Posted in 18th Century Spain

The Barefoot Queen

This one caught my eye; it’s not often you find novels about gypsies! At 647 pages it sounds like quite a read! This is what the Historical Novel Society had to say: “The broad scope of this novel vividly brings to life both gypsy and Spanish life in this era, as well as the combined gypsy, Spanish, and slave influences that gave birth to art of flamenco as we know it today. Falcones provides a great deal of background information which helps the reader navigate the era and history.” The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Spain, 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wandering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When, by chance, she…

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Posted in 18th Century Guest Post

guest post: The Real Blackbeard

Who, Truly, Was Blackbeard, And From Whence Did He Come? Will The Real Pirate Commodore Please Stand Up? by Samuel Marquis In Blackbeard: The Birth of America, Historical Fiction Author Samuel Marquis, the ninth great-grandson of Captain William Kidd, chronicles the legendary Edward Thache—former British Navy seaman and notorious privateer-turned-pirate, who lorded over the Atlantic seaboard and Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. A Robin-Hood-like American patriot and the most famous freebooter of all time, Blackbeard was illegally hunted down by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, the British Crown’s man in Williamsburg obsessed with his capture. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. In becoming the Blackbeard of legend, Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica, has represented many different things to many different…

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Posted in 18th Century Guest Post

guest post: Why Did Ships Have Figureheads?

Please welcome back author Philip K. Allen with another article relating to his new novel! Figureheads are magnificent things. Stroll along the ranks of huge, colourfully painted ones in the naval museums at Greenwich or Portsmouth, and you cannot help but be impressed by the skill and effort that went into carving them. All of which begs the question why ship builders went to the effort and expense of commissioning such elaborate works of art to adorn the front of their vessels? They have no apparent function for the ship other than decoration. With the rise of modernity and corporate accountancy in the late nineteenth century, the figurehead quickly disappeared. The recently launched aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth may be the latest and largest ship…

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Posted in 18th Century Guest Post

guest post: Google and the Death of the Historical Novel

Please welcome author Philip K. Allan today with his take on the pros and cons of writing in the digital age. Don’t get me wrong, I love Google. As a writer of historical novels, it is the search engine that I have open on my PC as I work, ready to be dipped into to check a fact or study an image. It once provided me with a moment of pure serendipity. I needed to find some plants native to Barbados to add colour to a scene on a sugar plantation. Through Google I learnt of the Cannonball Tree, which fitted perfectly into a passage of dialogue that included some naval officers. The following day my wife and I took our daughters to visit Kew…

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Posted in 18th Century Children's Books Reviews

review: Mesmerized

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved the Mystery That Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff, Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno During the American Revolution, an elderly Benjamin Franklin is recruited to journey across the Atlantic Ocean to meet with the King and Queen of France to request funds for the war against their mutual enemy, the British. Ben, a world renowned inventor, arrives to find Paris feverishly seeking out a man called Dr. Mesmer, who was said to be able to cure all ills with a magic wand. After their state business is completed, King Louis asks Ben to discover whether this newfangled alternative to medicine is genuine or the work of a charlatan. Determined to assuage his own curiosity, Ben uses his “Scientific Method” to…

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Posted in 18th Century American Revolution Reviews Young Adult

review: I Survived: The American Revolution, 1776

I Survived: The American Revolution, 1776 by Lauren Tarshis This is an excellent young adult chapter book covering the Battle of Brooklyn during the Revolutionary War. The main character is eleven-year-old Nate, who escaped from an abusive uncle only to find himself in the midst of an army camp. There, however, he reunites with a friend from his sailing days with his late father, and he becomes a camp aide. He meets George Washington and sees many gruesome and terrible things over the course of several months. One of the first things I noticed is that this story shows young readers bravery through thought and reasoning. When Nate was afraid, he remembered stories his father had told him about a kind pirate, and he rationalized…

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Posted in 18th Century French Revolution Reviews

review: The Royal Dollmaker

The Queen’s Dollmaker by Christine Trent Claudette Laurent, daughter of a prestigious dollmaker in Paris, loses everything to a devastating fire and must begin a new life. In a strange turn of events, she finds herself in London, first supporting herself as a lady’s maid and ultimately finding a way to use the talents her father bequeathed to her: that of carving, painting and dressing dolls in the latest fashions. Though she has a few close friends and helpers, Claudette mostly keeps to herself, nursing the loss of her old life and love in France. One gentleman vies for her attentions, but she continually spurns him, as he is of higher rank and she feels he is toying with her. Throughout the story, the theme…

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Posted in 18th Century Author Guest Post

Janet Mullany – Stranger than Fiction

In my novel, Jane and the Damned, Jane Austen is a vampire. Not true. England is invaded by the French. Also not true. But the late 1790s was a time when England pretty much expected to be invaded by the French any day, one of the reasons the militia was formed during this period. One amazing theory I discovered while writing the book was that France and England had a sort of arms race centered on the military application of ballooning, and there was a fear that they might undertake an aerial invasion. I was sorely tempted… Popular myth has it that the last time the country was invaded was in 1066. There were some home grown invasions–didn’t the Scots cross the border a few…

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Posted in 18th Century

review: A Respectable Trade

A Respectable Trade by Philippa Gregory Frances Scott, aging society lady, marries a wealthy merchant, Josiah Cole, who is in the business of trading sugar, coffee and slaves in Bristol. Shortly after their marriage the first set of slaves arrives, and Frances is given the task of teaching them to speak English and work as servants. She forms a bond with Mahuru, who was something of a medicine man in his native country and very intelligent. They begin an affair as Josiah gets himself deeper and deeper into debt with the Merchant Venturers. Finally events spiral down to a tangled but satisfying conclusion, all the while insinuating the class structure changes the world will shortly witness with the French Revolution. I read the audio version,…

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Posted in 18th Century

review: Alex & Eliza

Alex & Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa de la Cruz Set during the American Revolution, this is a story of the meeting and courtship of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler–daughter of the respected General Philip Schuyler and Catherine Van Rensselaer. Eliza, the spirited middle sister of the Schuyler family’s elder trio of girls, is tomboyish, level-headed, and wishes above all else to aid the colonies in the American War of Independence. She moves from her family home in Albany, New York to her uncle’s house in Morristown, New Jersey where she assists her aunt with the medical needs of the soldiers stationed nearby. Alexander Hamilton happens to be one of the regimental occupants, and has made it his duty to watch over Eliza, as…

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Posted in 18th Century First Line Friday French Revolution

First Line Friday: The Glass-Blowers

“If you marry into glass,” Pierre Labbe warned my mother, his daughter Magdaleine, in 1747, “you will say good-bye to everything familiar, and enter a closed world.” THE GLASS-BLOWERS by Daphne du Maurier “The world of the glass-blowers has its own traditions, it’s own language – and its own rules. ‘If you marry into glass’ Pierre Labbe warns his daughter, ‘you will say goodbye to everything familiar, and enter a closed world’. But crashing into this world comes the violence and terror of the French Revolution, against which the family struggles to survive. Years later, Sophie Duval reveals to her long-lost nephew the tragic story of a family of master craftsmen in eighteenth-century France. Drawing on her own family’s tale of tradition and sorrow, Daphne…

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Posted in 18th Century Author Interview French Revolution

author interview: Sally Christie on The Enemies of Versailles

Author Sally Christie has answered a few questions on her last novel, The Enemies of Versailles. You can read my reviews of all three books in the trilogy at the following links: The Sisters of Versailles The Rivals of Versailles The Enemies of Versailles When you began writing this series, did you realize you’d be writing about so many women or did you discover them while researching? I actually didn’t set out to write a series – I just wrote the story of the Mailly Nesle sisters (from The Sisters of Versailles) and wasn’t even considering Louis XV’s later mistresses, as I assumed Madame de Pompadour and the Comtesse du Barry would have had a lot of fiction written about them. When I discovered that…

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