Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Favorite Reads #2: THE GERALDINE CONSPIRACY by Anne Chambers

Alyce of At Home with Books hosts a weekly feature spotlighting favorite reads from pre-blogging days. Because it's been a while since the books were read, these posts are not reviews per se, but rather impressionistic remembrances of a positive reading experience. I think of this feature as an opportunity to more deeply explore the range of my reading interests and those of other book bloggers and readers of book blogs outside of the current crop of new releases.
Do you have an old favorite that you'd like to share?


by Anne Chambers

Publisher: Marino Books
Pub. Date: September 1997

Synopsis (from the publisher):

Vivid, passionate, panoramic, The Geraldine Conspiracy is an epic novel. The year is 1537. With barbaric cruelty, Henry VIII has almost wiped out the powerful Geraldine dynasty in Ireland; the eleven-year-old Gerald FitzGerald is the sole survivor. Plucked from the maw of the Tudor murder machine by his English tutor, Thomas Leverous and his young aunt, Eleanor, the Geraldine and his protectors flee from the king's agents in Ireland. The leaders of the Gaelic and Anglo-Norman traditions offer to put aside their differences and unite to save the Geraldine. But their efforts become entangled in the Machiavellian net of European politics, which destroys their tentative steps towards unity, jeopardises the Geraldine's life and reveals the dark secret that both unites and divides his protectors, Eleanor and Thomas Leverous.

Why I Chose This Book:

I love historical fiction and particularly those novels which illuminate the history of the British Isles. As is often the case, I was first drawn to this book by the cover, but make no mistake -- THE GERALDINE CONSPIRACY is not a romance. This is historical fiction with the emphasis on history. It may sometimes be gritty and gruesome, but it is always engaging. In fact, when I took it off the shelf in preparation for writing this post, I started reading the Prologue, and then Chapter One, and then . . . I had to force myself to stop! I don't know that I won't be making room in my reading schedule to revisit this wonderfully compelling story. The characters are so clearly and vitally drawn, the historical details so dynamically and seamlessly woven into the narrative, that I was totally entranced by the urgency and danger of life in another time and place. THE GERALDINE CONSPIRACY is historical fiction at it's best.

FYI: The book contains a useful geneological tree of the 11 Earls of Kildare as well as a glossary to help with some archaic and Gaelic terminology.

A CAVEAT: Though this book is currently out-of-print, it is generally available through libraries and secondhand bookstores. (And definitely worth hunting down!)

Favorable reviews:

'A colourful and dashing chronicle, rich in its set-pieces, highly emotive in its depiction of relationships and finely detailed in its descriptive passages.'
The Irish Times

'A rollicking good story, well told. It is entertaining and absorbing, carefully researched and written gracefully in language attuned to the times.' Irish Independent.

About the Author (from :
Biographer, novelist and screenplay writer, Anne Chambers' most recent books include Ranji: Maharajah of Connemara; At Arm's Length -- Aristocrats in the Republic of Ireland; Granuaile: Sea Queen of Ireland (for children); Finding Tom Cruise and Other Stories; Shadow Lord: Theobald Bourke -- Son of the Pirate Queen.

To visit the author's website, click here.


Pam said...

I have never heard of this book, but it sounds intriguing. I love everything to do with Tudor England and Henry VIII, but I'm not familiar with this aspect of Henry's rule. I'll hae to see if I can get a copy from the library. Thanks for the review.

Gwendolyn B. said...

Pam: That's what I like so much about this feature - we can bring to light some "long-lost treasures." Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

NotNessie said...

I have an award for you:

Zibilee said...

I love historical fiction set in this area and time-frame. I will have to order this one from the library, it looks great!