In the High Peaks

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Do You Enjoy Medieval Historical Fiction?

Every now and then, at least once each year, I get a hankering to read a thick, atmospheric work of medieval historical fiction.

This late August I'm reading Sharon Kay Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept, which is the first historical novel in her Plantagenet Series. This densely packed novel of 750 pages or so is about the generation between Henry I and Henry II of England. It's set in the 12th century, particularly the first half, during Stephen's struggle to reign (nephew of Henry I) and Maude's struggle (Henry I's only surviving legitimate offspring, his daughter Maude). Henry I's son William was lost at sea crossing from Normandy to Southampton years before this struggle took place.

I am at this time, after a week of devoted reading, only half-way through this novel. It fits the bill for excellent descriptions of setting, entertaining discussion of the history, and fascinating characters. What a horrible time, however, to be alive in England! Maude and Stephen continually battle for the Crown, and one city and castle after another are destroyed in the process, not to mention the villagers and townspeople who suffer without end.

Sharon Kay Penman may be an American, but she conducted research all over England for each of her books, consulting and incorporating primary source material. (She uses the name Sharon Penman in the UK.) I'm sorry to say I don't read authors of historical fiction unless I've researched their research, to make sure they've done theirs thoroughly. I'm looking forward to reading more of her books--she has lots. Her most recently published book was in 2014.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Where Have I Been and Books under the Bridge

I must confess that we have had the highest humidity (and heat with it) since we moved to the Adirondacks. Our dewpoints were in the high 70s last week and Sunday--just soaking, water-saturated air that usually does not make it this far north. Sun, followed by torrential downpours, more sun, and the cycle repeats itself. I'm "used to it" because I grew up in Boston's sultry, dripping wet Augusts, but so far we had escaped the worst of this weather here. Temps in the high 80s, that's not unheard of. But It was those Florida dewpoints that got us all down.

I am a limp dishrag in such conditions with the brain of a pinhead pigeon, and hence, I've been reading but not writing about the books consumed.

Some of you have asked about the reading shelter or reading tent, as we call it. I can tell you that we haven't been in it since our last tolerable weather day last Wednesday. But here's to hoping for more hours comforted by a beautiful view in better weather.

And then there's the view from the reading tent:

It's too bad that all the August goldenrod is not apparent in this photo. We're looking out on what should be a field of wildflowers, but because the fields have not been cut the last two years, you can see we need to hire someone to come this September to cut or "brushhog" it; that is, if we hope to keep our fields as fields and not forest. We have lots of woods, too. But I like the fields, too. It's just that expensive maintenance piece!

I've read a number of books this month so far--I will write about them in coming days, but do look at my "Books Read in 2016" blogroll, just underneath my "Blogs of  Substance" list for now.