HARVEST by Jim Crace

Jim Crace’s Harvest reads like a simple moral fable of a tiny and remote medieval English village, destroyed externally and internally by the conversion of farms into sheep pastures, but wait! There is far more to it than meets the eye.

Mr. Crace is particularly interested in pairings: everything comes in twos, right from the opening pages.. Two signals of smoke rise up: one signaling the arrival of new neighbors who are announcing their right to stay; the second, a blaze that indicates the master Kent’s dovecote is gone and his doves taken.

Both subplots radiate from these two twinned smoke signals. The stories, narrated by Walter – the manservant of Kent who was paired with him from the start by sharing the same milk – is both an insider and an outsider (yet another pairing). He is not of the village although he has become part of it.

January 15, 2014 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Literary, Man Booker Nominee, World Lit

HERESY by S. J. Parris

S. J. Parris’s HERESY opens in 1576. A young Dominican monk named Giordano Bruno, who has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, is caught by his superiors reading forbidden books. He flees Italy and the Inquisitor, and is subsequently excommunicated by the Catholic Church. Eventually, he becomes a philosopher and a Doctor of Theology and plans to write a book “that would undo all the certainties not only of the Roman church but of the whole Christian religion.”

March 3, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense

HEARTSTONE by C.J. Sansom

In his latest Tudor mystery, HEARTSTONE, C. J. Sansom embroils his hero, lawyer and do-gooder Matthew Shardlake, in several intrigues that take him away from London for a large part of the novel. It is 1545, and the profligate King Henry VIII is squeezing his subjects dry in order to wage an expensive military campaign against France. The king has ordered English currency devalued, levied heavy taxes, conscripted every able-bodied Englishman, and even hired foreign mercenaries to wage war against the enemy.

February 27, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Mystery/Suspense, Sleuths Series, United Kingdom

SACRED HEARTS by Sarah Dunant

In 16th-century Italy, a noblewoman of marriageable age had two choices: marriage and children, or reclusion to a convent. With the price of wedding dowries rising ever higher, most noble families could only afford to marry off one daughter. The rest, for a much-reduced dowry, went to the convent. But “not all went willingly,” author Sarah Dunant states in her preface, a deliciously ominous portent of the story to come.

July 23, 2010 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: 2010 Favorites, Facing History, italy

WOLF HALL by Hilary Mantel

The Wars of the Roses, were a series of dynastic civil wars between the rival houses of Lancaster, (the Tudors), and York, (the Plantagenets), for the throne of England. The Lancastrian symbol was the red rose – the Plantagenet’s, the white. The war ended with the victory of the Lancastrian Henry Tudor, King Henry VII, who founded the House of Tudor. His marriage to Elizabeth Plantagenet, (the white rose), and the eldest daughter of King Edward IV, penultimate king of the house of York, cemented the joining of the two houses. The third child of their political union was called Henry, who was to become King Henry VIII. That’s the background information for the setting of Hilary Mantel’s Man Booker Prize winning novel, WOLF HALL.

November 23, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Man Booker Prize, United Kingdom, y Award Winning Author

REVELATION by C. J. Sansom

C. J. Sansom’s REVELATION takes place in 1543, a tumultuous year in English history. Religious fanaticism is on the rise among Protestants and Catholics alike; Henry VIII, who is ailing, has been urging Lady Catherine Parr to become his sixth wife, but she is reluctant to accept his proposal; the chasm between rich and poor is huge, with filthy, starving, and often mentally ill beggars crowding the thoroughfares…In this, the fourth installment in Sansom’s splendid series, the narrator, forty-year old lawyer Matthew Shardlake, seems to have finally found peace of mind.

April 16, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Facing History, Sleuths Series