Mark Helprin's Freddy and Fredericka is worth looking into, as a totally insane and eloquent parody of the English royalty--and American politics too. Goes on longer than it needs to, but was fun.
Marrying Mozart was a rather sweet little historical piece, but it was amusing to me that they were being coy, till the end, about which of the Weber sisters ended up marrying Mozart. Anyone who has heard "Rock Me Amadeus" knows it was Constanze. ;)
Mary Renault's Fire From Heaven was a remarkable achievement of historical fiction, and impressed me even though I was flippantly calling it "Brokeback Mount Olympos." (The book used the spelling "Olympos," rather than "Olympus," so I shall too.) Alexander and Hephaistion were really good friends. Not that this was unusual in ancient Greece. It also illuminated for me where the slash-artists The Theban Band (NOTE: NOT a work-safe link) got their name--evidently Thebes had an elite army entirely made up of Very Close male companions. *smacks forehead* Hello, history idiot. (I had heard of such armies, but didn't know their names.) Anyway, the original Theban Band (Sacred Band of Thebes) kicked ass; book claims they never had lost a battle, until Alexander caught up with 'em. However, I have no interest in using this space to debate gays in the military (since I'm sure I somehow just offended both the pro and the con side), so moving on...
Less impressive was a bit of fluff I read because it was supposed to be a ghost story. And it was a ghost story, a fairly fun and decent one, but it was basically a grocery-store romance novel. The funniest thing about it was that it was set in England in 1876, but it was like the (American) writer didn't even bother to get it Britpicked, or edited to match the era properly. The characters kept using colloquial phrases like "The thing is," and "I guess" (to mean "I suppose so."). I couldn't be entirely sure, but I was almost certain people weren't saying "I guess" in England in 1876. So, just now, I did a cursory search through a few famous English authors' texts from roughly that era on Gutenberg.org--Dickens, Thackeray, Wilde, Stoker, Wodehouse, R.L. Stevenson--and indeed, only the Americans say "I guess." Example: The Texan, Quincy P. Morris, in Dracula:
"Miss Lucy, I know I ain't good enough to regulate the fixin's of
your little shoes, but I guess if you wait till you find a man that
is you will go join them seven young women with the lamps when you
quit. Won't you just hitch up alongside of me and let us go down
the long road together, driving in double harness?" [boldface mine]
Alas, the romance novel was nowhere near as amusing as that. However, it WAS amusing to be able to say to Steve, "Ah. We have reached the part where 'Desire slammed into his loins like a fist,'" and to watch him cringe when I threatened to read more of it aloud. Sounds painful in any case, doesn't it? Something slamming into your loins like a fist?
But to name something I found linguistically delightful, and indeed excellent in all ways, we saw Everything Is Illuminated last night. Poignant, beautifully filmed, and at times quite funny thanks to "Alex" with his English malapropisms and his goofy hip-hop outfits. Oh, and the mentally deranged dog, of course. (And Elijah Wood kissing the dog was deeply cute.)
Whoo. Thank the heavens for LJ's "saved draft" recovery. Safari just crashed on me. Eeep. Goodnight!