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#91699 - 09/28/12 04:31 PM October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1892
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

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In keeping with our tradition of choosing a scary / gruesome October book in preparation for Halloween, our selection this year is Ariana Franklin's Mistress of the Art of Death. Franklin's protagonist is Adelia Aguilar, a pathologist trained in Salerno who happens (gasp!) to be a woman, which may not raise any eyebrows today, but which confounds just about everyone in medieval Cambridge, where the action takes place.

Adelia and her companions (Jewish "fixer" Simon and Muslim bodyguard Mansur) are sent to Cambridge by the King of Sicily to solve a series of grisly child-murders. The Cantabrigians have blamed the town's Jewish residents for the murders, and Adelia's expertise is needed to exonerate them.

As Adelia, Simon, and Mansur begin to settle into English life and to make friends among the townspeople, they have to confront an increasingly uncomfortable question: which of these seemingly normal people is luring children to a chilling end?

I'll state right upfront that I read this book in under 24 hours and liked it so much that I immediately downloaded the next book in the series and blew through that one too. I'm curious to hear what you think of Adelia, her companions, and the denizens of Cambridge.

Discussion begins on October 15. Happy reading!

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#91701 - 10/01/12 12:22 AM Re: October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1892
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Online
Bump!
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#91708 - 10/08/12 10:09 AM Re: October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1892
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Online
Bump! Discussion of Mistress of the Art of Death begins in ONE WEEK.
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#91711 - 10/15/12 07:34 PM Re: October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
Anne's Friend Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 351
Loc: Cambridge, United Kingdom

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Heh, this is one I should read, not least for Cambridge. I wonder how much it's changed...
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#91712 - 10/17/12 12:30 AM Re: October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death [Re: Anne's Friend]
LaSalleUGirl Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 1892
Loc: Philadelphia, PA, USA

Online
So, I mentioned in my initial post that I really loved this book. Adelia is annoyed, annoying, and prickly, and yet I found her totally irresistible. As an avid fan of Bones and other CSI-type shows, I enjoyed the glimpse into medieval pathology and forensic anthropology. Mostly, I was fascinated by the characters, especially the various takes on fishes-out-of-water, from Adelia herself to Simon and Mansur to Henry II (who gets more "screen time" in the next book -- I'm not sure how historically accurate the portrayal is, but I love him as written).
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#91744 - 11/15/12 08:26 PM Re: October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death [Re: LaSalleUGirl]
Anne's Friend Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/04/04
Posts: 351
Loc: Cambridge, United Kingdom

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Life and (mainly) work overtook me, and I haven't managed to get very far with this within the month, but it's one that I'll finish. I picked it up as an audiobook, and it was great fun, as far as I got.

I wondered about the portrayal of Henry II, too (and, in fact, was surprised when he appeared, as I hadn't expected to see much of any actual historical figures), but I enjoyed what I saw of him, as I did of Adelia. LSUG, I was interested in your CSI reference, as I'm also a fan of that genre; I hadn't been sure how much of that we were going to get, so I'll look forward to it. As far as I'd got, I was also enjoying the portrayal of the medieval church and its business. And, of course, my own background means that I'm immediately attracted to anything that doesn't take Cambridge too seriously....

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#91765 - 12/02/12 11:54 PM Re: October 2012: Mistress of the Art of Death [Re: Anne's Friend]
CaitlinM2



Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 432
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

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I also really enjoyed Mistress of the Art of Death. I, too, liked the info about Medieval medicine, the church, and pre-university Cambridge. I thought Franklin found an interesting way, in giving Adelia the background she does, to make her both accomplished and forward-thinking (in medicine and in life) and yet be perhaps somewhat historically plausible.

I liked the respectful and affectionate relationship that developed between Adelia and Gyltha, another woman who is, to some degree, living life on her own terms and refuses to suffer fools. I didn't really anticipate Adelia and Rowley's relationship, though I probably should have.

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