Updated: Feb 1
Did you have a nice Christmas?
It all seems a distant memory now, but it really wasn't that long ago!
Christmas 2020 will forever be known as 'Lock Down Christmas,' however, in our household, it was a quiet yet happy time.
It was strange and sad not to be able to enjoy the festive period with our friends. It was weird keeping contact via text messages alone. But, we were still able to exchange Christmas presents, cards and well wishes. Hopefully, 2021 will bring us all a brighter, more relaxed and sociable Christmas.
Just before Christmas, I began reading a book a friend had given me, called The White Queen, written by Phillipa Gregory.
I'm fascinated by history, particularly because when going so far back as pre-1800s, there are no photographs, video footage or voice recordings. Everything is basically down to paintings, text and your imagination.
Because I love history and books, it comes as no surprise that I chose to read this book.
The White Queen is about Elizabeth Woodville, wife to King Edward IV and mother to the ill-fated Princes in the Tower.
I'd recently watched a program about the two princes (Edward V and his younger brother Richard, the Duke of York). I couldn't stop thinking about how their mother must have felt. Hearing reports of what was to be the last sightings of the boys, playing in the grounds of the Tower of London and what horrors these boys were soon to face, made me feel a mixture of sadness, revulsion and intrigue.
What did really happen to 12-year-old Edward V and his 9-year-old brother, Richard Duke of York?
Was it their Uncle, Richard III who killed them?
How did they die?
There are rumours, but nothing concrete. All we know is that these two boys - and at the end of the day that's what they were - whether they were royalty or not - mysteriously disappeared.
After learning more about this mystery, I decided to read The White Queen.
I'm usually a bit unsure about reading fiction with factual characters, partly because of the spoilers. For instance, before reading the White Queen, the reader already knows that Elizabeth marries her prince, that he has mistresses, that they have two sons and five daughters and that her husband dies young, leaving Elizabeth and her children vulnerable to his youngest brother, Richard.
But, I'd heard nothing but good things about Phillipa Gregory's work, so I read the book - and loved it!
The way she portrayed the characters made me feel that they were people I actually knew. They were believable, relatable. I felt sorry for them, I liked them, disliked them; I cared about what happened to them and wanted to know what would happen next - despite already knowing the gist.
So now I know why Phillipa Gregory is so successful. She's a brilliant author.
There were only four people allowed in the shop at one time, so I waited at the door and had a look at the books on display.
In front of me, was a red, hardback and it caught my eye straight away. Why? Because it was Phillipa Gregory's latest book - Dark Tides.
Imagine my surprise when, Christmas Day morning, I found out that Mark had brought me a copy of Dark Tides.
I haven't read it yet because I'm already reading another book, but I'm looking forward to tucking into this novel soon.
This is the blurb on the inside cover of Dark Tides:
Midsummer Eve 1670. Two unexpected visitors arrive at a shabby warehouse on the south side of the River Thames. The first is a wealthy man hoping to find the lover he deserted twenty-one years before. James Avery has everything to offer, including the favour of the newly restored King Charles II, and he believes that the warehouse's poor owner Alinor has the one thing his money cannot buy—his son and heir.
The second visitor is a beautiful widow from Venice in deepest mourning. She claims Alinor as her mother-in-law and has come to tell Alinor that her son Rob has drowned in the dark tides of the Venice lagoon.
Alinor writes to her brother Ned, newly arrived in faraway New England and trying to make a life between the worlds of the English newcomers and the American Indians as they move toward inevitable war. Alinor tells him that she knows—without doubt—that her son is alive and the widow is an imposter.
Set in the poverty and glamour of Restoration London, in the golden streets of Venice, and on the tensely contested frontier of early America, this is a novel of greed and desire: for love, for wealth, for a child, and for home.
The book I'm about three-quarters of the way through at the moment is The Pact by Jodi Picoult.
It is the first book I've read by this author. A friend of mine has read a lot of her books and enjoyed every one of them, so I thought I'd try The Pact.
Usually, I like to read historical, supernatural, biographies, middle-grade and YA (which is a genre I love writing in) and horror. I also enjoy crime novels such as those by; Agatha Christie, James Patterson and Lee Child.
The Pact is a story about two teenagers, Emily and Chris who grow up together and also fall in love. The mystery though, is that Emily is found dead and Chris injured in what is presumed to be a suicide pact. Yet, all is not what it seems and now, I'm well and truly hooked!
There are so many twists and turns and there's never a dull moment - when you're tempted to flick through the odd paragraph or two. On the contrary, every word is devoured, wanting to piece together what happened to Emily...
If you like a crime, murder-mystery, then you'll love The Pact.
I can definitely say that I'll be reading more from Jodi Picoult. She's one of those writers who captures a scene within a couple of sentences rather than rambling on for paragraph after paragraph about the house decor (yes, I've read books just like that! 🥱)
So, maybe, tonight, I shall discover what really happened to the seventeen-year-old aspiring artist whose life was so tragically and abruptly extinguished - so far I haven't got a clue!
I'll let you know how I get on with The Dark Tides and also what I thought about the ending to The Pact (without spoilers of course!)
Then, it'll be onto the next novel on my Book-Tree...
Any ideas how long it's going to take me to finish this tree of literary delights?!! Five months, maybe six, or seven...
Bye for now and stay safe.
I've now finished The Pact by Jodi Picoult and the ending was not disappointing.
I loved this book from start to finish - go read it, you'll not be disappointed!
If you have read it, then I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Are there any others of Jodi Picoult's that you've read? If there are, then I'd love to hear your recommendations so I know what to add to my book-tree!
Happy reading 🙂