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Dandelions In The Garden

Dandelions In The Garden

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Dandelions In The Garden

ratings:
4.5/5 (9 ratings)
Length:
599 pages
8 hours
Released:
Jan 4, 2010
ISBN:
9781452357553
Format:
Book

Description

Journey into the underworld of the Blood Countess. "Dandelions In The Garden," is a historical fiction novel based on one of the most infamous female mass murderers in history, the 16th century Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Bathory. The Blood Countess was a descendant of Vlad Tepes and is undeniably connected with the vampire legends of Transylvania.

Released:
Jan 4, 2010
ISBN:
9781452357553
Format:
Book

About the author

Charlie Courtland graduated from the University of Washington with a B.A. in English Literature with an emphasis on creative writing, and a minor in Criminology. She was born in Michigan and currently resides in the Seattle area with her husband and two children. Author Page: http://authorcoourtland.blogspot.com


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What people think about Dandelions In The Garden

4.4
9 ratings / 7 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Four stars, and I will explain why. I totally enjoyed byself while reading this book. Nevertheless, much felt like fantasy. I don't like fantasy - so why did I enjoy this book so much? Well, I did. I cannot explain it other than saying it moved me and the descriptions were vivid and the horror bits were truly horrid and I also frequently laughed out loud. I believe if there had been an author's note clearly explaining what was fact and what was fiction I may have given it 5 stars. I am the reviewer; I need an author's note. I need to KNOW for sure what is what. Then I could have sat back and enjoyed both parts, the fact and the fiction. Without the author's note I was continually wondering is this fact, is that fiction? In the end it feels more like fantasy simply because I cannot know for sure. I need to know. That is who I am! I will definitely read the next book as soon as it comes out!!!
  • (5/5)
    Amara Borbala is reaching the end of her days. She waits, mostly alone, save the ghosts that haunt her. One day, Amara receives an odd visitor, a ghost from her past. John Drugeth, the spitting image of his grandfather, shows up and wants to know his family history. In order to keep John from making the same mistake as his grandfather, Amara strikes a deal with the dashing count. She will write his family history and deliver it when he marries the woman he loves, not the woman his family wants him to marry.Amara begins to write her memoirs, starting with her losing her mother and becoming a lady-in-waiting to Elizabeth Bathory. Elizabeth is engaged to marry Count Nádasdy, but is head strong. She falls in love with a landowner's son and bears him a daughter that is taken away. As her marriage to Count Nádasdy approaches, Elizabeth becomes increasingly erratic and destructive. At this time, Amara meets the handsome and loving Count George Drugeth. She is taken by him, and believes that they will one day marry. After the marriage, she calms and becomes determined to keep her husband from exercising his "conjugal rights". Amara's life takes a devastating turn when George announces that he is to marry a woman of his family's choosing. Heartbroken, Amara returns to Cachtice with Elizabeth. When Count Nádasdy returns to the castle, he brings Sir Draco, who stirs up Amara's passions. They fall in love and are married. Soon, war calls and the men leave the castle, leaving Elizabeth and Amara alone. Elizabeth hatches a plan to visit her Aunt Klara and the landowner's son. There, Elizabeth learns her diabolical trade and soon begins her own closet room. She is also engaging in extramarital affairs, which can be disastrous. But, war looms. Elizabeth and Amara learn that Draco has been taken hostage and hatch a rescue plan.I bought this book at Amazon here for $2.99!! And the sequel Hidden Will of the Dragon is $3.99! Plan of having both to seamlessly read. You will want to!Dandelions in the Garden is an amazing book. I loved it. Amara is wonderful, and though she loves Elizabeth, she also loathes her. She purposefully isolates herself during Elizabeth's erratic times to ensure her own safety. I loved Count George Drugeth, until I met Draco. True love!!! This is a fast paced story that you won't want to put down!
  • (4/5)
    One of the reasons I love to read historical fiction is that I like to learn more about other cultures and countries while enjoying a good story! Now, before you think I believe every word of the fiction I read, let me assure you that I often finish the novel and read up on the history behind it - my way of gently broadening my historical horizons... (Worry not, Phillippa Gregory's musings on the world of Anne Boleyn did not appear in my Tudor History A-Level!) This book was no exception - I have learnt much more about Hungary in the 16th century than I knew before. Largely because I formerly knew nothing...Anyway, this one is another of those deliciously intriguing areas of history where there is still some debate over what happened. Although the Countess was imprisoned for the monstrosities she was accused of, she was never actually tried, which obviously means no court testimonies or similar to base her guilt on. It's a morbidly fascinating case and that is translated into the book brilliantly. Even though the narrator, Amara, knows the "truth" of the story, she maintains the intrigue by weaving her tale fairly objectively.The narrator, Amara, is a life-long friend of the Countess after being sent to live with her when they are both young. The first part of the novel could be any historical fiction book and I didn't really get a sense that the book was set in Hungary - in fact, it felt very British in its traditions. That could well be realistic, however. The narrator's voice is very accessible and isn't blighted by an author's attempts to be overly authentic. I had a sense of the time, I think, just not the place.As the novel progresses, so do the characters. The more depraved Elizabeth became, the more interesting the book got for me. And that isn't because of the actual monstrous behaviour but because of Amara. One of my favourite things about the novel was the way it dealt with morality. Amara witnesses, and in a way is an accomplice to, horrifying acts of torture and degradation. She is repulsed and disturbed by the actions...and yet, she loves Elizabeth so she tries to stand by her. The descent is gradual and I got the feeling that Amara was being pulled along by her dominant mistress and just kept rationalising as she went. A "slippery slope" type argument, if you will, that I was both intrigued and appalled by. I really enjoyed the book - it wasn't always easy to read in its brutality but I got the sense of a darker, more physical age which was interesting. Having said that, my main criticism is of the ending. For the most part, the pace is very consistent; the character development likewise. Towards the last 100 pages or so, however, there is a shift and it seems as though the author is reaching desperately for a cliff-hanger, something that will drive you to the second book. I found it a bit unnecessary - there were unresolved romances, a descent into utter carnality to witness and a whole host of characters I wanted to see through their tempestuous existences. I'm sure I and other readers would have stuck with the Countess without a "mystery" to follow...Overall: This is in no way suitable for younger readers but I would definitely recommend it to fans of historical fiction looking for a new period to explore. It's stormy and cruel. it has romance, revenge, scandal and history and it will not let you go - I will definitely be reading the sequel
  • (4/5)
    Elizabeth Bathory, otherwise known in our history books as The Blood Countess, was, by most accounts, a savage killer who took pleasure in torturing her victims. Courland's book takes a look at the real Elizabeth's early life through the fictional eyes of young Amara, her closest friend and lady in waiting. Dandelions in the Garden starts out with Amara as an old woman. She decides to write what we would consider a memoir or biography and her writing then becomes the story. I am not normally a fan of books that shift back and forth in time but Courtland handled this well. She does a great job bringing her characters to life and showing what the world was like for women during the 16th century. The girls' behavior sometimes makes us laugh and other times makes us gasp. But, through it all, we can understand how circumstances could shape these young women.This is the first book in the series and leaves Elizabeth and Amara as young married women. Book two - The Hidden Will of the Dragon - takes them through adulthood.
  • (5/5)
    When I first started reading this novel, my first thought was, "This doesn't feel like the 1600s." And it didn't. The narrator, Amara has a very modern way of thinking and speaking, and I found myself wondering if they really had tabloids and chiming clocks that far back. Once the story went back to the late 1500s however, I became so engrossed in two little girls growing up together and experiencing their first loves, first kisses, first broken hearts, and first forrays into rebellion that I completely forgot about possible lack of historical authenticity and just sat back and enjoyed a very good story. Amara and Elizabeth grow up together rather neglected and have little to no experience with the world outside their domain. They have a governess and pretty much run free and get into trouble. And what kind of trouble do most teenage girls get into? They fall in love. The problem is Elizebeth is not just any ordinary teenage girl, but the countess of Bathory and her marriage to a Count has been arranged. Despite her attempts, she is unable to avoid marrying the "harry ogre" and try she does! Elizabeth has shown a fiery side even before her wedding day and on her wedding night, she finds a new power within herself: the power to get her way. There is no stopping her from that point on. Is Elizabeth evil? She does some bad things, but I wouldn't say she is evil.. not in this take on her life. She simply DOES what we all THINK about, but don't have the courage to do. When servants gossip behind her back, she not only stops it, but ensures it doesn't happen again. Is she sexually promiscuous? Yes, but she desires to CHOOSE her lovers, not bed the man other's chose for her. And honestly, there isn't a woman in this world that doesn't desire to kill the woman that steals her man...The book is mostly about Amara tho. Amara is a delightful narrator, full of charm and wit. Amara experiences spurned love of her own while growing up in the Countess's shadow. However, when a knight named Draco enters the picture, she has a chance at happiness. BUT, throwing daggers at fence posts and declaring that it is his head is NOT the way to a man's heart! LOL I have two minor quibbles. 1. Upon first marrying Francis, Elizabeth's main goal in life was to keep him out of her bed. It obviously happened sometime tho and as perverted as everyone is going to think I am, I wanted to know when that came about. She made so much ado about it... so what made her finally give in? Towards the end of the novel, I said, "What?? When did she give up that fight? Did I accidentally miss a paragraph somewhere?" (And NO, I did not skip or skim.) 2. There is a fabulous and exciting rescue scene involving both Elizabeth and Amara dressing up as Turks. For some reason, this was told by the "modern" day Amara, rather than being part of the real story. I would have liked to EXPERIENCE this scene more. Neither of those two quibbles prevented me from thoroughly enjoying this novel tho. I could not put it down. I was absolutely delighted with it and laughed and smiled throughout the entire reading of it. I am very much looking forward to the sequel.
  • (4/5)
    I read Bram Stoker's Dracula as a teenager while visiting an aunt and uncle who lived in an old cottage in a hamlet in the east of England, complete with thatched roof, crooked floors and creaky stairs. Probably an unwise choice of bedtime reading, I succeeded in scaring myself half witless, and came to suspect the wizened old man living next door was not all that he seemed. I read the eBook version of Dandelions in the Garden by Charlie Courtland on my smartphone, which perhaps goes to show that we do sometimes live and learn. But although it features Elizabeth Bathory, a descendant of Vlad Tepes, who was the inspiration for Stoker's Dracula, it is not a horror story in the traditional Dracula mould. It's not without horrific scenes though, several characters meeting a grizzly end, and some aspects of the story might be considered quite shocking, in that behaviours we modern humans consider unacceptable are presented as quite normal. But, of course, attitudes in Europe four hundred years ago were somewhat different. If I had to write a one-sentence review it would be this: A cracking good tale full of all the ingredients which make a good story -- adversity, conflict, emotional highs and lows, love, sex, violence and a few surprises. Historical purists might find the use of modern language off putting, but I found it made the characters into people I could believe were real. But more than that, I was able to put myself in their shoes. I'm not entirely sure that all of the views expressed by the narrator are consistent with the period, but I was able to overlook that because it brought an extra perspective to the tale. However, a few typographical and suchlike errors seem to have slipped through the editorial net, which bounced me out of the flow when I came upon them. I'd have been thinking about awarding 5 stars if it wasn't for that. I don't know if all, or any, of the events depicted actually happened, but if you like a good story, well put together, then that will matter as little to you as it did to me.There is a deeper level to it, in that it is an illustration of the truth of Lord Acton's words 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' But it's the characters, as portrayed through the eyes, and pen, of Amara Borbala, Countess Elizabeth's lady-in-waiting, that make this story come alive. I still haven't figured out the relevance of the title of this one, but I'm certainly looking forward to reading the second book in the series.
  • (5/5)
    An intriguing and fresh historical fiction novel chronicling the life of the infamous mass murderer known throughout history as the Blood Countess. The Countess Elizabeth Bathory is a descendant of Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as, the Impaler and most notable for being the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. However, I believe it was his ancestor, Elizabeth Bathory, who should get much of the credit for the character's dark immortality. It was she was rumored to have bathed in and drank the blood of virgins in an attempt to preserve her eternal beauty.