Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mailbox Monday

It's time for Mailbox Monday, a weekly meme created for bloggers to share the books that arrived in their home over the previous week.  Mailbox Monday is being hosted in the month of April by Cindy's Love of Books

Here is what arrived in my mailbox this past week:

Received For Review

Equal of the Sun by Anita Amirrezvani

Legendary women-from Anne Boleyn to Queen Elizabeth I to Mary, Queen of Scots-changed the course of history in the royal courts of sixteenth-century England. They are celebrated in history books and novels, but few people know of the powerful women in the Muslim world, who formed alliances, served as key advisers to rulers, lobbied for power on behalf of their sons, and ruled in their own right. In Equal of the Sun, Anita Amirrezvani's gorgeously crafted tale of power, loyalty, and love in the royal court of Iran, she brings one such woman to life, Princess Pari Khan Khanoom Safavi.

Iran in 1576 is a place of wealth and dazzling beauty. But when the Shah dies without having named an heir, the court is thrown into tumult. Princess Pari, the Shah's daughter and protégé, knows more about the inner workings of the state than almost anyone, but the princess's maneuvers to instill order after her father's sudden death incite resentment and dissent. Pari and her closest adviser, Javaher, a eunuch able to navigate the harem as well as the world beyond the palace walls, are in possession of an incredible tapestry of secrets and information that reveals a power struggle of epic proportions.

Based loosely on the life of Princess Pari Khan Khanoom, Equal of the Sun is a riveting story of political intrigue and a moving portrait of the unlikely bond between a princess and a eunuch. Anita Amirrezvani is a master storyteller, and in her lustrous prose this rich and labyrinthine world comes to vivid life with a stunning cast of characters, passionate and brave men and women who defy or embrace their destiny in a Machiavellian game played by those who lust for power and will do anything to attain it. 

My Purchases

She Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth by Helen Castor

With the death of Edward VI in 1553, England, for the first time, would have a reigning queen. The question was: Who?

Four women stood upon the crest of history: Katherine of Aragon's daughter, Mary; Anne Boleyn's daughter, Elizabeth; Mary, Queen of Scots; and Lady Jane Grey. But over the centuries, other exceptional women had struggled to push the boundaries of their authority and influence and been vilified as 'she-wolves' for their ambitions.  Revealed in vivid detail, the stories of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Margaret of Anjou, and the Empress Matilda expose the paradox that England's next female leaders would confront as the Tudor throne lay before them - man ruled woman, but these women sought to rule a nation.

Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens by Lisa Hilton

England's medieval queens were elemental in shaping the history of the nation. In an age where all politics were family politics, dynastic marriages placed English queens at the very center of power the king's bed. From Matilda of Flanders, William the Conqueror's queen, to Elizabeth of York, the first Tudor consort, England's queens fashioned the nature of monarchy and influenced the direction of the state. Occupying a unique position in the mercurial, often violent world of medieval politics, these queens had to negotiate a role that combined tremendous influence with terrifying vulnerability. Lisa Hilton's illuminating new book explores the lives of the twenty women who were crowned queen between 1066 and 1503.War, adultery, witchcraft, child abuse, murder and occasionally even love formed English queenship, but so too did patronage, learning, and fashion. Lovers of history will enjoy a dramatic narrative that presents an exceptional group of women whose personal ambitions, triumphs, and failures helped to give birth to the modern state.

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

Her palace shimmered with onyx and gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first and poisoned the second; incest and assassination were family specialties. She had children by Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, two of the most prominent Romans of the day. With Antony she would attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled both their ends. Famous long before she was notorious, Cleopatra has gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Her supple personality and the drama of her circumstances have been lost. In a masterly return to the classical sources, Stacy Schiff boldly separates fact from fiction to rescue the magnetic queen whose death ushered in a new world order.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?