Great Lion of God is a mangy beast

The Apostle Paul is one of the towering figures of the New Testament, but little is known of his pre-Damascus Road experiences. In Great Lion of God, Taylor Caldwell imagines a Jewish-Roman family and childhood experiences to account for his behavior in later life. Not content with that, she also deliberately sets out to draw […]

The Crystal Cave: Dark and dull

The Crystal Cave is Mary Stewart’s hallucinogenic tale of Merlin, the shadowy figure of Arthurian legends and post-Roman history. Myrddin Emrys, later to become known as Merlin, is the bastard son of the daughter of the King of South Wales by an man whom the daughter refuses to name. When the story opens, Merlin is […]

Mrs. Mike is a charming teacher

In Mrs. Mike, Benedict and Nancy Freedman created a story in which humor and heroism struggle against tragedy and terror. The good wins, but the price is heavy. In 1907, 16-year-old Katherine Mary O’Fallon leaves Boston for Calgary, Canada promising her mother she would “dress warm and keep dry and not go out into the […]

Reread: The Winthrop Woman

Since Thanksgiving is just days away and kindergarten kids are drawing pictures of Pilgrims in funny hats, today seemed like a good time to recommend rereading The Winthrop Woman, Anya Seyton’s  historical novel about one of America’s more famous — some would say more infamous — Puritans. “The Winthrop Woman” was Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake […]

Reread: The Silent Places

Of the nearly 700 novels I’ve reviewed here at Great Penformances, The Silent Places is the most memorable. The 1904 bestseller by Stewart Edward White is not a great novel—I didn’t give it an A rating the first time I read it—but just thinking about the novel’s ending is enough to bring tears to my […]

The House on the Strand lacks curb appeal

In The House on the Strand, an historical novel meets a sci-fi novel. The two don’t get along well. Dick Young gladly accepts the offer of longtime friend’s Cornwall estate, Kilmarth, for his family for the summer. Dick and Magnus were in university together and remained close until Dick’s marriage. Dick’s wife, Vita, disliked Magnus […]

The Inheritors: Sex and balance sheets

The Inheritors combines steamy sex with stultifying descriptions of multi-million dollar financial deals. To make things worse, Harold Robbins’ odd organization makes following the story difficult. Steve Gaunt and Sam Benjamin are frenemies and business partners. Steve and Sam each have three-track minds: Women, booze, and business. Needless to say there’s not a lot of […]