To Dream of Snow by Rosalind Laker
Severn House, 1st edition, 2004
Genre: historical romance
Since the untimely death of her fiancé just before their wedding day nearly a year ago, Marguerite Laurent has grieved, drooping over her work and no longer laughing and singing. When a demand comes from Russia, from the Empress herself, for the gifted embroiderer and designer of the gowns the French ambassador’s wife has worn, Marguerite leaps at the opportunity to start a new life far from her tragic past. She takes several women and girls with her to establish her atelier, and together they make the long, difficult trek to St Petersburg. After an inauspicious start, Marguerite is soon creating stunning designs for the Empress Elisabeth and the Grand Duchess Catherine. Despite the difficulties of court life, Marguerite forms strong friendships to sustain her. She also finds herself torn between a ghost from the past in the form of an English landscaper, Tm Harwell, new passion with Dutch painter Jan van Deventer, and entrée into a new world with imperial guardsman Konstantin Dashiski.
Is Rosalind Laker even writing these books anymore? Read the rest of this entry »
Mademoiselle Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
New American Library, 2nd printing, 2007
Genre: historical fiction
Synopsis & Review: At the age of eight, Anne Boleyn was sent to the court of the Archduchess Margaret of Burgundy in Malines, starting early her career as courtier. Scarcely a year later, she and her sister Mary joined the Princess Mary’s retinue when that lady traveled to France to marry Louis XII, and at the French court she stayed for another eight years, even after Louis’ death and Mary’s return to England. At the court of Francois, the Boleyn sisters rise to prominence, Mary for her beauty and Anne for her grace and wit. Watched over benevolently by Queen Claude, and with the Duchess Marguerite as a patron in learning, Anne develops her mind in a lascivious court that cares more for sensuality than intellect. It is here that Anne will be made or broken as she develops into a formidable young women destined to make her own mark on history.
Reading Mademoiselle Boleyn, and analyzing my reactions to it got me to thinking: why do I react badly to explicit sexuality in historical fiction, considering much of it demeaning to history and historical fiction? Read the rest of this entry »