(Review) The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Publisher and Publication Date: Harper Perennial. First published in 2019. My edition January 5, 2021.
Genre: Fiction. Family saga.
Pages: 352.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of family saga stories.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon
Link @ Barnes and Noble

Summary:

The Dutch House is the story of the Conroy family who bought the Dutch House in 1946. Cyril Conroy bought the home without his wife knowing. It was meant to be a surprise, but she didn’t like the surprise. Their children are Maeve and Danny.
The Dutch House is a three story home in Elkins Park near Philadelphia.
The story centers on the children.
The story reflects back on memories, but also their present lives.
The time period is mid 1940s to the 1980s (?). I’m guessing about the final years time period.
The narrator is Danny.

My Thoughts:

The Dutch House is a memorable story of the lives of two siblings who grew up in the home. A house that is its own character. Sometimes a house, building, material object can be used in a story like a person who is a character. The house is referred to so often in this story. It holds strong memories. Even after the children left, they are drawn back to the house again and again to try and peace together what happened.

I wonder, if the house could speak, what would it say?

Several reasons why I love this story:
1. Each of the four members of the original Conroy family are unique individuals. It’s as if they don’t belong in the same family. Their differences make the story larger. What I mean is if all of the family members were similar the story would seem small and uncomplicated. The vast difference in their personalities brings complications in understanding one another. It brings conflict.
2. Maeve is more like a mother to Danny. It is a relationship I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of others. An older sibling becomes more of a parent.
3. The parent’s generation represents a people group who don’t communicate clearly. They don’t pass information on to their spouse or children about real heart issues. The children in the story is a generation who is trying to change this.
4. The Dutch House has a character who at first is difficult to like. This person has made a choice that’s shocking. Later in the story I understand the person’s feelings and decision. Even though I wouldn’t have made the same decision, I have empathy and no longer feel the prick of criticism.
5. The Dutch House is the story of love to the point of sacrifice. One sacrifices what they want to do in life in order to help another or please another. One sacrifices what they want to do even if that meant giving up a committed role.
6. The characters to some degree all have transformations in their attitudes, words, and behavior.

Themes are death and dying, betrayal, courage, honesty, loyalty, love, and sacrifice.

The Dutch House is a memorable story. After reading it, I feel these are real people I’ve met.

An audio reading of the first part. Tom Hanks is the narrator.

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(Review) A Man of Honor, or Horatio’s Confessions by J.A. Nelson

Publisher and Publication Date: Quill Point Press. December 9, 2019.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 410.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from the author. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction and Shakespeare.
Rating: Excellent.

Book tour site page: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour.

Link to read the tragedy of Hamlet (free). Courtesy of MIT.
Another link to read Hamlet (free). The words are large print at this site. Courtesy of The Folger Shakespeare.

Winner of two silver medals
Best First Book, Fiction
Best Cover, Fiction
Awarded by the IBPA (2020)

2020 Notable Indie, Top 100 – Best Indie Book Awards, Shelf Unbound

Finalist, Literary Fiction
14th Annual National Indie Excellence Awards (2020)

Link @ Amazon
The Kindle is $3.99 on this day.

Link @ Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

J. A. Nelson’s passion for exploring connections between history, literature, and evidence in written texts has shaped her life—from a BA (Occidental College) and MA (The George Washington University) in cultural studies to a two-decade career at the National Archives of the United States, working with historical documentary treasures and helping people access unique stories in those records. Ms. Nelson is a native of Culver City, CA, a Los Angeles suburb. She lives with her husband in Northern Virginia. A Man of Honor, or Horatio’s Confessions is her debut novel.
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM | BOOKBUB | GOODREADS

Summary:

A Man of Honor tells the fictional tale of how one man’s oath gave birth to the legend of Hamlet.

How far would you go to keep a deathbed promise?

Surrounded by the bodies of slain monarchs, a dying prince extracts a promise from his friend, Horatio: “Tell my story.”

Rival kings of warring nations strive to lay claim to the throne, now vacant, but what will happen to the people who live there, at Helsingør’s Krogen Castle? How will Horatio preserve his honor and the prince’s legacy while surviving this murderous kingdom and the men who would rule it?

Despite the odds and threats against him, Horatio persists, weaving the story of his dear friend into the fabric of one of their oldest and most revered medieval texts.

But when a nefarious Spaniard thwarts his plans, Horatio must once again risk everything to fulfill his oath.

With the help of some unexpected allies in the form of Margrete, a courageous lady-in-waiting, and Lanier, a disgraced French nobleman, Horatio undertakes this perilous quest that will lead him on a journey none of them could have ever predicted, to a place none of them ever thought they would see.

And after their hard-fought journey will it all be for naught?
Will Hamlet’s glory be Horatio’s downfall?

Page from a geography book. The time period is 1580s. Kronborg Braun-Hogenberg – Kronborg – Wikipedia

My Thoughts:

It’s been several years since I’ve read Hamlet. I recently read the tragedy to refresh my memory. I remember the main points, but I had forgotten some of the characters and dialogue.

A Man of Honor starts at the final scene in Hamlet. Hamlet lay dying while his friend Horatio watches in grief.
Hamlet asks Horatio to tell his story. This is the main plot of A Man of Honor: for Horatio to remember in honor Hamlet’s last wish of telling his story.

A Man of Honor stays true to the atmosphere and other elements of the tragedy, Hamlet. It is a dramatic story. It has characters who plot, avenge, murder; and, they seek to raise themselves above one another. The kings are devious and cruel. There is internal and external conflicts to seek justice. Yet, how can this be carried out?

I like the character Horatio. He is believable. He has both positive and negative character traits that make him a flesh and blood person. He has a transformation in the story which adds a remarkable journey in his person.

I love the character Margrete. She is an admirable person. She has survived abuse and harsh treatment because of the abuse, but she is a survivor. She is a survivor both in body and mind.

I love this story because it is a story I’ve not heard before. It is based on one of the most famous plays of Shakespeare. I love Nelson’s choice of topic. I love the research described in the author’s notes and sources. I love it that this is Nelson’s first published book.

Further reasons why I love this story:
I love the beautiful and descriptive writing style.
I love the romantic scenes.
I love the settings of the story. The story begins in Denmark, but the story travels to two other countries.
I love the how the characters act to overcome conflicts.

Themes in the story: courage, revenge, murder, loyalty, ambition, bravery, redemption, power of love, honesty, and honor.

A page from Gesta Danorum. Books of Danish history.


Giveaway:

Enter to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Giveaway link: Man of Honor (gleam.io)

Impressions In Ink is not the host benefactor for this giveaway.

(Review) Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Publisher and Publication Date: Yale University Press. 2003. First published 1603.
Genre: A tragedy in five acts. Play.
Pages: 249.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Classic readers. Readers of Shakespeare.
Rating: Excellent.

Hamlet is a tragedy in five acts.
I have read this a second time because of a historical fiction book: A Man of Honor by J.A. Nelson. It is also a tragedy read for The Classics Club challenge.

The original title: The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

The play is available to read for free at MIT and The Folger Shakespeare.

To read more information:
Britannica
Royal Shakespeare Company
WilliamShakespeare.net

Title page of 1605 printing.
Horatio, Hamlet, and the ghost. Artist is Henry Fuseli. 1789.

Summary:

Denmark. Early 1500s. The royal house of Denmark.
Hamlet is the prince of Denmark. His father is King Hamlet. His mother is Gertrude. His father’s brother, Claudius, murdered King Hamlet. Claudius became king and married Gertrude.
A ghost appears to Hamlet. The ghost tells his story. Hamlet seeks revenge.

My Thoughts:

Hamlet is one of my three favorite tragedies of Shakespeare. The other two are Macbeth and Julius Caesar. I’ve read several others but these three are my favorites.

To read Hamlet is not the same as to “experience” the drama unfolding visually. To experience Hamlet is to take it all in with the senses.

I am not an actor, but it helps to read aloud the tragedies of Shakespeare. I feel the same way about poetry. Reading poetry aloud is better than to read it silently.

Several reasons why I love Hamlet:
1. Hamlet is absorbing, emotional, and evocative.
2. Hamlet is memorable because of the characters, dialogue, plot, conflicts, mood, and setting.
3. Hamlet requires thought. For example, some questions and thoughts I had while reading: Is Hamlet truly mad? The other characters seem to believe he is mad. They have conversations wondering if he is mad. Does Shakespeare want me to believe he is mad? Is this a distraction in Hamlet? Is this a ploy?
4. I feel empathy for some of the characters. However, I do not feel any of them are people I admire. They are not characters who I can say I love. They are certainly memorable.
5. The language of Shakespeare is sweet music to my mouth and ears.
6. I love several lines from Hamlet.
“Murder most foul, as in the best it is, But this most foul, strange and unnatural.” -Ghost. Page 43.
“Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,” –Hamlet. Page 98.
“Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Why does the drum come hither?” -Horatio. Page 225.

(Review) The Canterbury Murders: A Stanton and Barling Mystery, Book 3 by E. M. Powell

Publisher and Publication Date: Crosshaven Press. November 12, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Pages: 318.
Format: Paperback.
Source: I received a complimentary paperback copy from Crosshaven Press. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of the Middle Ages in England. Readers who love murder mysteries.
Rating: Very good to good.

To read information about the history of the 12th Century in England: The History of England.

From The Guardian, a display at the British Museum.

Landing page for the book tour: The Canterbury Murders.

Link at Amazon .
If you are in the program, the Kindle Unlimited is free.

Link at Audible.

About the Author:

E.M. Powell’s historical thriller and medieval mystery Fifth Knight and Stanton & Barling novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers.

The third Stanton & Barling mystery, THE CANTERBURY MURDERS, will be released in November 2020.

Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog.

E.M. Powell is represented by Josh Getzler at HG Literary.

Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com. You can also find him on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.

Summary:

A fire-ravaged cathedral. An ungodly murder.

Easter, 1177. Canterbury Cathedral, home to the tomb of martyr Saint Thomas Becket, bears the wounds of a terrible fire. Benedict, prior of the great church, leads its rebuilding. But horror interrupts the work. One of the stonemasons is found viciously murdered, the dead man’s face disfigured by a shocking wound.

When King’s clerk Aelred Barling and his assistant, Hugo Stanton, arrive on pilgrimage to the tomb, the prior orders them to investigate the unholy crime.

But the killer soon claims another victim–and another. As turmoil embroils the congregation, the pair of sleuths face urgent pressure to find a connection between the killings.

With panic on the rise, can Barling and Stanton catch the culprit before evil prevails again—and stop it before it comes for them?

THE CANTERBURY MURDERS is the third book in E.M. Powell’s Stanton and Barling medieval murder mystery series. Combining intricate plots, shocking twists and a winning–if unlikely–pair of investigators, this series is perfect for fans of Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael or C. J. Sansom’s Shardlake.

My Thoughts:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, was murdered at the altar of Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170. He was slain by four knights who had heard Henry II state, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest.” Saint Becket was considered a martyr and canonized in 1173. The tomb where Saint Becket was buried became a shrine. Pilgrims visited the burial site. Relics were removed and taken.

In The Canterbury Murders, the Canterbury Cathedral where Saint Becket was murdered and lay entombed is the setting for another gruesome murder in 1177. A stonemason who had been working on the fire ruined cathedral lay slain. The stonemason has a pregnant wife who also works on the cathedral mixing mortar.

Aelred Barling, the king’s clerk and his assistant, Hugo Stanton, had worked on another murder case together at Yorkshire. The two men usually spend their days reading legal paperwork and delivering documents. The two men go on pilgrimage to Saint Becket’s tomb, and they work together to solve the new murder case.

All of I have mentioned in the above paragraphs under My Thoughts is the first reasons why I enjoyed this story. The time period, setting, historical background, Barling and Stanton, and the murder to solve. However, the middle of the story seemed to trudge along for a while. The ending held surprises and my interest.

The Canterbury Murders is a story that piqued my interest to read about Thomas Becket and 12th century England. I am a fan of books on the Middle Ages. I’ve read several books both fiction and nonfiction in this time period. I have not read a book about Thomas Becket.

This book is number three in the series, but it’s a solid stand-alone story.

I love the background stories in the book. For example, Stanton’s romantic entanglement with an infamous woman.

Themes in the story: betrayal, death, courage, revenge, love, murder, abuse, and the occult.

Giveaway:

Enter to win a paperback copy of The Canterbury Murders by E.M. Powell! Two copies are up for grabs!

The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 5th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Direct link to the giveaway.