History, Mystery, and Horsetails #FridayRecommends

A-to-Z#4 Daughter, Sara Marian, took an awesomesauce class this past semester called something like History, Mystery, and Medicine, in which she “had” to read historical mysteries featuring … wait for it … medicine of the period. After the class was over, she loaned me two of the books.

The first was Medicus by Ruth Downie. Her main character, Ruso, is an army surgeon stationed in Roman-occupied Britain. He rooms with another doctor who reminds me very much of Tristan Farnan from the All Creatures books. So — yeah, funny! 😀 Here’s a review of Medicus written by Bill Garthright on his blog, That’s interesting.

The second book #4 loaned me was The Unquiet Bones by Mel Starr. The hero of this one is a surgeon in the 1300s, again in Britain. I liked this one better than Medicus, somehow. I think it was because I felt more like I was really inside the consciousness of a person of the period. Ruso the medicus seemed, as Garthright said in his review, too modern. Hugh de Singleton seemed a little alien, which made him more real, if you see what I mean. Excellent book.

My friend Jane (Hi, Jane!) gave me a wonderful book by Jo Marchant called Decoding the Heavens, all about the Antikythera Mechanism. The Antikythera Mechanism is my new imaginary historical artifact boyfriend. It’s the earliest known analog computer, fabricated around 100-70 BC. Yes, BC. Fascinating book!

Marchant’s blog is full of coolio stuff, although it hasn’t been updated for a couple of years, alas. LOVED this post with a video of the leaping, dancing dispersal method of horsetail spores. YES, I’M A GEEK! DON’T JUDGE!

Speaking of horsetails brings me to Swishtails, which I think I’ve recommended before. My friend Jan is doing all kinds of nifty things with braided horsetail hairs. She says she can buy horsehair, but she prefers to work with hair that means something to her clients. She makes bracelets, necklaces, earrings, brooches, pendants, and hatbands from the braided hair of the tail of a horse who is or was special to the client. She’s made keepsakes for therapy graduates from the tails of their therapy horses and remembrances from the hair of horses who passed from cancer. Beautiful, moving stuff.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write about something historical.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “History, Mystery, and Horsetails #FridayRecommends

  1. Jane

    June 5, 2015 at 9:44am

    WRITE about something historical?!
    I AM something historical!

    Er. Well. Anyway, you’re welcome. I’m verrry glad you enjoyed the Antiktyejritadsf-thera thing book. It is such a marvel.
    Of course, for anyone not wanting to wait for the book, hey, just google the darn thing.

    Here’s a doctoring recommend:
    The Kim Newman vampire novel set in Victorian England, which explains everything about Jack the Ripper and what Dr.Seward was really up to.
    “Anno Dracula”

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 5, 2015 at 10:22am

      Oh, Jane, I hear ya! Just applied for Medicare! Also: the contemporary mystery I began when we were in college is now a historical mystery. ~gnashes teeth while she still has ’em~

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  2. Damyanti

    June 5, 2015 at 9:54pm

    Hi Marian!

    Love your new haircut…I’ve chopped my hair short, too. Will add The Unquiet Bones and Decoding the heavens to my TBR list.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Author

      Marian Allen

      June 5, 2015 at 10:15pm

      Short hair is so much easier to take care of, although I love long hair in many ways. When are you going to have another book out? I love your writing SO MUCH, you know!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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