about the camp and surroundings after I visited the place in 2012, not knowing its history. My thoughts lead me thinking how Spain turned such a suffering place into tourist site.

The Spain of 1940 is itself a character, the Madrid of its time is a charracter as well. As I lived in Madrid  for some time, I enjoed the author’s describing of the city’s sites and trying to imagine them 77 years ago.

Primarily, this is a political novel in the very best sense of that term – a novel that thoughtfully considers what can happen to an ordinarily person, trapped by the system. Great lifes thet anyhow went to forgiveness as the life strolls.

 

Books 33

Katherine

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Katherine Swynford  was a wife of John Gaunt – the Duke of Lancaster in 14 century. Their marriage came as a quite scandal. She was poor and shy, raised in a monastery by nuns,  but still kinda sensual and warm. She was a Duke’s lover for many years before their marriage.

All the trouble of Katherine and her honest love to the Duke are described in a quote  “Men of title and privilege simply do not marry their mistresses.”

The book describes the years before the marriage of Katherine with the Duke and the second installement of the book concentrates on their marriage and the later children they had mixed with political affairs and the troubles they brought to the lovers’ lifes.

Reading the book and following the story, it definitely depuzzles all the claims to the throne the later heirs of the Plantagenet family.

The descendants of Katherine and the Duke were members of the Beaufort family, which played a major role in the Wars of the Roses. Henry VII, who became King of England in 1485, derived his claim to the throne from his mother Margaret Beaufort, who was a great-granddaughter of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford.

Juggling between romance and history, Anya Seaton  has a sure grasp of the sexual politics of the late Middle Ages.

 

Books 2

The Courtesan’s Lover

It’s 1564. Francesca Felizzi is beautiful and talented courtesan that knows how to entertain her customers and make them her patrons so she can enjoy luxury items and moments in her life.

Her loyal servant, Modesto, a castrato, sits always outside her bedroom door ready to defend her if necessary.

Francesca writes her diary about her encounters and any information related to them. She calls the diary The Book of Encounters. Modesto insists that this is her insurance for the future and uncertain times.

She does not allow patrons to visit her at her homewhere her beautiful twin daughters and Modesto are living.

Francesca is popular and expensive, her clothes are exquisite and her lifestyle lavish, but it’s only when, Gianni, a shy widow appears in her life. He treats her with a sensitivity she hasn’t seen before that she realizes she’s never truly been loved. Gianni changes the way Francesca sees herself and her career and she begins to question what she wants out of life.

 

The author of the book is Gabrielle Kim.  She is truly describing the streets and the then life of the citizens of Napoli in such a detailed and imaginable way. Just adore!

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