Archive for September 30th, 2010

September 30, 2010

If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller…: Italo Calvino

by Andy

Pretty much every single person I have ever recommended this book to, or bought it for, have hated it; it was too irritating, or annoying, or clever.  But that’s the point.

Obviously if you want otherwise – nice, neat beginnings and middles and ends and absolutely no challenge whatsoever – then stick to, say, the Brothers Grimm or whatever Richard&Judy suggest.  Personally, I thought this was utterly brilliant.  Your loss if you give up on it.

September 30, 2010

Eleanor of Aquitaine: Alison Weir

by Andy

Take the Queen Mother, combine with Margaret Thatcher, insert into Medieval England (and France) and that’s Eleanor of Aquitaine.  Chances are you’ve never heard of her (King John’s mother if you remember your Maid Marion) but worry not.

Weir has a habit of taking the most controversial and misunderstood historical persons and situations and rendering them in such considered detail, free from salacious diatribes and glib asides, so that you finish with the full story told.  This is no exception but with the added bonus of a genuinely fascinating and wilful monarch who let nothing – her first husband, her second, her children, the Pope and the Crusades (which she joined in with, on horseback) get in her way.  Informative and entertaining.

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