Following my last, rather blissful, post, John B. asked for titles. I'm in the midddle of a writing binge, so I will post briefly about three of them.
1) Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery, and Murder in Medieval England by Alison Weir. Isabella, wife of Edward II, is generally described as an odious, ambitious, adulterous, teacherous murderer without any redeeming features apart from her beauty. Weir argues that while Isabella certainly had a strong sense of self and what she deserved based upon her royal status, historians have misjudged and misunderstood many of her actions. In the 21st century we're still unlikely to condone adultery, but we have a better understanding of its whys and wherefores; being married to a man who has no sexual interest in you and actively places you in harm's way does tend to contribute to marital breakdown.
2)Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands - I first discovered Brands when I read his excellent and extensive biography of Benjamin Franklin. This is his latest work. Jackson, though much admired in his own time, now often ranks as the worst of the worst for his policies on Indian Removal. I've always felt that while he did possess admirable qualities and a calculating intellegence, Jackson did not rank among my favorite presidents. I've seen a few presentations by Brands over C-SPAN, in which he has mounted a spirited defense for Jackson. I may not agree with Brands after reading the book, but I am looking forward to it immensely.
3) The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers. "A murder mystery with bells and bell ringing as the central motif??!!" I hear you cry. No, really, it was excellent. Sayers drops just enough clues that the reader could guess at what happened, but you can also just read along and enjoy. Great fun.