The Clearing by Heather Davis
A tall, yellow-haired young European traveller calling himself ‘Mogor dell’Amore’, the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the real Grand Mughal, the Emperor Akbar, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the whole imperial capital. The stranger claims to be the child of a lost Mughal princess, the youngest sister of Akbar’s grandfather Babar: Qara Koz, ‘Lady Black Eyes’, a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, who is taken captive first by an Uzbek warlord, then by the Shah of Persia, and finally becomes the lover of a certain Argalia, a Florentine soldier of fortune, commander of the armies of the Ottoman Sultan. When Argalia returns home with his Mughal mistress the city is mesmerized by her presence, and much trouble ensues.”The Enchantress of Florence” is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It brings together two cities that barely know each other – the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire and the treachery of sons, and the equally sensual Florentine world of powerful courtesans, humanist philosophy and inhuman torture, where Argalia’s boyhood friend “il Machia” – Niccolo’ Machiavelli – is learning, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. These two worlds, so far apart, turn out to be uncannily alike, and the enchantments of women hold sway over them both. But is Mogor’s story true? And if so, then what happened to the lost princess? And if he’s a liar, must he die?
This masterful historical novel by Deborah Noyes, the lauded author of Angel & Apostle, The Ghosts of Kerfol, and Encyclopedia of the End (starred PW) is two stories: The first centers upon the strange, true tale of the Fox Sisters, the enigmatic family of young women who, in upstate New York in 1848, proclaimed that they could converse with the dead. Doing so, they unwittingly (but artfully) gave birth to a religious movement that touched two continents: the American Spiritualists. Their followers included the famous and the rich, and their effect on American spirituality lasted a full generation. Still, there are echoes. The Fox Sisters is a story of ambition and playfulness, of illusion and fear, of indulgence, guilt and finally self-destruction. The second story in Captivity is about loss and grief. It is the evocative tale of the bright promise that the Fox Sisters offer up to the skeptical Clara Gill, a reclusive woman of a certain age who long ago isolated herself with her paintings, following the scandalous loss of her beautiful young lover in London. Lyrical and authentic and more than a bit shadowy Captivity is, finally, a tale about physical desire and the hope that even the thinnest faith can offer up to a darkening heart.
Make time for friends. Make time for Debbie Macomber. On the anniversary of his beloved wife’s death, Dr. Michael Everett receives a letter Hannah had written him. In it she reminds him of her love and makes one final request. An impossible request: I want you to marry again. She tells him he shouldn’t spend the years he has left grieving her. And to that end she’s chosen three women she asks him to consider. First on Hannah’s list is Winter Adams, a trained chef who owns a cafe on Seattle’s Blossom Street. The second is Leanne Lancaster, Hannah’s oncology nurse. Michael knows them both. But the third name is one he’s not familiar with – Macy Roth. Each of these three women has her own heartache, her own private grief. During the months that follow, he spends time with Winter, Leanne and Macy, learning more about each of them…and about himself.