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Bell214: Goodreads Choice Awards 2012
Nominees for Best Historical Fiction:
1. Chris Bohjalian: The Sandcastle Girls
2. M.I. Stedman: The Light Between Oceans
3. Hilary Mantel: Bring Up the Bodies (Wolf Hall #2)
4. Bernard Cornwell: Death of Kings (The Saxon Stories #6)
5. Eowyn Ivey: The Snow Child
6. Adriana Trigiani: The Secret Keeper
8. Jeffrey Archer: The Sins of the Father (The Clifton Chronicles #2)
9. Laura Moriarty: The Chaperone
10. Carlos Ruiz Zafón: The Prisoner of Heaven (El cementerio de los libros olvidados #3)
Bell214: Books for a rainy day: Arthur the King (2003) by Allan Massie
(The second book in the Dark Ages series)
At the top of his form, historical novelist Allan Massie revisits Britain in the dark years after the collapse of Rome, when the land is being ravaged by bitter struggles for power among warring kings.
Or so it is until the arrival of Wart, a servant boy who has been tutored by a troupe of strolling players as well as by the politically astute magus Merlin.
Reinventing old stories like that of the sword in the stone, Massie replaces the magic in Merlin’s wondrous deeds with natural philosophy. In the often–incredible stuff of Arthurian legend and sixth–century history, Massie seeks out more mythic truths as romance confronts unheroic realities in Wart’s transformation into the statesman–king Arthur.
In Massie’s tale, too, Arthur’s marriage to Guinevere is a matter of political convenience. Lancelot is a sickly neurotic with little sense of honour. Mordred hides behind religious piety as he undermines Arthur’s kingdom with a military dictatorship.
An increasingly troubled and isolated monarch—as unsympathetic to his thuggish knights’ lust for battle as he is to their quest for the Holy Grail—Arthur does have one long–loyal friend. His name is Cal—a common man blessed with common sense—and an invention of Massie’s brilliant own mind.
Amazon (Average Customer Review):
About the author: Allan Massie (born 1938 in Singapore) is a Scottish novelist, an historian and literary editor who has published nearly 30 books, including a sequence of novels set in ancient Rome. His non–fiction works range from a study of Byron’s travels to a celebration of Scottish rugby. He has been a political columnist for The Scotsman, The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph and writes a literary column for The Spectator.
Read more: http://literature.britishcouncil.org/allan-massie
Bell214: Books for a rainy day: The Physician (1986) by Noah Gordon
This prize–winning first book of the Cole trilogy—a story of the Cole family of physicians from the 11th century to the present time—follows Robert Jeremy Cole from his 11th century boyhood in England, through Europe to an Arab medical school in Ispahan, Persia, where he studies under the immortal physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina).
In 1999, the Spanish booksellers who attended the Madrid Book Fair voted The Physician one of the ten most beloved books of all time.
In the 11th century, Rob Cole left poor, disease–ridden London to make his way across the land, hustling, juggling, peddling cures to the sick—and discovering the mystical ways of healing.
It was on his travels that he found his own very real gift for healing—a gift that urged him on to become a doctor. So all consuming was his dream, that he made the perilous, unheard–of journey to Persia, to its Arab universities where he would undertake a transformation that would shape his destiny forever.
Note: Second book in the Cole trilogy, Shaman, is set in the 19th century, and the third, Choices (1995), is a contemporary novel.
About the author: Noah Gordon (born 1926, Worcester, Massachusetts) is an American novelist. Some of the topics covered within his novels include medical history and medical ethics. More recently he has begun to focus more on themes relating to the Inquisition, and Jewish cultural history.
Bibliography: Rabbi (1965), The Death Committee (1969), The Jerusalem Diamond (1079), The Cole Trilogy: The Physician (1986), Shaman (1992), Choices (1995); The Last Jew (2000), The Bodega (2007)
Official Website: http://www.noahgordon.com
Bell214: Books for a rainy day: The Astronomer (2010) by Lawrence Goldstone
1534, Paris. A student at the Catholic Collège de Montaigu, serving as a courier for the Inquisition, is murdered by members of an extreme Lutheran sect for the packet of letters he is carrying. His friend and fellow classmate Amaury de Faverges—the illegitimate son of the Duke of Savoy and an expert in astronomy and natural science—is recruited as his replacement and promised a decree of legitimacy if he can uncover the secret that threatens to overturn Catholicism and the reign of François I.
Working undercover, Amaury journeys south to the liberal court of the king’s sister, Marguerite of Navarre, the alleged heart of the conspiracy. The deeper he probes, the more Amaury is forced to confront his own religious doubts; and when he discovers a copy of Copernicus’s shocking manuscript showing the sun at the center of the universe, he knows the path he must follow.
Replete with characters and events from history—from the iconoclastic Rabelais to the burning of heretics in Paris to preacher John Calvin and Copernicus himself—The Astronomer is a powerful novel of love and betrayal, and a thrilling portrait of what might well have happened at a hinge point in history when science and ancient religious belief collided.
Do not start the last one hundred pages of The Astronomer if anything or anyone will demand your attention before you finish it. Warm the coffee, bolt the door, turn off the phone, and then settle in for takeoff.
Official Website: http://www.lawrencegoldstone.com
Bell214 started a new conversation: Medieval fiction: Anglo–Saxon England from Alfred the Great to the Norman invasion