Tuesday, September 7, 2021

One Book Leads to Another

I talked sometime back about reading Churchhill's A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Volume I. The chapter on Richard the Lion Hearted awakened a memory of a book I read a long time ago--about Richard and the Crusades, the probably mythical minstrel Blondel, the impossibly beautiful Berengaria who becomes (sort of) Richard's queen, and her brilliant (and fictional) half-sister, the Duchess of Apieta.

So, when I found I no longer had a copy, I acquired one. It's a terrific read-- better even than I remembered--with fully realized characters, especially Blondel and the Duchess.

I understand why. In writing Crows, I found that the more I knew about a character, the more constraints there were on my writing about them. 

Norah Lofts stayed true to what actually is recorded but her surmises about the rest are what make the story so good.  If you like historical fiction, rich in sensory detail, I think you'd like The Lute Player.

Now I'm embarked on Volume II of Churchill's magnum opus--The New World--and as there's quite a lot about the New England colonies, I decided to start listening (again) to Sarah Vowell's The Wordy Shipmates--the story of the Puritans and especially John Winthrop who gave us the concept of America as "a city on a hill" that would be a model of Christian goodness. Reagan added the 'shining' bit--and our country, beginning with those Puritans (see Pequot massacre) right down to today has consistently fallen short of the ideal. 

Vowell brings this period to life and has fun with it too. I highly recommend the Audible version. Her voice is odd and squeaky and after a little bit, I became totally addicted to it.

That John Winthrop, though. What a self righteous jerk. And speaking of Winthrop--didn't I once have a paperback by Anya Seton--The Winthrop Woman?





Barbara R. said...

No fair...I've not even tried the first Churchill book! And now I get to add these 3. However, I did just write a family genealogy blog about my ancestors who came over on the James, in 1635 to Amherst (it would become) Massachusetts Colony. They were my 10 times great grandparents. Some of my ancestors were Puritans, as many of the old families of the US were. I'm glad their blood's been watered down by many other immigrants since then! Thanks for adding to my book list.

Marcia said...

I will have to look for the Lute Player as I like historical fiction.