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Author Topic: What are you reading?  (Read 12735 times)


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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #75 on: February 06, 2021, 11:28:20 am »
I read this book back in October, the perfect season for a book about ghosts and hauntings. The author did a great job of creating Alfred Hitchcock's chills and suspense. It is one of this year's Whitney Award Finalists in the YA Speculative Genre.

Lifelike by Sheila Nielson




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Re: What are you reading?
« Reply #76 on: February 13, 2021, 12:47:10 am »
The Black Death by John Hatcher, a story of the Great Plague of the 1340s in one English village. It reads like a historical account, but the people & events were created through the authorís research into Catholic Church records, village archives, & other records of the time, which he examined exhaustively to learn about the lives of ordinary people & everyday happenings.

We all know that for most of human existence, history was written from the viewpoint of those in power, so much of this story had to be created from scratch because almost everyone in the 14th century was illiterate. Priests, doctors, village clerks or other officials, & a scant few others who were literate had enormous power, & especially the clergy because people were generally very religious. Even those who lied, stole, fornicated, & were habitually idle or drunk would take care to say their confessions & be sure to obtain the last rites from the priests when their time came. Many priests also functioned as quasi-physicians, maybe because they could read & were able to learn from earlier scientific literature (there is a mention of one priest who had read the writings of the ancient Greek physician Galen). There was also a lot of superstition based on both Christian & pagan ideas.

The story is chronological, starting before the plague reaches England but with rumors about a mysterious pestilence that has swept though vast parts of Asia, the Levant (what we call the Middle East), & Europe. With near-universal illiteracy & limited travel by ordinary folk, it was hard for them to know how much was true in the tales of people sickening & dying within 3-4 days, the plague spreading from just looking at an infected personís eyes, giant buboes that took over the body & turned it livid (hence the name ďBlack PlagueĒ), corpses heaped up in the fields, etc. The main figures are the village priest, a devoted, tireless, humble servant, his assistants, & a few village families that we know by name along with some secondary characters. Many of these people were made up for the story for reasons mentioned. There are revealing insights on the feudal way of life, how the landless were at the mercy of the upper classes, & then the ways that the plague & the loss of half the population impacted feudalism.

Iím in the middle of it, so I donít know everything that happens. But it seems that the peak of the plague in this village was for about two months, then it stopped.

I learned some new words that I had to look up in order to follow the story, including beadle, bede, villein, heriot, childwyte, "shrift, housel, & annealing," & I finally saw in print ďbrethren and sistren.Ē The author is a history professor at Cambridge, but the book was published in the U.S., uses American spelling, & doesnít read the way you might expect a British author to write. I donít know if this was a special U.S. edition, but itís easy to read & interesting.

Next, I will read a positive book, because enough of plagues & pestilences. 😷  I think next will be either a collection of stories about living with wildlife in California (When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors) or maybe a novel of the California Gold Rush that I got awhile ago but never started. 
« Last Edit: February 13, 2021, 07:13:14 pm by Curelom »


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