Friday, November 16, 2012

The Serpent's Tale by Ariana Franklin

Earlier this year, I read The Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin for book club.  It was such an engrossing mystery that I knew I would want to read the rest of the series.  I finally had a chance this month to read the second book, The Serpent's Tale and it was almost as fun.  I'm not usually a mystery reader, but these books I really like.  The Serpent's Tale  follows Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar, or Adelia as we know her, on another mission to discover a murderer.  This time the murder victim is Fair Rosamund, the King's mistress.  If Adelia fails to expose the true killer, the King will blame the Queen, whom he suspects of raising a rebellion against him, and a war will begin, endangering thousands of lives. 
Making things more complicated for Adelia is that she is now a mother.  Gyltha is still there to care for Adelia and her infant daughter, but Adelia wonders if these investigations are worth the risk to her child.  One of my favorite lines, spoken by the child's father:  "Any fool can have a son....It takes a man to conceive a daughter."  In a world where women are blamed for all sin and evil, here is a man proud to have a daughter. 
Another favorite quote:  The Bishop of Saint Albans is helping Adelia with her investigation and I love when he says of a suspected pair of murderers, "...and my God have mercy on their souls, for we shall not."
This book is wonderfully written, but this reader got the impression that, while the first book was intended to hook the audience, this book has a slower arc to it.  There are four books in the series and it is rumored that more were planned before the author's death in early 2011 at the age of 77.  However, this book does contain historical facts bent to the will of a creative novelist, forbidden love, yearning for power, and all of the mystery a fan of the first tale has come to expect.  I look forward to reading the other two novels and I'm sure I will love them as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

The Forgotten Garden  by Kate Morton tells the story of Nell.  As a very small child, she sails alone from London to a small port in Australia.  No one knows who she is or how she ended up on a ship all alone.  As an adult, Nell is determined to discover the truth about her origins.  This book also tells the story of Cassandra, Nell's granddaughter, who travels to England to continue her grandmother's search.  The Forgotten Garden  follows so many storylines through so many points of view in so many different time periods that at times it is difficult to remember which of the many characters is in possession of which facts. 
I did enjoy this book, but because it was the book club selection for November and I was running out of reading time, I had to finish it very quickly.  I think I would have been able to immerse myself and take much more pleasure in these characters if I had given myself more time.  My favorite part of the book was the fairy tales written by Eliza Makepeace.  These fairy tales were intended to build up the story, but they were so beautifully written that they could have stood on their own. 
Ms. Morton wove an intricate and engrossing tale and I look forward to reading more of her books.  I actually just picked The Distant Hours  at our library's semi-annual book sale for only $3!  Next time I will take a little longer in which to wrap my self in the story.  If you read The Forgotten Garden , let me know what you think.