Title: Young Bess
Author: Margaret Irwin
Summary: Young Bess provides a fictional, though grounded in historical fact, novel on the life of Queen Elizabeth when she was simply the Lady Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and sister of Edward VI. Young Bess describes Elizabeth’s chequered relationship with Henry VIII, the father she resembles and differs from in so many ways. But along the way Bess also finds the maternal love that has been sorely lacking from her life from her father’s sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr.
Catherine not only provides Bess with love but more importantly with a belief in her destiny–that Bess will someday be Queen of England. Unfortunately, her destiny may be derailed by the long-standing feud between two brothers, Thomas and Edward Seymour, uncles to Edward VI, the brother of young Bess. Their hatred for each other eventually destroys both brothers, but will this hatred destroy Bess?
Who will like this book?: For those who enjoyed Alison Weir’s The Lady Elizabeth or any of the Philippa Gregory novels on the women of the Tudor Court, Young Bess is the book for you
Recommended by: Mona, Reference Librarian
Title: The Diana Chronicles
Author: Tina Brown
Summary: This book has been out for a while but I knew I was going to save it for holiday time when I could sit back and relish all the lunacy of the Royals. Don’t get me wrong: I consider them part of my extended family, with both my parents being from the British Isles. As a child, it was not uncommon to witness relatives referring to genealogical charts of the Royals during heated family discussions!
Tina Brown, the former editor of the British magazine Tatler and the American Vanity Fair and The New Yorker has done an admirable job of getting inside the head and heart of the late Princess Diana. This book provides the right balance between Diana the victim of royal cruelty and a Diana with the very early and singular determination to become the bride of the Prince of Wales.
The author manages to provide much historical background about the entanglement of the Spencer family and the Royals. The inevitability of their continued relations, however troubled, is obvious. Diana is portrayed believably as a person with real strengths and weaknesses. She is just like many of us, and at the same time she is not. She has a palpable empathy for less fortunate people, and uses it to help those people and herself. She has a messy emotional life and ends up in unfulfilling relationships time and time again – which makes the reader feel for her and get annoyed with her.
Regardless of what you think of her life and adventures, she remains a fascination, and this book sheds more light on what made Diana, “Diana.”
Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian
Title: The Sound of Butterflies
Author: Rachael King
Summary: Thomas Edgar, an amateur naturalist, joined an expedition to the rainforests of the Amazon determined to be the first to capture the elusive butterfly he calls “Papilio Sophia.” He returns home several months later a changed man. Having deteriorated both physically and mentally, he is either unwilling or unable to speak. His young wife Sophie sets out trying to solve the mystery of what happened to her husband in a desperate attempt to bring him back to his former self. Slowly, we learn of the atrocities that befell Thomas and his fellow travelers in the Brazilian Amazon, culminating with the traumatic event that renders Thomas speechless.
This wonderful debut novel from New Zealander Rachael King takes us from turn of the century London to the rainforests of Brazil. Through letters, diary entries, and multi-character narration, we experience the social constraints of London, the dark side of the booming rubber industry of the Amazon, and the perils found in the wilds of the rainforest.
Who will like this book?: Historical fiction and adventure readers.
If you like this, try this: The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney
Recommended by: Mary, Reference Librarian