In just a few days, I’ll be on a plane with the boyfriend heading to Great Britain! First we’ll be in Edinburgh, then north to Inverness, followed by a deathly long train ride to visit some family friends in Sherborne, Dorset. Next we’ll be in St Albans and London. We’ll also be doing a few day trips, including to Bath, Cambridge, and Hastings (ahhh the history nerd in me is thrilled!)

I cannot contain how excited I am!  So instead of doing something useful like packing, I created an England/Scotland themed read-list.


Hangman Blind

First on the list is Hangman Blind, a medieval mystery by Cassandra Clark. It’s about a recently widowed woman who takes the veil and is determined to set up her own house of nuns. On her journey to find the perfect location for it, she comes across a series of gruesome murders. There’s nothing like a little intrigue  and murder to peak my excitement- although hopefully my journey through the English countryside will be a little less eventful.



boswells-london-journal-penguiin-tpNext is James Boswell’s London Journal. I had a blast reading this for a British history course, so I thought I’d revisit it.  James Boswell is a young, rakish gentleman from Edinburgh, who’s off to spend his time and money in London in 1762-63. Luckily for us, he logs every scandalous detail of his adventures in his journal. In London, he fraternizes at the theatre, has intellectual conversations in coffeehouses (where he meets the famous Samuel Johnson), and has the frequent romp in the gardens with a prostitute (he always insists that that time will be the last time… Sure thing, James). Not only is this diary immensely informative of the inner workings of 18th century British high society,  but it is also endlessly entertaining. It’s incredibly funny reading the thoughts of James, a conceited but simultaneously self-conscious man who’s just trying to prove himself worthy to British society.  His diary will also be quite useful as a guide for my time in London- I intend to rediscover James’ old haunts (those that still remain).


heartThen I’ll read The Heart of Midlothian,  by Sir Walter Scott- a Scottish classic. It’s the seventh book of his Waverley Novels, and opens with the Porteous Riots in Edinburgh, 1736. It follows the life of Jeanie Deans, a woman who desperately  tries to save her sister, who is accused of infanticide.




emmaAnd of  course, how can explore  the English countryside without reading Jane Austen? There are so many great novels of hers to chose from- I decided on Emma, which is set in a fictional estate in Surrey. It’s about a smart, rich, and officious woman  who  has no  intent of marrying herself, but adores meddling in the love lives of others. While it would make sense to read her novels set in Bath (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion) since that’s one of my destinations, I’ve recently read them. However, I may also reread Northanger Abbey while in Bath- I fell in love with that book while reading it during one of Unputdownables great readalongs, probably because I could relate so strongly to the protagonist, Catherine Morland. Like her, I  have a wickedly vivid imagination that often gets the best of me.

Happy readings!

I truly enjoyed this book. Right from the start, I was consumed- it’s really easy to get into, and is a fun, light read.

The Ghost BrideThe Ghost Bride is different from the other historical fiction books I’ve read, considering it mostly took place in the supernatural world. It’s a story about Li Lan, a young Chinese woman who lives in  19th century British-ruled Malaya (now Malaysia). Li Lan receives a marriage proposal for Lim Tian Ching, the son of an incredibly wealthy family. However, there’s a catch- he’s dead. Although she refuses, she finds herself being haunted by her suitor in her dreams. Soon she becomes trapped in the spirit world, and must navigate through the complicated realm of the dead before it’s too late to return to the living.

Reading The Ghost Bride taught me a lot about the Chinese afterlife. In her book, Choo blends together Budhism, Taoism and Chinese folklore to create this thrilling and horrifying world of the dead. It was incredibly interesting learning about Chinese belief in the afterlife, especially the punishments that await wrongdoers.

I had seen some of the painted hell scrolls that depicted the gruesome fates awaiting sinners. There were people being boiled in oil or sawed in half by horse and ox-headed demons. Others were forced to climb mountains of knives or were pounded into powder by enormous mallets. Gossips had their tongues ripped out, hypocrites and tomb robbers were disemboweled. Unfilial children were frozen in ice. The worst was the lake of blood into which suicides and women who had died in childbirth or aborted their children were consigned.

 Choo artfully constructs the spirit world in such a way that creates a chilling atmosphere; it was so vidid, enchanting, terrifying and exciting all at once. When I was reading about Li Lan’s nightmares, I actually got the shivers. Alongside Li Lan, I experienced a deep sense of dread whenever she drifted off to sleep, soon to be haunted by Lim Tian Ching. 

“You are dead! Dead, dead, dead, I shrieked.”    
With each iteration of the word his figure began to shiver and shake. The opulent hall with its hundreds of red candles wavered and began to disappear. The last glimpse I had was of Lim Tian Ching’s face dissolving, his form smearing as though a giant hand was rubbing it out.

What I found really interesting is the difference between the Chinese and western concept of ghosts. When I think of ghosts, I picture an incorporeal being, a transparent spectre just floating around. Chinese ghosts, on the other hand, are much more substantial. Even in the afterlife, they still must eat, or else they’ll wither away. They still get tired after exerting themselves, and  feel pain when harmed. They rely on their relatives’ offerings of paper money, paper carriages, houses, and food, so they can survive in the afterlife.

One qualm I have with the book is that Choo’s foreshadowing is a little obvious, so supposedly major twists become expected.

I didn’t read this book because of Li Lan. All in all, she’s not the most riveting protagonist- after finishing the book, I still had no sense of her personality. I read it for the incredible supernatural world Choo created, and all its fantastical inhabitants.   For those who wished to be whisked away to a spectacular world, read The Ghost Bride.

amenable womenThe first line describing Amenable Women on Goodreads goes as follows; “Flora Chapman is in her fifties when her husband dies.” When I read this, my first thought  was ‘Oh no, another sob story about a widow’s journey.’ Well, I was half right. Yes, it is the story of Flora Chapman’s journey as a newly widowed woman, but it certainly isn’t a sob story. In fact, Flora is bizarrely thrilled at the prospect at beginning anew without her husband, Edward. While her whole village vehemently grieves the loss of the man who was loved by all (most vehemently by himself), Flora feels free from the intellectual shackles imposed by Edward. Indeed, when they first met many years before, Flora professed her love of history, Edward quickly colonized that passion and claimed it as his own, leaving Flora no space to explore her interest. He claimed the title of the intellectual, forcing Flora to abandon all academic pursuits.

After his death, Flora sets out to finish her husband’s latest project, a history of their small English village. While going through his notes, she stumbles upon the figure Anna of Cleves, the German Princess who was briefly married to Henry VIII. Edward noted that she occasionally resided in their village after her divorce from Henry, but then quickly dismissed her as the Flanders Mare -a cruel nickname referring to her notorious lack of beauty- and moved on. Flora, however, is not so quick to dismiss this former Queen of England, and soon becomes obsessed with uncovering the truth about her. As she delves further into her research, Flora learns that Anna was not the ugly, dimwitted woman as she was described after her divorce, but indeed bright, well loved, and beautiful in her own way.

Mavis Cheek does a marvellous job at redeeming the long dismissed historical figure of Anna of Cleves. As Flora becomes consumed with Anna of Cleves, the reader alongside Flora discovers that Anna has so much more than the ‘Flanders Mare’.  Hilary Mantel’s review of Amenable Women critiques Cheek for pointing out what has long been established, stating that “Cheek is right to point out that the misogyny of historians has informed our view of her. The past 20 years have seen enough feminist reinterpretation to put this right.” Perhaps this is the case for the academic literature, but Anna’s popular image remains as unchanged as ever. Indeed, even in one of my history classes, my professor quickly dismissed Anna as being the “ugly one that Henry divorced” and quickly moved on to his other wives. Excuse me? Clearly a more revised vision of Anna is necessary, and Cheek’s novel is a fantastic way to propagate an alternative view to the wider public.

What I absolutely love is how Cheek can make a depressing event such as a death of a spouse into lighthearted and absolutely hilarious affairs. I never thought I would be amused while reading about someone’s death, but I found myself laughing uncontrollable throughout to the book! In fact, to avoid embarrassment and hostile looks,  I’d advise readers to read in a private place where you can giggle unrestrained.

A major flaw of this novel is its characters. Yes, they are amusing, ridiculous, absurd and undeniably entertaining. However, they come across as mere caricatures, not full and complex people. Indeed, the only character with any depth is Anna of Cleves and -at times- Flora, as one would hope since they are the main characters! But the others are completely unrelatable and, quite honestly, unbelievable. Even Flora’s character is a bit farfetched at times; while her thoughts about her husband’s death are amusing, she was often unbelievably aloof. Furthermore, while Flora certainly grew as the novel progressed, becoming stronger and more assertive, I was very disappointed with the lack of resolution at the end (though I will not say why, as it will spoil the ending).

I would recommend Amenable Women to those who are interested in history and would like to learn more about this overlooked Tudor Queen, or to those who want something light and silly to make them laugh.

Sadly, my winter break is over, and I have yet to finish all the books on my list. Here’s what I managed to read:

  • Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle -452 pages
  • Time Machine by H. G. Wells- 118 pages
  • 1984 by George Orwell – 328 pages
  • Visualizing the Nation: Gender, Representation, and Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France by Joan B. Landes – 174 pages
  • Amenable Woman by Mavis Cheek- 341 pages
  • Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong -432 pages
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin – 694 pages

crossed out = read

While technically I’ve failed, I really enjoyed the challenge and read a lot more than I normally would.  Most importantly, I had a fantastic time reading and discovered some marvelous books (reviews to come shortly)! Hopefully next readathon I can advance even further.

Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor, by Sally Armstrong Though it’s a close tie with Villa Triste, I have to say my favourite read this break is Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor. It is an enchanting book about a young woman who escapes the confines of polite English society in 1775 to face the dangerous but beautiful wilderness of New Brunswick. Based on the life of her great-great-great grandmother, Sally Armstrong weaves a breathtaking tale of both fact and fiction, making it impossible not to fall in love with the strong and wily Charlotte Taylor.

The next few months are looking very busy for me as I’m completing my last semester of university -yikes! In between the piles of academic readings, I’ll be finishing up the books on my readathon list (1984, Visualizing the Nation, and A Song of Ice and Fire), and of course reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion for Unputdownables‘ read-a-long!

What are the books on your to-read list this year?

Happy readings!

Winter Break Readathon!

This past semester I’ve been pretty bogged down with academic reading, and as such my reading for pleasure has suffered greatly. Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely loved my class readings- I’ve discovered some wonderful books and read some inspiring memoirs – but it left me with precious little time to read for the sake of reading. For instance, I started reading Villa Triste in November, and I still haven’t finished it yet! I would read a chapter, then read a memoir for my Central American history class, read another chapter, then take a break for a Medieval History research paper. This pattern went on until exam time, and only now am I really making some progress on it.

I always dedicate winter break to read all the books that I’ve been neglecting during the school year. Of course, it’s so easy to get caught up in all the Christmas/Chanukah activities- decorating, eating, seeing friends and family, eating, watching holiday movies, eating- I find that before I know it, it’s over!

This winter break, it will be different; I’m going to embark on my very first readathon! Most of the books on my list are history related: some fiction, some non-fiction. There are a few fantasy and sci-fi in the mix as well. I’m caught up in HBO’s Game of Thrones mania, and absolutely adore the series. Even though I’ve heard that the show stays very true to the book, I’m a bit ashamed that I haven’t read any of the books, so A Song of Ice and Fire is on my list. I also have a few classics on my list, such as 1984. Why, you ask?  Because I’ve never read it before…. oh the shame!

Winter Readathon 2012-2013

  • Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle -452 pages
  • Time Machine by H. G. Wells- 118 pages
  • 1984 by George Orwell – 328 pages
  • Visualizing the Nation: Gender, Representation, and Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France by Joan B. Landes – 174 pages
  • Amenable Woman by Mavis Cheek- 341 pages
  • Nine Lives of Charlotte Taylor by Sally Armstrong -432 pages
  • A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin – 694 pages


That’s a total of pages 2 539  in 18 days (not including travel days, when I will be juggling knitting, listening to the Wheel of Time series on audiobook, and comforting my crazed cats during the long drive from Boston to Ottawa). Perhaps to  the expert  readathoner, that does not seem too impressive, but keep in mind that I am a very, VERY slow reader!I suspect that I won’t be able to finish A Song of Ice and Fire in time (it’s quite a chunky book!) and that I’ll have to continue reading it during my winter semester.

By December 29th, my reading pace will slow down significantly because I will also be starting the Persuasion read-a-long with Unputdownables– a wonderful book blog that hosts many read-a-longs and gives marvelous reviews!

Happy Readings!

The Birth House is a bittersweet story of Dora Rare, a resident of a small Nova Scotian town, Scots Bay. As she becomes closer to Mrs. B, Scots Bay’s midwife, during the first few years of World War I, Dora is introduced to the wondrous yet sometimes horrifying world of birth, infertility and miscarriages. When Dr. Thomas, a young physician, arrives at Scots Bay with the promise of pain-free and even memory-free births, the worlds of modern technology and traditional healing collide. Dora, arming herself with personal strength and loyal friends, fights against Dr. Thomas and his misguided vision of childbirth.

There’s an unfortunate paradox with great books; they’re so fantastic that you want to extend it as long as possible, yet they’re  so consuming that you burn through them at lightning speed! Sadly, this was the case with The Birth House. I was so enthralled, I whizzed through it in two days. When I finished, I was still so  caught up in McKay’s marvelously captivating world that I couldn’t  bring myself to start another book- I was trapped in The Birth House. Perhaps it was McKay’s lyrical writing, or  Dora, the gentle, strong hero. Either way, The Birth House captured my mind and my heart.

I skimmed some reviews of The Birth House, and was surprised to see that some readers were offended by the “preachiness” of the story; many thought that it was simply a story about the good, traditional midwife against the evil, greedy doctor. But I disagree- it’s so much more. It’s about women taking control of their bodies, fighting for their right to choose how they give birth (or even if they give birth in the first place). It’s about taking their lives out of the hands of males and back into their own.

Not only does The Birth House cover sensitive  issues such as domestic abuse, abortions, infertility, and sex lives (or lack thereof), it also includes  fascinating historical events, including the Halifax Explosion, World War I (from the Canadian perspective), and the Boston suffragette movement.

In a time where women are still fighting for control of their bodies, The Birth House is frighteningly  relevant. Full of sorrow and sweetness, wisdom and wit, I would definitely recommend reading it.

More McKay!

The Virgin Cure, Ami McKayIf you finished The Birth House with an itching to reading more from this wonderful Canadian author, then check out her most recent book: The Virgin Cure. Set in 1871 in the tenements of lower Manhattan, the novel follows the story of Moth, a young girl who’s sold as a servant and exposed to the world of crime and prostitution. Considering how much I loved The Birth House,  this book is definitely on my “must read” list!

To say that Eleanor of Aquitaine was an incredible woman is an understatement, to say the least. After her father’s death, Eleanor became Duchess of Aquitaine at age 15, a lush region in the south of France. Soon after, she married King Louis VII and became Queen of France. As Queen of France, she traveled east and participated in the Second Crusade. Tiring of Louis, she divorced him and married Henry FitzEmpress, heir to the throne of England. When he was  crowned in 1154, she became Queen of England. In 1174, she was imprisoned by Henry for having aided theirs sons in a revolt against him. She remained his captive for 16 years.    Justifiably, I was incredibly excited to read Captive Queen, but my fervour soon dissipated after a few minutes of reading.

I discovered during the first few pages that Weir’s Eleanor was not the formidable woman I imaged. The novel begins when Eleanor, soon to be divorced of Louis, first meets the young Henry II. The moment she set eyes on Henry II, sparks were flying and she fell madly in lust (or what Weir insists, love) with him. This Eleanor was not motivated by power, but by her attraction to Henry. The idea that if Eleanor could rid her troublesome husband and marry Henry, she could a build vast and powerful empire was a mere afterthought (if that) compared to her intention of bedding him. And bed him she did. After the  first 20 pages -the very night they met- Henry and Eleanor were already committing “sins of the flesh”. This is the start of an unfortunate pattern of sex scenes that are needlessly detailed, but lacking in even an ounce of passion.

Weir imagined Eleanor proving the gossip of her extramarital affairs to be true; her husband King Louis of France, more priest than king regarding his libido, failing to quench her insatiable sex drive drove her into the arms of Marcabru the troubadour, and her uncle Raymond . Of course, historians and authors alike must take a stance on the past, but I thought this view of her oversimplified the complexity of her character and overlooked her many inspiring qualities . As I read on, Eleanor’s ambitious side managed to peek through during certain moments, but I still feel it was overshadowed by her constantly monitoring her looks and sex appeal.  Indeed, rather than capable and intelligent, Eleanor mostly appeared to be  vain and shallow.

Another aspect that frustrated me was the constant switching of perspective between the characters.Weir is especially guilty of this during the first half, where the perspective switches between multiple characters in the same paragraph, which gets very tiresome.

An important and integral step that Weir fails to accomplish is getting the reader to engage with characters. The reader should be committed to the characters, feeling what they feel, wanting what they want, and hurting when they hurt. I did not feel this in the slightest when I read Captive Queen. I felt like an outside observer, watching a scene go by without empathy. I felt removed from the characters and uncaring about their motives.  It was only during the last third of the book when I felt invested in Eleanor, but certainly not in Henry.

Although I appreciated little in the novel, what I did enjoy was seeing Eleanor as a mother. While reading her biography, I overlooked her maternal side and focused more on her political ambitions. At times she even appeared cold and calculating, placing her own ambitions  above her children, such as when she leaves her two daughters after her divorce with Louis in order to start her dynasty in England. Even when she led her son into battle against her husband, it seemed like a political motive, not a maternal one. She was not leading her sons against her husband, but the rightful heirs against an unwanted king. But Weir really develops Eleanor as a mother. Yes, she left her daughters to marry Henry, but it is with great reluctance and she braved it with a  heavy heart. She was constantly worrying about the safety of her sons when she was in captivity, and she defended them to the last. Weir does a marvelous job at revealing the heartbreaks that noble and royal families must face when having to marry of daughters at a young age, or send off sons to be educated by another family, a reality of noble life one easily forgets.

After 250 pages of flat characters, tedious relationships, and gaudy sex scenes, the story finally starts to improve. Perhaps it’s because, after years of estrangement from Henry, Eleanor began to reflect the woman I imagined; strong, independent, and not someone you’d want to cross! Perhaps it’s also because there were few to no  tedious sex scenes to endure. Either way, I was able to read without having to force myself, and even -dare I say- enjoyed it!

But would I recommend Captive Queen to anyone? Definitely not. I would not wish it on my worse enemy to have to claw through the tedium of the first half merely to enjoy the fleeting satisfaction of the last.  Eleanor is a popular figure in historical fiction, and there are a plethora of well written books on her. Unfortunately for me, I chose one of the flops.

Biographies of Eleanor

Want to read a non-fiction account of Eleanor?

I read Marion Meade’s Eleanor of Aquitaine: a Biography before my turbulent reading of Captive Queen. It was well written, informative, and enjoyable. Meade went into great detail not only about Eleanor’s life, but also about her ancestors of Aquitaine. She described the culture, politics, society and geography of both Aquitaine, Paris, and England in such vivid detail, that it was easy to image life with troubadours in southern France, or the dreary court in Paris. However, Meade had a frustrating habit of making unnecessary embellishments and guesses, such as saying “Eleanor and Petronilla must have romped together in the palace garden” (pg. 33) or “Perhaps Eleanor cherished illusions that Louis, life her grandparents, would capture Toulouse without a blow struck” (pg. 74). This annoying tendency gave the biography an air of fiction. I was also disappointed with the spareness of primary sources in her account.

Ralph V. Turner’s Eleanor of Aquitaine (which I have yet to read) is commended for his rich use of primary sources, and for exploring different myths and misconceptions surrounding Eleanor.





Happy Readings!

About the Black Death

The Black Death was a momentous time in western history. Indeed, some historians even argue that it brought the end of the medieval era, forever changing its religious, intellectual and social paradigm, and ushered in the age of the Renaissance. Whether you subscribe to this view of the Black Death or not, it is undeniably –at least, in my opinion- one of the most fascinating moments in history.
The Black Death, thought to have originated in China, swept through Europe in 1347. There are three forms of plague: bubonic, pneumonic, and septicaemic. Bubonic was spread by fleas that lived on rats.  It caused headaches, fever, and swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, armpits, and neck. These swellings were called buboes, and often would turn black. Many medieval physicians treated plague victims by lancing the buboes; they would use ointments to ripen it, hoping that it would burst on its own. As a last resort, surgeons would puncture the bubo. Around 50% of those infected with bubonic plague would die within 3 days. If the infection invaded the lungs, then it was known as pneumonic plague. It would cause the victim to cough, thus spreading the plague through droplets. This form was particularly fatal; almost all who were infected would die within a day. The final and most deadly form was septicaemic plague, which occurred when the blood was infected. There were usually no symptoms, but the victim would die instantly.
If I was infected with the Black Death, I think I would rather get the septicaemic form and die instantly rather than have to endure the horrendous symptoms of the plague just to most likely die later. However, that’s not how most contemporary medieval people saw it; the quickness of which the plague spread and killed was what was most horrifying for them as it gave them no time to make their final confessions and reconcile with those they have wronged. For a society where Christianity dominated every aspect of life, this was worse than the symptoms it brought.
Doomsday Book
Doomsday Book is set in the near future and follows the endeavours of the University of Oxford history department, where historians, with the capacity for time travel, are sent back to the past to do field research. Normally, historians are only able to study in the 20th century, as earlier eras are deemed too dangerous to travel. However, when the head of the Medieval Studies goes on vacation, the opportunistic Professor Gilchrist sends his eager student, Kivrin, to study life in the 1320s. Kivrin’s mentor, Professor Dunworthy, plagued with the conviction that something is wrong, frantically attempts to bring Kivrin back.  To his dismay, his convictions are confirmed as he realizes that Kivrin is not in the 1320s but in one of the deadliest eras in European history. His efforts, however, are hindered when Oxford is hit with an unknown disease, confirming that the past is more connected to the present than one would think.
Doomsday Book was a gruesome tale of despair and heart-wrenching deaths— not surprising for a book set in a time when around a third of Europe’s population was wiped out. Itwent into great –and gory- details of the symptoms of the plague. After all, the plague is not complete without lancing buboes, oozing sores, and ghastly deaths. However, this darkness was supplemented with touching moments, compassionate characters and unlikely friendships.
It was fascinating to read about the plague through Kivrin’s –a prospective historian- eyes, since she construed her experience as a historian by questioning what she learned and analyzing what she observed. As such, Connie Willis takes a fascinating time in the middle ages that is extremely easy to sensationalize, but by writing about it through the lens of a historian, she is able to escape over-embellishing the story and write about it in a more analytical way. Furthermore, by focusing on the experience of one small village, Willis avoids making sweeping judgments and gross exaggerations about this deadly period in Europe.
An issue that this novel brought up was how much can we really know about the past? Kivrin felt she was completely prepared for her endeavour to the past; she had the garb, she knew the social customs, and she was familiar with the religious procedures. Not only was she well versed in Old English, but she also learned Norman-French, German and Church-Latin, and that if knowledge somehow failed her, she was equipped with a translator. What could go wrong? Turns out, a lot.  The three years Kivrin spent studying for her expedition were not nearly enough to prepare her for the realities that the middle ages held. Her clothing was wrong, her dialect was wrong, her maps were wrong, and she was left to fend for herself in an unfamiliar time. Although Kivrin spent all of her academic career studying life in the middle ages, this was not enough to prepare her for realization of how vivid, dynamic and real the people are who she met, befriended, and desperately struggled to save when sickness spread.
I highly recommend this book, especially for sci-fi fans.
More Plague books
If you’re like me, then you can’t get enough of the plague, and Doomsday Book will certainly leave you begging for more. Well have no fear! Here are a few plague books that I have read or have caught my eye:
Set in Philadelphia in the late eighteenth during the devastating yellow fever epidemic, this Young Adult novel follows the brave young Matilda Cook’s harrowing quest to survive and save her loved ones from the disease that killed approximately 10% of the population. When I was young, this gripping tale kept me up late into the night, clutching a flashlight and fanatically flipping the pages. In fact, it was this novel that ignited my raging addiction to plague tales.
Written through the eyes of Anna Frith, a housemaid in England faces the horrors that the 1666 plague brings to her small village. Short and sweet, this novel will keep you riveted until the last page.
While I haven’t had the chance to delve into this book yet, it’s definitely on my must read list. John Hatcher, a renown historian, uses his intimate knowledge of the middle ages as a template to recreate and image life during the Black Death in a rural English village.

Happy readings!


Hello fellow history lovers!

I’m an undergraduate student majoring in history and can’t get enough of it! If I’m not writing essays or studying for finals, I’m reading about history on the side. I’ve always found that a fun way to brush up on the past is through historical fiction. Sure, it’s sometimes an embellished, exaggerated form of viewing the past, but that’s what’s so fun about it! Ever since I was a little girl, I would consume book after book about ancient queens, ravishing plagues, courtly love, and epic battles.

In this blog, I’ll be posting about what book I’m reading, a brief plot summary, my personal opinion on it, and perhaps a few fun facts about this historical context/characters the book is based on! Hopefully other history fanatics will find this helpful when searching for books to read.

Although my primary interests are in medieval and early modern Western Europe, I absolutely love reading about anything and intend to cover a wide range of areas and topics. I’m also a complete sucker for strong, powerful women and deadly plagues.

The first book I’ll be reading is “Doomsday Book” by Connie Willis, about a history student who travels back in time to Medieval England and finds herself in the midst of the Black Death.

Happy readings!

Rohn Strong

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