Saturday, January 26, 2013

An Echo in the Bone

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

This is book 7 in the Outlander series.  It takes us further into the American Revolution and gives us an up-close view of a few battles that took place between the American Army, such as it was, and the militia troops against the British Army and the Colonial Army (Americans for England).

I think Gabaldon does a great job with her historical research and I am still enjoying the story line of the Frasers and Mackenzies.

This book had a twist in that Brianna and Roger took their children back to the present.  Really they went back to the 1980's but in the grand scheme of the book series that is the present.  They were able to "keep in touch" with Brianna's parents through a stack of letters that were held for over a hundred years at the Bank of Edinburgh and then delivered to Roger's uncle the Reverend Wakefield.  The good Reverend thoughtfully hung onto the box that had a metal plaque engraved with the name of Roger and Brianna's son.

When reading about time-travel, one must suspend all disbelief and just go with it and see where it leads.  I really enjoy these books.  There is a companion series that I am planning to start although I have a couple other books on my to read list first.

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt

This is a western set during the California Gold Rush.  Charles and Eli Sisters are brothers who have quite the reputation.  They are killers for hire and they are successful and ruthless.

The story is told from the voice of Eli, the younger brother.  He is laying out their life as they go on another job.  Relations seem strained between Eli and Charles and Eli is contemplating a new line of work.

This was a "light, fun read" after I finished  my failed attempt at Satanic Verses and then reading Wolf Hall.

It wasn't really light but it was darkly humorous and I did enjoy it and the Murphy's Law way that things turned out.

Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

This is a book of historical fiction about Thomas Cromwell.

During the reign of King Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell began working for Bishop Woolsey.  After Woolsey's fall from favor and then his death, Cromwell began to work for the King.  He was a man of extremely low birth who had become educated depsite his upbringing.  He was a soldier, a baker, a book keeper, an attorney, an importer and a finder of things, people and information.  He spoke many languages and his past was a mystery.  The mystery of his life was something that Cromwell used to his advantage.  Others made assumptions and he made no effort to correct them.  Because of this, he was a much feared man.  He was able to melt into a background and be virtually invisible while he gleaned information from what he heard and especially what he saw.  Cromwell was a great reader of people and used the information from watching to his advantage and the advantage of those he worked for.

This book takes us through King Henry's battle to annul his marriage to Katherine of Arragon, his courtship of Anne Boleyn and a bit past the birth of his daughter Elizabeth.  At the end of the book, relations between Henry and Anne are strained.  She had had several miscarriages and failed to produce the male heir that she promised. We meet Jane Seymour and find that her family estate is titled Wolf Hall.  Her presence in the life of Anne Boleyn and the random meetings with Thomas Cromwell are intriguing teases.  I'm not sure that it made sense to name the book Wolf Hall though.

I really enjoyed this book.  It seems well researched with regards to the King, the Boleyns as well as Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Woolsey.  As always, I enjoy the results of research done with regards to how people lived.  The day to day lives of people and what they ate, wore, did for work and how their houses were laid out.  This book is medium sized at 672 pages.  I felt like the author used her time wisely.  The story really didn't drag on other than the fact that an inordinately long time was spent with Anne dragging her feet and Henry wrestling with the whole religious community but that really did take a long time so it was historically accurate.

Mantel continues the saga with her next book Bring Up the Bodies.

The Satanic Verses

The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie

I did not finish this book.  I  got 41% through it and I had to stop.

The book seems an endless loop of questioning religion, questioning God, questioning the existence of God, questioning the need for religion, and so on through the voices and experiences of many different people from many walks of life although all of them are Muslim.

Now we know why there was a fatwa put on Rushdie's head.  The higher religious authorities of Iran don't stike me as people who are okay with anyone suggesting that we should question God and religion.

One day I might finish the book but, then again I might not.

Rushdie has an enormous vocabulary and he uses it.  His usage of an extremely erudite prose slows down my rate of reading just a bit.