Yikes, this is a rather late March post!
I've read two books in the last month, both historical fiction and I enjoyed them both. I've fallen into my usual rut of reading the same type of books - next month I'll revert back to the book challenge and expand my horizons.
The first book I read was 'The Miniaturist' by Jessie Burton. A lot of people have been reading this in blogland, so I had a rough idea what I was getting in to. It's a historical novel set in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century. The plot follows the experiences of eighteen year old Nella Oortman, a girl from a small country village who married a prosperous merchant and moves to the city. The historical detail is so rich, an awful lot of research must have gone into this book and it pays off. Burton has an entertaining and gripping style, I couldn't put the book down! All is not as it seems in Nella's marital home, under the thumb of her new sister-in-law she has to try and adapt to her new life, which is full of mysteries and the unexplained, her new husband is distant and marriage is entirely different to her expectations. I won't reveal much more, but I'd really recommend the book. The characters are very realistic, and I found Nella sympathetic - I rooted for her. The ending was a bit abrupt for my liking, but I loved learning more about the illustrious merchant traders from the C17th.
The other book I read was Philippa Gregory's 'The Constant Princess'. I love Philippa Gregory and knew I would enjoy this book. The novel portrays the early life of Katherine of Aragon, the first wife of the notorious Henry VIII, he famously created the Church of England in order to divorce her. Oh to be a king. Married to his elder brother, Arthur, Prince of Wales, who died before ascending to the throne, Katherine was older than Henry and there has been much debate over whether she was a virgin after her marriage to Arthur (she maintained she was, if she wasn't then her marriage to her brother-in-law would have been a sin in the eyes of the Catholic church - this is what Henry used as the basis for his claim to divorce). The book presents an interesting interpretation on this, I won't give anything away. Katherine was a strong woman, which Gregory clearly demonstrates - I learned a lot about her role as Queen and the power she exercised. I think historical fiction, although an interpretation of historical events, plays such an important role in restoring female figures to our consciousness - often overlooked within 'his'tory. I thought the book was a little too long, it could have been shorter, but overall it was engaging and interesting. I found the representation of diplomatic relations in Europe at this time fascinating. Again, I would recommend this book :)
For the next month I am going back to my book challenge I wrote about here. One of the categories is 'thriller' - not a genre I read often, but with perfect timing my mother in law kindly gave me this book at the weekend, she thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommended it, so I am looking forward to it. I will leave it at one book this month - the full draft to supervisors deadline is looming so it's going to get a bit stressful/manic/
Linking up with Laura at The Circle of Pines, pop on over there to see what everyone else is reading :)