The bloodletter’s daughter : a novel of old Bohemia

From Rosemarie Jerome
Author:  Linda Lafferty
The bloodletter’s daughter : a novel of old Bohemia
Power, lust, obsession and madness – these are the forces which drive this tale of the beautiful bathmaid Marketa Pichlerova of Cesky Krumlov and the illegitimate son of the Hapsburg King Rudolf II, Don Julius. In 1605, the king banished Don Julius to remote Cesky Krumlov to calm the uproar caused by his depraved acts in Prague. While there he underwent the treatment of bloodletting to purge him of the vicious humors that possess him. When the prince met the bloodletter’s daughter, Marketa, he became dangerously obsessed with her. Marketa was also drawn to, and frightened by, this mad prince. Lafferty creates a tale that is powerful and haunting, innocent and brutal and completely captivating.

The King’s speech [videorecording]

From Jackie Cantwell
The King’s speech [videorecording]
Based on the true story of Albert, Duke of York (played by Colin Firth), the second son of King George V and Queen Mary.  His wife, Elizabeth, played by Helena Bonham Carter, is the woman we knew as The Queen Mother.

Albert became King George VI.  The film opens with Albert stuttering his way through a speech at Wembley Stadium.  When doctors fail to cure him of his stutter, Elizabeth finds an Australian speech therapist named Lionel Logue (played by Geoffrey Rush), in London.  When Lionel meets Albert, he has the audacity to treat the man who would be king as an equal, calling him “Bertie”.  Albert doesn’t want to continue treatment, but he is desperate. They continue their unconventional sessions, including rolling on the floor, loosening the jaw muscles and limbs, and reciting tongue twisters.  Lionel notices that Bertie doesn’t stutter when he’s angry, so he’s encouraged to curse and to rage. Lionel knows that stuttering has an emotional basis, so he questions Albert about his childhood, which Albert finds impertinent. The scenes between Elizabeth and Albert are very touching, as she is very loving and supportive.  The scenes between Lionel and Albert are sometimes funny, but often filled with tension. More dramatic tension is supplied as Albert has to make a speech when he is crowned king, after his brother Edward (Guy Pearce) abdicates to marry Wallis Simpson (Eve Best).  The titular speech is the one that Albert must give over the radio on Sept. 3, 1939, that leads England to declare war on Germany. The performances are fantastic all around; Colin Firth won the Oscar for Best Actor. The film also won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Directing, and Best Original Screenplay.

King, Kaiser, Tsar: Three Royal Cousins who Led the World to War

From Eileen Effrat
author: Clay, Catrine
King, Kaiser, Tsar:  Three Royal Cousins who Led the World to War
BBC documentarian Catrine Clay profiles three royal cousins—George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia—whose actions shaped the course of 20th century history.  Drawing on unpublished royal letters and diaries made public for the first time by Queen Elizabeth II, Clay examines the upbringing, education, marriages, and relations of the three royal cousins. Did rivalry lead to the outbreak of the First World War?  She details intimate family details that caused tensions between them. For me this book added another dimension to the origins of the First World War.