Tudor vs. Stuart: Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, two icons of British history. Jane Dunn dives into their parallel stories, contrasting their upbringing, style of rule, and ultimate fate. Despite the fact that the two women were related, that they were both reigning monarchs of neighboring countries, and that one held the other in prison for nearly twenty years, they never once met face-to-face. This palpable absence created a tension between them that affected their lives and their policies. Dunn draws on scores of letters between Elizabeth and Mary as well as contemporary historical sources, and crafts a work of nonfiction that reads like an epic saga.
Read if you enjoyed: Eleanor of Aquitaine by Alison Weir, Marie Antoinette by Antonia Fraser
Look for Elizabeth and Mary at Multnomah County Library.
Emma Larkin’s extraordinary nonfiction book examining the influence of Burma on George Orwell’s literary legacy was first published in 2005, when the political opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest. Though the political landscape in Myanmar (formerly Burma) has become ever-so-slightly more democratic with her release and election to parliament, this look at literature in a totalitarian state remains relevant and utterly captivating. Larkin’s premise for this hybrid work of literary criticism/travelogue/political science is that the time Eric Arthur Blair (aka George Orwell) spent in Burma as a young man and member of the imperial police had a profound influence on his later writing, and that the books Burmese Days, Animal Farm, and 1984 form an unintentional trilogy about Burmese politics. A grim, intelligent book, and a must-read for fans of Orwell.
Read if you enjoyed: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi, Burmese Days by George Orwell
Look for Finding George Orwell in Burma at Multnomah County Library.