Armchair BEA 2014: GIVEAWAYS and BEYOND THE BORDERS

ArmchairBEA 2014Design by Amber of Shelf Notes

 

 

Giveaways 

One of the favorite days of past years is our day of giveaways! You host the giveaway on your own site and link it up here for all our participants to come and visit. Don’t forget to give Armchair BEA a little love when advertising, but you can choose your own guidelines and deadlines. 

Here is my giveaway. If you win, you can choose any of these 4 historical novels. Click on the entry form right below the description of each book.

Equal of the Sun 15954691

Gracianna Meadowlark

  1. Equal of the Sun, by Anita Amirrezvani – hardcover, brand new condition
  2. The Third Son, by Julie Wu – paperback, ARC, brand new condition
  3. Gracianna, by Trini Amador – hardcover, brand new condition, signed by the author to my name
  4. Meadowlark, by Dawn Wink – paperback, brand new condition, signed by the author to my name

 

Entry-Form

 

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Beyond the Borders 

It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!

I read a lot of books set in different countries or written by non American authors. As I’m French, I’m going to refrain here from books set in France! Here are some really good ones I read recently:

Baudelaire's Revenge Timbuctoo

Baudelaire’s Revenge, by Bob van Laerhoven
ok, it IS set in France, in 1870! BUT this is the only book translated from the Dutch that I have read for many years. AND it REALLY was beyond my comfort zone. I kept reading it, because it is actually super well written and because I received it for review (scheduled for June 12), but boy it was so gruesome, black, creepy, quite tough for me.

Timbuctoo, by Tahir Shah
This was a cool historical novel, based on the original narrative of Robert Adams published in London in 1816. Robert Adams claimed he went to Timbuctoo (Mali) and was a white slave there. Fascinating. Quite an eye opener on the colonist period and mindset.

Tokyo FiancéeSt Bartholomew's Man

Tokyo Fiancée, by Nathalie Nothomb
Nothomb is a super famous Belgian author, writing in French. She was born in Japan. This novel integrates some of her experience in Japan. I enjoy a lot Japanese literature. I was interesting to see how a Belgian would do with the Japanese culture, and it did feel often like reading real Japanese literature. Highly recommended – upcoming review!

St Bartholomew’s Man, by Mary Delorme
This was a fascinating historial novel based in Italy and England, recounting the beginnings of St Bartholomew’s hospital in London, of which I really knew nothing before.

 

ADDITION:

As I have mentioned this a few times in comments, I might as well add it here. This is not recent, but a few years ago I did this most amazing reading experience: reading a book connected with 52 different countries. See here the list of the books I read for each of these countries.

 

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THESE?
WHAT’S THE MOST RECENT NOVEL
SET IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY
THAT YOU READ?

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Book review: St Bartholomew’s Man

St Bartholomew’s Man

 

St Bartholomew's Man

In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook for free in exchange
for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post
as a reviewer,
and the thoughts are my own.
St Bartholomew’s Man
By
Mary Delorme
Publisherself-published (by her son Jon)
Pub. Date: 2011 (written in 1998)
ASIN:B005DEYOUA
Pages:  253
Genre:
Historical fiction

Source: Received
from the author’s son

Website

Goodreads

Buy Now

 

 

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

       2014 historical fiction    2014 Ebook-2  New author challenge

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

new eiffel 4

This review is another illustration that self-published books are getting better and better.
As you know, I’m more and more picky about what I read –if you wonder why, know that my Goodreads TBR is today at 716 titles, so I’m not going to waste my time with books which are not worth my time and effort.
But when I received an email from Jon, inviting me to read his mother’s novel, I was intrigued enough by the topic to say yes!

Even if you don’t loive in England, you may have heard about St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London.
Also known simply as Barts, or more formally as The Royal Hospital of St Bartholomew, it is the oldest hospital in Europe, having been founded in 1123, and the oldest in the United Kingdom that still occupies its original site.

St Bartholomew’s Man is the account of Rahere‘s life (died in 1144), the founder of this hospital, especially his time as a court jester, and then what inspired him to build this hospital/church/monastery during a pilgrimage to Italy, and then all the beginnings of the hospital.

There’s no secret that the Middle Ages is my favorite period in history.
The historical background is richly described in the book:

  • choirs of young boys in Benedictine monasteries
  • life in a Benedictine monastery, with large care of the pilgrims, the poor, and the sick; and the prayer offices.
  • life at court, with jesters and musicians
  • the awful times under William II, or William Rufus, and what he did to young boys…
  • Queen Matilda and the poor
  • the famous wreck when many members of the English court died at sea
  • pilgrimages and relics
  • the building of monasteries and churches
  • the place of women, and how some were treated
  • feudalism, relationships between lords and serfs
  • the not always edifying behavior of priests and bishops
  • and of course the major conflict between Stephen and the other Matilda

I really enjoyed the portrait of 12th century England through this book.

The ambiance was also so well rendered, with both the violence of the times (first at William II’s court, then during the Stephen-Matilda’s war) and the gentle care of Rahere and his monks for the poor and the sick, and all those wounded during these terrible events.
There’s also a gentle pious milieu, with Rahere’s religious life, his devotion and God-oriented radiant character. He looked so very deep and genuine through this novel, fighting also again depression, and anger when facing injustice and cruelty.

Every time you recognize that great love, no matter where, know that you are in His presence.
location 903 on my kindle

I also enjoyed very much Rahere’s companionship with 2 instrumental women at the beginning of the hospital: Puella and Femina, and how Rahere saved them from a miserable life.

I question just a couple of minus points, that don’t affect the high quality of the book:

  • the order of prayer offices sounded a bit odd to me, especially for Benedictines, such as having “Vespers followed closely by Lauds”, then by Compline.
  • opposition between Cluniacs and Benedictines. The monastery of Cluny WAS a Benedictine monastery

As an aside, I discovered that Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem on Rahere.

VERDICT: This beautiful historical novel is an excellent portrait of 12th century England. In the radiant company of Rahere, you will get to know the beginnings of the very famous St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Highly recommended if you are looking for hidden gems.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

 Subtle, moving, beautifully told, and based on all the real facts available, ‘St Bartholomew’s Man’ will take you in accurate period detail, to a time in the 12th century when life was brief and harsh. To the time a humble man, a mere court jester to King Henry 1st, yet a man with great vision was formed, who was to lay the groundwork to one of the worlds greatest institutions, hundreds of years ahead of it’s time. [from the publisher]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mary Delorme

Mary Delorme has been a writer for many years.
She lived in Trowbridge in Wiltshire for more than twenty years and in Somerset since 1986.
At first her published work consisted mainly of music, having been a concert pianist. Since then she has had published over a hundred articles, largely on education, history, topography and biography, for journals such as History Today, The Teacher and  The Historian.
For five years she was a regular reviewer for Primary Education Review.
Her paper published books include a novel about modern musicians, Wandering Minstrels, an historical novel, Alexis, on the life of the great chef Soyer, and two topographical volumes, Curious Sussex – published by Robert Hale, London and Curious Wiltshire, published by Ex Libris – now in it’s 6th reprint.

Please visit Goodreads to see Mary’s other published work and Authonomy for her latest reviews

Goodreads             Authonomy             Amazon Reviews

 And follow her on Twitter and on Facebook, and her son’s twitter account, as well as his histfic board on Pinterest

 

OTHER BOOKS BY THE SAME AUTHOR

HAVE YOU READ ANYTHING BY THIS AUTHOR YET?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL
SET IN LONDON?

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

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