Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Aviary Gate

Hi!!! I'm back again!! I'm sorry about the big gap between my previous two posts... Again...
Today, I decided to write about another book I read fairly recently. ''The Aviary Gate'' by Katie Hickman. I read it around Easter, if I remember rightly... Which I think I do..! I had actually never heard of the author, but I liked the look of the cover and the info on the back-page made it seem interesting, so I decided to buy it!

So, let's start with the main theme of the book. The story begins when Elizabeth Stavely finds a fragment of a piece of parchment dated 400 years ago, while searching in the Bodleian Library for something on which to base her DPhil thesis. She believes that the parchment is about Celia Lamprey, the beloved of the legendary English merchant Paul Pindar. So, she decides to base her thesis on whatever information she can acquire about Paul and Celia. During her search for this information, she ends up in Constantinople, following a lead that wants Celia Lamprey to have been captured and enclosed in the Sultan's harem, and not to have drowned in a shipwreck. There, not only does she find valuable information, but also makes some life-changing decisions.
The narrative is split into two parts, which are interwoven. Half of the book is set in present day Oxford and in present day Istanbul, and the other half of the book is set in Constantinople in 1599. The author tells the two parts of the story together, so we find out facts about Celia's life through Celia's narrative, while Elizabeth is searching for it in the present.
When I bought the book, I though it might be quite interesting as it is set in Constantinople (and you know what Constantinople, a.k.a. Istanbul, means to the Greeks...). I started reading it and at first I really enjoyed it! But as the book went on, I started to find it a bit tiring, and the parts that were really tiring were the ones where Celia Lamprey's life was described. I think that the author probably wanted to fit in too much information, so it kind of went on and on and on, thus tiring the reader (or, at least, me...). But I decided to finish the book, as I was already quite far along, and in the end, I was quite happy that I had finished it. All in all, though, if a were to give it a rating, it would probably be 6/10. I mean, it was a nice book and it was interesting, but as it tired me about half way through (when others didn't), I think it is only fair that it gets a lower rating. Regardless of what I say, it is still my personal opinion, and if you find the story interesting, it is worth a try! You might not even find it tiring! I believe it is worth a try!
As always, I should give some information about the author. Katie Hickman was born into a diplomatic family, which resulted in her living quite a few years abroad. She read English at Oxford and, at the same time, she started travelling on her own and writing books about her travels. These books include ''Dreams of the Peaceful Dragon'', ''The Quetzal Summer'' and ''The Trip to the Light Fantastic'', later re-issued as ''Travels with a Circus''. After that, she turned to writing history books, including her famous bestsellers ''Daughters of Brittania: the Lives and Times of Diplomatic Wives'' and ''Courtesans''. Her next book was ''The Aviary Gate'', which I described above and which took 15 years of research to write. Her last book, to date, is ''The Pindar Diamnond'', which is set in Dalmatia and tells the story of Paul Pindar (from ''The Aviary Gate'') and his obsession with a certain diamond, as the title suggests. 

(Wow! This has to be the most information I have written about an author before... Probably because it was quite easy to find!)
Here are some links to sites that might be of interest to some!

I'll be back soon!!!

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