Diane’s Big Books, 2021

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Diane’s Big Books, 2021

1dianelouise100
feb 26, 2021, 9:31 am

Hi, I’m Diane, new to Library Thing this year. Since two of my reading goals for 2021 will include a lot of long books, I’ll track them here. The goals are reading/rereading 19th century novels and reading a lot of non-fiction (history and biography). Can’t come up with specific numbers so early in the year...

2dianelouise100
Redigeret: feb 26, 2021, 10:40 am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

3dianelouise100
Redigeret: feb 26, 2021, 10:40 am

Completed in February:

Friedrik Logevall: Embers of War: the Fall of an Empire and the Making of America’s Vietnam 864 pp.

George Eliot: The Mill on the Floss 502 pp

4connie53
feb 27, 2021, 3:58 am

Welcome to the BFB-ers, Diane.

5MissWatson
feb 27, 2021, 9:29 am

Good luck with your BFBs!

6johnsimpson
mar 2, 2021, 4:58 pm

Welcome to the group Diane my dear.

7dianelouise100
mar 3, 2021, 7:53 am

Thanks to John, Miss Watson, and Connie for the greetings and good wishes. My reading goals for the year have become clearer since becoming a member of LT. Looks like I’ll have 10 to 15 BFBs on my TBR, so I’ll make 12 my target.

8dianelouise100
Redigeret: mar 18, 2021, 12:43 pm

Middlemarch by George Eliot 838p

So far, I’m getting great pleasure from my Eliot rereads. I love Eliot’s voice, reliable, wise, and ironic. I love her characters, developed fully and with compassion (even the less admirable ones). I have enjoyed revisiting the 19th century town of Middlemarch with its surrounding estates, inhabited by a variety of people to make up a complete society, people whose lives intertwine with mutual effect. Next on my Eliot list is Romola, which I’ve not read before and am looking forward to.

9dianelouise100
Redigeret: mar 18, 2021, 12:40 pm

The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse 574p
Set during the religious wars of 16th century France, The Burning Chambers is a most enjoyable page turner, the first novel in a projected series of 4. Main characters, Roman Catholic Minou and Huguenot Piet, meet and fall in love against the backdrop of the intense and violent religious conflict that led up to the 1662 massacre of Huguenots in Toulouse. Secrets from the past, treachery, murder, and romance make this a fast-paced story that had my attention from the first page; I have the recently published second novel of the series on hold at the library.

10connie53
mar 19, 2021, 2:34 pm

>9 dianelouise100: I loved that book and the second one in the series is a good one too. Both books were 4,5 stars for me.

11dianelouise100
Redigeret: mar 27, 2021, 5:39 pm

The Man on a Donkey by H. F. M. Prescott
756 pages
This must be one of the finest works of historical fiction ever written. Set in the early part of the 16th century in Henry VIII’s England, it tells the story of the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion (1536-37) of Northern Catholics against the religious changes being imposed by the King and his henchman Cromwell. Prescott calls her story a “chronicle” and its characters are mostly historical. Following primarily six main characters, she treats of faith, integrity, courage, and self sacrifice, as well as tyranny, cruelty, betrayal, and despair. For sure, a 5* read for me.

12dianelouise100
Redigeret: apr 19, 2021, 7:37 am

The Barbara Pym Collection Volume Two (e-book) 592 pages in print edition

This collection contained Less than Angels and No Fond Return of Love. Set in England in the 1950’s, both novels are well written, mildly satirical social comedies. In a Jane Austen-like manner, they focus on the humorous complexities of uniting suitable people in romantic partnerships. I enjoyed both, but thought No Fond Return of Love the better of the two in terms of plot and character development.

13dianelouise100
apr 23, 2021, 10:48 am

Grant by Ron Chernow, audiobook, 960 printed pages

Listening to the 48-hour long audiobook took about 2 months, but it was really worth it. Cernow writes an excellent biography, lucid and even-handed. The narration by Mark Bramhall, despite the mispronunciation of a few place names, enhanced the book tremendously, making the drama and complexity of Grant’s story more enjoyable and easier to appreciate.

5*

14dianelouise100
Redigeret: maj 2, 2021, 8:33 am

A Place Beyond Courage (e-book) by Elizabeth Chadwick, 512 printed pages

Happily, this compelling historical romance is the first of a series, actually a prequel, since some of the other books in the series had already been published. It tells the story of John Marshal, father of the better known William Marshal, in a beautifully written account that had my complete attention on the first page. The novel is set in England and Normandy during the war for succession to the throne that occurred after the death of Henry I. It gives us believable, sympathetic, and mostly historical characters, whose attempts to survive this war form the basis of the plot.

John, the main character, holds the important and powerful office of Marshal in Henry’s court. As the struggle for the crown begins, between Henry’s daughter Matilda and his nephew Stephen, John is forced to make difficult and ultimately horrifying decisions that will affect the lives of many, including members of his own family. Its themes of steadfast courage, of loyalty and betrayal, and of love help make this novel a very fine read. Chadwick’s research for the book seems thorough—I found her Author’s Note at the end fascinating.

This is my first book by Elizabeth Chadwick, and I look forward to reading more. In my mind she compares well to Sharon Kay Penman, and I am glad to have discovered her.
5*

15dianelouise100
Redigeret: okt 15, 2021, 6:46 am

Rachel’s Holiday (e-book) by Marian Keyes, 592 printed pages

In this second book in the Walsh Sisters series, Marian Keyes focusses on Rachel, the third of five sisters. A transplant from Ireland, Rachel shares a New York City apartment with her best friend from childhood, Brigit. She has a handsome and passionate lover, Luke. Rachel loves the bar scene, where drugs seem to flow as easily as alcohol. Her drugs of choice are cocaine and valium, and the reader is very soon aware of her addiction. Early in the novel, Rachel wakes to find herself in the hospital after an overdose has almost killed her. She is hurried home to her family in Ireland, where she is admitted to the Cloisters, an addiction treatment center near Dublin.

We laugh a lot in this novel, but its theme is a serious one. Keyes deals convincingly with addiction and its devastating effects on the addicts and their loved ones. The scenes between Rachel and her sisters, her parents, her friends back in New York, and her fellow patients at the treatment center are by turns funny, poignant, and very sad. Marian Keyes keeps us rooting for Rachel and for the other addicts as we watch them struggle to face their problem and begin the difficult, lifelong path to living without drugs. Dealing with an important subject through the experience of a believable and sympathetic heroine, this is a novel I can highly recommend. 5*

16dianelouise100
maj 29, 2021, 9:15 am

The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton, 587 pages

17dianelouise100
maj 29, 2021, 9:17 am

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick, 536 pages

18dianelouise100
jul 31, 2021, 7:57 am

Falls the Shadow by Sharon Kay Penman,
579 pages

Several years ago, I read Here Be Dragons, the first volume of Penman’s outstanding trilogy about the Welsh princes and their struggles in the 13th century against the English. I loved it! Recently I was able to get a copy of the second volume, Falls the Shadow, and I loved it as well. I particularly enjoyed its focus on Simon de Montfort’s attempts to protect the English people from the disastrous effects of life under the totally inept king, Henry III. I knew De Montfort’s name, but none of the details of his mission to give the common people some voice in their government. Thanks to Penman’s research and attention to accuracy, this book was both pleasurable and instructive. Sharon Kay Penman does not disappoint, and I am eager to find the last volume, but I know I’ll be sad to come to the end of the story.
5*

19dianelouise100
sep 28, 2021, 5:10 pm

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
656 pages

First of Mitchell’s books for me. I love science fiction and enjoyed this book. I thought its first half was unnecessarily confusing, though; it seemed to take me longer than usual to begin feeling even somewhat familiar with the world he was creating. The huge cast of characters kept me having to go backwards in the book to remind myself who this character was or who he was related to. But I did like it and plan to read more of this author.
4*

20bryanoz
sep 29, 2021, 6:26 am

Hi Diane, I also enjoy David Mitchell's writing, you might want to read Slade House, a novella spin-off from The Bone Clocks, and Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet are favourites of mine that I will happily recommend !

21dianelouise100
sep 29, 2021, 7:25 am

>20 bryanoz: Thanks, Bryan. I think my next David Mitchell novel will be Cloud Atlas, and I’m adding your other suggestions to my TBR.

22connie53
okt 8, 2021, 3:35 am

>20 bryanoz: I agree with your recommendations, Bryan. I read 7 books by Mitchell, and loved them all.

23dianelouise100
okt 14, 2021, 11:51 am

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
622 pages

Brilliant! Sucked me right in and didn’t let go for 622 pages. A must-read for anyone who values books.

24dianelouise100
okt 27, 2021, 5:04 pm

The Priory by Dorothy Whipple
536 pages

A formerly “lost” classic, first published in 1939, now in print again through Persephone Books. A very enjoyable read, compelling plot, great character development.
4 stars

25dianelouise100
Redigeret: dec 31, 2023, 11:09 am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.

26dianelouise100
Redigeret: dec 31, 2023, 11:09 am

Denne meddelelse er blevet slettet af dens forfatter.