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Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
Old World Chicanery
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."
Dianne F. (Saint Helena, CA)
A great read
This book readily draws in the reader and keeps him/her turning the pages until the end. Recommended for a long winter weekend.
This book had me hooked from start to finish. I really enjoyed reading about the Hapsburgs and the history of that time period. The way the author wove the characters into that historical time period was very believable and fascinating. I would highly recommend this book to our book club.
Linda M. (Lititz, PA)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
Amazing historical fiction read. If you are a lover of historical fiction, which I am, this is the book for you. I learned so much from this book about the Ottman Time Frame in history (1600's). This was a time period that glanced over in my history classes in school so I was in for a real treat with the amount of research that this author has supplied for the book. It is based on a little known true story of the rulers of that time, part of the Hapsburg Monarchy. There were medical issues with the family that the Royal Doctor treated and when the patient was moved to a part of the empire far from the city of Prague he had to rely on the local barber/bloodletter to treat him. Bloodletting was one way of treating certain diseases if you were wealthy enough. The poorer folks relied on herbs and natural offerings they could easily gather from the earth. The Bloodletter's daughter tells the story of the local bloodletter's daughter, Marketa who was interested in the study of science like her father but could never be more than his assistant because in that time females were not allowed to study or learn. She was considered ahead of her time because she was taught to read and write which was something only the more wealthy and schooled males knew how to do. I had a hard time putting the book down, reading through most of the night sometimes. It is something I will remember and go back to again to read.
Kay D. (Strongsville, Ohio)
Bohemian History and Legend All Together
I selected this book since my heritage is Bohemian and I was drawn to the potential of learning some history of my ancestors. Although a bit of a slow start, within the first 100 pages I was drawn into the story and the characters and found it hard to put the book down. I really enjoyed the short chapters, as I usually end up reading in bits. It was easy to pick the story back up each time. Loved the way the author took liberty and expanded the interest of the main character, Marketa to include her attraction to medicine and healing, even though that was beyond the reach of women of the time. A good book for those who like historical fiction. Don't be put off by the length - a fast read.
Gail L. (Cypress, TX)
Interesting but mediocre read
I would categorize this book as historical fiction/folklore set in 1600 Bohemia. I did enjoy the story, especially the details about early medicine and science. The writing was bland and immature at times but the story and characters held my attention.The book is simply not very exciting!
Alice W. (Sacramento, CA)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
I like the idea of it being based on a true story/myth, and I liked the ending although it was not a surprise. The author does provide a glimpse into religion and politics of the time.
Ottoman Empire, Bohemia, Hapsburg, Prague, Vienna, are all names and places that I have heard of, but really had no knowledge nor understanding of what and where they are. This book is a great, simplistic introduction to all of the above and is a fast read. At times, I found it a bit childish, but became so engrossed in the characters that I plunged ahead always very eager to get on with the plot. That the main characters are all real made this book fascinating even though a lot of creative license was used to cobble the story. So what?
Lori L. (La Porte, IN)
Bohemian Bodice Ripper
Will, I recommend it to my book club? No. I think they are probably not as thirsty as I was for the history of the Hapsburgs and their inbreeding. I would love to see another historical fiction with this same setting.
For lovers of historical fiction, The Bloodletter's Daughter provides a fascinating glimpse into life in the late 16th early 17th century Bohemia during the reign of the Hapsburg family. Alternating between the melancholy Emperor Rudolf, his mad eldest son Don Julius, and the ambitious brother of the Emperor, soldier Matthias, the author sets the stage for the story of Marketa Pichlerova, the intelligent daughter of the village barber surgeon. Due to her gender and beauty, it is assumed that Marketa will join her mother in business at their bathhouse, providing a good soak and "little something extra" to the local businessmen and travelers. Marketa rebels against this future, yearning to become a physician. I found that her ambition and insight somewhat stretched the bounds of credibility, for example, as she explains to her mother that someday science will explain the mysteries of illness, etc. It is unlikely that girls in her remote village, without the benefit of formal education, and under the sway of the Catholic Church would have much to say about science, let alone expressing views that would challenge the status quo in such a way. A little too much of a "bodice ripper" at times, this book did hold my attention and I wanted to see what happened next. I would give it 3.5 stars.
Charlene M. (Murrells Inlet, SC)
The Bloodletter's Daughter
The true story of obsession, murder, royalty, illegitimacy, passion, and mystery. The Bloodletter's Daughter by Linda Lafferty is set in 1600's Prague and tells the story of Don Julius, illegitimate son of Emperor Rudolf II, the bloodletter, Zigmund Pichler, & the bloodletters daughter, Marketa who are commanded to cure Don Julius' obsession with the Book of Wonder. Don Julius' encounter with Marketa, who he believes is the women in the coded Book of Wonder, leads to Marketa's fascination with Don Julius. A dark, tragic story the reader will find both fascinating and repelling.