>Mailbox Monday is a weekly meme that is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.
We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. And I am adding what I purchased, swapped, etc.
From Half Price Books:
My Just Desire: The Life of Bess Raleigh, Wife to Sir Walter by Anna Beer (2003)
“Young, beautiful, and connected by blood to the most powerful families in England, Bess Throckmorton had as much influence over Queen Elizabeth I as any woman in the realm—but she risked everything to marry the most charismatic man of the day. The secret marriage between Bess and the Queen’s beloved Sir Walter Ralegh cost both of them their fortunes, their freedom, and very nearly their lives. Yet it was Bess, resilient, passionate, and politically shrewd, who would live to restore their name and reclaim her political influence. In this dazzling biography, Bess Ralegh finally emerges from her husband’s shadow to stand as a complex, commanding figure in her own right.
Writing with grace and drama, Anna Beer brings Bess to life as a woman, a wife and mother, an intimate friend of poets and courtiers, and a skilled political infighter in Europe’s most powerful and most dangerous court. The only daughter of an ambitious aristocratic family, Bess was thrust at a tender age into the very epicenter of royal power when her parents secured her the position of Elizabeth’s Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. Bess proved to be a natural player on this stage of extravagant myth making and covert sexual politics, until she fell in love with the Queen’s Captain of the Guard, the handsome, virile, meteorically rising Ralegh. But their secret marriage, swiftly followed by the birth of their son, would have grave consequences for both of them.
Brooking the Queen’s wrath and her husband’s refusal to acknowledge their marriage, Bess brilliantly stage-managed her social and political rehabilitation and emerged from prison as the leader of a brilliant, fast-living aristocratic set. She survived personal tragedy, the ruinous global voyages launched by her husband, and the vicious plots of high-placed enemies. Though Raleigh in the end fell afoul of court intrigue, Bess lived on into the reign of James I as a woman of hard-won wisdom and formidable power.
With compelling historical insight, Anna Beer recreates here the vibrant pageant of Elizabethan England—the brilliant wit and vicious betrayals, the new discoveries and old rivalries, the violence and fierce sexuality of life at court. Peopled by poets and princes, spanning the reigns of two monarchs, moving between the palaces of London and the manor house outside the capital, My Just Desire is the portrait of a remarkable woman who lived at the center of an extraordinary time.”
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (2007)
Reclusive author Vida Winter, famous for her collection of twelve enchanting stories, has spent the past six decades penning a series of alternate lives for herself. Now old and ailing, she is ready to reveal the truth about her extraordinary existence and the violent and tragic past she has kept secret for so long. Calling on Margaret Lea, a young biographer troubled by her own painful history, Vida disinters the life she meant to bury for good. Margaret is mesmerized by the author’s tale of Gothic strangeness — featuring the beautiful and willful Isabelle, the feral twins Adeline and Emmeline, a ghost, a governess,a topiary garden and a devastating fire. Together, Margaret and Vida confront the ghosts that have haunted them while becoming, finally, transformed by the truth themselves.
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood (1997)
“In Alias Grace, bestselling author Margaret Atwood has written her most captivating, disturbing, and ultimately satisfying work since The Handmaid’s Tale. She takes us back in time and into the life of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the nineteenth century.
Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.
Dr. Simon Jordan, an up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness, is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? Is Grace a female fiend? A bloodthirsty femme fatale? Or is she the victim of circumstances?”
Lucrezia Borgia by John Faunce (2003)
“The woman whose legendary beauty—and wickedness—inspired Donazetti’s opera, Victor Hugo’s play, and countless films and paintings at last speaks for herself.
Lucrezia Borgia. The name has long been synonymous with murder, incest, and debauchery. Illegitimate daughter of Roderigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, her life was marked by one forced divorce, one murdered husband, and rumors of murders she committed herself—as well as whispered affairs with both her brother Cesare and her father. But was she all that history has accused her of being, or a woman used by powerful men to gain still more power? Here, Lucrezia tells her own story, full of crime and passion.
At the turn of the 16th century, the Vatican was as decadent and violent as any royal court, and Lucrezia was raised a princess. Twice married off for political gain by Alexander and Cesare, first to an older noble she grew to love, then to the dazzlingly handsome nephew of a king who she fell in love with almost instantly, Lucrezia would not have lasting happiness with either. This is the story of a woman trapped between her own desires and the iron hand of her ultra-powerful family. Her intelligence and inner steel, as conveyed by author John Faunce, mark her as one of history’s great survivors.”
Wideacre by Philippa Gregory (1986/2003) This one has lots of different opinions on Amazon from the ‘worst book ever read’ to ‘Amazing’. We shall see. Gotta love those Amazon reviewers, eh?
“Beatrice Lacey, as strong-minded as she is beautiful, refuses to conform to the social customs of her time. Destined to lose her family name and beloved Wideacre estate once she is wed, Beatrice will use any means necessary to protect her ancestral heritage. Seduction, betrayal, even murder — Beatrice’s passion is without apology or conscience. “She is a Lacey of Wideacre,” her father warns, “and whatever she does, however she behaves, will always be fitting.” Yet even as Beatrice’s scheming seems about to yield her dream, she is haunted by the one living person who knows the extent of her plans…and her capacity for evil.
Sumptuously set in Georgian England, Wideacre is intensely gripping, rich in texture, and full of color and authenticity. It is a saga as irresistible in its singular magic as its heroine.”
The Silver Chalice by Thomas B. Costain
The Silver Chalice recounts the story of Basil, a young silversmith, who is commissioned by the apostle Luke to fashion a holder for the cup Jesus used at the Last Supper. The Silver Chalice was the best-selling fiction title of 1953 in the United States and was made into a film starring Paul Newman.
BrokenTepee shared with me also the latest MJ Rose novel in her Reincarnation series (thank you!!):
The Hypnotist by M.J. Rose
Haunted by a twenty-year-old murder of a beautiful young painter, Lucian Glass keeps his demons at bay through his fascinating work as a special agent with the FBI’s Art Crime Team. Currently investigating a crazed art collector who has begun destroying prized masterworks, Glass is thrust into a bizarre hostage negotiation that takes him undercover at the Phoenix Foundation — dedicated to the science of past-life study — where, in order to maintain his cover, he agrees to submit to the treatment of a hypnotist.
Under hypnosis, Glass travels from ancient Greece to nineteenth-century Persia, while the case takes him from New York to Paris and the movie capital of the world. These journeys will change his very understanding of reality, lead him to question his own sanity and land him at the center of perhaps the most audacious art heist in history — the theft of a 1,500-year-old sculpture from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
International bestselling author M. J. Rose’s The Hypnotist is her most mesmerizing novel yet. An adventure, a love story, a clash of cultures, a spiritual quest, it is above all a thrilling capstone to her unique Reincarnationist novels, The Reincarnationist and The Memorist.
And for review:
Adam & Eve by Sena Jeter Naslund
What Happened To Eden?
The New York Times bestselling author of Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits, and Abundance returns with a daring and provocative novel that envisions a world where science and faith contend for the allegiance of a new Adam & Eve.
Betsy Ross and the Making of America by Marla R. Miller
A richly woven biography of the beloved patriot Betsy Ross, and an enthralling portrait of everyday life in Revolutionary War-era Philadelphia
Betsy Ross and the Making of America is the first comprehensively researched and elegantly written biography of one of America’s most captivating figures of the Revolutionary War. Drawing on new sources and bringing a fresh, keen eye to the fabled creation of “the first flag,” Marla R. Miller thoroughly reconstructs the life behind the legend. This authoritative work provides a close look at the famous seamstress while shedding new light on the lives of the artisan families who peopled the young nation and crafted its tools, ships, and homes.
Betsy Ross occupies a sacred place in the American consciousness, and Miller’s winning narrative finally does her justice. This history of the ordinary craftspeople of the Revolutionary War and their most famous representative will be the definitive volume for years to come.