My news lately has been so nasty that I decided to tell you how I've been coping with the nausea caused by all the stress - by reading books by my favourite novelists.
The first is Ken Follett, a Welshman who is well known for his spy novels. You might recall his first Novel, Eye of the Needle, which was made into a movie starring Kate Nelligan and Donald Sutherland. Another of my favourites from Ken Follett is On Wings of Eagles, the true story of how two employees of Ross Perot were rescued from Iran during the revolution of 1979. This book was made into a miniseries with Richard Crenna as Ross Perot and Burt Lancaster as Colonel 'Bull' Simons.
Because Ken Follett was so well known for the spy genre, his fans were surprised when he came out with Pillars of the Earth in 1989. I read this book while I was recuperating from back surgery last year and found it full of strong women characters, suspense, and intrigue. The Novel is about building a cathedral during the Middle Ages and it received rave reviews. It was on the No. 1 position on reading lists in Canada, Great Britain, and Italy as well as being on the German best-seller list for six years! The sequel, World Without End, published in 2007, takes place two hundred years later and features descendants of the original characters. At the heart of the story is the greatest natural disaster ever to strike the human race: the plague known as the Black Death, which killed something like half the population of Europe in the fourteenth century. The people of the Middle Ages battled this lethal pestilence and survived – and, in doing so, laid the foundations of modern medicine. The book is on my desk at this moment, but I plan to read it over the summer while lazing in the garden. And the other great news is that it, too, is being made into a miniseries starring Donald Sutherland as Bartholomew.
My other favourite Novelist is Phillippa Gregory, who lives on a small farm in Yorkshire, England where she keeps horses, hens and ducks. She was an established historian and writer when she discovered her interest in the Tudor period and wrote the Novel The Other Boleyn Girl, which was made into a TV drama and a major film. Now, six Novels later, she is looking at the family that preceded the Tudors: the magnificent Plantaganets, a family of complex rivalries, loves, and hatreds.
With a keen interest in all things British, I truly enjoy reading her Novels about King Henry VIII and his six wives along with her other Novels that take place in Medieval England. So far I have devoured not only The Other Boleyn Girl but also her Wideacre Trilogy (Wideacre, The Favoured Child, and Meridon), The Wise Woman, The Queen's Fool, The Boleyn Inheritance, and The Virgin's Lover. Currently, I am about halfway through The White Queen. I would dare to say that Pillippa Gregory's Novels are more interesting to women than to men, but who knows? Maybe some men read her books.