Johanna is the maidservant for Dame Margery. Dame Margery is considered a holy woman. She speaks to God which causes her to weep constantly. Dame Margery decides to go on pilgrimage to Rome and takes Johanna with her. Johanna has no choice in the matter and is expected to not only take care of Dame Margery, but of the whole group. She has to cook (even though she doesn’t know how), clean their clothes, sew and fetch water and wood. She is not treated well by most of the company, especially grumpy Petrus Tappester who likes to slap her around. Dame Margery even leaves Johanna in the middle of no where on the way to Rome; forcing Johanna to find her way there by herself.
Johanna is spunky and brave and a creature of her times. She doesn’t have modern ideas, but that doesn’t mean she is lacking; it means she is authentic. I enjoyed her wit and commentary on the holiness of those around her, especially Dame Margery. She was not treated well yet she persevered. According to the author’s note, Dame Margery and Johanna actually existed. Dame Margery wrote a book about her pilgrimage which became the first biography. She describes her servant as disobedient. Barnhouse, like the reader, found Johanna fascinating and developed her tale.
September 1356. All over France, towns are closing their gates. Crops are burning, and through-out the countryside people are on the alert for danger. The English army—led by the heir to the throne, the Black Prince—is set to invade, while the French, along with their Scottish allies, are ready to hunt them down.
But what if there was a weapon that could decide the outcome of the imminent war?
Thomas of Hookton, known as le Batard, has orders to uncover the lost sword of Saint Peter, a blade with mystical powers said to grant certain victory to whoever possesses her. The French seek the weapon, too, and so Thomas’s quest will be thwarted at every turn by battle and betrayal, by promises made and oaths broken. As the outnumbered English army becomes trapped near Poitiers, Thomas, his troop of archers and men-at-arms, his enemies, and the fate of the sword converge in a maelstrom of violence, action, and heroism.
Rich with colorful characters, great adventure, and thrilling conflict, 1356 is a magnificent tale of how the quest for a holy relic with the power to change history may culminate in an epic struggle.
Juliet Moreau has been working as a maid and living rather humbly after the scandal that rocked her family’s world. Her father, the infamous Henri Moreau, managed to escape London rather than facing jail time and left Juliet and her mother destitute. After her mother died, Juliet was left to fend for herself. After intruding on a late-night vivisection, Juliet finds a diagram being used by the medical students that was drawn by her own father. A bit of investigation and the desire to see if her father was indeed still alive leads her to an apartment where she runs into her father’s former servant, Montgomery and a hairy, malformed man called Balthazar. Montgomery and Balthazar are in England to pick up supplies for Juliet’s father and agree to take her with them to the isolated island off the coast of Australia. They set sail on a rather sketchy vessel and pick up a castaway named Edward along the way. Edward is full of secrets and refuses to discuss any of the details of his former life. Montgomery grudgingly agrees to allow Edward to join the small group.
Juliet is shocked to find that her father doesn’t seem in the least bit surprised to see her setting foot on the island. She’s also shocked when her father shoves Edward into the water and stands aside to watch him sink. Montgomery saves Edward at Juliet’s behest and, after a private conference with the doctor, Edward is allowed to stay on the island until the next ship passes by to pick him up.
Juliet finds her father to be cold, arrogant and largely dismissive of anyone else. He locks himself into his laboratory night after night, confirming the rumors that had been circulating around London. Meanwhile, Juliet tries desperately to get used to the odd appearance of the islanders, all of whom seem to regard her father as a god. Juliet discovers that a series of murders have been plaguing the islanders and Juliet suspects that her father’s experiments might be even worse than she ever thought possible. Oh, and she might just be falling in love with both Montgomery and Edward, neither of whom seem to particularly like each other.
Based on the Jules Verne classic, The Island of Dr. Moreau, this story asks the question: if Moreau had a daughter, what would her relationship with her father be like? There are also a whole host of other issues at the heart of the story, for instance, what makes humans human? A fast-paced and absorbing tale. Readers don’t necessarily need to have read the original to understand this tale, but it might help. I have not read the original, but am familiar with the plot. I would be interested to hear what a fan of the original would have to save about the points where this new version diverges from Vernes’.
How much do I love Terry Pratchett? I can’t even think of the correct quantitative word to answer that question. Dodger might just be his best yet. Dodger is an orphan who has spent most of his life on London’s streets. He makes ends meet by toshing (collecting coins, etc. from the sewers) and is notorious among those that inhabit the workhouses, sewers and streets. He’s most emphatically not a thief (but, if something is just lying around, well then…); he’s the Dodger. Here one moment and gone the next. Things might have continued on like that if it weren’t for Dodger’s admirable sense of chivalry. He hears a scream and finds himself rescuing a girl from two very nasty thugs. Shortly after, he comes across another well-known London-ite with good intentions, a Mr. Charlie Dickens. Dickens finds a safe place for the strange woman (who has yet to tell anyone about herself or her provenance). With the young lady, dubbed “Simplicity” by her caretakers, safety in hiding, Dodger becomes determined to see those guilty for Simplicity’s beating held responsible for their actions. Dodger’s mystery takes him all over London, meeting some very historically important personages and finding a bit out about himself as he goes along. In spite of his lack of education, Dodger proves himself to be, at all times, completely capable of handling any situation he finds himself in.
It took me a long time to read this one. Over a week, even. It took so long not because the pacing is slow, but because there’s so much detail and so many delicious puns that I didn’t want to miss a thing and frequently found myself going back over various paragraphs to make sure not a single joke was missed. Pratchett’s attention to detail is stunning. The city is as much a character as any of the human variety; the smells are palpable and the fog stings your eyes. The slang took some getting used to, but ultimately excelled in giving me a sense of place and time. I love the characters in this book so much; the real and imaginary (and canine…Onan, you stinky, lovable rascal). What’s even better is that, while there is a definite plot with a definite trajectory, there are themes and messages in this book that make its story timeless. Dodger’s era was one of tremendous change and each and every character seems to find themselves on the verge of potentially altering the course of history, if they haven’t already. This book has everything and then some going for it. I highly recommend Dodger to anyone who enjoys history, word play and good literature.
Kate Morton really knows how to tell a story. This one was hard to put down. So many twists and turns. World War II in London with all the bombs falling and young people falling in love is a perfect setting for this novel. It’s hard to describe but it keeps you on the edge til the last chapter. Secrets and second chances. You have to read it, I don’t want to give anything away.
This book was a lot of fun, not to be taken seriously. The rich elite in Victorian England usually don’t have a real job. They invest money they don’t have or money they inherited from the wife’s family. When things go wrong with the investments they try to marry their eldest son into money. The family in this series has a title so they try to set up the son with a young American lady who’s father is rich. Everyone has a secret that could be scandalous but there are ways to keep it covered up. Can’t wait for the next book.
Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini, both well known mystery writers, have written this interesting detective novel. The two main characters live in San Francisco in the 1890′s and own a detective agency. Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon have been hired to find a pickpocket and a burglar. They are a team but work separately since they both have their own way of doing things. During the investigations they meet a man who claims to be Sherlock Holmes although he supposedly died in a waterfall accident in Europe. John takes an instant dislike in him but it’s mostly about competition. I liked this setting in San Francisco and it wasn’t a long complicated story so it was easy to follow. Hope they do another one.
Bartholomew is the thin man at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum. Along with the other cast of freaks and oddities he feels they are gifted. People ask if he is hungry but there is something inside him that keeps him from starving. A small portion of beans and tea is all he needs a day. But when a new act arrives one day he realizes he might be able to live a normal life. Also with the help of an exotic root he was given in Chinatown his hunger comes back. It was an interesting story and it made me hungry.
The two volumes of “Crossovers” are a fascinating and highly enjoyable read for anyone interested in the interactions between various pulp, mystery, adventure, and science fiction characters with each other and real people throughout history. The premise of the book was inspired by SF writer Philip José Farmer’s “Wold Newton” concept which he developed in the 1970s: a “radioactive” meteorite crashed near Wold Newton, England, in 1795 and affected several carriages full of people who were passing by. Their descendants became highly intelligent and powerful heroes (or villains) such as Sherlock Holmes, Professor Moriarty, Dr. Fu Manchu, Doc Savage, Lord Greystoke (Tarzan), and many more. Farmer wrote popular and detailed biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage in which he explored the family trees of many “Wold Newton Family” characters. Over time, the concept has been expanded and continued by Win Scott Eckert and others to become the “Crossover Universe.” Mr. Eckert has done a fantastic job of compiling references to literary heroes who have met each other (or “crossed over”) and had adventures together, and thus co-exist in the same fictional universe. Volume 1 covers the dawn of time up through 1939, and Volume 2 covers 1940 into the far future. (Mr. Spock himself claimed Sherlock Holmes as an ancestor of his!) There are 2000 entries in this chronology and 300 illustrations. Reading these two books is fun and will send you scurrying to find many of the stories and books that are referenced.