Books of the Month - November 2015
1. Stephen King - Salem's Lot - I started this book right on Halloween night, best tribute I could pay to this holiday. There was a love & hate story between me and Stephen King, I have avoided his books for ages, as I used to hate (read 'be afraid of') horror stories. However, Misery got me interested and Under the Dome sealed the deal - I am now a self confessed fan of Stephen King's works.
Salem's Lot is a Gothic fiction piece of work, set into a small town in Maine, the kind where nothing ever happens. Ben Mears, now a successful writer, returns after 25 years to the place where he spent part of his childhood, to write a new novel inspired by the evil vibes of Marsten's House, an abandoned manor where he had a bad experience growing up. While back in town, he befriends an old school teacher and gets involved in a romantic relationship with a college graduate, who will be his two sidekicks in discovering the secrets of the haunted house and the mysterious deaths and disappearances that are taking over Jeru(Salem)'s Lot.
The Verdict: Thrilling and killing, be sure to read it with the lights on!
2. Philippa Gregory - The King's Curse - This is the last book of The Cousin's War, sort of a bridge between this series and The Tudor Court series. The King's Curse tells the story of Margaret Pole, daughter of Isabel Neville and George, Duke of Clarence, cousin of Queen Elizabeth - wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII. Margaret Pole, born a Plantagenet, was always at the heart of royal intrigues, either in high favor as Queen Elizabeth's good cousin, Prince Arthur's Lady Governess, Katherine of Aragon's lady-in-waiting or Princess Mary's Lady Governess, or in low favor - as one of the last Plantagenets alive at King Henry VII's court, one of the shunned supporters of Queen Katherine at King Henry VIII's court or one of the last keepers of the Catholic faith in a newly Protestant England, which in the end unraveled her, transforming this incredible lady into Henry VIII's oldest and most useless victim.
The Verdict: I was not too keen on the construction of the character, as Lady Margaret Pole was pictured as sort of a coward and greedy land owner, but I did like the story very much, it was a page gripping read.
3. Philippa Gregory - The Taming of the Queen - This is another historical fiction work, whose central figure is Kateryn Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII. As a young beautiful widow summoned to Court, she catches the eye of the old king and she cannot turn down his marriage proposal. Even though she is madly in love with the handsome Thomas Seymour, she has to forsake him and focus on surviving this unwanted marriage. Comparing herself to Saint Tryphine, the last wife of Bluebeard, she is haunted by the other Queens' ghosts and she lives like a caged bird, in constant fear for her life. To make it bearable, she immerses herself in the study of Latin and of the Bible, becoming a scholar Queen, the first woman to publish a book in English. She was a great supporter of the Protestant faith, which put her at great risk, as the Catholic bishop Stephen Gardiner and Thomas Wriothesley plotted her downfall, being only steps away from being thrown into the Tower and sent to the scaffold, like two of her predecessors. However, she succeeded at something no other Queen did - she displeased the King and then reclaimed his favor, ultimately surviving this marriage and moving on to be happy for the rest of her life.
The Verdict - I liked this book a lot, especially since it sheds some light on the life of Kateryn Parr, a rather ignored Queen. I would have liked for the story to continue, even after the death of King Henry VIII, but I guess you can't have it all. If you do want a glimpse into what happens to Kateryn Parr, you will find it in Philippa's Queen's Fool and The Virgin's Lover.