Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Book Review: A Shakespeare Thriller for Muse Day

 Unidentified weed on our farm

Last week's Wildflower Wednesday posts inspired me to reflect for a time on our perspectives of the world of plants.  Many participants echoed the sentiment that "One man's weed is another man's wildflower."  How true that is, not only from an aesthetic point of view, but for other reasons as well. If you do a little research on native plants, it is surprising how many commonly overlooked plants were once prized  by Native Americans for their medicinal uses.  Even today, medical researchers are finding hidden healing properties in various plants. Often times, one part of a plant may contain a miracle cure or be a tasty edible, while another part of the same plant is highly toxic. All this reminds me of a passage from Romeo and Juliet read and discussed every year in my freshman English classes:

Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some, and yet all different.
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live,
But to the earth some special good doth give;
Nor aught so good, but, strain'd from that fair use,
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometime's by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence, and medicine power:
For this, being smelt, with part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all sense with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs,--grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

Leave it to good old Will to express so eloquently the myriad properties of the plant kingdom and their similarities to the nature of Man.

Persicaria, aka "smartweed"--still a weed to me!

Speaking of Shakespeare, after a three-month absence, I am joining in again in the monthly meetings of the Book Review Club, hosted the first Wednesday of every month by Barrie Summy.  It's not that I haven't read anything this summer--actually, this hot summer found me spending many afternoons indoors with the A/C and a good book.  But of all the books I read this summer, only one was new enough and worthy of reviewing here:  Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell.

Shakespearean scholar Kate Stanley has left the world of academia to follow her dream as a director in the theatre. During the dress rehearsal of Hamlet at the newly reconstructed Globe Theatre in London, Kate's mentor Roz gives her a box wrapped in gold tissue and ribbon, with the instructions "If you open it, you must follow where it leads." Later that night, a suspicious fire engulfs the Globe, and Roz's body is found--not a victim of the fire, but of murder.

Shakespeare garden at the Chicago Garden Show
In shock and with an eerie feeling that she is being followed, Kate feels compelled to open the box given to her by Roz.  Inside she finds a cryptic message that eventually leads her on a dangerous chase to unlock a mystery that could rock the literary world. 

"Plot twists worthy of The DaVinci Code" states the reviewer from Publishers' Weekly on the book's cover, and indeed there are similarities to that blockbuster.  Like Robert Langdon, Kate Stanley is on a quest to find a legendary artifact, in this case a lost manuscript of Shakespeare, and like Langdon, she is an expert on her subject, sharing all kinds of Shakespearean esoterica along the way.  Her journey takes her across the country and across the Atlantic along with the mysterious Ben who appears by her side one day as her protector, and Sir Henry, a distinguished Shakespearean actor.  She is not alone in her pursuit as destruction and deaths follow her travels.

Like the Da Vinci Code, the novel is fast-paced as one answer only leads to another clue to be unraveled, and Kate begins to wonder who she can trust.

But this is not another Da Vinci clone; Interred With Their Bones is an intriguing thriller that stands on its own merit.  Mystery fans and anyone who enjoys Shakespeare will find this a great read, whether on a warm beach this summer or later on a cold winter's night. Thanks so much to Cindy of My Corner of Katy for recommending this book to me!

For other reviews of some great books, be sure to check out this month's meeting of the Book Review Club hosted by Barrie Summy.

And thanks once again to Carolyn Gail for hosting another Garden Muse Day, held the first of every month.


  1. That sounds really interesting and fun. Adding it to my list.


  2. Hi Rose, the perfect book for you.
    Wills and a mystery....the perfect combination.

    Wildflower or strange you selected a persicaria, they are one of my favourites and I have many in the garden. I noted 'still a weed to me' Beauty is, without doubt, in the eye of the beholder.

    Have a good day Rose.

  3. Welcome back to the book review club! It was wonderful to see another review from you and a touch of Shakespeare with wildflowers. This book sounds fun and down my dark alley – yikes!

  4. I like that weed, whatever it is.

    That book sounds intriguing and I like the way you brought Shakespeare into the post!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  5. I have that same unidentified weed in my garden too. I actually really like it as do the hairsteak butterflies. I do have the persicaria too. That is one very determined weed!

  6. Happy September Garden Muse Day, dear Rose. (I do not like Persicaria one bit!) But the book sounds intriguing ... I'm now reading John Irving's "OK" Last Night in Twisted River and just finished Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Angel's Game, not as good as his The Shadow of the Wind.

  7. September? Okay, I guess it's September. :-) I love your photo - Weed with Weathered Siding... I'm going to have to return to read your post, though. It's late and my eyes are drooping!!

  8. How fun--two posts in one! So glad to have you back, Rose! Thanks for the great book review and the garden muse. ;)

  9. Hello there Rose girl !
    There are so many different points of view on so many aspects of life in general .. overwhelming right ?
    The "weed" might be "flower" thing .. it never stops who thinks what is what on a personal level .. can you imagine how utterly boring it would be if we all agreed ? eekkkk ! LOL
    Very nice double post : )

  10. Linda, if you enjoy an action-packed mystery, this is it!

    Cheryl, Ah, I shouldn't have been so adamant about that persicaria:) As I told you on your post, it stems from a childhood prejudice:)

    Sarah, This definitely was a fun book to read.

    Maggie, I think that Shakespeare can relate to any experience:) Yes, I thought that first weed was pretty, too; I wish I could identify it.

    Tina, There are many weeds around here that are actually quite pretty when in bloom. I might be mellowing a bit on the persicaria:)

    Joey, Glad to meet another anti-persicarian:) And thanks for the book recommendations!

    Shady, The shed is in need of paint, but it does make for a photogenic backdrop, doesn't it?:) The rain here is making me sleepy, too.

    Barrie, Glad you didn't mind me doing a two-for-one!

    Joy, I saw persicaria on several posts recently and wondered what it was; imagine my surprise when I checked it out and discovered it was the plant I always knew as smartweed! Once again, just shows that a weed is simply a flower "out of place":)

  11. Hi, Rose;
    Sounds like a great book. I'll add it to my list for winter reading. I do love a good thriller though I'm kind of a weenie about them. Sometimes, when they're scary, I have to sleep with the lights on. "Repeat after me, Wendy, let's never grow up..."

  12. I've been looking for a good read and I do love a good mystery...and kate's comment above has me lol~I was so scared reading Interview With A Vampire that I had to shut the book in a closet! gail

  13. haven't identified your wildflower yet, Rose? Wish I could help, but I do't know what it is. It sort of has flowers like a eupatorium or vernonia, but the foliage doesn't look quite right for either. And I'm with you on that weedy persicaria, though I have several ornamental type that have been quite well behaved. As for the book, it sounds like fun! Having just written a book review, however, I shall pass on the book club.

  14. I try to appreciate weeds as wild flowers!

    Hope all is well with you


  15. Rose, I'm so happy you enjoyed the book. The second one, HAUNT ME STILL, is also excellent.

  16. Hi Rose,
    Now that I'm blogging, I don't sit down with books often. I am reading a book on how to heal from TMJD on my lunch breaks at work.

    I thought your mystery flower was a eupatorium, maybe 'Prairie Jewel' but I see Jodi doesn't think the leaves are right for that. Oh, I went back and looked, and they are not those. It also reminds me of a Virginia mountain mint. I hope you figure it out. Now, I'm wanting to know what it is.

  17. This blog post has been a wonderful escape for me on this sleepless night.

    Thank you for the thoughtful words you left on my blog. My dad is home from the nursing home, but it's not going well at all. We are all physically, mentally and emotionally depleted.

    Hope your Labor Day weekend has been a pleasant one. Gorgeous weather here in NE Wisconsin.


  18. Out here in California, I just have bermuda grass weeds. I can't really appreciate them right now, but maybe as I learn more, I can begin to appreciate the weeds, and maybe even the crawling critters in my garden.

  19. I love the quote. A good reminder when we are tearing out weeds. And I love the book review. It sounds like something I would really enjoy. Many thanks.

  20. That sounds a good book. I shall look for out it in the library.

  21. I'm wondering if that mystery plant is a white variety of Joe Pye weed. Its beautiful!!

  22. I was thinking it was one of the Roses who posted this photo. I have my GBBD post scheduled to post in the morning. In it, I mentioned that someone had recently posted a photo that I decided was eupatorium after all. I'm pretty sure it is 'Prairie Jewel'. Mine loses some of the variegation in the leaves when it blooms.


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