The Irish princess – a book review

Title : The Irish princess

Author: Karen Harper

New American Library, 2011

Thanh’s pick

A book from the National Bestselling Author, for all the fans of the Tudors television series, as it is set during the time of Henry VIII. 

It’s the story of Elizabeth Geraldine, a high born lady from the first family of Irelandin 16th century.  Her whole family, including father, brother and uncles, was condemned then executed by King Henry.  She moved to live inEngland with her mother and sister, with one purpose in her mind:  revenge for the death of her loved ones, and restoration of her family name to its rightful place.

Her life went through many straights and bends, ended up being lady in waiting for King Henry’s last queen, Catherine Parr.  She married Sir Anthony Browne, a close courtier of the King, for protection, while harbouring a secret love to Lord Edward Clinton.  She befriended with the two Tudor princesses Mary and Elizabeth.

By the end of the book,Geragot what she wanted:  her surviving brother was reinstated to his rightful place inIreland; and after the death of her husband, she was at last married to her true loveClinton, and she had the long lasting friendship of Queen Elizabeth I.

Somehow the story telling is a bit bland, the writing style uninspiring – the only reason you turn the pages is because it has many intrigues: glimpses of the royal court, of the Henry VIII    himself, his queen and his two princesses, all the plots, the betrayal involved … It feels just like you are reading the pages of a history book.

The psychology the main character is not well executed either.  Gera, our heroine, advertised as beautiful, bold, rebellious and daring, appeared through the book rather tame, with lots of teeth gnashing and grumbling “I hate him” “I want to gouge his eyes”, and some silly deeds: she once tried to pour water on a royal letter sent north in order to save some rebellious towns.  Another time, she crept through secret passages to the King’s dying bed to kill him, but ended up pretending to be his queen’s ghost and cursed him to hell.

It’s rather a shame, as we have here several elements for a good story: a heroine, a plot and a love interest.  Somehow the author failed to breath live and credibility to her main character.

Discussion notes for ‘The brain that changes itself ‘

The 2nd evening Tue reading group has discussed the book ‘The brain that changes itself‘ by Norman Doidge. It’s still a popular book after three years of its publication. The notes from the group said

it’s a layman’s scientific book. The subject matter was interesting.
The case studies covered were quite inspirational when dealing with autism, cerebral palsy and the girl born with half-a-brain.

Some members of the group didn’t finish the book and thought the subject matter would be better addressed in a medical journal, but others found it was a very interesting reading.

The ‘moral’ of the book is ‘never say never’ to learning something new.

It is not a typical ‘book club book’ but would have an appeal to a wide audience who are interested in science and the brain.

Lyn Hughes

Lyn Hughes, the Sydney based author of Flock is coming to Parramatta City Library for a lunch time author talk on 3rd of August, from 1 -2 pm.

Born in Wales in 1952, Lyn spent eighteen years in South Africa before settling in Australia in 1982. Her three novels are – THE FACTORY (1990) which was shortlisted for the National Book Council’s New Writing Award; ONE WAY MIRRORS (1993) and THE BRIGHT HOUSE (2000). Lyn divides her time between Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

Lyn Hughes’s latest novel is proof that time is indeed an author’s best friend. Flock is a carefully crafted, in-depth hybrid of historical fiction and biography.

Flock – a review for the coming author talk

Title: Flock

Author: Lyn Hughes

New South Wales : HarperCollins

Sarah P’s pick

This novel interweaves the stories of two generations- Francis Sprigge and Lilian Powys and their daughterAdelaide(Addie) and is set in the  ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘80’s; mostly around theBlue Mountainsarea.

Francis and Lilian meet at Central station, fall in love and eventually move to theBlue Mountains. Francis starts a successful career as a wallpaper designer. Lilian loves her husband and daughter but is unsettled. She has her own aspirations and is dealing with a troubled childhood.

Adelaideis the leader of a team of conservators restoring a historical mansion for a Bicentennial project. She returns to the area she grew up in. Also she is helping a writer composing a biography of her father so the past is very much in her mind. As she reveals the history of the house she thinks about her own history.

Come and meet the author and hear her talk about her book at Parramatta Library on Wednesday 6th August from 1 -2 pm.

Discussion notes from a reading group

The First Wednesday Reading Group has discussed the book ‘To kill a mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.  They noticed that it was a classic work which is still relevant today. Sometime some of the member felt difficult to read about the injustice of racisim in the South. Members agreed it was very well written and intriguing insights into the perspective of a 7 years old child. The respect of the children for their father is well portrayed and very touching. The storyline is fascinating and keeps the reader interested right to the end.  It is a great marality tale that covers the great themes of race and class inequlity, and the fight for justice.

The group also discussed the book ‘The Gallipoli letter’ by Keith Murdoch. Most of who read it found the book was interesting. The letter itself is created with being highly influential in ending the Gallipoli campaing and this is very believable. Some felt it was disappointing that the extansive commentary written on the letter was at the front of the book and took away the element of ‘surprise’ from the letter itself.

The letter gives a great insight into the conditions at Gallipoli and the views of the soldiers and medics. It is well worth reading. However the group would recommend reading the actual letter first, with the photos, before reading the commentary. The commentary is also very interesting and gives the readers a great sense of context.