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Kerowyn
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:52 am    Post subject: The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen Reply with quote

This short stories collection reminded me of Nam Lê's "The Boat" - Both are about Vietnamese refugees, boat people or their offspring after they're settled in a new country.

I remember having posted a review of "The Boat", which was one of the most depressing books I ever read.

Well, this one, "The Refugees", comes close. It's different in the sense that it deals with refugees who have settled, mostly in California, and how they coped with culture shock (in the US first, then, ironically, when they go visit Vietnam after having been thoroughly Americanized).

None of the "stories" is happy. I put "stories" in quotation marks, because these are more like anecdotes, "slice-of-life" kind of thing, sometimes without head or tail. I couldn't understand the point of the first story, about the ghost of a boat person who died during the escape from VN, who visits his family a decade or so later, when his mother and sister have settled in California. In fact I couldn't see the point of most of these "stories". They're well researched, and I guess that some of them are true stories, but I couldn't get involved and, though it's a short book, it took me forever to finish it... So I don't really recommend it.

I had read "The Sympathizer", by the same writer, his first novel, which got the Pulitzer Prize in 2016, and while admiring the skill and style of the author, I couldn't get terribly excited about it either...

So... While I'm happy for Viet Thanh Nguyen for his success, I'm afraid I can't recommend this book. It'll probably bore any non-Vietnamese to death, though of course politically correct critics have written glowing reviews of it.
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inkling7



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 4:25 am    Post subject: The Happiest Refugee Reply with quote

Though I haven't yet read his book The Happiest Refugee the author Anh Do is a hilarious TV performer and comedian and he has written numerous funny books. He is an accomplished winter also but has recently cut back on those activities to concentrate on his portrait painting. He is married to an Aussie girl he went to Uni with, I t seems he had a horrendous journey here in a leaky boat at the age of 2.5 which was attacked by pirates and was eventually rescued by a German ship. He really is a funny person and I enjoy watching him on TV... Maybe you might enjoy more of his work Kerowyn?
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Silver Dagger



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PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 11:58 am    Post subject: Re: The Happiest Refugee Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Though I haven't yet read his book The Happiest Refugee the author Anh Do is a hilarious TV performer and comedian and he has written numerous funny books. He is an accomplished winter also but has recently cut back on those activities to concentrate on his portrait painting. He is married to an Aussie girl he went to Uni with, I t seems he had a horrendous journey here in a leaky boat at the age of 2.5 which was attacked by pirates and was eventually rescued by a German ship. He really is a funny person and I enjoy watching him on TV... Maybe you might enjoy more of his work Kerowyn?

That sounds worth a try. Most books on migrants and refugees are depressing at best, it'd be a nice change, and a relief, to read a "happy refugee" book!! Very Happy

The title alone is enticing! Cool
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Mr. Write



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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:39 pm    Post subject: Re: The Refugees, by Viet Thanh Nguyen Reply with quote

Kerowyn wrote:
It'll probably bore any non-Vietnamese to death, though of course politically correct critics have written glowing reviews of it.

Yes, the reviews are singing the book to the skies. See:

Memory And Loss Haunt The Stories In 'The Refugees'

http://www.npr.org/2017/02/09/512910786/memory-and-loss-haunt-the-stories-in-the-refugees

In his first short story collection, writer Viet Thanh Nguyen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel The Sympathizer, takes a look at how it feels and what it means to be a refugee. The characters in his stories are mainly Vietnamese citizens and their families, forced out of their country at the end of the Vietnam War, trying to make a home in a strange new land. It's a beautiful collection that deftly illustrates the experiences of the kinds of people our country has, until recently, welcomed with open arms.
...
The Refugees comes at a time when Americans are being forced to reckon with what our country is becoming, what values we truly hold dear. It's hard not to feel for Nguyen's characters, many of whom have been dealt an unfathomably bad hand. But Nguyen never asks the reader to pity them; he wants us only to see them as human beings. And because of his wonderful writing, it's impossible not to do so.

It's an urgent, wonderful collection that proves that fiction can be more than mere storytelling — it can bear witness to the lives of people who we can't afford to forget. As one of Nguyen's character reflects, "Stories are just things we fabricate, nothing more. We search for them in a world besides our own, then leave them here to be found, garments shed by ghosts."
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 2:11 pm    Post subject: The Kingmaker's Daughter, by Philippa Gregory Reply with quote

This is a very interesting take on the personality of Anne Neville, Richard III's wife.

I've read a lot of books on the War of the Roses and Richard III, both fiction and non-fiction, and of course Anne was always there, in the story, but in the background. Here, she is the narrator, the story starting when she was 9 and ending the day she died.

With so much already written on the Plantagenets, Warwick the Kingmaker, Richard III, the Princes in the Tower, etc., Philippa Gregory had to find a different angle.

What she did is very clever, but I can't say that I liked it. To me, Anne Neville was a very sweet girl, then woman, a constant support to Richard III, devoted to her mother, her husband and her son, at one point the victim of her brother-in-law George, with her romantic "rescue" by Richard when George kidnapped and hid her away to keep them from marrying.

Here, she starts as an innocent little girl, but grows into a conniving, ambitious, jealous, petty woman, not at all likeable. In this book, she very nearly is the one who orders the murder of the Princes in the Tower (the first time she's shown as a possible culprit in that murder!), her relationship with her sister Isabel doesn't ring true, and her romance with Richard not quite as perfect as it is usually shown.

It's an interesting read - though at first you really have to be very conversant with the era and the characters to see who's who and who did what to whom when. For me, that's not a problem - and I guess Ms. Gregory assumed her readers have read all her books (up to now I'd only read The Other Boleyn Girl and The Boleyn Inheritance, which didn't actually stick in my mind...) and other books set in that period.

But, interesting read or not, it's not a book I'll want to reread - whereas I've reread several times The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, which tells more or less the same story, from Richard's point of view, from when he was about 10 until after Bosworth.

I warmly recommend the latter, I do not recommend The Kingmaker's Daughter. It made me almost hate Anne Neville. Very Sad
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Lily_Chérie



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PostPosted: Wed May 17, 2017 9:04 pm    Post subject: Philippa Gregory's War of the Roses series Reply with quote

Philippa Gregory does say that she "turns the page upside down" to get a different look at the historical characters.

Wildflower, the Anne Neville book is not the best. Try The White Princess, the story of Elizabeth of York, who married Henry Tudor and was the grandmother of Elizabeth I.

If you like the theory that the Princes in the Tower survived their "wicked" uncle Richard III, you'll like PG's theory on what actually happened to them. Very Happy
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LadyOnTheMoon



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PostPosted: Mon May 22, 2017 6:57 pm    Post subject: The White Princess, by Philippa Gregory Reply with quote

Ms. Gregory does tale a lot of liberties with what is known about Elizabeth of York, her family, her marriage and her times. But then, as she points out, very little is known about women in that period of history. She also has to write from an angle no one has shown before, it would be too repetitive, and boring.

Historians write more about the men, of course. I've read many of the books about Richard III and the last of the Plantagenets, the War of the Roses, the Tudors (mostly because of Henry VII and his six wives, Thomas More, etc.)

I must confess not being a fan of the Tudors, especially not the first two, Henry VII and Henry VIII. What I don't like about how he is depicted in his book is that he's supposed to be "handsome" (look at his portraits, he's nothing of the kind), and at times he almost looks sympathetic. IMO, he was an awful human being, and I feel sorry for Elizabeth of York for having been forced to marry him.

In the book (I haven't watched the series, I might try to get the dvd's), Elizabeth even falls in love with him eventually. I don't see that this is psychologically plausible, considering that (also in the book) he starts by raping her repeatedly to make sure she's fertile before he even weds her. Also, as she is supposed to have been in love with Richard III, I don't see how she can forgive the way he desecrated Richard's body after Richard fell at Bosworth.

Despite all that, it's a good read. But you have to read that book as entirely fiction, even if the characters did exist in real life. I don't think they were anything like the way they're depicted in the book.

WF, did you read this one yet? What do you think? Inkling, I seem to remember you too are a Ricardian - did you read this particular series with a different take on "Richard did not kill the Princes in the Tower"?
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inkling7



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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 12:31 am    Post subject: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

Yes I'm with Wildflower and a whole lot of other people actually.... I too think it was all Tudor propaganda out of spite and that Richard was a kindly uncle who probably thought the Tudors would try and kill him and then murder the boys themselves to prevent any further claims to the throne.. I reckon he spirited them away for their own safety so they would have a chance to live... That is why no bodies were found as they never died as children in the tower...
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 1:00 am    Post subject: Re: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Yes I'm with Wildflower and a whole lot of other people actually.... I too think it was all Tudor propaganda out of spite

What is telling is that in that bill of attaintment against Richard, Tudor didn't even mention the "murder" of the princes. All he can accuse Richard of is "cruelty and tyranny" - If even he thought that Richard had murdered his nephews, that would have been the first accusation he'd have brought.

The propaganda actually comes from Shakespeare, who followed Holinshed and Thomas More - whose account is highly dubious, as it was actually copied from an account by John Morton, Richard's bitter enemy. Another thing is, More never published his account (it was published by his heir), didn't even finish writing it. The Ricardians' theory, to which I subscribe, is that More realized as he went along that what he was copying was b.s. of the highest order, so he dropped the whole thing. But the Tudor "historians" seized on it to blacken Richard's memory, so as to please the new rulers of England.

Back to topic - I haven't finished reading "The White Princess" yet, but you're right, Lily, I'm enjoying this more than I did "The Kingmaker's Daughter". Though, like Lady on the Moon, I kind of resent seeing Henry VII made into an almost likeable figure at times. I can't stand the man, he was pure trash. No honour, no courage, no generosity. All he had for him was luck, and treachery (those "allies" of Richard's who turned on him, or refused to help at the critical moment).

Anyway - I've ordered a couple more books, including one titled "Richard III, the Maligned King", and another titled "The Lost Prince: The Survival of Richard of York" - I'll post reviews when I'm done reading them. Which will be a while, as I'm leaving for France in less than a week. I'll take the books with me, of course, but I won't have as much time for reading in France as I have here...
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DarkWind



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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Re: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Yes I'm with Wildflower and a whole lot of other people actually.... I too think it was all Tudor propaganda out of spite and that Richard was a kindly uncle who probably thought the Tudors would try and kill him and then murder the boys themselves to prevent any further claims to the throne.. I reckon he spirited them away for their own safety so they would have a chance to live... That is why no bodies were found as they never died as children in the tower...

Richard had no reason to murder the boys, as they'd been discredited as illegitimate and were no threat to his reign. Moreover, even if he HAD killed them, he wouldn't have kept their death a secret, he'd have had their bodies lying in state for all to see. Their death was no good to him if no one knew about it, and there was always the possibility that they were alive somewhere out of the Tower, or even out of England.
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 11:43 pm    Post subject: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

Yes out of the tower out of England and with new identities so the Tudors couldn't find them and have them done in.... Perkin could have been one of the identities seeing the similarity in looks has been noted by many people...
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Angelina



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:12 pm    Post subject: Re: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Yes out of the tower out of England and with new identities so the Tudors couldn't find them and have them done in.... Perkin could have been one of the identities seeing the similarity in looks has been noted by many people...

I recently read "Richard of England", where the author, Diana Kleyn, makes a very convincing case that Perkin Warbeck really was Richard of York.

After all, his aunt, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, acknowledged him as Richard. He also spoke upper-class English as well as Latin and other languages, and knew lots of details of his father's court's life that it would have been impossible to coach a Flemish commoner's son so he would play the role convincingly.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 08, 2017 5:09 pm    Post subject: Re: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Yes out of the tower out of England and with new identities so the Tudors couldn't find them and have them done in.... Perkin could have been one of the identities seeing the similarity in looks has been noted by many people...

Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV's queen and mother of the Princes in the Tower, would never have backed the Simnell uprising if she didn't think the pretender was one of her sons. After all, her daughter Elizabeth, Henry VII's wife, was Queen of England. She would not have tried to dethrone her son-in-law unless it were to put one of her sons in his place.
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2017 3:00 pm    Post subject: Re: The Princes in the Tower Reply with quote

inkling7 wrote:
Yes out of the tower out of England and with new identities so the Tudors couldn't find them and have them done in.... Perkin could have been one of the identities seeing the similarity in looks has been noted by many people...

I'm now reading "The White Queen" by Philippa Gregory. She has another, rather interesting theory: when Richard III asked Elizabeth Woodville, who had fled into sanctuary, to let her son Richard out so he could join his brother Edward in the Tower, Elizabeth didn't send the real Richard, but a page boy who looked like him. The young Richard himself was smuggled out of Westminster, onto Flanders, where he took the name Perkin Warbeck.

So IF the two princes in the Tower were killed at all, the second one wasn't the real Richard of York.

I find the theory far-fetched (Richard III, and Edward "the Lord Bastard" aka Edward V, would have known their nephew and brother from an imposter), but it's at least original...
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Wildflower



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PostPosted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 4:26 pm    Post subject: Richard the wicked uncle Reply with quote

I'm going back now to my first impression of Philippa Gregory's view of Richard III. To her, he's a villain, a usurper. She dismisses the Lady Eleanor Butler's "precontract" (as good as marriage) to Edward IV as mere rumor, and Richard is, once again, the bad guy.

One rather amusing twist is that Elizabeth Woodville (Oh I hate that bitch, she makes Trump's nepotism look almost benign) is the one who shrivels Richard's arm (you know, as Shakespeare would have it) through witchcraft. Didn't add a hump on his back, though.

When I read "The White Princess", the story of Elizabeth of York (Elizabeth Woodville is "The White Queen"), seeing that Perkin Warbeck was rally Prince Richard, I thought it meant that King Richard III had taken the two kids out of the Tower to safety, but that's not Philippa Gregory's take. As I said in my post above, Richard of York escaped only because his mother switched him with a page boy. Which is absolutely implausible.

I haven't finished the book yet. I may (if I find the time) write a more detailed review when I do.

About Eleanor Butler (née Talbot), I saw there was a book out about her, titled "The woman who made Richard III king", or something like that. I wonder whether it's worth reading or not.
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