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Diane S. (Batavia, IL)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
Love the fact that this book is written about a time and place that has not been written about much. The writing style is very reader friendly and I really liked Marketa, felt very bad for her and limited choices. Also liked that so much of this book is based on historical fact, which for me makes the book more personal and informative. It was an added bonus that the author included an afterward and an author interview. Thought this was a wonderful book. sure to appeal to historical fiction lovers and those who just love reading about a subject that has not been over covered. Look froward to this authors' next subject.
Michelle H. (Van Buren, AR)
Interesting Look at Little-Known History
I wasn't sure what to expect when I read The Bloodletter's Daughter, and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew nothing about Rudolf II or his illegitimate son, Julius. The story of the Hapsburg ruler and his mentally ill son is told from the perspective of a smart, scientist-doctor-bathmaid. I dare not give away too much of the story, but I was interested enough to research Julius and the bathmaid. I was shocked to discover that the story was mostly true. It was a page-turner that seemed to fantastic too be real. Excellent historical fiction!
Lisa B. (Denton, TX)
Medicine in 16th century Bohemia
I thoroughly enjoyed the Bloodletter's Daughter. The author did a great job of invoking life in 17th century Bohemia from the bathhouses to the castles of the wealthy. I liked the fact that it was based on historical facts and the life of the illegitimate son of a Hapsburg who happened to be insane. I enjoyed the discussions of medicine of the time including the treatments for insanity, the belief in bloodletting to control the humors of the body, and the use of herbs.
Nancy L. (Denver, NC)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
Had no idea this really happened. It is so scary to think people lived this way in the 1600s. I've heard of the Hapsburgs, but did not know anything about Don Julius and how mean he was.
Naya G. (Amherst, MA)
Poorly Executed/Loosely Historical?
It was encouraging to know there were women in that time who sought to be more than was expected of them. Marketa had to be extremely brave to do what she did and not expect any credit for it.
I was surprised at how poorly written this story was - it has an interesting storyline and the potential for intriguing characters. However, the dialogue and descriptions left much to be desired.
John P. (Timonium, MD)
I admit that I don't know very much about 17th century Bohemia but even without doing a bit of fact-checking, I got the sense that historical context was not important to the author's version of this story, and yet it is clear that Lafferty had a wealth of details to share. Feeling the need to do a bit of research on my own, I lost any suspension of disbelief I might have had with the story.
The story definitely had potential - Marketa, in particular, was a character I wanted to know more about but at times it seemed as if she acted out of character, especially with relation to her & Don Julius. The characters all felt either over -dramatized or flat. The story overall was much the same.
Clearly a fair bit of research went into this tale but that is part of the problem - we see the research not the characters or a believable narrative.
Lastly, the ending is an unbelievable twist making the whole novel feel like it was only a detailed but poorly written romance, rather than compelling historical fiction.
I really enjoyed the book as it was a reminder of the power of families during the 1600 hundreds. The character development is wonderful and you are left with a feeling of suspense and surprise as they interact.
Bette C. (Taunton, MA)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
A great conversation book for book clubs and for those interested in history.
The Bloodletter's Daughter sets the stage with a mad prince and a (not so) simple maid. It has everything you could want in an historical fairy tale, the prince, the maid, a forbidding castle and a situation fraught with all sorts of dangers, both moral and physical. The first several chapters live up to the premise with the introduction of several interesting characters and the plot that moves forward at a brisk pace. Unfortunately somewhere around half-way the book looses its way. The characters behave, well, out of character, the smart one does stupid things, the slightly sinister one does benevolent things, strange scenes that appear to have no bearing on the plot show up and then are never mentioned again, and in general the story square dances around until its hard to keep track of what is going on and who is important to the plot.
Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
Old World Chicanery
I find that I am always more disappointed with a book that starts out strong and really grabs my imagination and then fails to live up to its early promise I always feel the need to find that early promise again when I should just put it down.
The title of Linda Lafferty's book Bloodletter's Daughter gives a clear picture of what will be found in its pages. Early 1600 in Bohemia, using leeches to suck the bloody bad humors from the human body, a barber doctor attempts to treat a "mad" prince. With his young daughter as an able assistant they naively seek to correct the royal's behavior. Don Julius, the violent prince; Marketa, the smart daughter and Annabella, the neighborhood witch along with priests, doctors and memorable characters from the old world community are woven into a tapestry as colorful, confounding and mysterious as the bewitching imagery in the Coded Book of Wonder, the source of the prince's "bad humors."
This book readily draws in the reader and keeps him/her turning the pages until the end. Recommended for a long winter weekend.