Sharon Kay Penman · 784 pages
Rating: (12.1K votes)
“I inhale hope with every breath I take.”
“…she remembered watching a summer sunset from this very spot. Not so long ago; just a lifetime.”
“For every wound, the ointment of time.”
“…a cynic who was still saddened whenever his jaundiced view of mankind was confirmed...”
“It was just like him, she thought; with him, a happy ending was always a foregone conclusion. But such was the power of his faith that when she was with him; she found herself believing in happy endings, too.”
“Why is it honesty when a man speaks his mind and madness when a woman does?”
“...Life without sinning was like food without salt, pure but tasteless.”
“In time of war, the Devil makes more room in Hell.”
“It was a basic tenet of faith with men of Ranulf’s class that a knight, trained in the ways of war since boyhood, could easily vanquish lesser foes, as much a belief in the superiority of blood and breeding as in the benefits of battle lore and killing competence. Ranulf had accepted this comforting conviction, too, but no one seemed to have told his assailants that they were inferior adversaries.”
“When people want to insult a man, they cast slurs upon his courage. But the worst they can say about a woman is to impugn her chastity.”
“You might as well face it. You're not going to be able to fight for the crown. You'll just have to grit your teeth and let us hand it over to you at the bargaining table.”
“I know you do not care much for such revelries, but trust me—this one you will enjoy, Harry. You and I will sit at the high table, eating porpoise and swan, whilst we watch my male kinfolk eating humble pie!”
“More than men had died at Lincoln. It seemed to Stephen that reality was a casualty, too, for nothing made sense anymore. What was he doing here in the solar of Lincoln Castle, bleeding all over the Earl of Chester’s wife?”
“He'd never seen one so vibrant, though, or so vividly compelling... those glowing green eyes sparkling with sunlight and curiosity and silent laughter, and when she glanced in Henry's direction, she held his gaze, a look that was both challenging and enigmatic... He was utterly certain that this was Eleanor of Aquitaine, and no less sure that the French King must be one of God's greatest fools.”
“You asked what the Londoners wanted of you, and he…he said ‘ballocks.”
“They had gathered at Eastcheap to wait. At this time of day, the marketplace ought to have been thronged with people looking for bargains, moving from stall to stall, examining the fresh fish, choosing the plumpest hens, buying candles and pepper and needles. The stalls were open, but the fishmongers and cordwainers and butchers were doing no business, despite the growing crowd. The sun was hot, flies were thick, and the odors pungent; no one complained, though. They talked and gossiped among themselves, strangers soon becoming friends, for the normally fractious and outspoken Londoners had forgotten their differences, at least for a day, united in a common purpose and determined to revel in their triumph, for they were pragmatic enough to understand this might be their only one. Now they joked and swapped rumors and waited with uncommon patience, and at last they heard a cry, swiftly picked up and echoed across the marketplace: “She is coming!”
“In the past few months, life had lost its sweetness and he’d lost his way. But no longer. Death was once again the enemy, his indifference and apathy drowned in a Cheshire pond.”
“She wanted to order him clapped in irons, as he so deserved. But she was stopped by what she saw in the faces of the watching men: disapproval, instinctive and involuntary, but disapproval, nonetheless. They were not comfortable when power was wielded by a woman, not at a man’s expense, a man who had just acquitted himself so spectacularly at Lincoln, winning their reluctant respect in a way she knew she never could.”
“Now our poor Gib never had a sense of humor to lose...”
“Yesterday I heard some of the castle servants talking about a funeral for one of the stable lads. He went skating last week on the pond in the village, but the ice was not thick enough and he drowned. I like to skate on the ice,too, Papa, have my own pair of bone skates. I could drown crossing the Channel as Uncle Robert fears... or I could drown back in Angers, if I was unlucky like that stable lad." Geoffrey's mouth twitched. "God help me," he said, "I've sired a lawyer!”
“Patience, thought Milligan, that word was invented by dull buggers who couldn't think quick enough.”
“You and me, Lucy, we're like a fire: Hot and unpredictable, scary and mesmerizing all at once.We started with a spark and before i knew it,I was consumed.I love the way you burn me up from the inside out.”
“She was still obliged to leave the house every day, on her usual hunt for food; and especially on days of bad weather she had no other solution but to leave Useppe alone, his own guard, locking him in the room. It was then that Useppe learned to pass time thinking. He would press both fists to his brow and begin to think. What he thought about is not given to us to know; and probably his thoughts were imponderable futilities. But it's a fact that, while he was thinking in this way, the ordinary time of other people was reduced for him almost to zero. In Asia there exists a little creature known as the lesser panda, which looks like something between a squirrel and a teddy bear and lives on the trees in inaccessible mountain forests; and every now and then it comes down to the ground, looking for buds to eat. Of one of these panda it was told that he spent millennia thinking on his own tree, from which he climbed down to the ground every three hundred years. But in reality, the calculation of such periods was relative: in fact, while three hundred years had gone by on earth, on that panda's tree barely ten minutes had passed.”
“War thoughts again. I think back to the business cards from that health shop earlier on. I think about miniature wars that individuals fight all the time. They fight against cellulite, or negative emotions, or addictions, or stress. I think about how we can now hire all different sorts of mercenaries to help us fight against ourselves…Therapists, manicurists, hairdressers, personal trainers, life coaches. But what’s it all for? What do all these little wars achieve? Although it is a part of my life too, and I want to be thin and pretty and not laughed at in the street and not so stressed and mad that I start screaming on the tube, it suddenly seems a little bit ridiculous. All the time we do these things we are trying to enlist ourselves into a bigger war. We are trying to join up, constantly, with the enemy.
Hitler tried to impose his shiny, blonde, neat, sparkling world on us all and we resisted. So how is it that when McDonald’s and Disney and The Gap and L’Oreal and all the others try to do the same thing we all just say, ‘OK’? Hitler needed marketing, that’s all. His propaganda was, of course, brilliant for its time, everyone knows that. What a great idea, to make people feel that they belong to something, that their identity makes them special. If Hilter had bee able to enlist a twenty-first-century marketing department, would he have been able to sell Nazism to everyone? Why not? You can just see a beautiful, thin woman with her long blonde hair moving softly in the breezes, and the tagline ‘Because I’m worth it’.”
“The news, when it leaked out, caused outrage and horror in Rome. The Republic was never so dangerous as when it believed that its security was at stake. The Romans rarely went to war, not even against the most negligible foe, without somehow first convincing themselves that their preemptive strikes were defensive in nature.”
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