The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

The Ides of April - Lindsey Davis
The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

Back to my normal speedy reading standard with the start of what looks to be a smashing  new (to me) series from Lindsey Davis.

More Roman Crime Fiction, but this time featuring Falco’s adopted Briton daughter, Flavia Albia. She’s as hardnosed and sassy as her dear old dad, and as self aware as her Patrician mama.

BRILLIANT!

Very pleased I’ve got the next two in the series ready and waiting on my bookshelves… Thank you, AbeBooks.

Can’t wait to meet some of the old crowd again 🙂

Author page: The Ides of April – Lindsey Davis

The Mirror & The Light – Hilary Mantel

The Mirror & The Light - Hilary MantelEnfin, Fin.

A long read, this one. Partly due to size – at over 900 pages it’s a long read (and the hardback, which is the version I was reading, was that bit too unwieldy to read in bed) plus it’s a dense read.

The chapters are long, functioning more like sections to designate key timespans, which made it all too easy to stop after a short chunk rather than getting to the end of a chapter which I find sometimes helps me get properly into a longer book.

I’m sure the general weirdness of the (first) year of COVID-19, and the long days of “working from home”, haven’t helped my powers of concentration either.

In particular I found the early/middle sections harder to get through than the other two books, but once I got to Anne of Cleves I was back in the zone.

Goodbye Cremuel.

Author page: The Mirror & The Light – Hilary Mantel


Once I’d finished, I looked up some of the names on Wikipedia. Close this review now if you don’t know how Cromwell’s story ends.

Henry VIII was shown portraits of both Anne of Cleves and her younger sister, Amalia of Cleves, as possible post-Jane Seymour brides. Amalia does not look like a docile damsel in the slightest.  In fact she looks like a young woman who has a mind of her own, and determination to match. Perhaps that’s why she never married.

An unidentified woman by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
An unidentified woman by Hans Holbein the Younger (but possibly Amalia of Cleves)

By Hans Holbeinhttps://www.rct.uk/collection/912190/an-unidentified-woman, Public Domain, Link

And “Call-Me” (aka Thomas Wriothesley) looks decidedly duplicitous in this portrait by Hans Holbein the Younger:

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein the Younger.jpg
Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein the Younger

By Hans Holbein – Metropolitan Museum of Art [1], Public Domain, Link

Kingmaker: Divided Souls – Toby Clements

Kingmaker: Divided Souls - Toby Clements
Kingmaker: Divided Souls – Toby Clements

1469, and Thomas and Katherine’s settled family life on the Fakenham Estate is turned topsy turvy alongside one of the Wars of the Roses‘ periodic political upheavals as Warwick “the Kingmaker” decides he likes the power of controlling the King (of being the King?) far more than he likes King Edward’s new in laws….

Yes, it’s the famous Elizabeth Woodville and the equally infamous Woodville clan. Not that we meet any of them in the third in Toby Clements’ Kingmaker Quartet…. but there’s plenty of plot here to keep us entertained!

Publisher page: Kingmaker: Divided Souls – Toby Clements

Kingmaker: Broken Faith – Toby Clements

Kingmaker: Broken Faith - Toby Clements
Kingmaker: Broken Faith – Toby Clements

Back to the Wars of the Roses, in the second of Toby Clements’ Kingmaker Quartet. I’d bought books 2 and 3 in Frinton ages ago, and had kept them to take to LA on March’s now “deferred” work trip. I reckoned I’d need something to keep my spirits up, and myself entertained during evenings on my own.

Anyway, COVID-19 put paid to that trip, and so I decided NOW was the time to read them in Heavenly Herefordshire. We’re not a million miles from Mortimer’s Cross.

Enjoyable as ever, and I’ve just started the next one… but – oh woe – I don’t have the final book* yet. Keeping my eye on AbeBooks for an inexpensive second hand copy….

Publisher page: Kingmaker: Broken Faith – Toby Clements

* Well, I think it is…

The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

The Garden of Evening Mists - Tan Twan Eng
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

A slow start (with LRB back issues providing stiff competition for my short attention span), but totally absorbing once I gave it my time and attention. And by the end, a few tears.

The Garden of Evening Mists is set in the Cameron Highlands, in Malaya / Malaysia across three time periods in the narrator’s life: the Japanese occupation, The Emergency, and the present day (actually early 1980s when I read the Wikipedia synopsis). We learn about the peninsula’s history and Japanese zen arts from gardening to wood block prints and tattooing.

And what a wonderfully alluring opening sentence:

On a mountain above the clouds, in the central highlands of Malaya lived the man who had been the gardener of the Emperor of Japan.

Publisher page: The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng