*Mixing of Platonic references deliberate albeit probably clumsy
I've read quite a few other books recently as well, which I'll just sum up briefly.
- Julian Barnes's The Sense of an Ending, which I read in one sitting, was certainly a good read and quite compelling. I didn't personally feel that there was a great deal of depth in it, but maybe that's from not being a middle-aged man looking back over the events of my life.
- The Devil and Sherlock Holmes by David Grann. This was a good choice for my Barcelona holiday, as it was easy to dip in and out of this collection of journalistic pieces, without needing to pay close attention. The interest level, for me, was very varied. The title story, which tries to unpick the mysterious death of a prominent Conan Doyle scholar, for example, was quite absorbing, but I could have done without other pieces such as on a one-time big-shot baseballer trying to make a comeback while marooned in the minor leagues, or a tale of political corruption in an American city which just went on too damn long.
- The Women of the Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin and Michael Jones. Philippa Gregory's historical fiction (of which The Other Boleyn Girl is the most famous) is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me and makes for the ideal aeroplane reading. In this book, Gregory (who actually has a PhD so she knows her stuff) and two historians tell the true stories of three women involved in the Wars of the Roses - Queen Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry VII) and Jacquetta, Lady Rivers (Woodville's mother). I've never got much beyond a vague idea of most of the players and events in the Wars of the Roses (go Lancaster!) and I'll probably forget it all again shortly, but this book did a good job of telling the stories of three women who are overlooked to various degrees by mainstream history, in a very accessible and readable way.
- She-Wolves: The Women who Ruled England before Elizabeth, by Helen Castor. Sort of continuing the theme of the previous book, in that it's dealing with powerful women of England, this book focuses on Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Margaret of Anjou, and Mary Tudor. Again, an interesting and readable introduction to a subject I knew only smatterings about. I read this on my Kindle pretty much exclusively at the gym, so it took a long time and perhaps wasn't the ideal way to take it in, reading a handful of pages at a time on the treadmill, but it was nonetheless enjoyable. One interesting thing is how often parts of France I know and love pop up in passing, particularly with Eleanor of Aquitaine and Margaret of Anjou, but also with others. For example, Eleanor is buried not far from here (which I knew, I want to visit but it's fairly impossible without a car from what I gather) and Margaret of Anjou's marriage to Henry VI was arranged via the Treaty of Tours. Always fun to realise a bit more of the historical connections places in Europe have!