8 / 50 books. 16% done!
Book #7 was Secrets of the Tudor Court: By Royal Decree
by Kate Emerson
From Amazon: Bess Brooke is sent to the court of King Henry VIII, where she momentarily captures the monarch’s attention. For a young woman, the aging, bloated king is repugnant, so she is relieved when he looks elsewhere for his next wife. However, life at court is very appealing, and she is grateful to become a lady-in-waiting, thanks to her mother’s connections. There she meets William Parr, the new queen’s brother. As a divorced man, Will has nothing to offer a virtuous woman until his former wife dies because only the king can remarry if the former spouse is still living. Bess tries to stay away even as her heart leads her to Will. Meandering their way through the maze of court life, Will and Bess strive for happiness, battling the whims of Henry VIII, King Edward, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and all who hope to gain power at their expense. Emerson captures the pageantry and the politics of the Tudor court, portraying real-life characters who negotiated turbulent times, and giving historical-fiction fans a first-rate read. --Patty EngelmanMy thoughts: The least strong of the trilogy, though it still had its good parts. The first 2/3 of the book is taken up with the set up for the love affair between Bess and Will, and with their "honeymoon period." Bess's discussions of the machinations at the Tudor court is engaging, and the descriptions of the court itself are rich. After Henry's death (which is treated in a couple of pages), it all goes downhill. Emerson takes us on a whirlwind tour of some of the most significant events in English history in the last third of the book, and doesn't do any of them justice. The story is taken up with Bess's urgency to save Will from charges of treason, which is well and good -- but Bess comes off as whiny and needy, not heroic. I will probably read future installments in this series if they are published, because they're good brain candy, and I hope that this one was just a blip for Emerson.
Book #8 was My Year of Meats
by Ruth L. Ozeki
From Amazon: At first glance, a novel that promises to expose the unethical practices of the American meat industry may not be at the top of your reading list, but Ruth Ozeki's debut, My Year of Meats
is well worth a second look. Like the author, the novel's protagonist, Jane Takagi-Little, is a Japanese-American documentary filmmaker; like Ozeki, who was once commissioned by a beef lobbying group to make television shows for the Japanese market, Jane is invited to work on a Japanese television show meant to encourage beef consumption via the not-so-subliminal suggestion that prime rib equals a perfect family:
TO: AMERICAN RESEARCH STAFF
FROM: Tokyo Office
DATE: January 5, 1991
RE: My American Wife!...
Here is list of IMPORTANT THINGS for My American Wife!
1. Attractiveness, wholesomeness, warm personality
2. Delicious meat recipe (NOTE: Pork and other meats is second class meats, so please remember this easy motto: "Pork is Possible, but Beef is Best!")
3. Attractive, docile husband
4. Attractive, obedient children
5. Attractive, wholesome lifestyle
6. Attractive, clean house...
1. Physical imperfections
4. Second class peoples
The series, My American Wife!, initally seems like a dream come true for Jane as she criss-crosses the United States filming a different American family each week for her Japanese audience. Naturally, the emphasis is on meat, and Ozeki has fun with out-there recipes such as rump roast in coke and beef fudge; but as Jane becomes more familiar with her subject, she becomes increasingly aware of the beef industry's widespread practice of using synthetic estrogens on their cattle and determines to sabotage the program.
Cut to Tokyo where Akiko Ueno struggles through the dull misery of life with her brutish husband, who happens to be in charge of the show's advertising. After seeing one of Jane's subversive episodes about a vegetarian lesbian couple, Akiko gets in touch and the two women plot to expose the meat industry's hazardous practices. Romance, humor, intrigue, and even a message--My Year of Meats
has it all. This is a book that even a vegetarian would love.My thoughts: I was assigned to read this for my Politics of Motherhood course, and I found myself unable to stop reading it. I finished it two weeks ahead of my class simply because I could not put it down. Ozeki's voice is believable and has just the right amount of snark -- think Chuck Paliahuik -- and her characters win your heart. There are some serious social issues underlying this book, but it never feels preachy. The writing is sensual, like biting into a great steak or a ripe peach. And you care about what happens to the characters, even the ones you end up hating. This is not a book for the squeamish -- I won't be eating red meat for a while, or at least not red meat that's not local and organic! -- but it is so worth your time.