Thursday, 17 March 2011

What I've been reading

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Mansfield Park
by Jane Austen

"The novel's heroine, Fanny Price, is a 'poor relation' living with the Bertrams, acutely conscious of her inferior status and yet daring to love their son Edmund—but from afar. However, with five marriageable young people on the premises, the peace at Mansfield cannot last. Courtships, entertainments and intrigues throw the place into turmoil, and Fanny finds herself unwillingly competing with a dazzlingly witty and lovely rival."
I'd say this isn't one of her best books, and I actually found it quite difficult to read. The language seemed to take my attention away from the story, which wasn't gripping enough to keep me engaged. The heroine is also quite a drippy character, always needing to sit down for a rest or being too overcome to speak. The story unfolds really slowly, and then all the concluding action is packed into one or two chapters at the end, by which time I'd lost all sympathy with Fanny, and wouldn't have minded if she did live out her life as an unhappy spinster.

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Memoirs of a Geisha
by Arthur Goulden

"The book tells the extraordinary tale of a geisha, summoning up a quarter century, from 1929 to the post-war years of Japan's dramatic history, and opening a window onto a half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation."
Although I didn't remember it beforehand, I have actually read this before, and thought then it was a true story, rather than being based on a whole load of research. Well-written certainly, and much easier to read than Jane Austen. But I feel uncomfortable not knowing what is true and what is author's imagination. Despite all the research he might have made stuff up. So it's a good read but I remain wary of the contents.

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The Queen's Fool
by Phillipa Gregory

"It is 1553, Henry VIII is dead and his young son Edward is now king. 14-year-old Hannah Green, a determined Jewish girl with the gift of foresight, has come to England with her bookseller father to escape the Inquisition in Spain. After a chance meeting with the dashing Lord Robert Dudley at her father's bookshop, Hannah finds a new life as a court fool - and a spy. Reporting to Dudley all that happens around the sickly king, Hannah is also sent to spy on Princess Mary, with whom she strikes up a loyal and lasting friendship."
I've been toying with the idea of Phillipa Gregory in audio book form, but Landlady Lola has several in print so I've taken advantage. It's interesting, a story woven around real events and personalities, and while I have no idea of the level of historical accuracy, I don't really care. And MUCH easier to read than Wolf Hall.

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