Reading History: “Anne of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait” (by Alison Weir)

When it comes to the wives of Henry VIII, a few stand out in the popular consciousness: Anne Boleyn (obviously), Katherine of Aragon, perhaps Jane Seymour. Then maybe Catherine Howard and Katherine Parr. Rarely, I suspect, do many people give much of a thought to Anne of Cleves, Henry's fourth wife whom, it was said, … Continue reading Reading History: “Anne of Kleve: The Princess in the Portrait” (by Alison Weir)

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Reading History: “The Splendor Before the Dark” (by Margaret George)

Ever since I finished Margaret George's The Confessions of Young Nero, the first part of her two-book exploration of Rome's most notorious emperor, I've been eagerly waiting for the second half. Thankfully, the wait is finally over! The Splendor Before the Dark picks up where Confessions left off, with Nero racing back to the city Rome, now engulfed in … Continue reading Reading History: “The Splendor Before the Dark” (by Margaret George)

Reading History: “Mary, Called Magdalene” (by Margaret George)

Since finishing The Confessions of the Young Nero, the most recent literary outing from historical fiction author Margaret George, I've found myself possessed of the desire to re-read her entire oeuvre, beginning with the two novels of hers that I haven't read. So, I started with Mary, Called Magdalene.  In another life, I was passionately interested in the history of … Continue reading Reading History: “Mary, Called Magdalene” (by Margaret George)

Reading History: “The Confessions of Young Nero” (by Margaret George)

The release of a new novel by Margaret George is an event that occurs every six years or so. The author of such well-known works of historical fiction as The Memoirs of Cleopatra and The Autobiography of Henry VIII is well-known for her extraordinary detail in her magisterial works of historical fiction, in which she inhabits not just the mind … Continue reading Reading History: “The Confessions of Young Nero” (by Margaret George)

Reading History: “The Taming of the Queen” and Donald Trump

In the wake of November 8th, it's really difficult--nay, impossible--to not read and watch everything produced in the years leading up to Trump's electoral victory through the prism of the dystopian perspective he brings to the world. As a trained historicist--that is, one who views all cultural artifacts as existing in an ongoing relationship with … Continue reading Reading History: “The Taming of the Queen” and Donald Trump

Reading History: “The Conqueror’s Wife” (Stephanie Thornton)

As readers of this blog know, I have a voracious appetite for historical fiction set in the ancient world. Fortunately for me, Stephanie Thornton has again released a fantastic tale, this time focused on the men and women surrounding that most powerful of ancient generals, Alexander the Great.  With The Conqueror's Wife, Thornton takes her place alongside Mary … Continue reading Reading History: “The Conqueror’s Wife” (Stephanie Thornton)

Reading History: “The Secret Chord” (Geraldine Brooks)

Some writers of historical fiction have a particular knack for evoking a sense of the strangeness of a past culture, capturing in their language the ethos that drives a particular culture.  Mary Renault, Colleen McCullough, and Madeline Miller are examples of such writers, and with The Secret Chord, Geraldine Brooks proves that she can also be numbered … Continue reading Reading History: “The Secret Chord” (Geraldine Brooks)