Sunday, 15 June 2014

Sunday Wrap Up: Week ending June 15, 2014

Thank you for joining us once again for the Sunday Wrap Up, a feature whereby you the reader get to catch up with what's been going on in the week that was. This week, as is typical, we've got a giveaway, so be sure to follow the link to comment on the review and get your name in the hat!

Welcome to The Review's Author Interview

Joining me today is Andrew Latham. Welcome Andrew, and thank you for taking part in The Review's Author Interview.

An excerpt from Andrew Latham's Goodreads Page by way of an introduction:

Andrew Latham

K]nox Robinson author Andrew A. Latham is an award-winning professor of International Relations who regularly teaches courses in medieval political thought, international relations, and war. Trained as a political scientist, Latham has spent the last decade-and-a-half researching political violence in the Middle Ages. He has written scholarly articles on medieval war, the crusades, jihad, and the political thought of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquina[s.]...

Welcome Andrew, and thank you for taking part in The Review's Author Interview.

Your book Quest for the Holy Lance (English Templars #1) is your first historical novel, said to be published in 2015. What was your driving force that moved you to write this book?

Well to be honest, until about three years ago I never dreamed I'd write a work of historical fiction. I'd always loved reading historical military adventures, but it simply never occurred to me that I might write one someday. Scholarly books, yes - that's what scholars do. But a novel? I have to confess that the thought never even crossed my mind.

Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics

All that changed, though, as I was nearing completion of my recently published non-fiction book Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics. In preparation for writing that book, I'd been reading pretty widely about war and political violence in later medieval Europe and had just begun to get a handle on the crusades. Then one day I encountered the Templar knights. Like most people, I thought I knew what these guys were all about: either odious religious fanatics or cynical secular thugs using religion to camouflage their all-too-worldly motives. Like most people, though, I was wrong. Turns out, there was much more to these warrior-monks than I had initially thought or than is commonly supposed. The more I read, the more I became fascinated by these "new knights", the Templars in particular - not by the caricature of them that is so prevalent in contemporary popular culture, but by the historical reality of them.

A cerebral and fascinating interview that you will definitely wish to finish reading!


Carol McGrath is the author of The Handfasted Wife and the soon-to-be-published The Swan Daughter. Here as a guest on Paula's People, she chooses her five favourite ill-fated marriages in fiction and shares her love of them.

As I researched life for women during the 11th century whilst working on The Handfasted Wife, I reflected on the many works of literature that include ill-fated marriages and relationships. Edith Swan-Neck was set aside by King Harold II when he was crowned king in 1066. In the context of The Handfasted Wife, Edith retains her love for King Harold long after his death at the Battle of Hastings. Whether a marriage was a love-match or was arranged, ill-fated matches in literature often reflect the realities of life past and present. An old adage bears the truth that the course of love is rarely smooth. Here are a few of my favourite novels that contain ill-fated relationships.  
Dorethea Brooke and Edward Casaubon from Middlemarch by George Eliot        
Middlemarch is one of my favourite classics. Although it is not a romantic novel it is a passionate one. Dorothea Brooke, idealistic, young and beautiful, orphaned and intent on making something of her life weds the idealistic, stuffy clergyman Edward Casaubon. She wants to dedicate herself to the great man who spends his time writing a Key to All Mythologies. That they are ill fated is illustrated by their honeymoon in Italy when Dorothea expected to be overcome by emotion for all she sees in Rome and is tearful. Casaubon, on the other hand, has the sense that his new wife is not a protection against his sense of inadequacy but rather a perpetual threat and reproach. This novel endures for me because the central relationship is subtly recounted with humanity as are the other pairings that its pages contain, all filled with traps like a spider’s web.

Lara and Yuri from Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

I read this novel over and over for my finals in Russian Studies and I still love it. This epic story setting spans the early decades of 20th century Russia in turmoil. Its unfortunate marriages are those between Lara and Pasha and Yuri and Tonya. However, Lara and Yuri love each other passionately from their earliest encounters. They are separated by class, by their marriages, by war. As the couple finally come together in a country retreat in the Urals, personal and political events that frame this sweeping novel overtake them. Yet it is war-torn Russia that adds to the intensity of their love.The relationship is all the more poignant because their time together is brief.  It is a beautifully written novel and well translated twice, one that brilliantly incorporates a personal story with a thrilling political background. It has influenced my interest in how love survives through war-torn situations, a story with depth on many levels and I discover more emotional truths every time I re-read it.

Feel the rest of the love right here.


Rain on Your Wedding Day
by Curtis Edmonds

When I picked this book up, I was expecting a formulaic romance novel, having not read anything about it beforehand except for a brief description. I was gladly mistaken; it is a unique story. It is described somewhere as a ‘modern Southern Gothic’ novel. It is modern, and wonderfully descriptive of the South, but is certainly not a Gothic novel. That is not to say that I don’t recommend it: I wholeheartedly do.

Rain on Your Wedding Day is a well-written and presented book. The story is constructed well and flowed. I was engaged from the start and did not want to put it down.

For me, the sign of a good book is if the reader stops ‘reading the words on the page’, and just gets drawn into the story, like an invisible observer. This definitely happened to me with this book. The writer is very descriptive when it comes to setting the scene, but I did find it harder to picture what the central characters looked like. 

The story is written in the first person, from the point of view of Will Morse.  This is interspersed with occasional conversations that he has in his head with his two daughters who have died.  These were particularly effective and emotive dialogues. One daughter, Trixie, veers between resentfulness, rage and love in her dialogue with Will, giving the reader an idea of just how hard it must have been to live with her when she was alive. 

This book shows an incredible insight into living with mental illness, from the depression and grief Will is plagued with, to managing the severe bipolar episodes that Trixie suffered from when alive.  I particularly liked the truthfulness about this book – that people don’t always magically get better; it can be a long, slow painful road with lots of relapses. For some, recovery may not even be possible. This was brave. 

For me, the novel also opened a thought-provoking debate about self-harm. Just how should a parent handle it?  Cosset and suffocate their child, or allow them freedom at the risk of tragic consequences? I thought the writer had a refreshing perspective on this issue.

As time goes on, the reader discovers more about the deaths of Will’s daughters.  The truth about Trixie’s in particular is heart wrenching, when it is revealed what part Will played in this.

This review also carries with it a giveaway. If you'd like to get your name in the hat, please comment at the review itself. There also is a link to its associated FB page readers may comment at. 

For last week's Wrap Up, please click this link.

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