Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where can I find this book?

We all know how to find a book that we'd like to read, either to buy or to borrow--right? Not exactly. Depending on where one lives, this can be a challenge to find even the more popular books, because of distribution considerations, further complicated by high shipping charges. This can even be the case with ebooks, as not all countries have access. When I first published This Time, I was thrilled to see it appear in all the Amazons. Still, for those who don't live in an "Amazon country" (Australia is an example), getting my book from Amazon meant paying exorbitant shipping fees. It was, in fact, fellow Ricardians (people interested in restoring Richard III's good name) who pointed me to alternative book distributors. So, here's a list of places, besides the usual suspects such as Amazon, to buy and find books no matter where you live.

Print Books:
Buy: Better World Books and The Book Depository
Find: Google Books (will also search libraries); AddAll; Bookfinder

Buy & Free: Smashwords; Digital Books; Project Gutenberg; Google Books; Internet Archive
Find: AddAll Ebooks

I'm sure this list is not comprehensive. If you know of other resources, please let us know.

And let us not forget about a great resource--the local library. Since I live in the USA, I do have ready access to Amazon, B&N, etc., but the cost of some research material can be quite high, so I relied on my library to obtain these books through the inter-library loan (ILL) system. ILL gave me access to books from public and university libraries from all over the US. I can't say enough good about the libraries and our librarians.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Review: The Broken Sword

The Broken Sword by Rhoda Edwards
Published 1976 by Doubleday & Company, Garden City, New York
(UK title: Some Touch of Pity)

The Broken Sword: A Novel of the Reign of Richard III by Rhoda Edwards is among the best fictional accounts of the late maligned king that I have read. It covers the last two years of Richard’s life, from shortly before he discovered his brother, Edward IV, had died and named him protector of his son Edward V, to his tragic defeat two years later after having suffered the deaths of his only legitimate son and of his wife of twelve years. We get a real sense of his character and the difficulties he had to deal with during his rule.

Edwards shows us the king from the eyes of several people who were important to him in some way, from his own view point, and from Robert Bolman, the clerk Richard promoted based solely on merit—a truly unique act of those times. Even though this two year period was presented from multiple view points, Edwards gave each a unique voice.

I found the chapters told by Richard’s wife, Anne Neville, his close friend and ally, Francis Lovell, and his physician, Dr. William Hobbes especially poignant. In these chapters we see Richard at the height of his powers and personal happiness and at his most vulnerable and at the depths of his emotional agony.

One point that had puzzled me was why Richard rushed into that last fateful battle where he lost his life and subsequently, his reputation. Edwards shows us Richard was among other things, under fiscal pressure to not delay the battle. The treasury was still depleted and not unlike affairs today, he needed money to govern. Had he pushed the battle back to when he could have been assured of the necessary troops, he risked not having the capital to pay for them. One point Edwards developed that I particularly liked was how Richard had been aware of the Stanleys’ potential betrayal, but that he had approached their “fence sitting” pragmatically.

There were a few expository paragraphs, more so near the beginning of the book, interrupting the narrative flow that Edwards had otherwise so beautifully crafted. I would have preferred it if those parts had been handled through author’s notes at the end.

Ordinarily, I don’t recommend fiction as a reference for historical facts, since to get at what the author interprets as an emotional or larger truth, the writer might decide to “bend” a few facts. In this instance, I take exception. Not only did Edwards not take any license with the facts, but I feel she did find the larger truth. This book stands equally with the other oft touted Ricardian classics—Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey and Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman.

The Broken Sword is no longer in print. Used copies are available.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Patrol Cats

I was reminded of a pair of cats that I “rescued” while reading Sharon Kay Penman’s blog post: Shadow and Bambi. Shadow is a white Alsatian shepherd that Penman rescued a few weeks ago, and from all reports he is absolutely blossoming under her loving care.

Anyhoo, back in the early 1980s, I had bought a three family house in Hartford, Connecticut and shortly after getting settled into my second floor apartment and having filled the other two apartments with tenants, I discovered some mouse droppings in the cellar. I already had two dogs (a golden retriever mix and a Welsh terrier) and two small indoor cats. I reckoned that my two kitties wouldn’t be able to handle the mice, and my dogs were too goofy to do it, so I went to the pound to get a mouser. I got there a little early and while I was waiting to enter, a woman came in with two rather large, beautiful cats. Her children had developed allergies to cats, and she couldn’t keep her beloved felines. They never saw the inside of the pound.

The first floor tenants were students at Trinity College and they immediately took to the cats. It was a great arrangement—the cats dispensed with the mice and patrolled the perimeter making sure no more entered. The students were thrilled to have cats around, and the cats integrated themselves into the house so quickly that it was like they had always been there. They took to my dogs instantly. They’d walk with me when I walked the dogs; dashing in front of the pups and then throwing themselves on their backs to get attention. When the dogs sidestepped their bodies, the cats would leap up, dash in front and repeat the process.

The students ended up taking care of the cats most of the time. I’d get their food and took care of the annual vet visits.

The students eventually graduated and I saw how attached one in particular had become to them, so I offered them to her, as they were really her cats at that point. She wanted them, but she was moving to Switzerland, so there were some complications. But we worked everything out and they spent their remaining years living somewhere outside of Geneva.

I wish all animal stories could end as happily as this one did.