Monthly Archives: March 2014

Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens by Lisa Hilton

Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens

 

“In the period between the Norman Conquest and the accession of Mary Tudor in the sixteenth century, no woman ruled England as queen in her own right. The role and status of king were constantly in the process of redefinition, an ongoing negotiation between royal, ecclesiastical and aristocratic powers, but they remained throughout essentially constitutional, their authority enshrined in and upheld by law. No equivalent constitutional role existed for the king’s consort. Yet between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries, English queenship evolved an identity of its own, an identity predicated on, but not limited to marriage to the king. The story of England’s medieval queens is composed of two entwined narrative strands: the first the development of queenly tradition and practice, the second the diverse lives of the very individual women who controlled, enlarged and manipulated their customary heritage.”

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The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton and Marion Mainwaring

The Buccaneers

 

I found a copy of this book in a used bookstore, and hesitated before finally caving and buying it. I loved The Age of Innocence, but (as I learned from reading the book jacket while in the store) The Buccaneers is unfinished. Wharton wrote about 89,000 words of the story before dying in 1937, and Wharton scholar Marion Mainwaring picked up where the book left off and finished the novel. There’s a note at the end about how Mainwaring made some changes to Wharton’s draft to account for later changes in the story (and she also removed some hella racist language), but for the most part, the first two thirds of the book are primarily Wharton’s. I don’t like the idea of reading unfinished stories, and I can’t decide what irks me more: an unfinished novel like Suite Francaise, which didn’t have an ending because Irene Nemirovsky died before she could finish it; or The Buccaneers, where another author is brought in to complete the draft. Either way, it makes for a frustrating experience.

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

I always seem to pick up Bandwagon Books (as I call them) about two years after everyone has stopped talking about them. A few weeks ago, when I was contemplating my library hold list, I vaguely remembered hearing good things about Where’d You Go, Bernadette, and decided to give it a try. Apparently everyone else who patronizes my library had the same thought, because it took three months for the book to work its way down the hold list to me, but eventually I got it. I ripped through the book in about three days, which makes me wonder if I should bump up the rating to four stars, but I can’t quite bring myself to do it, for reasons I’ll discuss later.

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Hunters and Gatherers by Francine Prose

Hunters and Gatherers

I read Francine Prose’s nonfiction¬†Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them in college and loved it, so when I saw this in a used bookstore, I decided to buy it and see what her fiction writing was like. And, okay, the writing is pretty good. It’s the central idea behind the book that I had some major problems with.

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