So tell us, what have you enjoyed (or not) recently.
Proprietress of Tatiana's Tea Room ~ Co-owner of the Duché de Coeur ~ Webmistress of this site
I just finished the Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden and I was delighted by it. If you have a soft spot for Russian fairy tales, including the infamous Baba Yaga, this trilogy is for you.
Arden skillfully weaves together real life with fantastical myths. I started reading during the depths of an Ottawa winter which made it much too easy for me to relate to the characters living in a land where winter never seems to end. I particularly enjoyed all the little details of everyday life where even the well-to-do are continually challenged and don't get me started about the high-born women being locked up in their towers
There's historical fiction, magic, romance and a heroine who doesn't disappoint even though her choices are far from traditional. I'll definitely be looking for more from this author.
I've personally started reading the newly published English translation of a very famous story/myth of Kiều (the Penguin Classics one translated it as Song of Kiều ) by Nguyễn Du.
It has a very big place in Vietnamese literature (and history) and talks of the life of Kiều and how her resilience, and literary talent empowered her to. The original novel/plot itself is Chinese ( Jīn Yún Qiáo Zhuàn) and is set in China (it's loosely based on real people like the Jiajing Emperor from Ming dynasty and the sea lord Xu Hai). But its importance is that the author redid it into a very lyrical poem about a beautiful, smart and strong woman. It touches upon a lot of social themes, especially how difficult it was for women (so it is quite feminist compared to the original novel).
I like this translation because
(1) it's in English - my Vietnamese reading skills are bad, I can read them relatively right but to comprehend what I've read - that's another matter ;
2) Timothy Allen has a detailed introduction to both naming systems for Chinese and Vietnamese, and also comparative overview of history of the turmoil at the end of Ming and Lê dynasties.
I'm really glad that Vietnamese literature is starting to be rediscovered by foreign readers so if you want to check it out!
P.S. My great-grandmothers' generation would have known this >3000 line poem by heart apparently, although it might be partially because there wasn't much else to read at the time lol
Working on The Attenbury Emeralds, in the hope that Jill Paton Walsh, who's taken up Dorothy Sayers' pen, proves able to do justice to Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane in the postwar years. So far, I am pleasantly surprised - the more so after being not quite satisfied by PD James' attempt at the Darcys of Pemberley (good as a novel, but I was not entirely comfortable with her translation of the characters.)
Apparently Paton Walsh has written two others; if I am still content at the current novel's end, I will have to find them.
Thanks for the recommendations, Ekaterina & Tiamat!
… the more so after being not quite satisfied by PD James' attempt at the Darcys of Pemberley (good as a
I felt the same about Death Comes to Pemberley. I thought perhaps it was just a case of my expectations being set a bit too high before I began but after reading your thoughts, maybe not.
I have been browsing further back in history this month - a pleasant revisiting of the world of Marcus Didius Falco, paid informer during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian in Rome. One of the nice things about reading historical fiction is that when one reads it again, following additional learning about the history of a particular time, one discovers new delights that authors who do their research have planted from the historical record in their work that may have slipped past unappreciated in a much earlier first reading.
Not only for work – currently researching an eighteenth century private collection - but also for the pleasure of it, I have been reading this book. It is great to see that we are finally reaching the norm of a comparative, more broader view; this book covers about the whole European continent. A Taste for Luxury... is a most excellent collection of case studies on eighteenth century economics, in particular on the social and moral impact of luxury, along with the tastes and fashions in the Age of Enlightenment.
On these cool autumn days, I happened to come across this book about imperial Russia.
The Court of the Last Tsar: Pomp, Power and Pageantry in the Reign of Nicholas II, by Greg King
The details in this book is extremely fascinating, such as little descriptions of all the key people and events of the time. It covers some of the most lavish events of the late imperial period, details from how the room was decorated, to the weight of the earings of the last empress. Fun fact, the bridal couture of the last empress was so heavy that she was literally stuck in a room until one of the Grand Dukes found her standing there and sent for maids of honors to help her with her dress.