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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Kindle | paperback (UK)

KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Johnson, Marilyn: The Dead Beat | Main | Saginor, Jennifer: Playground: A Childhood Lost inside the Playboy Mansion »

Sharratt, Mary: The Vanishing Point

  

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Houghton Mifflin © 2006, 369 pages [amazon]
5 stars

May and Hannah Powers are both unusual for their sex. May, twenty-two when the story begins in 1689, is willful and bold, apt to give away her favors to the nearest boy with a flashing smile and brawny chest. Hannah, seven years her sister's junior, is an innocent, but her Oxford-educated father, lacking sons to whom to bequeath his skills, has taught her as much as he knows of medicine. When age made her father's hands too unsteady to operate, it was Hannah who, unbeknownst to their patients, wielded her father's scalpel.

One is transported in the reading to the verdant Maryland wilderness, loud with animal noises and buzzing insects, the overgrowth pressing in on the Washbrooks' modest home as if to reclaim it for the surrounding woods.Because she longs for adventure, and because her wantonness has ruined her chances of contracting a decent marriage in her small town, May acquiesces when her father's cousin, Nathan Washbrook, writes to propose that May marry his son Gabriel. She ships off across the Atlantic, bound to marry a stranger in the wilderness of the American Chesapeake. Hannah plans to join May and her new family once their ailing father dies, but until then she must endure being separated from her beloved sister by months of difficult travel.

Mary Sharratt tells the story of May and Hannah's experiences in the old and new worlds from multiple points of view, occasional flashbacks bringing their present into greater focus. Her book is an example of historical fiction at its finest. Though it wears its scholarship lightly, the book is clearly the product of a great deal of research by the author--more than a decade's worth, according to the Afterword. The Vanishing Point is awash in details of the impossibly difficult lives people led during the period--the trouble that had to be taken to plant and harvest crops, to trap and skin animals and make clothing from their pelts, to merely travel to the nearest town. One is transported in the reading to the verdant Maryland wilderness, loud with animal noises and buzzing insects, the overgrowth pressing in on the Washbrooks' modest home as if to reclaim it for the surrounding woods.

"She hoed eggshells and chicken manure into the garden, hacked up the bloody kid bones with  Gabriel's ax and mixed them into the soil, too. The earth demanded blood. When the apple and cherry trees blossomed and the strawberries ripened, she told herself they were over the worst. But the rain also brought a terrible crop of mosquitoes, far worse than anything she remembered from the previous year. Even in the house, with the door and windows closed, there was no escape."

The Vanishing Point is a slow read in that Sharratt takes the time to breathe life into her characters and the world they traverse. But she also manages to tell a gripping story in the book. It is suffused with a quiet dread that keeps one turning the pages, worried about what Sharratt's characters have done to one another, what they will have done to one another by the book's end

Surprisingly affecting and beautifully written and transporting as it is, I can't recommend The Vanishing Point highly enough.

[Disclaimer: I don't really know Mary Sharratt, but I was once a guest blogger at her site Sphinx Rising, and her publisher donated several copies of The Vanishing Point for a contest I held at Buy a Friend a Book. Nonetheless I do not believe that I allowed this acquaintance to influence my review of her book.]

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.