Review from Eileen – Crofton Reader Group
Andrea Levy – Long Song
The story takes place in Jamaica during the last turbulent years of slavery and is told by Miss July who was born into slavery on a sugar plantation. She is taken from her mother by Caroline Mortimer to train as a ladies maid.
Caroline and July are the main women in the story and although on the surface, one has all the power and the other has none, in reality it is a constant game of one-upmanship between them, in which July generally has the upper hand. Despite their differing status they are, in fact, both trapped by their circumstances.
Caroline finds herself in charge of the plantation and overseas its deterioration throughout the Negro uprisings and the eventual freeing of the slaves.
During her life Miss July experiences fear, violence, tragedy, success and love and bears two children. One of her children Thomas, who becomes a successful publisher, asks his mother to write down the story of her life and the book moves from the past to the present as we hear of July and how she now lives with Thomas, his wife and children.
The story of Jamaica told through the experiences of Miss July gives us a glimpse of the way of life of the planters and slaves and their differing outlook on life with humour and compassion and is an excellent read.
Review From Jane – Crofton Reader Group
Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell
The book follows Thomas of Hookton, an archer fighting for the English in France, at the beginning of the Hundred Years War
Seeking revenge and a stolen relic the reader witnesses, through Thomas, the brutal battles the English wage against the French. The English lay waste to the French lands taking crops and livestock to feed the army, ransacking homes for treasure to send back to England and brutally killing the men and taking the women, if they were lucky, for their own pleasure. They leave nothing behind.
Bernard Cornwell obviously researches his books well, going into great detail about the preparation for attack, the tactics of the attack and the armour and weapons used by the men and horses. The battle scenes were very descriptive and not for the faint hearted.
I felt I learnt much about the archers and their bows, arrows and their incredible skill.
The book ended with a unfinished business and I have borrowed the next two books in the trilogy, Vagabond and Heretic to find out if Thomas succeeded in his quest and what happened to the other characters of the book.