Saturday, 9 February 2013

Ivanhoe - Sir Walter Scott

Date of Reading: 05/06/2008
Author: Sir Walter Scott
Publisher: Peacock Books
Place: New Delhi
Year: 2005
Rs. 85

            Reading Scott is an acquired taste and I don't think anyone will disagree if I say this is his best one. I bought this in exchange of my medicine money (books are always better than antibiotics), and happy to say Scott didn't disappoint me a bit.
          What is the difference between history books and historical novels? One gives facts on dead people and the other puts some life to it by adding some tales (most of the time imaginary) which makes them personal. Since its publication in 1819, 'Ivanhoe' has enjoyed a unique popularity as it had brought together Britain's two most popular heroes -- King Richard I (also known as the lion-hearted) and Robin Hood. And it is his first novel to be set in England with its Norman - Saxon conflicts and the plight of Jews under Christian rule. Story is thus:
          Cedric, the Saxon noble, is displeased with his son Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe for showing interest in his ward Rowena whom he intends to marry off to Athelstane, a youth of royal Saxon blood. Ivanhoe goes away and joins in crusade where he comes in contact with King Richard. Meanwhile, King's brother John, who is in charge of the kingdom in Richard's absence, tries to occupy the throne with the support of the disloyal Norman barons.
            His plans are however thwarted by the timely return of Richard who in disguise, helps Ivanhoe at the tournament to defeat John's knights including Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert. The latter is infatuated with Rebecca, the beautiful Jewish girl, whom he has seen at the tournament. She, along with her father Isaac, Rowena, Cedric, Athelstane and the wounded Ivanhoe are captured by Norman barons and kept imprisoned in Torquilstone Castle.
           While the King with the help of Robin Hood storms the castle and rescues the prisoners, Rebecca is smuggled away by Bois-Guilbert to the Preceptory of Templestowe. Though his designs on Rebecca fail owing to the arrival of the Grand Master of the Order, Rebecca is accused of witchcraft. In order to save her from burning alive, Ivanhoe appears as her champion in accordance with the custom and fights a last duel with Bois-Guilbert. Bois gets killed by his own sword.
             Story ends with the marriage of Ivanhoe and Rowena. Rebecca too was in love with the hero and she remains unmarried and devotes her life to help the needy. 
--- Novel is adapted to several movies, the most popular being the 1952 film starring, Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor as Ivanhoe and Rebecca; Joan Fontaine plays the part of Rowena. It is nominated for three Academy awards. The 1982 version, half an hour longer than the 1952 film, is starred by Anthony Andrews.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Nicola and the Viscount - Meg Cabot

Date of Reading: 27/12/2012
Author: Meg Cabot
Read as: E-Book
Rating: 1/5

          I have no idea why I wasted my time on this. A completely predictable plot (from beginning to the end), flat characters, boring love story which tries to introduce some comic elements which is not connected with that historical period -- aah, that sums up the book. May be I will have to search for 'Princess Diaries' to be impressed by Cabot.
           Year is 1810. Nicola Sparks has completed her studies in the female academy and is ready to plunge into the social life of London. Though an orphan, her small inheritance is ample to sustain her now and her dream husband (whom she nicknames as 'God') is also at hand. Lord Sebastian Bartholomew is his name and Nicola is passionately in love with him. So when his parents invites her home for that season, she jumps in; and everything goes according to the plan and they are engaged.
           The only glitch is Nathaniel Sheridan, her friend Eleanor's brother who warns her of this priced fiance's character. When the first excitement is over, Nicola too begins to piece together a few things and a secret visit to the Viscount's father's chamber confirms the intention of this awkward marriage proposal. They need her family home to build a rail road through it.
Meg Cabot
           Nicola backs off from the engagement and runs to the safety of Sheridans' home. But Viscount kidnaps her to a desolate place and tries to marry her by force. She convinces her cousin who has unwillingly joined in the plan to inform her guardians. She puts off a brave fight and Nathanies and the guards come on time for rescue.
          Culprits are arrested and in the end Nicola recognises the true love of Nathaniel Sheridan with whom she engages eventually.
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