Sunday, 4 May 2014

Sunday Wrap Up: Week ending May 4, 2014

Please note there are two giveaways this week, so be sure to follow the links to comment and get your name in the hat!

This week The Review wanted to travel all over the map and so we have some chat and some review; Elizabethan England and barely into a new millennium; scholarly study and young adult. In short, there's something for everyone! "Fresh and engaging," as one of the reviewers put it, perfectly matched to this time of the year when daylight has arrived and we shake the dust off ourselves and savor in the freshness and sweetness of the summer sun--indeed, the very air. 


Lisl gets us started with her review of Simon Stirling's Who Killed William Shakespeare? The Murderer, The Means, The Motive. "Opening with reference to the disappearance of the real Shakespeare to be replaced by a mythical figure, Stirling shifts to the personal Shakespeare and various interpretations of his life and legacy. Specifically he challenges the notion that nothing is known about the playwright and commences the laying out of his research, which over the course of the book shows how history was in the process of being re-written when he still lived, in the 18th century and even today when Shakespeare continues to be celebrated as what the author refers to as a “trademark.”

But why would anyone need to re-invent who Shakespeare was? What needed to be covered up? Why would anyone murder him? And how could they get away with it? While part of the mystery rests within the who, readers shall not be let down when within the first section a suspect is revealed—in fact, the book’s blurb provides this information:

He was (indeed) honest, and of an open and free nature: had an excellent Phantsie; brave notions, and gentle expressions: wherein he flowed with that facility, that sometime it was necessary he should be stopped. . .

Like an investigator, Stirling turns to the method of collecting evidence to prove the means, motive and opportunity; without such, “knowing” is insufficient to support a successful criminal proceeding. Other elements are required, however: the presence of reasonable doubt as to the suspect’s guilt might wash away the strength of those three aspects. In three sections, titled after these elements, the author explores in great detail avenues of the crime, including what led to it and subsequent events."

To learn more about the Shakespeare you think you may know, and to comment for chance at a free, signed copy of this spectacular book, click on!


Jayne waves us over to her corner again, this week to share with us a fab interview with author Amy Licence who  discusses, amongst other topics, stealth writing (borrowed that phrase from a FB commenter!), kitchen table research and what the future may bring. Take it away, Jayne!

"I have been lucky enough to interview one of my favorite non-fiction writers, Amy Licence. She very kindly agreed to answer some of my questions and I thought I would share them with you.

You have so far chosen to mostly write about women from the 15th century, so what made you choose them ?

There are two answers to this: one about women but also specifically about the 15th century. I can’t help but feel drawn to that period in time, although I started out being interested in the Tudors and gravitated to the Wars of the Roses. Something about that century fascinates me and I can’t really offer a satisfactory explanation of why. I can say that I find the people and events fascinating, but I expect enthusiasts of any era would make the same assertion. The closest I can come to it, is to say that I feel most at home there. Regarding the women aspect, I’ve always been interested in women’s lives, in their experiences within a patriarchal framework and just how far they were able to exercise any influence or control at all, from queenship to motherhood. The women of the 15th century particularly fascinate me because so many of them remain an enigma to us, although they must have been key players in the dynastic power struggles of the day. I don’t accept the theory that they were just there to reproduce. They may not have sat in council chambers or fought on battlefields, but as wives, mothers and daughters, I’ll bet they had a lot to say.

Do you have a favourite out the three women, Anne Neville, Elizabeth of York or Cecily Neville?

They’re all very interesting to me and as I researched each, I learned just how remarkable their lives really were. I think there is a lot we will never know about Elizabeth’s history and marriage and I am endlessly fascinated by the question of what exactly Anne Neville did or didn’t know. But I have to say that Cecily’s role probably interests me the most. As the wife of the Duke of York, and the mother of Edward, George and Richard, she was in a unique position at the heart of that family and occupied a place in their lives. There is also a degree of controversy about some of Cecily’s decisions, such as her support of George’s rebellion against Edward and her role in the allegations about her own fidelity. Perhaps more than the other two, she shaped contemporary events, which is all the more ironic, as she was the only one of the three who did not become queen."

Since we are quite certain you'll be intrigued by stealth writing and the other goodies mentioned above, click here to read the rest of this intriguing interview!


"Shield Maiden is simply a terrific read. Written by Richard Denning for young readers, there is plenty to intrigue and draw in the older reader as well.

The opening premise of the story is as old as time: a daughter, Anna, yearns to be a warrior woman in an Anglo Saxon community, against all convention and expressly against the expectations of her father.  The time (around 600 AD) and location make this story fresh, engaging, and, as the story unfolds, unexpected.  Memorable characters are integral to this story: Anna’s circle of young friends; a tinker, Raedann who may be more than he seems; Gurthrunn the dweorg (dwarf) who holds the key to the core mystery and adventure of this book. 

While exploring a ruined Roman villa, Anna and her friends find a gold horn.  Passed from hand to hand, no one can blow sound out of the horn until it comes to Anna.  The horn responds to her and thus she is ‘chosen’ by the instrument whose trill opens the doors between worlds and unleashes the struggle between the gods in Anna’s village and its environs.  The horn recognizes Anna’s strength and potential for leadership, her gender notwithstanding."

Since there are three free copies of this book up for grabs, it's pretty sure you'll not want to miss clicking that link!

Missed last week's Wrap Up? Not to worry, gentle readers, here it is                   

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous week in The Review we have had yet again!