Welcome to Erssie Knits

To see my new website, and find patterns to download and more go here to the Erssie Knits website

A Book that is not a Historical Novel....or is it?

The Russian Concubine

by Kate Furnivall was partly a Christmas holiday read, then went on the back burner after my Christmas present reading.

This is a story of a daughter of Russians who escapes with her mother during the Bolshevik Revolution and flees to China.

It is set in the late 20s and the main character Lydia has to become very streetwise to survive. As a result, she becomes involved with a Chinese communist and Chinese gangs. It reads as quite an exciting thriller, as well as a love story and dare I say it? It is historical and educational as well. It reminds me of when I went through my Chinese novel phase and this period of history has been very well described in Wild Swans by Jung Chang, but this personal story of two young people from different cultures and the influence of International Communities on Chinese politics is quite fresh to me.

I would recommend this as a fast pace read, but personally I was a little disappointed in the way it ended. I like to be shocked, or surprised, and have an ending I would not have thought of myself but this was just a little too rushed and disjointed. I suppose it is realistic, but somehow everything was a little too convenient. I can imagine this making an exciting film, and I could imagine someone like Ang Lee doing a pretty good job of portraying both Chinese and International cultures.
Another Book

I read Suzannah Dunn's The Sixth Wife last summer and enjoyed the narrative style, and the internal dialogue of the characters. I am now reading The Queen of Subtleties, which I assumed referred to Ann Boleyn (who was far from subtle) but I was partly wrong. Subtleties was the term given to confectionery painstakingly carved into something that resembles objects that have subtle meaning to the King. King Henry VIII was keen on having a confectioner make carved sugar roses and other marchepane delights to give to his lovers, and in this period it was Anne Boleyn. However,the title could also be referred to Anne Boleyn, who is the lover but not mistress of Henry, and is Queen in all but name, wearing the garb of a Queen but still in the shadow of Queen Catherine who has not yet been put aside.

The narrators of this story are Anne Boleyn herself and the King's Head of the Confectionery kitchen Lucy Cornwallis who also has interesting conversations with the lute player and musician Mark Smeaton, who allegedly had an affair with Anne Boleyn and was suspected of having fathered Elizabeth I.

Forget your history books, or the dry and dusty language of the costume drama because this book sounds so fresh it is a living breathing entity. The language is modern, and the descriptions vivid. Anne bubbles over with vindictiveness when in her frustration she starts bitching and refers to Queen Catherine as Fat Cath.

What was running through the minds of common subjects with regard to the political upheaval of this time is very well represented here. The sheer volume of staff needed to give Henry VIII a comfortable life, wherever he was, is felt as you read through this account but each festivity and recreation of the King is darkly lined up with tragic events happening outside the court's circle: for example the imprisonment of Cardinal Wolsey and the beheading of the Chancellor Sir Thomas More.

I am enjoying this, I don't care how the story ends, we all know what happens, I am just going with the flow of the thoughts of two vastly contrasting women and reading this, I can almost feel like I am standing on some warm polished oak floorboards, with a smell of candy floss up my nose watching the action, eavesdropping on the characters thoughts.

Thanks to SpinGirl for coming across this: a knitted video!

I have created a chart and easy to follow instructions for the Pirate Gal Hat.
If you are happy with knit charts rather than instructions, you can email me for a free copy. I tried to add this download to Ravelry, but the link keeps expiring so until I have sorted out that or loaded up one on Erssie Knits, just mail erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk and ask for a copy. You must tell me which pattern you are asking for though, as I have more than one knitting pattern available.