Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier's novels include Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophecy, and Heir to Sevenwaters.

Her latest novel is Seer of Sevenwaters.

Late last year I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I have several favourite historical novelists, but none provides such a winning combination of literary skill, originality and darn good storytelling as David Mitchell, author of the mind-bending Cloud Atlas. I’ve just finished his most recent novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. The book is set mostly on Dejima, an island off the port of Nagasaki where European traders maintain a heavily restricted presence in a Japanese empire otherwise isolated from western influences. The year is 1799, and young Dutch clerk Jacob arrives on Dejima to be drawn into a complex and dangerous adventure.

Mitchell has a gift for creating rich and unforgettable historical settings while never wasting a word. In Thousand Autumns he tells his darkly fantastic story through three major characters: the idealistic Jacob, who needs all his wits to cope with the corruption, power games and cultural sensitivities of his new position; midwife Aibagawa Orito; and translator Ogawa Uzaemon. We gain insights into both sides of the cultural divide and witness what can happen when individuals attempt to bridge it. A gripping story, elegantly written.

I’ve also just finished The Distant Hours by Australian writer Kate Morton. Morton’s first novel, The Shifting Fog (published in the UK as The House at Riverton) shot her to instant best-seller status with its beautifully imagined historical settings and intriguing multi-layered plot. The Distant Hours is Morton’s third book and is an absorbing holiday read. It contains a mysterious castle in the English countryside and a mystery that is gradually revealed through letters and notes, as main protagonist Edie attempts to discover the truth about what happened when her mother was evacuated from London during World War II to the home of the three eccentric Blythe sisters and their father, a reclusive children’s writer. I found The Distant Hours very entertaining – the final unravelling of the secret kept me turning pages long after my bedtime. This youngish writer’s ability to capture the voices of elderly characters is one of her great strengths.
Read an excerpt from Seer of Sevenwaters, and visit Juliet Marillier's website to learn more about her books and works in progress.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Juliet Marillier & Pippa, Gretel, and Sara.

The Page 69 Test: Seer of Sevenwaters.

--Marshal Zeringue