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Portrait of an Unknown Woman

January 27, 2009

Whew! Finally finished. I really wish I had more time to read…Anyway, I am done reading Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett. And here’s my little review…
The book is a historical fiction that takes place in the 1500’s in England during the time of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and the Reformation. The book follows the lives of the More Family and their many secrets.

It’s unusual for me to read a book that is not science related, and is in fact fiction, that requires such an extensive list of references. I’ve never really thought about the amount of research that would go into writing a historical fiction in order for it to seem accurate or realistic. In the back of the book, there are also several informational blurbs about things like medicine in the sixteenth century…pretty neat! I appreciate it when people do their homework.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. My interest in this book fluctuated. I found a few parts very dull…and started losing interest in the middle. However, the beginning and the end were both very good. I enjoyed the characters and the attention to detail.

The thing I most enjoyed was the amount of “gray areas” in the book. I love when my villains have motivates that I can understand and even support. Perhaps it is because I have DMed for so long- so I am usually playing the villain. But I enjoy being able to root for them. While there was no “villain” in this book…people did make mistakes and take questionable, stupid and even horrendous action in the story but I could sympathize with them. Not everything was black and white, there were multiple paths the characters could have taken with their reactions. The book makes you question what you would do in those situations, and what really is wrong or right. I love when books make me do that!

The ending was not what I had anticipated as I was approaching it. While what happened was not what I was personally rooting for, I was quite pleased with resolution.

I would like to thank Stacy for this book recommendation! And my book club. I would never have picked this book up to read if it weren’t on the book club list where Stacy had put it. It’s not remotely near any of my typical genres, and the cover doesn’t even peak my interest. (So glad I made that club!)

What’s Next? In a Glass Darkly by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Published in 1872, it’s a collection of 5 short stories that are in the gothic/mystery genre. Sounds exciting!

(That means my 101 list is now 1/1 so I am on track!)

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