Saturday, October 22, 2016

Globe Life in Shakespeare's London by Catherine Arnold

I enjoyed reading this fascinating book which describes the
times and life of William Shakespeare.  London was a bustling,
busy town during Tudor times and Shakespeare found his place
and popularity  as a well known playwright.   His success was not
always enthusiastically acclaimed as one writer referred to him
as shake-scene and was obviously at a loss to understand the
reason that people were flocking to see his plays.

Other playwrights and well known writers of the time are also
included in this book.  It certainly does give an understanding
of the development of theatre and plays in earlier times which in a
way was the beginnings of the mass audience crowd at a popular

Descriptions of the theatres are given, the professional and business
approach to theatres and the painstaking building of the initial theatres
and the losses often incurred.    Often people became jealous or for various
other reasons people wanted the theatres shut down and would complain
to the London authorities about them.  It may even have been because of
the narrow streets and people may have become encumbered walking down
the narrow alleys when horses and coaches were waiting outside the theatres.
There were also the puritans who wanted the theatres shut down and often in times
of plague the theatres were also shut down.  During one of these times of a plague
Shakespeare wrote some of his wonderful poetry.

The players and actors were very committed and passionate towards their cause.  Often
they needed patronage and at times their situation did seem grim.  This book tells the
story of the very early beginnings of theatre and plays and how the players initially
travelled to country homes to give entertainments and would receive food and board.
I loved reading this book as it is so full of interesting detail and fascinating anecdotes
about the life of Shakespeare and his associates.  It is a wonderful book and well recommended.


Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva

This wonderful tale by the famed author of spy fiction weaves
magic and reality together.  I enjoyed reading this story of the Israeli
spy, Gabriel Allon and his glamorous wife, Chiara and also other members
of his team who stop terrorists in their tracks.  I am always amazed at how
prescient and contemporary Daniel Silva’s stories seem to be even though this
particular book was written seven years ago.

Following a complex trail of money and people Gabriel Allon and his team aided
by the assistance of a wealthy woman manage to infiltrate the terrorist mind-set
and also their network.
This is a compelling tale combining exotic locations of the desert of Saudi Arabia
and Dubai and beautiful windswept places on the Cornish coast of England.  London,
New York and Washington D.C. are also settings and it is fascinating to learn of the
intricate workings of the spy agencies. 

Gabriel Allon is also a fascinating character in his own right as he is a wonderful
art restorer and painter.  This aspect of his character is recognised in Portrait of a Spy,
where  as well as restoring noted art works he also paints a portrait of a beautiful woman.
However, events have often conspired to keep him away
from his favoured occupation and he is obliged to turn his hand to infiltrating the
terrorist networks and seeking out known terrorists.

This is another excellent book by Daniel Silva and I look forward to reading more of
the exploits of Gabriel Allon in other books.