Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Black Venus by James MacManus

Review Copy Provided by Booktrib 
Publication Date: May 7th 2013
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"A vivid novel of Charles Baudelaire and his lover Jeanne Duval, the Haitian cabaret singer who inspired his most famous and controversial poems, set in nineteenth-century Paris.

For readers who have been drawn to The Paris Wife, Black Venus captures the artistic scene in the great French city decades earlier, when the likes of Dumas and Balzac argued literature in the cafes of the Left Bank. Among the bohemians, the young Charles Baudelaire stood out—dressed impeccably thanks to an inheritance that was quickly vanishing. Still at work on the poems that he hoped would make his name, he spent his nights enjoying the alcohol, opium, and women who filled the seedy streets of the city.

One woman would catch his eye—a beautiful Haitian cabaret singer named Jeanne Duval. Their lives would remain forever intertwined thereafter, and their romance would inspire his most infamous poems—leading to the banning of his masterwork, Les Fleurs du Mal, and a scandalous public trial for obscenity.

James MacManus's Black Venus re-creates the classic Parisian literary world in vivid detail, complete with not just an affecting portrait of the famous poet but also his often misunderstood, much-maligned muse."

My Review:

Written with passion and precision, Black Venus explores the mysterious and powerful relationship between 19th century poet Charles Baudelaire and his muse, Jeanne Duval. From the back alleyways of Paris, to smokey cabaret clubs and mob riots, the story gives a vivid portrayal of how Jeanne Duval inspired Charles Baudelaire's controversial work, Les Fleurs du Mal. 

This is a very well written novel, and it is apparent how much research went into its creation. From the very first chapter, the reader is drawn into a 19th century Paris full of filth and corruption, and it is easy to take on the roll of the gossip thirsty society as the scandalous story unfolds. Even though the story spans over 20+ years, it never feels bogged down with information, and it reads at a very fast pace. The main characters, Charles and Jeanne, are not very sympathetic in this novel, but their story is still a very compelling read. The only downside to this novel was the ending. During the last 50 pages, the narration seemed to change from a flowing story to a type of bullet point history lesson; it came across as rushed and unfinished.

Overall, Black Venus is a splendid novel that will have you wanting to pick it up the moment you set it down. Whether or not you are familiar with Charles Baudelaire's poems, life or mistress, there is something for everyone to enjoy while reading this book.

James MacManus talks about Black Venus:

Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

International Giveaway! The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

Welcome to the Love in Bloom Giveaway Hop hosted by Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer and Portrait of a Book. Today I am giving away one brand new copy of The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh. To enter, just fill out the form below. The winner will be chosen at random via rafflecopter, and notified by email on May 23rd. Good luck!

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"Having drawn comparisons to Gone with the Wind and Out of Africa, The Fever Tree is a page-turner of the very first order.

In London she was caged by society.
In South Africa, she is dangerously free. 
Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and emigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of a smallpox epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does she see her path to happiness. 
But this is a ruthless world of avarice and exploitation, where the spoils of the rich come at a terrible human cost and powerful men will go to any lengths to keep the mines in operation. Removed from civilization and disillusioned by her isolation, Frances must choose between passion and integrity, a decision that has devastating consequences. 
The Fever Tree is a compelling portrait of colonial South Africa, its raw beauty and deprivation alive in equal measure. But above all it is a love story about how—just when we need it most—fear can blind us to the truth. "

love in bloom 2013 final


Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm Alive and I'm Back!!!

Good morning everyone! The semester is officially over, and I couldn't be happier. My daughter is not out of school for another month, so I will have a few weeks full of mornings to thoroughly clean the house, read and write. Huzzah! As I type this, there is a stack of books sitting right next to me, but which one do I read first?

Of course this is only one stack, lol, I have many more strategically placed around the house. School couldn't have ended at a more opportune time, because there are some great historical fiction novels being released in the upcoming weeks.

Time to wrap up this post and start catching up on my reviews, but before I do, I want to send out a a huge thank you to everyone who has patiently awaited my return to the blogosphere. The readers of The Muse in the Fog Book Review are beyond amazing! Have a splendid day :)


Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Upcoming 2013 Historical Fiction Release! The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett

The Bookman's Tale: A Novel of Obsession by Charlie Lovett
Publication date: May 28th 2013
Format: Hardcover 368 pp

Synopsis (From the Publisher):
"A mysterious portrait ignites an antiquarian bookseller’s search through time and the works of Shakespeare for his lost love.
Guaranteed to capture the hearts of everyone who truly loves books, The Bookman’s Tale is a former bookseller’s sparkling novel and a delightful exploration of one of literature’s most tantalizing mysteries with echoes of Shadow of the Wind and A.S. Byatt's Possession. 
Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study of Shakespeare forgeries, Peter is shocked when a portrait of Amanda tumbles out of its pages. Of course, it isn’t really her. The watercolor is clearly Victorian. Yet the resemblance is uncanny, and Peter becomes obsessed with learning the picture’s origins. 
As he follows the trail back first to the Victorian era and then to Shakespeare’s time, Peter communes with Amanda’s spirit, learns the truth about his own past, and discovers a book that might definitively prove Shakespeare was, indeed, the author of all his plays."


Copyright © 2013 Svea Love. All Rights Reserved.