I've just created two polls to choose the next meetup and our next book. For the date, I've selected four dates in late April. For the book, I've given as options the three books we narrowed it down to last time. More details on the books follow. I will close the poll as soon as sufficient people have voted, hopefully in no more than a week to 10 days' time.
The books are:In The Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
pages: 416; RRP: ?6.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Company-Courtesan-Sarah-Dunant/dp/1844082296/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236537912&sr=8-2
1527. While the Papal city of Rome burns - brutally sacked by an invading army including Protestant heretics - two of her most interesting and wily citizens slip away, their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed as the enemy breaks down their doors. Though almost as damaged as their beloved city, Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi - a fabulous courtesan and her dwarf companion - are already planning their future. They head for the shimmering beauty of Venice, a honey pot of wealth and trade where they start to rebuild their business. As a partnership they are invincible: Bucino, clever with a sharp eye and a wicked tongue and Fiammetta, beautiful and shrewd, trained from birth to charm, entertain and satisfy men who have the money to support her. Venice, however, is a city which holds its own temptations. From the admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his Sultan's court, to the searing passion of a young lover who wants more than his allotted nights. But the greatest challenge comes from a young blind woman, a purveyor of health and beauty, who insinuates her way into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all. The Floating Book by Michelle Lovric
(NB. the author appears as M.R. Lovric on some editions, so best to search by surname only)
pages: 496 RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Floating-Book-M-R-Lovric/dp/1844080021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236537936&sr=8-1
Venice, 1468. Sosia Simeon, a free spirit with a strange predilection for books and Venetians is making her particular mark on the fabled city. On the other side of the Grand Canal, Wendelin von Speyer from Germany is setting up the first printing press in Venice and looking for the book that will make his fortune. A love triangle develops between Sosia, Wendelin's young editor, and the seductive scribe Felice Feliciano, a man who loves the crevices of the alphabet the way other men love the crevices of women. Before long, a dark magic begins to haunt Sosia and the printers: an obsessive nun and a book-hating priest conspire against them, and soon their fate hangs in the balance. For binding them all together is the poet Catullus - whose desperate and unrequited love inspired the most tender erotic poems of antiquity. Voyageurs by Margaret Elphinstone
pages: 466; RRP: ?7.99http://www.amazon.co.uk/Voyageurs-Margaret-Elphinstone/dp/1841955019/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236537962&sr=8-1
In the early 1800s, Rachel Greenhow, a young Quaker, goes missing in the Canadian wilderness. Unable to accept the disappearance, her brother Mark leaves his farm in England, determined to bring his sister home. What follows is a gripping account of Mark's odyssey and his travels with the voyageurs - the men who canoe Canada's fur-trade route. As adventure and discovery propel the plot forward, Elphinstone takes the reader back in time and intertwines the story with enduring themes of love, war and family ties.