Friday, October 13, 2006

Taking sides, and yet more upcoming historicals

Before getting to my usual light-and-entertaining Friday blog entry, I wanted to point out Elena Maria Vidal's comment on my post of October 7th. I agree with Susan that it's counterproductive for fans to act in such a way; it's also unfortunate for the authors who are caught in the middle. It did surprise me that Marie Antoinette was such a polarizing figure, but given the recent attention paid to Abundance and Sofia Coppola's film, it shouldn't have. Emotions do seem to be running high on the issue.

This topic also called to mind a recent post on the Historical Novel Society email list (I think; can't find the reference) in which someone stated that she refused to read anything fictional about the Tudors because she was an ardent Ricardian. People are entitled to their own opinions on what to read, though that seemed extreme to me - just as the multiplicity of critical reviews of Abundance did.

Anyway. Here's some information on new and upcoming historicals I want to read. If you read these before I do (very likely), please report back.

Vanora Bennett's Portrait of an Unknown Woman, out now from HarperCollins UK, next February from William Morrow. Description on the author's website here.

Reay Tannahill's latest is Having the Builders In, a novel of "medieval rivalry, chivalry, and masonry," out next month from Headline Review.

Ellis Avery's The Teahouse Fire, a novel of late 19th century Japan as seen through the eyes of an American woman, will be out this December from Riverhead. The first chapter is online at the author's website.

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin (aka Diana Norman), described as "Kathy Reichs in the 12th century," out next February from Putnam (US), and in May from Bantam (UK), got a starred review in Kirkus this week. It's listed on Amazon, but the cover is dark and murky, and all I can tell is that it depicts a skull and some hands.

Sidenote: on October 13, 1307 - 699 years ago - Philip IV of France ordered the arrest of every Templar in the country, including their last grand master, Jacques de Molay - who was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in 1314. It's an urban legend, though, that the ill omen of Friday the 13th originated with this event.


  1. Anonymous8:30 PM

    Sensible comments from Ms. Vidal. I probably will give her books a try one of these days. I think that with novels about a controversial historical figure, reader reviews often have much more to do with their feelings about the historical figure than about the novel itself. (Remind me to use a pseudonym if I ever decide to write about Richard III.)

    I for one am really looking forward to the Marie Antoinette movie. I'm miffed that here in the hinterlands, we have to wait another week for it while it's playing in New York.

    The Reay Tannahill book sounds like a hoot!

  2. Doesn't it though? I've seen no signs of a US publication date.

    Anyone who writes a novel about Richard III is very brave. Plus, is there anything left to be said? I suppose one could always tell his story from the viewpoint of his doctor's dog... or something.

    I'm sure I'll go see the Marie Antoinette movie, but I may bring earplugs.

  3. Anonymous7:10 AM

    Thanks, Susan! And I hope if you read my books someday, you will post some reviews on Amazon, even if you don't like them!

    Sarah, those earplugs are a great idea! The music of the Coppola film will be a bit much for me, although the visuals are supposed to be stunning.

  4. I suppose I should go into it with an open mind (and ears?), but I know that the local theatre really ups the volume on the films they show.

    The reviews on IMDb both amuse and bemuse me - the music gives people a better feel for the historical atmosphere? Interesting.

  5. Anonymous11:23 AM

    Yes, Sarah, I know what you mean about IMDb - one does not know whether to laugh or cry at some of the comments. It is interesting, though, how a lot of young people are now asking questions about Marie-Antoinette and wanting to read more about her (real) life and times, all because of the movie. Wonderful!

    They say there is some Gluck and Piccini featured amid the rock music. Oh, I am so glad....

  6. Richard III: The Missing Fifteen Minutes, perhaps? ;)

    The Tannahill sounds like a scream - I'll definitely be reading that one!

  7. Or maybe Richard III: The Lost Tapes. Film at 11. I can see it now.

  8. Anonymous12:14 PM

    Or Richard III: The Woman (in the tradition of Pope Joan).