I secretly love Sarah Dunant's historical novels, and I've read two of them in as many months: In the Company of the Courtesan and Sacred Hearts. This is the intro to the latter, and I have to ask...wait, I'll ask after you read it:
By the second half of the sixteenth century, the price of wedding dowries had risen so sharply within Catholic Europe that most noble families could not afford to marry off more than one daughter. The remaining young women were dispatched—for a much lesser price—to convents. Historians estimate that in the great towns and city-states of Italy, up to half of all noblewomen became nuns. Not all of them went willingly...This story take place in the northern Italian city of Ferrara in 1570, in the convent of Santa Caterina.Come on! How could you not want to read that?! I couldn't resist. Read the whole thing in like 48 hours.
As an aside...I'm kind of disturbed by the fact that I've pieced together bits of European history based on shows like Rome and The Tudors, films like Elizabeth and...A Knight's Tale (I'm kidding! Kind of!), and historical novels. Alas, what's to be done? Nothing. I shall live with the guilt.
Speaking of books, Vida is at a publishing camp for the next two weeks (hat tip to my pal J.). It's run by the formidable Klise sisters, a powerhouse author/illustrator team. So she gets to spend half the day writing, and the other half illustrating with a bunch of different materials. I'm as ecstatic for her as she is for herself, and I'm also super jealous. You've read that New York Times article, have you not, about French insurance companies footing the bill for spa visits? Well, we should have that in this country, but they should pay for grown-up camp. Yeah.
I have a copy of Ilustrado, but have so far been unable to crack the spine. Why is that? What am I waiting for? Well, if I can't find In Search of Lost Time in the next 24 hours, Ilustrado it is...
Oh, wait! I forgot that while at Kepler's the other day with the girls, I picked up this gorgeous edition of Keri Hulme's The Bone People, with cover art by tattoo artist Pepa Heller:
It's one of those books that I always meant to read, so I think it will come first. Then Ilustrado.