epiphany_maria (epiphany_maria) wrote,

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Book Reviews: The Invisible Library + The Shipkiller + The Creation Of Anne Boleyn

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman
This dreary, arty-farty misfire has no complex, flawed real characters or complex, flawed, real relationships. Unethical polemicist Irene works for the Library stealing books from alternate worlds and invariably getting into scrapes. She ends up in a steampunk London with a non-compliant trainee, an undercutting belligerent arch nemesis and a Sherlock Holmes knock off.

This was terrible, boring and badly written. Irene doesn’t care that her job description is inaccurate, that there is a haphazard big bad out there and crisis and uncertainty may be coming. I am baffled as to how this ever got published, it was all for nothing. I felt profound dissatisfaction that I was enticed by this banal substandard mess in which there are no moral terms, characters proselytise and there is not one interesting conceit.

Best Lines:
“Johnson! My horsewhip!”

“The White Singer and the Fallen Towers.”

“What sort of bargains had he struck?”

The Shipkiller by Justin Scott
This 1978 sea thriller is a relic - it is dated, racist and full of references to the Shah and Concorde. The Hardins are sailing around the sea when a super tanker named Leviathan sinks them. Peter lives but his wife is lost at sea. Nobody cares or takes responsibility. So Peter decides on a crazed revenge plan: to sink Leviathan after chasing her around the Persian Gulf.

This was dull, full of sailing jargon and everyone is either exorbitantly smug and racist or in the case of Peter’s new love interest, a sexist unintentionally offensive stereotype. I don’t care about Peter’s seething anger or non-existent sanity. Also the ending leaves a lot unresolved. This was unserious and significantly dated.

The Creation Of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo
This fascinating if meandering cultural history examines Anne Boleyn. Why is she so compelling? Why does she inspire such extreme reactions? How could King Henry VIII order the execution of his wife? How did a woman who died in disgrace propagate such an afterlife in public imagination? This is an interesting dissection on how historians, authors, playwrights, films, paintings and television have made Anne Boleyn into a mainstream cultural issue in the centuries since her death.

Bordo goes on at length about ’Anne Of The Thousand Days’, ’The Anne Boleyn Files’ blog, the novel ’Brief Gaudy Hour’, Hilary Mantel’s novels. Eustace Chapuys, ’The Tudors’ TV show, Genevieve Bujold, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Merle Oberon, ’The Other Boleyn Girl’ film, book and TV movie, ’The Real Housewives of Orange County’, Natalie Dormer, Alison Weir, David Starkey and her bete noir Philippa Gregory.

Bordo has some airy pretensions to grandeur like braying on about being hit by a bus and bike. But her take on identity politics, Anne’s social transgressions, Anne’s undoubtedly grim end and the unceasing interest in the maybe unscrupulous Queen and the many unsupportable accusations made against her makes one read this voraciously. This is a restorative reprioritising look at how bias affects comprehension.

Best Lines:
“Medieval codpiece teaser.”

“A foolish and bad woman.”

“The fall and ruin of the concubine.”

“The reputation which Anne had earned for herself.”

“Learned far too many tricks at the French court.”

“As for noblemen, be careful not to make them hate you.”

“The greater ignominy and shame of the Lady.”

“She had not misconducted herself.”

“Monstrous paranoiac.”

“Fresh air was considered unnecessary, even dangerous.”

Tags: book review, the tudors

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