Book briefs

Some quick book reviews, from books I’ve read recently:

  • The Red Queen, by Philippa Gregory: A fascinating look at the life of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII and father of Henry VIII. As a Lancastrian heir herself, Margaret’s life during the Wars of the Roses was precarious, but her brilliant political mind and shrewd maneuvering led to her son being crowned King of England at Bosworth Field. Well worth reading for anyone interested in British history.
  • Becoming Queen Victoria: This look at Queen Victoria’s life actually begins with George IV and his wife, Caroline of Brunswick. Their dysfunctional marriage produced one heir, Princess Charlotte, who married Victoria’s maternal uncle Leopold and was Britain’s heiress presumptive. Her untimely death in childbirth (of both her and her child) began the unlikely sequence of events that led to Victoria being crowned Queen of England at only eighteen. The book’s unique angle adds some drama to the oft-told story of Victoria’s early life, problems with her mother, and courtship and marriage to her first cousin, Prince Albert, but the author inserts a few unfortunate editorial comments (mostly about Victoria’s weight and frequent pregnancies) that detract from the overall tone of the work.
  • A Cry of Stone, by Michael O’Brien: This Catholic-tinged novel takes place in Canada, and tells the story of Rose Waibos, a baby who was abandoned at birth and raised by her grandmother She is hunchbacked and given to seeing the future, so she is somewhat shunned by her community. The story relates her education, youth, and adulthood as an artist, living in various parts of Canada. O’Brien’s stories are difficult to summarise, since they are multi-layered and multiply charactered, and can be a bit didactic at times. But this story has a lot to offer the thoughtful reader who perseveres through the somewhat convoluted beginning.



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