Books, life the universe

Thursday, 7 May 2009

More books

I always have more than one book on the go at any one time and usually three or four so I am prone to finishing a whole batch at once and it looks as though I'm a super fast reader! I have finished two more in the last couple of days - Emma Darwin's A Secret Alchemy and Terry Reeve Spirit of the Fen.

A Secret Alchemy was interesting as it told the story of Edward IV and Richard III and the Princes in the Tower from the point of view of two of the much criticised Woodville family - Anthony and Elizabeth. Elizabeth Woodville was the indestructibly virtuous beauty with the silver gilt hair of Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time who married Edward IV. I found the two historical narratives interesting as it gave a different point of view. Because of the unpopularity of the Woodville family at the time, they rarely get a proper hearing. I was disappointed that Titulus Regius and Eleanor Butler were not mentioned as they were the key to the actions which imprisoned the two Princes in the Tower.

The third narrative strand was from the point of view of Una a history professor writing a book about the books which Anthony would have had access to at the start of the age of printing. I thought Una was interesting but her sections of the narrative were rushed and less convincing because of it. There were so many issues involved that none of them were treated at the length they deserved. I felt there was so much unfinished business in Una's life she needed a book to herself. It seemed almost at times as though the proposed book was just a useful way to bring the historical and modern together.

The style was excellent and the dialogue good and all three narrative styles were sufficiently different to hold their own but this was two books squashed together when I felt they should have been allowed to stand on their own two feet.

The second book - Terry Reeve's Spirit of the Fen was thought provoking and tragic. I was in tears while reading most of the last 70 pages. A building company puts forward a plan to build a new community on Bungay Fen. This is opposed vociferously by many local people who want to keep the area for recreational purposes. Naturally the controversy divides the town and blood will be shed before the poignant and appropriate end to the story.


Anne Brooke said...

Interesting thoughts about the Emma Darwin book - I do agree.


Jilly said...

Glad I'm not alone. I did enjoy the book it's just I thought it would have been better as 2 books - Una could still have been writing about Anthony.