Downton Abbey Goes to the Dogs (Camera Critters #214)


Countess Lady is ready for the ball at Downton Abbey:




This is what happens when you let a 9 year old watch too much Downton Abbey!  Lady had a bustle but she managed to wiggle out of it, although she was very patient about the “gloves”, “dress”, and ear decorations!

The indignity that a dog must endure in the name of historical dressing up Smile


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Book Review: Primavera by Mary Jane Beaufrand

Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: Available Now
Source: Library Copy

Summary from GoodReads:

The Italian Renaissance was a cultural explosion of art, architecture and learning, but it had a darker side. Two powerful families, the tyrannical Medici and their biggest rivals, the Pazzi, are tangled in a bloody struggle for ultimate power. Caught in the whirlwind is Flora, the last daughter of the Pazzi. As her beautiful older sister is being painted by the famed artist Botticelli, Flora is dreading her fate. Destined for life in a convent, Flora is determined to take matters into her own hands, even as her world crumbles around her. When Flora decides runs away, she has no idea that the decision will save her life. As her family falls to their murderous enemy, Flora must find a new life and a new identity. Inspired by actual events, Primavera is a dazzling coming of age story set during a time of beauty and wealth, ambition, rivalry and brutality. Historical art references to Botticelli and his famous painting, Primavera, give this book an appeal similar to Girl with a Pearl Earring.

My Review

I have always had a fascination with this particular period of history — the Italian Renaissance. The personages and historical events seem to be written on a stage that is breathtakingly dramatic, violent and passionate. As a result I tend to read the many books that have been published about this era, both fiction and non-fiction.

The Medici’s were, of course, an integral part of the history of the Italian Renaissance and have been viewed, through the lens of historical interpretation, in many ways — they have been reviled, they have been exalted, but they are rarely ignored.

This particular book, Primavera, focuses on Flora, a daughter of the Pazzi family, a sometimes ally, sometimes rival to the Medici family. The many families of Italy had an often convoluted and complex set of inter-relationships based, among other things, on political and financial factors. As Flora discovers the world in which she is raised is more complicated, and delicately balanced, she even she could have imagined.

Anyone familiar with the basic historical outlines of the Italian Renaissance will be familiar with some of the personalities and events that take place in Primavera. But events are put into sufficient context that such familiarity is not expected or required. The historical accuracy is not always perfect (mostly since I have read a great deal about the period), but this does not detract from the story which is interesting and from the characters who are nicely developed. I found Flora to be believable and I wanted to know what would happen to her as she navigated the treacherous path of being a member of the Pazzi family at a time when this was definitely not an advantage. I especially liked the character of Emilio, probably because he appealed to my love a romantic, devoted male character.

I actually enjoyed this book better then The Girl with a Pearl Earring because I found the characterizations to be more interesting. I would certainly recommend it with the only reservation being some of the more “gory” scenes. While such violence, particularly for those considered traitors to the ruling family, was probably accurate to the era it can be hard to read about, especially for younger readers.

There is a line at the end of the book when Flora notes that “. . . we don’t love people because they are perfect.” I find myself thinking about this line a lot since finishing the book, turning it over in my head and thinking about why it resonates with me. It serves well as a summation of the book but I think it also serves well as a summation of many of our lives — people are not perfect, love is not perfect — and that is perfectly all right.

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