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text 2018-05-28 17:04
Reading progress update: I've listened 696 out of 1718 minutes.
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century - Barbara W. Tuchman,Nadia May

I wonder if the Swan Festival, where everyone chased young swans not yet able to fly, was an inspiration for the gosling juggling in Firefly. Fortunately participants were forbidden from killing what they caught.

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text 2018-05-28 15:26
Reading progress update: I've listened 624 out of 1718 minutes.
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century - Barbara W. Tuchman,Nadia May

I don't normally have a very ribald sense of humour, but this made me chuckle:

Isabella* could well have listened to the tales of Jean de Condé, poet in her in her lifetime at her mother's native court in Hainault. His style is illustrated by a story about a game of truth-telling played at court before a tournament. A knight asked by the queen if he has fathered any children is forced to admit he has not. And indeed he did not have the look of a man who could please his mistress when he held her naked in his arms for his beard was little more than the kind of fuzz that ladies have in certain places. The queen tells him she does not doubt his word for it is easy to judge from the state of the hay whether the pitchfork is any good.


In his turn the knight asks, "Lady answer me without deceit, is there hair between your legs?" When she replies, "None at all," he comments, "Indeed I do believe you for grass does not grow on a well-beaten path."


*Isabella: eldest daughter of King Edward III and Queen Philippa


Also, so far I kind of love Isabella. She was spurned at the altar, then jilted a fiancé in her turn while keeping the money awarded to her as income by her father the king.

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text 2018-05-21 22:46
Reading progress update: I've listened 47 out of 1718 minutes.
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century - Barbara W. Tuchman,Nadia May

I'm not sure how much of this I'll actually absorb via audiobook, but so far I'm really enjoying Nadia May's narration. Perhaps I'd get the same feel off of the page, but it's nice to have a history book narrated in something other than a monotone.


Plus the comment for the casual reader to just think of the various currencies as "pieces of money" and not to worry about the details was amusing. As was the introduction to the calendar (varied usages and not always consistent). And the problem of conflating different people into one.


I'm not going to be able to spell anything though. I guess that just goes with the mediaeval theme...

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review 2018-04-29 21:38
Journey into the past.
The Mirror (Northwest Passage #5) - John A. Heldt

This was the second time-travel book I'd listened to by this author, unfortunately from two different series. I preferred The Mirror (Northwest passage 05) to Class of '59 (American Journey 04), mainly because it was less confusing in the early chapters. I also favoured the narrator of The Mirror.


Ginny and Katie Smith, nineteen year old twins, have come from a family of time-travellers, and while they never expected to find themselves in another time, they seemed to have some awareness of how things worked and how to go about returning to their own time. However, they were aware that they needed to be very careful not to make significant changes in the past, and not to fall in love and leave heart-break behind them when they left. Whilst they pretty much achieved their first objective, they were far from achieving the second.


The era in which they find themselves is 1964, with the rise of The Beatles, the build-up of racial riots and the impending Vietnam disaster. This was also the era in which their great-grandmother lived. Meeting her and her daughter, their grandmother, was one of the highlights of their trip and they were able to fill her in on the fates of some of the people whom she'd loved and lost.


The characterisations were good and I loved the different social feel of a time when courtesy was the norm. The dialogue, however, was a bit stilted and I felt for the narrator in tackling an endless stream of 'he said, she said'. 

Although this does work as a standalone, I was sorry I hadn't read the previous books in the series. I struggled with the the ending, which brought together the fates of all the previous characters and was rather confusing. I still plan to go over the last few chapters again to really understand who everyone was and how their roles in the story panned out.


I'm a bit surprised that this is not listed as a YA book as it struck me as a coming-of-age novel rather than adult fiction.



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