Monday, October 29, 2007

Various HNS things

This may be old news if you're on the HNS e-list, but the editors' choice selections from the upcoming November Historical Novels Review are online now.

The HNS Conference board of directors is looking for a new publicity coordinator for the 2009 North American conference. Details here.

Mark and I each brought a mail bin full of review books to the PO today (me to Charleston, him to Savoy, where they tried to make him say there were "personal notes" in the packages - there aren't). So if you got assigned a review book from me, they're en route. I think this is the fastest I've ever gotten them out.

Some links of interest:

Via Marg at Historical Tapestry, Rosina Lippi (aka Sara Donati) interviews Diana Norman (aka Ariana Franklin) on her blog. My review of Fitzempress' Law from this time last year is in the blog archives.

The 2nd authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind, Rhett Butler's People, comes out November 6th. I loved GWTW, and am curious about the new book, if only to see whether it reads anything like the original... I suspect not, as Donald McCaig has a much more literary style (I reviewed Canaan earlier this year). The novel has an official website.

News on Ken Follett's upcoming epic trilogy, and it's not medieval.

A long-lost love story written by James Michener, now in possession of one of his (many) ghostwriters, and available now (Amazon link) from the University Press of Florida.

Australia's The Age doesn't like Colleen McCullough's Antony and Cleopatra, because of prudish and unnatural dialogue and odd sentence constructions. There are no comments on the book's Australian cover, which is different from both the US and cartoony UK versions. I think it makes Cleo look like a perfume ad model, but maybe that's just me.

Non-historical fiction reference. Before we moved out to Illinois, we bought many pieces of furniture from Jordan's in Avon, Massachusetts. This includes our blue livingroom sofa, a couple of chairs, and the bed that's in our guest room. Too bad we weren't back there last spring to go shopping, or we could have gotten all of those items free. I'm glad the Red Sox swept the series, for obvious reasons, but also because I'm tired of staying up till midnight.


  1. The Australian cover of the McCullough book is VERY perfume model! I haven't read any of the books in this series yet. Maybe one day!

  2. Anonymous10:08 AM

    Antony and Cleo is, so far, disappointing. It feels rushed and poorly constructed. As a huge fan of the series, I was very much looking forward to this one - excited doesn't do justice. But I've stalled halfway through, and don't even want to pick it up again. I will, because I have hope. But it will be on a slow day when I'm done writing the new book. It feels like a betrayal of Colleen, since this is likely one of her very last books (she's going blind), but her heart wasn't in this one. And mine isn't, either.

  3. Well, that's too bad. I've only read the first two, so won't be picking up Antony & Cleo until the earlier ones are finished - and that could be a while (if ever).

    McCullough will have at least two more novels forthcoming, per Publishers Marketplace: "Two books from Colleen McCullough, including “a sweeping romantic novel,” sold again to Susan Opie at Harper UK, in a co-publication deal that includes Harper Australia, by Georgina Capel at Capel & Land."

  4. Well, if the reviewer mentions Robert Harris as example for good dialogue, I can only say I prefer McCullough any day. ;)

  5. I wonder what "Rhett Butler's People" is going to be like. I loved GWTW when I read it years ago, and have always felt that classics should be left as is, but it looks like the author is well respected. Still, it feels slightly sacriligeous . . . Or am I just being a freak?

  6. I felt the same way about Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. I couldn't even finish it. I preferred my own imaginings about what happened to Rhett and Scarlett after GWTW ended, although Rhett's people appears to be about Rhett's backstory as well as GWTW, so that might be interesting.

  7. That's what I'm thinking about the McCaig novel, too, that the concept doesn't bother me as much because it's more of a prequel/retelling.

    I have no urge to read Scarlett. I'd read something else of Ripley's (one of her Southern romances) and couldn't get past p.100. It felt awfully contrived.

  8. Anonymous2:03 PM

    Awww, come on, Antony and Cleopatra isn't that bad. I've read much worse. While I didn't enjoy it quite as much as her previous Rome novels, I'm wondering if it's because I'm so familiar with the story itself, through other novels and nonfiction. I particularly liked her treatment of Caesarion (an often neglected or minimalized character) and Octavia, among others. That guy who wrote this particular review seemed like he had an axe to grind or something. From the very first book she has used Latin words in the manner he describes, so it puzzles me why the objection now? Great literature it ain't, but I found it both entertaining and interesting.
    Wonder if the Cleo images on two of the covers are not very good because McCullough does not describe her in the usual way she's thought of (devastatingly beautiful) and the illustrators just don't know how to treat her? Evidently she was no great beauty in the traditional sense, not ugly, mind you, just not gorgeous.

    RE: RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE, my wife is getting it for me for my birthday. GWTW is one of my all time favorite books, and I'm looking forward to this prequel/retelling. I gave in on an impulse and read SCARLETT years ago and really hated it. Didn't like anything about it--writing, her characters, the events, the whole Irish episode, nothing. A big mistake by Mitchell's estate than time. Have high hopes for McCaig's book; for one thing, he's a better writer. Sorry so long winded!

  9. Mike, exactly. I've learned some Latin the teacher never told us that way. ;) And the use of Latin swear words never bothered me - in fact, I do the same in my NiPs because it works better than the modern 'fuck' or something, imho. I found the latter distracting in Simon Scarrow's books - makes the Roman centurion sound like a SEALS drill sergeant.

  10. There's a review of "Rhett Butler's People" in the London Times book section,

    The reviewer is not impressed by the narrative, but says the history is "meticulous." I hope the Ireland obsession that took over the last sequel is not continued.

  11. Oops, sorry, the copying of the link is not working, so you'll have to check, choose Arts and Entertainment, then choose Books.

  12. Foose: when I copied and pasted the original link, it worked fine.

    Haven't read Antony and Cleo, but I agree with Gabriele that I'd prefer the swear words to be in Latin - the English equivalents sound too modern to me.

  13. Thanks, Foose, interesting review. I suspect many reviewers (including that one) will be predisposed not to like it. There's another in the New York Times that's more positive, though it says the novel is flawed for other reasons. Makes me want to read it, though. (There are some mild spoilers for those wary of them)

    I was pleased to read that as sequels, Scarlett and Rhett Butler's People are independent of one another.