Oh man, I am SO far behind on writing up my books. I’ve read good ones, I’ve just been lazy about talking about them.
I picked up Get Well Soon after reading Caitlin_D’s review. I have been reading a lot of fluffy, historical murder mysteries so far and I felt the need to try something different. I really enjoy what I call “accessible non-fiction” which is basically non-fiction books written in a more casual, conversational style. Mary Roach is probably the best known example of this and Jennifer Wright is another.
I ended up reading Get Well Soon in about two days. After that Amazon/Kindle recommended It Ended Badly so I went for it and read that one in about two days as well.
I really enjoyed Get Well Soon. I have learned a little about most of the plagues she mentioned, so while the premise was familiar she added in a lot more detail and color. It was especially interesting in how she would compare and contrast how the governments dealt with the sick and the situations causing the illnesses and how that either sped up the containment and elimination of the diseases or caused them to run even more rampant than they might have. I have to say, it did not make me feel comfortable with the possibility of an epidemic breaking out in our current society.
I also really enjoyed learning about the people who helped, and a few who really hindered, the medical and social developments involved. I was especially drawn to the story of St. Dominic of Molokai, his story was really fascinating to me. All of the chapters are written in a very conversational and often humorous tone that I very much enjoyed. Wright doesn’t shrink away from the horrors of the diseases, and often goes out of her way to dispel the myths that made some of these seem “not so bad,” but she doesn’t get bogged down and keeps everything moving along in a very entertaining fashion that works well for me. Her style very much reminds me of a history teacher I had in High School that would tell us about moments in history in the same manner a person would recount a story from their childhood, which is my favorite way to learn.
It Ended Badly is, as the title indicates, is about romances throughout history that… ended badly. From Ancient Rome through the 1960s Wright dishes the dirt and it is a lot of fun. As I mentioned before, I love learning history via personal stories and anecdotes rather than dates and facts so this kind of thing is totally up my alley. As with Get Well Soon, she touches on a lot of folks that I had known about to a certain extent but gave me a lot more detail and personal information. Especially with relatively famous characters, like Eleanor of Aquitaine and a very interesting take on Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and how they fit into the society they grew up in.
These were a nice little break from my mystery binge, and I’m glad I picked them up.