Monday, October 1, 2012

Literary Monday - Reinventing yourself in the 15th and 21st centuries

Although my two favorite books from last week are set in totally different eras, ironically the main characters in both books are working on finding their ways through total upheavals in their lives.

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison - A novel of loss, redemption, and forgiveness, also learning to move on.  Benjamin Benjamin is floundering - he has lost his wife and family, hasn't worked in at least a decade (he was a stay-at-home dad), and is nearly out of money.  Almost by accident, he stumbles into a course that is offered at a local church on how to be a caregiver.  His first patient is a young man afflicted with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  In addition to looking after his physical needs, Ben tries to find activities that will keep Trevor interested and engaged.  One project is a large map where they mark all the oddball tourist attractions that they hear about on the Travel Channel and the Weather Channel.  Finally they set out on a road trip to visit some of these places, and although the trip doesn't turn out as they had planned, they still manage to do some unforgettable things.  A wonderful read.

The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory - this is another installment in Gregory's Cousins' War series, known to us as the War of the Roses (it was called the Cousins' War up until the 19th century - the romantics in the 19th century decided to rename it the War of the Roses).  Gregory turns the tables on the protagonists in the last two novels in the series (Elizabeth Woodville in The White Queen and Jacquetta, Lady Rivers in The Lady of the Rivers) so that they are now the villains.  The main character here is Anne Neville, queen of Richard III and daughter of Richard, Earl of Warwick, known as the Kingmaker since he deposed Henry VI and put his cousin Edward IV on the throne.  Anne and her sister Isabel are pawns in their father's plots, and later in their husbands' plans, with the result that they come into conflict with Edward IV's queen Elizabeth Woodville and her witchy mother Jacquetta.  After a disastrous first marriage, Anne decides to make her own choices, but navigating Edward IV's court proves to be tricky.  Good biographical fiction about a queen that most of us know only from Shakespeare.

No comments:

Post a Comment