Author Archive > eilidhcatriona

The Golden Prince

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The Golden Prince, Rebecca Dean, book reviewSince discovering Rebecca Dean very recently, I’ve been reading her novels at a rate of knots. The first two which I read, Enemies of the Heart and The Palace Circle, were about fictional characters in a historical setting, but The Golden Prince is a departure from that formula. While it does feature fictional characters, it also takes a very prominent historical figure and places him at the centre of the story.

The Golden Prince of the title is Prince Edward, Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, son of King George V. He is remembered as King Edward VIII, the king who abdicated in order to marry Wallis Simpson. The Golden Prince is concerned with his earlier life however, beginning when he is a teenage naval cadet at Dartmouth.


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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman

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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Robert K Massie, book reviewCatherine the Great was ruler of Russia in the eighteenth century. Born Princess Sophia of Anhalt-Herbst in 1729, she was brought to Russia by the Empress Elizabeth as bride to her nephew and heir, Peter. The marriage however was not happy, and when Peter ascended the throne and proved to be a poor Tsar, largely due to his idolisation of Frederick of Prussia, Russia’s enemy and ruler of Peter’s birthplace, Catherine staged a coup and became Empress, ushering in one of the golden periods of Russia’s history.

Catherine the Great by Robert Massie is not the first book on Romanov rulers by the author which I have read. Several years ago, having been fascinated by an exhibition on the last Tsars at Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland, I read and loved Nicholas and Alexandra.


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Wallis

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Wallis, Rebecca Dean, book reviewWallis by Rebecca Dean is a novelisation of the life of Wallis Simpson, from her childhood to the beginning of her affair with Prince Edward, later Edward VIII. Born Bessiewallis Warfield in Baltimore, Wallis had been divorced once already and was married for the second time when she met Edward. His later decision to abdicate in order to marry her cut him off from his family.

Wallis’s early life was not an easy one. Her father died when she was very young, and her mother struggled to make ends meet, as his family was not keen to help her out, although they did pay for Wallis’s education. Her first husband, Win Spencer, was in the navy, but it was not a happy marriage and ended in separation followed by divorce.


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Paris Requiem

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Paris Requiem, Lisa Appignanesi, book reviewParis Requiem by Lisa Appignanesi is a murder mystery/detective novel set in Paris in 1899, a time of racial tensions with the Dreyfus affair at its height, and the city preparing for the universal exhibition and the new century.

James Norton, a Harvard law professor, arrives in Paris, sent by his mother to bring back his brother, Raf, and sister Ellie. Yet what is already likely to be difficult is complicated when Raf’s Jewish lover, Olympe, is found dead in the Seine. James is plunged into the investigation, trying to discover what happened to this captivating woman, and to clear his brothers name when the police turn to him.


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Enchantress

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Enchantress, James Maxwell, book reviewEnchantress is the first novel in James Maxwell’s The Evermen Saga. Available free on Kindle, I downloaded it thanks to the book description, which opens by stating it is “the first book in an epic new series to rival The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones”. As a huge fan of both (although the book series is called Song of Ice and Fire, the TV show is Game of Thrones), I was intrigued.

Ella and Miro are brother and sister, Ella a flower seller who dreams of being an enchantress, and Miro a soldier in training who dreams of being an elite blade singer. Each of the lands in the novel has its own “lore”, and in their homeland, Altura, the lore is enchanting.


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Palace Circle

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Palace Circle, Rebecca Dean, book reviewHaving read and loved Rebecca Dean’s Enemies of the Heart, I was keen to read more of her novels – and chose Palace Circle as the next one I would read. It opens in Virginia, where eighteen year old Delia has just married Viscount Ivor Conisborough, over twenty years her senior and a member of the British aristocracy. At first she loves her new life in London, where she meets people such as Winston Churchill and Wallis Simpson, but she soon discovers there are secrets in her and Ivor’s life.

Palace Circle covers both world wars, and later includes Delia’s daughters, Petra and Davina, as narrators. The family moves to Cairo where Ivor is appointed as an advisor to King Fuad, and this is where much of the action is focussed during the Second World War.


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Let The Games Begin

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Let the Games Begin, Niccolo Ammaniti, book reviewNiccolo Ammaniti’s latest novel, Let The Games Begin, comes with a warning: Contains Satanic Cults, Intoxicated Supermodels, Olympic Athletes and Man-Eating Hippos.

Read at your own peril…

Actually, that’s only mostly true. I didn’t come across any Man-Eating Hippos in the novel’s pages, but perhaps I was distracted by the Intoxicated Supermodels.

If my interest had been aroused by this warning on the back of the book, I was thoroughly intrigued when I opened the novel to find the preface to be the words to Suicide is Painless, the theme from M*A*S*H.


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Moon Over Soho

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Moon Over Soho, Ben Aaronovitch, book reviewMoon Over Soho is the second of Ben Aaronovitch’s PC Peter Grant novels, following on from Rivers of London. PC Grant found himself joining the Met’s supernatural division in the first novel, its only other member being his new magic teacher, wizard Thomas Nightingale. He then had some run ins with ghosts, wizards and the spirits of Londons rivers, all the while trying to learn some magic himself.

In Moon Over Soho, Peter has taken on a little more responsibility while Nightingale recovers from the events of Rivers of London. This time round, he is on the trail of a magical being who is sucking the life from jazz musicians just as they finish performing.


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Kind of Kin

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Kind of Kin, Rilla Askew, book reviewRilla Askew’s Kind of Kin is set in Oklahoma, shortly after the passing of a new law which makes it a felony to harbour illegal immigrants. Ten year old Dustin’s grandfather is arrested after he is caught with a barnful of migrant workers, leaving Dustin with only his Aunt Sweet to look after him. Dustin doesn’t deal too well with his change in circumstances and having to live with his bullying cousin, so with his grandfather refusing to speak in court or help himself, Dustin ends up running away with an immigrant called Luis who managed to evade the police, while Sweet is left behind trying to hold things together.

The setting of Kind of Kin is quite interesting, the characters are lower class and struggle to make ends meet, with the exception of Monica Moorehouse, the politician who brought about the new law.


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Enemies of the Heart

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Enemies of the Heart, Rebecca Dean, book reviewAs a long-time fan of Penny Vincenzi, when I was looking for an indulgent and absorbing read during the recent bank holiday weekend, I searched for authors like her – and one suggestion which came up was Enemies of the Heart by Rebecca Dean. Liking the description of it, I immediately downloaded the novel to my Kindle and got stuck in.

Enemies of the Heart opens in 1909, when cousins Zelda and Vicky are visiting Berlin. American Zelda has her eye on Josef Remer, heir to the immense House of Remer steelworks and fortune, while quieter Vicky falls for the shyer Berthold Remer. When war breaks out in 1914 though, the family is pulled apart and loyalties are tested.


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The Humans

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Matt Haig, The Humans, book reviewThis article is part of our Holiday Reads 2013 series. You can find Matt Haig’s holiday read recommendation here.

Matt Haig’s The Humans is the second of his novels that I have read, the first being The Radleys, about a family of suburban vampires. The Humans has a similarly mundane setting, largely set around a family in Cambridge, the father of which is an eminent professor of mathematics at the university. Yet from the outset, we know that this is no mundane story.

Professor Andrew Martin has just solved the greatest mathematical problem in the world. The next time anyone sees him, he is wandering aroung naked and doesn’t seem to be quite himself. He is no longer Andrew Martin, but is an alien come to suppress the knowledge of his breakthrough. Humans, however, aren’t quite as primitive and two-dimensional as he expected.

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Dead Ever After

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Dead Ever After: A True Blood Novel, Charlaine Harris, book reviewIt’s finally here: the last novel in Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, also known as True Blood. Dead Ever After is book number thirteen, and we finally learn whether Sookie gets her own happily ever after – and who with.

The story so far is almost impossible to summarise. so I’ll just mention recent events. In book number twelve, Deadlocked, Sookie and her vampire love Eric were having some problems due to a situation created by Eric’s maker, the now permanently deceased Appius Livius Ocella. Someone had tried to frame Eric, Sookie and friends for a murder. Deadlocked ended with a showdown which revealed who was behind everything, and led to Sookie using her cluviel dor, the fairy love token which gave her one wish.


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