Oh! I forgot to mention, Cosmic. The Frank McCourt title you couldn’t read in last week’s post? That’s Teacher Man, the third installment in his trilogy of memoirs. It deals with his early years in the classroom and how he grew and matured. I haven’t read it yet; I’ll let you know how it is once I finish it. I think I picked it up on clearance somewhere.
On to this week’s shelf:
(By the way, if you’d like to examine a title more closely, you can click on the photo, which will take you straight to its page on Flickr. Then just above the photo is a selection that says All Sizes. If you click that, it will make the photo much larger.)
This, folks, is my Philippa Gregory shelf. You can see The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a movie last year. I wasn’t terribly fond of the movie. I feel the book is much better. I’ve also got The Virgin’s Lover up there, which deals with the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Sir Robert Dudley. Next to that is The Constant Princess. I have just found this book! It was hiding on the shelf above it, behind all my paperbacks. I’m glad I found it because my friend had been wanting to read it, and I’d torn most of my bookshelves apart looking for it. Of course, I found it once I actively stopped looking. Isn’t that always the way? Anyhow, The Constant Princess reveals the story of Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII, who was ultimately set aside so that Henry could marry Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I. Next we have The Boleyn Inheritance. The next three of Henry VIII’s wives after Anne Boleyn all shared her inheritance, as by this time, Henry was getting more and more paranoid. Anne of Cleves was arguably Henry VIII’s smartest wife, taking the option of an annulment when it was clear that the plain woman who had difficulty speaking English was not a good match for the King of England. Next to that, we have The Other Queen, just published in September 2008. As such, it is a first edition — but I got a good price on it. It deals with Mary, Queen of Scots, who was being held prisoner by the wish of Queen Elizabeth I, as well as the couple who acted as her jailers. I wasn’t terribly fond of this book; I felt Gregory’s other novels were much better. Above all these novels you’ll see The Queen’s Fool, which Powells.com tells me is the sequel to The Other Boleyn Girl. I haven’t read that one in a very long time, but I remember it as being very good.
I’ve got a Heinlein book hiding on this shelf — right next to the Thomas Kinkade Bible is The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress. Yes, I have two copies of it. I have two copies of several of my Heinlein novels, and sometimes I’ve got three! I tend to read my books so much that they’ve fallen apart. I really need a new copy of The Number of the Beast. It was falling apart when I bought it from the library sale back in 1990 when I was in the fifth grade. I was corrupted early — what can I say?
There are three Louisa May Alcott books on this shelf. One is a copy of Little Men which is somewhat vintage, but then there are two other novels of hers (Eight Cousins and Under the Lilacs) that were given to a girl from her parents at Christmas, 1897. I picked them up at a used book store here in Newport for $8 each. I’ve never read Under the Lilacs. Eight Cousins is dear to my heart, though. It’s one of the books I found at my grandparents’ home one summer, and which I devoured in just a day or two. Each time I went back after that, I would find it and read it again.
Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross is the yellow title just behind the pewter cup that my grandparents sent just after Mary Ellen’s birth. Now that was a very good book. A young girl in the ninth century has a love of learning, but it’s forbidden for her to learn how to read and write. Her brother breaks the rules and teaches her, and from then on she reads every book she can get her hands on. Her brother is eventually killed in a Viking attack, and she enters a monastery in his stead, where she pretends to be a man. She rises through the ranks of the Catholic priesthood and eventually becomes Pope. Most historians believe that the legend of Pope Joan is just that — a legend — but the book was a fascinating read, nonetheless.
I bought The Concubine’s Children by Denise Chong from the used book store I used to frequent back in Washington state. I highly recommend this book. It’s the story of the author’s grandmother, a concubine (not quite a junior wife) who had moved from China to Canada with her husband in the early 20th century, leaving behind her two eldest daughters. She had another daughter after they relocated to Vancouver, who was the author’s mother. It’s a very interesting look at life in Chinatown in an era when Asians were isolated and cut off from the city all around them. And coming to the West isn’t quite the promised land that it appeared before one left behind one’s friends and family.
That’s my bookshelf for this week! I look forward to hearing your comments.