The Fig Eater, by Jody Shields
The setting is Vienna in 1910. There's been a murder. A young woman named Dora. This is the story of the search for her killer and the strange group of characters that seem to surround her murder.
It's been a little tough to get into. I've been distracted by the techniques she uses in showing us the minds of her characters. It's almost as if you're watching from a 10 foot overview and then suddenly she pulls you into the characters for a moment and then you drift back to the higher view, again.
But it is a fascinating story and a fascinating way of telling it. I suppose it only distracts me because I write.
Agincourt, by Bernard Cornwell.
Oy. Could. not. put. this. down. I have always heard of Agincourt - knew it was a battle that England fought against the French - knew it inspired Shakespeare to write "We few, we happy few." in Henry V. This was a (fictionalized) first hand account from the view of an English archer at the Battle of Agincourt.
The characters are so well drawn - our hero, Nicholas Hook (there really was a Nicholas Hook at Agincourt) is an Archer - a powerful man who lived in an age of powerful men - both physically, as he, and politically, as those he encounters throughout the book.
Agincourt was but one of many battles that took place in the "Hundred Years War". For Hook, the story actually starts at Soissons, a little earlier than Agincourt, where he survives the Massacre at Soissons, which is told in gruesome detail.
In fact, many elements of the book might violate the mores and morals of many of today's readers - the language is very rough in many places, although it is the language of the common man of the time that's being recounted, and not gratuitously foul. But it IS foul - because they were foul mouthed. And the battle scenes really convey the brutal aspects of warfare as it was conducted at the time.
Not a book for kids. Not a book for the squeamish. But a good book nonetheless.