In mid-1500 Florence, Lucrezia is the least favoured child of the grand duke and duchess. Her older sisters either tease her or ignore her, her brothers are indifferent. Her sister, Maria is about to marry Alfonso, grand duke of Ferrara, but an illness intervenes, causing her death. Alfonzo’s roving eye remembers tiny Lucrezia and negotiates their marriage. Lucrezia is far too young, but her father sees this as a wise political move and she is married to the duke by age fifteen. Is she old enough and wise enough to survive the turmoil within his court? And what of the rumours that the duke has never conceived a child in all is amorous endeavours? Will her life be in danger if she can’t become pregnant?
This well-written novel is loosely based on historical characters and facts. I was spellbound from page one where Lucrezia is aware that she is probably going to be murdered. I rate this as the top book I’ve read so far this year.
On Valmorain’s arrival from France, he finds he is responsible for the sugar cane plantation on the island of Saint-Domingue at his father’s death.He purchases nine-year-old Tété who soon learns to manage his house. In her teenage years, he rapes her and uses her as his concubine. When he removes their first-born child, Tété’s life couldn’t be worse. With a slave rebellion in site, Tété’s moves Valmorain’s son from his first wife to New Orleans.
This historical fiction set in Haiti during the slave trading era held a mixture of points of view: from plantation owners to the slaves who practised voodoo and tried to maintain their African roots.
When Theo, a Nigerian art historian, removes a painting of a horse from a discarded pile of junk a neighbour has dumped in her front yard, he is unaware of its connection to a Kentucky slave from the 1800s. He takes the painting covered in soot to a restorer where he meets a Smithsonian scientist, Jess who has been studying the bones of the horse she believes is the same one in the painting. Jarret is a slave in the 1850s with a knack with horses. He forms a close bond with a foal after its birth and grooms the horse to race on the insistence of his master, Dr. Warfield.
What happens to Theo and the painting he has restored? And why did the bones of a horse from more than a hundred years ago end up in storage in a neglected section of Washington’s Smithsonian Museum?
What makes this book an even better read is the author’s meticulous research into many of her real characters and the events that actually happened back in the 1800s.
Nancy is a freelance Australian journalist based in Paris in the late 1930s. In between assignments, she wiles away her time with her French friend, Stephanie who soon introduces her to handsome, playboy, Henri. But Nancy’s life is set on a different course when she witnesses the whipping and humiliation of a Berlin Jew. She cannot forget the German torturer’s face nor the mesmerized crowd when Hitler gave a speech.
Continue reading “Ariel Lawhon’s—Code name Helene” →
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