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Posts Tagged ‘based on fact’

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This story is told in two storylines, both of which are narrated by Jennifer Doyle aka Lola Nightingale. In 1916, Jennifer accompanies her roguish father from England to America, where she is given a job with the wealthy de Saulles family. It is there that she meets and falls deeply in love with Rudolfo Gullielmi, a dancer employed by the family, who is having a relationship with Mrs de Saulles.

1926, Jennifer goes by the name Lola Nightingale, Rodolfo is now known to the world as film superstar Rudolph Valentino, and at the beginning of the book, they have just been reunited after a decade apart. Jennifer/Lola has been in love with ‘Rudy’ for the whole time, and throughout the rest of the book she proceeds to describe the events that transpired between 1916, when Rudy vanished from her life, and 1926, when he reappeared.

I enjoyed the book, and thought that the writing was engaging and flowed well. However, I veered between sympathy for and annoyance with Jennifer, who was her own worst enemy. She knows that she drinks too much and dabbles in drugs, which are doing her ambitions as a bidding scriptwriter no good, and she also becomes involved with a horrible abusive man, who is a drug dealer to the stars.

Anybody who knows about Rudolph Valentino’s life and death, will have a certain knowledge of what happens in the ending of the book. I personally really enjoy fiction books that are based around real people and events, and I liked the fact that at the end of the book, the fates of all the real people in its pages (such as Mr and Mrs de Saulles) is revealed.

Overall, while I didn’t love the central character, I did really enjoy the story and am looking forward to reading more by Daisy Waugh.

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This book is aimed at young adults, but can definitely be enjoyed by older readers too.  Weaving fiction with fact, it tells the story of Mary Chase, a young girl living in Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 17th century, at the time of the infamous witch trials.  Mary and her mother and brother are horrified as a group of young girls accuse various members of the community of committing heinous supernatural deeds, and call them witches.  After being given only the flimsiest of trials, the women, and some men, are punished by hanging.  Despite their upset and anger, Mary does not initially know just how close to home the terror will strike, and when it does, she has to act fast to save those she loves.

I liked this book, partly because the subject itself is so fascinating, and also because there was actually a great story in there too.  The characterisation is not as strong as it maybe could have been, and the story did not always move quickly, but in a way that was a good thing – there was this creeping sense of terror, as it slowly dawned on people that they might be the next accused.  Also, some people found to their cost that to speak out against the accusers and the way the accused were being treated was also dangerous.

Although Mary and her family, and some of the other characters are fictional, there are many characters including the accusers and most of the victims of the persecution who were real people, and whose fates did transpire as they do in the book.  It would be an interesting introduction to the subject of the Salem Witch Trials, for anybody who wants to learn more the subject, although it is worth bearing in mind that some place names and dates have been changed (there is an author’s note at the back where she explains such changes).

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