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Mistress of the Art of Death, Ariana Franklin

historical fiction by Ariana Franklin

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Don't bother me, I'm in the "Good Book" zone...

  • Jul 9, 2010
Rating:
+5
Having opted to be a stay-at-home mom a couple of years ago, my budget means I'm a big library-borrower these days, rather than a book-buyer.  That said, Ariana Franklin's books are on my shelves - they're just too enjoyable to pass up.  

Mistress of the Art of Death is the first in a series, and after I got lost in the story during the day or two it took to consume the first book, I get excited every time I hear a new title has been released.  

Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar is like a medieval Amelia Peabody - tart, smart, and independent.  In an age when women were viewed as property to be married off for money, name, and housekeeping skills - certainly not educated, as were wealthy men - Adelia is a trained physician.

But her specialty is forensic science, and it's a calling she pursues singlemindedly, never stopping to dally with come-hither clothing or feminine wiles.  For everyone out there complaining that Stephenie Meyer's Bella Swan undermines feminist values (and I assume those readers aren't in much danger of being lured into codependency by a vampire story) Adelia Aguilar is the determined antidote.  

Of course, Adelia has to pretend she's not really a doctor, "translating" her medical instructions through her Middle Eastern companion Mansur...lest the less-enlightened English burn her at the stake as a witch.

Adelia is lovable and wry, and the book is laden with humor.  But of course, a good love story always helps, and there's great chemistry with Adelia's love interest, which is punctuated by stubbornness and witty repartee that makes the tenderness all the more touching.  It's reminiscent of Peabody and Emerson in Elizabeth Peters' original Crocodile on the Sandbank (although Franklin has managed to better sustain that chemistry throughout her series so far).

This book is well worth the space on the nightstand, and get out your reading light, because you may not want to put it down.

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July 09, 2010
What a fantasic review! It's extremely well written and makes this book sound very enticing. Thanks for sharing!:) 
 
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More Mistress of the Art of Death reviews
review by . January 19, 2011
   Dr. Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar has just been dispatched from Salerno to Cambridge in an effort to help catch a killer. This particular killer chooses children as his victims, and as the story begins, he has had his savage and bloodthirsty way with four of them. As the murdered children are all Christians, suspicion begins to fall on the Jews of Cambridge, much to the chagrin of King Henry, who wishes to see them absolved. Adelia finds herself in a strange predicament after …
Quick Tip by . June 10, 2010
Very inventive premise combined with a solid mystery. A female physician from relatively enlightened Sicily forced to deal with the ignorant prejudices of Angevin England.
review by . February 20, 2009
Mistress of the Art of Death
In 1171, Cambridge is beset by a series of brutal child murders, so inflaming the citizens that they turn on the local Jews as scapegoats, reinforcing the common belief that these baby killers routinely sacrifice Christian children to their God. Such medieval prejudices are common, the uneducated villagers quick to gather into a hysterical mob screaming for the blood of the guilty with no proof other than the hearsay of so-called witnesses, whose stories are further embellished in the telling. Literally …
About the reviewer
Emily Coon ()
Ranked #759
Member Since: Jul 7, 2010
Last Login: Aug 2, 2010 02:51 PM UTC
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ISBN-10: 0425219259 (pbk.)
ISBN-13: 9780425219256 (pbk.)
Author: Ariana Franklin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Date Published: January 29, 2008
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