Friday, July 9, 2010

Quick Book Reviews

I read 3 different books this past week, and loved them all.  And the best part is that all 3 were ones I kept looking at in Barnes and Noble but found for 30 cents each at a local thrift store! 

Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir is a historical fiction about Lady Jane Grey.  This might cause some to groan since it seems lately everyone is writing historical fiction.  But I can recommend this author very easily.  She is actually a historian and used to write non-fiction.  This was her first fiction novel, and she also wrote one The Lady Elizabeth about Queen Elizabeth I.  Both fascinating, and I am excited that next week she has a new novel coming out about Eleanor of Aquitane.  

With a novel like this you tend to know the outcome, but the intrigue is amazing.  The novel starts from before Jane Grey was even born and goes until her death.  The only thing negative I would have to say is that there is generally a very anti-Catholic undertone.  I'm not sure if this is because both Jane Grey and Elizabeth were protestants (Lady Jane Grey being a fervent one at that) or if it is the author's personal views.  But other than that it was a great read and will help to understand the politics of this crazy time period.  

Immortal by Traci L. Slatton is set in Florence and follows the story of a young man who knows not where he came from, and learns quickly that he will see a lot in his long life time.  It's a sad story, but fascinating as a man who lives through the great artistic time in Florence, later meets Leonardo before he was famous, goes through the Inquisition, and finally finds love and answers.  For most of the book I could not put it down.  Some parts seemed to drag unnecessarily and I do think the story could have been made much shorter.  But it was a good read, interesting in the characters, and dealt with human condition and characteristics.  Love.  Hate.  Jealousy.  Greed.  Desperation.  

I would be interested to see what else Ms. Slatton will come out with. 

And finally, The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton.  A novel of five women in the 1960s and 70s.  The secrets they keep from and for each other as their friendship grows.  Tumultuous times, with Peace Rallies, Women's Liberation, and finding out who they are in a time period where a woman wasn't really allowed to question her life much.  Frankie is the narrator of the story and you will feel her pain acutely over being the most intelligent of 5 children, but the only girl so she goes to work to pay for her younger brothers to go to school rather than getting a college education herself.  How that shaped her.  How it continues to limit her and who she feels she's allowed to be. 

The women are all wonderfully written, you can picture them crisply.  Linda, the passionate athletic one.  Brett, the mysterious one with brains like Einstein.  Kath, a southern belle who learns quickly that being the perfect wife and mother does give you the perfect life.  And Ally, the quiet one with so much pain of her own.  They all go from watching the Miss America Pageants together, annoyed at the bra burning women liberationists to women watching the Pageant together cheering on those who don't fit the mold.  Because they all learn to see that there is no real mold, and that who they are is just fine as it is.  

All three books are great, I recommend hunting them down.  Though I will say I loved The Wednesday Sisters best.  In my head I know why these stories are so great for women, because the characters are those in our own lives.  The friends who would do anything they had to to help you make it through this life.  It's usually a small number, close knit, and reliable.  And that is why as women we remain strong in ourselves, because we have amazing companions saying "you can do this and so much more."  And because we believe it about them we must learn to believe it about ourselves. 


  1. Kalee,

    Thank you for suggesting these books. I'm in the middle of a reading funk for the last couple of weeks.
    I think the book by Traci Slatton sounds particularly interesting. I will have to look for it at my local library.


  2. Alright, I am totally intrigued by The Wednesday Sisters. It's going on my reading list. :)