I thought I’d try something new here on Ave Historia. Every Tuesday I’ll post a teaser from whatever historical fiction novel I’m currently reading – and follow up with a review on Friday. For this week, enjoy a snippet from an old favorite of mine – a book that is my literary equivalent of comfort food.
“Tell me – you asked a question, now I get one,” she said. “You speak so well, you must come from a good family. Why are you here alone? What makes you want to suffer pain and dishonor to join a world you know nothing about? You could be reading to your old father, or embroidering in one of those comfortable convents for rich girls . . .”
“Revenge,” I said. “There is a man I hate. She has promised to make me strong enough to destroy him.”
“Only one?” observed La Trianon. “My, you are young.”
— From The Oragle Glass by Judith Merkle Riley. Throw a crippled and intelligent young girl with a talent for fortunetelling into the snake pit of the Sun King’s court, add an outrageous con job and a dash of black magic, garnish with real historical figures like Louix XIV and his various mistresses, dust with arsenic and stir to a boil . . .
Read my review on Friday!
What with the release of Daughters of Rome, the subsequent guest blog tour, and the days of preparation for/debauchery during/recovery from the Historical Novel Society Conference, it has been a looooooooong time since I’ve posted a snippet for Teaser Tuesday. Today it’s very simple:
“Winter is coming.”
— from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin; book one in his epic “A Song Of Ice And Fire.” Book five, A Dance With Dragons, at last comes out next week after a delay of more than five years, and I for one will be first in line. I’m spending the week rereading the previous four books, including Game of Thrones, and I recommend historical fiction lovers to do the same: this is fantasy that even fantasy haters will like. Parallels to real history abound, and to make matters better, HBO just wrapped Season 1 of a blood-drenched, mind-bogglingly lavish, eye-poppingly sexy, superbly acted Game of Thrones TV show.
Come back on Friday to read my full review.
If there is a man I really and truly hate it is the Russian impresario, Serge Diaghilev. Why couldn’t he have kept his glamorous ballerinas and exotic designers in St. Petersburg? Why bring them to Europe to torture poor hardworking dressmakers like me?
At ten o’clock this morning, the wife of the City Parks Superintendant handed me a magazine and said she wanted to look like Karsavina in “The Firebird.”
“Something diaphanous, I thought,” she said. “Shimmering . . . in flame or orange.”
She is healthy; she is muscular; she is sportif and athletic. A small glacier in the High Tatras has been named after her, and of this one must be glad. But oh, God! Karsavina?
— From “Madensky Square” by Eva Ibbotson. A frothy Sachertore of a book about Viennese dressmaker with a secret lover, a tragic past, and an irrepressibly funny outlook on life. Read my review of “Madensky Square” this Friday.
The priest had come to me in the summer, half grinning, and pointed out that the dues we collected from the merchants who used the river were unpredictable, which meant that King Alfred could never estimate whether we were keeping proper accounts. He waited for my approval and got a thump about his tonsured skull instead. I sent him to Alfred under guard with a letter describing his dishonesty, and then I stole the dues myself. The priest had been a fool. You never, ever, tell others of your crimes, not unless they are so big as to be incapable of concealment, and then you describe them as policy or statecraft.
— From Sword Song by Bernard Cornwell. What do you get when a Christian-born Saxon boy is raised by pagan Vikings instead? Uhtred of Bebbanburg, hero of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Series. Read my review of Sword Song this Friday.
I was expecting a baby myself, and naturally took a great interest in Linda’s. “What are you going to call her – and where is she, anyway?”
“In the nurse’s room – it shrieks. Moira, I believe.”
“Not Moira, darling, you can’t. I never heard such an awful name.”
“Tony likes it, it he had a sister called Moira who died, and what d’you think I found out? She died because his other sister whacked her on the head with a hammer when she was four months old. Do you call that interesting? And then they say we have an uncontrolled family – why, even Father has never actually murdered anybody, or do you count that gamekeeper?”
Review of Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love and Love In A Cold Climate to follow this Friday.