What’s in a book cover when it features a swimming pool?
The #TFBookClub reads “Court of Lions” by Jane Johnson, set in Granada, Spain
17th January 2018
Thank you for joining us as we read Court of Lions by Jane Johnson, set in Granada, in Spain’s exotic Andalucia region.
We hope you enjoy reading this epic saga of romance and redemption, taking place through parallel stories around the end of the 15th century, at the end of the last Moorish dynasty in Spain, and in the present day, as Kate Fordham looks to rebuild her troubled life.
We will be chatting about the book through January and February 2018, so if you are reading it with us, please come and join the dialogue!
The #TFBookClub is your book club – we are here to help you discover new titles that will transport you to interesting locations via top literature for some exceptional #literarywanderlust.
Author Jane Johnson has written a wonderfully evocative piece for us, about living in North Africa, her research for Court of Lions and with some top tips on how best to visit the Alhambra and what else to see and do in Granada. Coming up shortly….
And TripFiction’s Andrew visited Andalucia recently too. Stay tuned to read his article for TripFiction partner Silver Travel Advisor, telling of his visit around the region, to the beguiling Alhambra and its beautiful Genarlife summer palace….and how he immersed himself in a traditional Moorish hammam, dreaming of the 15th century and the Court of Lions.
So, lots to look forward to as we read this compelling story in Granada together.
As you read, please come and chat and share your thoughts in several ways:
- Here on our dedicated blogpost, leave your thoughts in the Comments section below
- On FACEBOOK
- On TWITTER using the #TFBookClub
- On INSTAGRAM using #TFBookClub
- On PINTEREST following this link (collaborative board)
- And once you’ve turned the final page, we’d love it if you could write your own review, which you can do on tripfiction.com using the Add A Review tab. Help us to build the #TFBookClub and the TripFiction website!
REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS BOOK TOGETHER!
Andrew and Tina for the TripFiction Team
Catch Jane on Twitter, and Facebook
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I do have one further thought. I want a sequel where Blessings goes travelling to the New World with Christopher Columbus.
I loved reading this book. I have recently been watching Alex Polizzi traveling through Spain on the TV and this really brought the book to life for me https://www.my5.tv/spectacular-spain-with-alex-polizzi/season-1/episode-3
I’ve really enjoyed reading this book. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with historical fiction, because I sometimes find that the well-known historical characters can be a bit wooden and one dimensional. Jane Johnson is an absolute master (mistress?) of the genre though, spinning a web of enchanting tales that feature a cast of wholly believable, complex characters and their public and private dramas, entwining plotlines in both the modern day and 15th century Granada. Both stories had me gripped and I could see the parallels between Kate, Momo and also Blessings – all passionate people who frequently make bad decisions but whose hearts are in the right place, so we can empathise with them. It’s a fascinating read about a time and a place that I knew little about- a mixture of historical fiction, love story and gripping thriller that will appeal to readers of all genres.
What a lovely comment, thank you so much!
I very much enjoyed Court of Lions, thankyou for my copy.
Beautifully set in Granada (I need to visit!) with an interesting split narrative of the present day Kate and 15th century Blessings, a child from a desert tribe who has been sold into the Granada court to be the future sultans companion. I must admit I preferred Blessings narrative to the modern one, the novel is well researched historically and I came away feeling I had learnt something new about this aspect of history.
Thanks for taking the time to comment, Sarah. I agree, the sense of historical research in the 15th century story thread is palpable, isn’t it? Did you see author Jane Johnson’s piece on TripFiction, about her inspiration for Court of Lions: https://www.tripfiction.com/court-of-lions-location-granada-andalucia/
And she has some tips for when you DO get to visit Granada!
Andrew for TripFiction
Recently finished Court of Lions,it was a page turner! especially as we visited The Alhambra the other year,I could almost see and taste the action!!
I was really fascinated by what would happen to Kate.
A recommended read..
Thanks for the great feedback, Gill. I wonder how differently we read and enjoy a book after having visited its location, compered with before….? And did you enjoy Kate’s contemporary story more than Blessings’ historical one? The Alhambra really is rather special, isn’t it, and certainly invades all the senses.
Andrew for TF
If you haven’t already seen it, do try and find Monty Don’s Paradise Gardens series, episode 1 on BBC 2. It should be on catch up for a few more days (first aired on January 19th). A magical tour round the Alhambra gardens and others in Seville and Morocco.
Thanks for the tip, Harriet. The gardens of the Alhambra and the Generalife are magical, aren’t they! I lost count of the number of photos I took. Thanks heavens for digital.
Andrew for TF
Just finished Court of Lions and already know it’s a novel that will stay with me for a long time. Learning about Moorish history, seeing life in the Alhambra during the 15th century through the eyes of a companion to the sultan, was fascinating. (Everyone should have a Special Guardian!) Jane Johnson writes in such a vivid style, that makes it easy to imagine Momo and Blessings friendship blossoming in the plentiful gardens, or feel their fear as the Christian army set up camp, beneath the fortress walls. It was also interesting to discover that the notes written in ancient Berber script that Kate Fordham discovers (in the present day strand of the novel) and that link the past with the present, were inspired by an ancient love letter tucked within the woodwork of a door within the Alhambra – a place I now wish to visit. An enlightening novel that brought Granada and the Alhambra palace to life, both now and then.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful review comments, Rae. The author does brilliantly bring the Alhambra, Granada and Al-Andalus to life, doesn’t she, both in the present and historical timelines. I loved the way the story of Momo and Blessings brought the history of this tumultuous time – the end of the Moorish reign on the Iberian peninsula – as much as the location into our consciousness. Andrew for TF
Finished this last night and it was a good read. My thoughts are that the fifteenth century story was by far the stronger of the two. The links were there – the scraps of paper, the sinister, fanatical Catholicism, the boot (a bit too much of a stretch of credibility for me) but I would have enjoyed the book as much without the modern story. I know the author needed a strong reason for Kate’s flight from England but at times, the background to this and her subsequent experiences were told in a rather perfunctory way and I was never completely drawn into that part of the book. I was usually keen to get back to Granada and the fifteenth century where the tragic story of the fall of the Nasrid dynasty was being movingly told through the eyes of Blessings. Throughout, the descriptions of Granada and the Alhambra were lovely and a great incentive go there.
Thanks for your perceptive comments on Court of Lions, Harriet. The historical importance of the end of the Nasrid dynasty – the last Moorish presence on the Iberian peninsula – is well told through the historical narrative thread, isn’t it? I did enjoy Kate’s contemporary story too, and like her enjoyed spending time in the Alabaicin district, across the gorge from the mesmerising Alhambra. But Blessing’s sad tale from 500 years earlier is definitely the glue that binds the book together. Andrew for TF
I am in agreement with you. It was the older story I was most interested in although the newer story reminded me of the good food I had when I visited.
Hello, I’m about a third of the way through it, and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m finding both interweaving story lines very interesting, and hoping to get to know Kate a lot more as I read on.
Thanks for your lovely comment, Lisa. How much further have you progressed with the book? Are you enjoying the historical thread, or is what happens to Kate in the present day proving more intriguing, I wonder? Andrew for TF
Enjoyed the historical parts of the novel as they added new aspects and understanding of Spanish history and linked well with the modern story.
I forgot to mention how much I love the cover.
I’m nearly finished it and have enjoyed it for the most part. BUT, my reading has been spoiled by one or two errors that have really irritated me and reduced my enjoyment- for example, the Catholic Church doesn’t have vicars but priests. Grrrr – maybe an insignificant fact but since religious fanaticism is a key component of this story getting this fact wrong made me less confident in the author’s and editorial team’s attention to the detail that makes a good book great.
Oh, that is an interesting observation, that kind of thing can certainly grates… when Kate finds the screwball of paper, I guess for me, I had a similar thought. Paper with ink does not survive for any length of time in the heat, even tucked in a crack. Ink is acidic and will “eat” its way through paper in no time, given hot conditions. However, I enjoyed the whole premise of the book…
I’m about a third of the way in and really enjoying this, particularly the descriptions of Granada and the Alhambra which I visited about 25 years ago. I know some people hate timeslip novels but I have no problem with them. I’m guessing the stories will intertwine more and more as the book goes on. I’d be interested to know what other people think of Kate. She certainly seems to have a compulsion for getting into toxic relationships.
Wow What a lovely book! Having lived in Granada 20 years ago and still go back every year I was so excited to hear about this book and even more excited to receive a copy. I have to admit I knew very little of the history of the Moors so really enjoyed the historical aspect of Momo and Blessings story. I was completely swept away and transported back in time. It was sad to read some of it knowing what a cruel time it was to live in. Loved the dual time lines as I could picture Kate in the Albaicin and could picture the places she was in – her story was a sad one too! Fantastic book thank you so much for the opportunity to read this.
I will be getting a copy for my sisters and stepmother as we all lived in Granada together and I know they will love it .
It sounds as though the book really hit the mark, that is so good to hear!!
Oh my, what a truly lovely read. I lost myself in this fabulous story. In fact I didn’t want it to end.
I have just finished reading this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found both storylines to be gripping, though as the novel went on I found I was enjoying Kate’s timeline more as there was a greater element of suspense, plus I could relate to her character more. I really enjoyed learning more about this fascinating (and brutal) period of history and would love to re-visit the Alhambra and see it from this new perspective! My only criticism would be that at times I felt I was reading two entirely different novels, loosely linked by the theme of the Alhambra, and this made it feel a little disjointed. Kate and Blessings stories were very, very different, though both extremely interesting. I am nit picking here though, as overall this was a great read which I found hard to put down, especially towards the end! Many thanks once again for my copy, I look forward to reading more from this author in future.
Thanks so much for your comments on Court of Lions, Melanie. I share your thought that at times it feels like we’re reading two separate books, and that the Alhambra connection between Blessings and Kate is just a little forced. But like you, overall I enjoyed it and thought the author did a great job of educating the reader into the history of the end of the Moorish rule at the end of the 16th century, as well as providing a link with the past and some contemporary tension through Kate’s story. Andrew for TF
I really loved this book and read it quickly as I
wanted to know what happened to Kate . I didn’t get much else done this week! I enjoyed both the modern day and the five century old story and wondered from early on about Blessing’s sexuality although I wasn’t expecting him/her to be a hermaphrodite or intersex.
The story of the ousting of the Muslims and the violence it involved was vividly told although upsetting to read. What a cruel century to live in with the start of the Inquisition and banishment of Jews.
I have visited The Alhambra several times and certainly felt its history when I was there but also liked the references to Morocco which took me back to an earlier tour of the major cities.
I will certainly be looking out for more fascinating tales by Jane Johnson
That is so good to hear! There is certainly a good story set within a very tangible historical setting!
I now want to go back to Granada to revisit the Alambra with the new perspective this book has given me.
I also want to eat the food again after reading some of the descriptions in the book. Abdou can make me cous cous and mint tea anytime!!!
I like the character of the Sultan and the fact he wanted peace more than war.
A good book for Sunday mornings in bed with a cup of tea.
Thanks for your lovely comments, Denise. The author certainly brings to life the smells, images and tastes of the Alhambra and Granada, both 500 years ago and in the present, doesn’t she? Mint tea in bed, presumably? Andrew for TF
A bit late to the party but will be starting reading it today!
Finished it today. Generally I enjoyed it, especially the descriptions of Alhambra, a place I love to visit. A very different perspective on Isabella and Ferdinand was well presented.
Reading the Author’s Note at the end helped explain why Blessings’ story had more space than Kate’s, but I was disappointed in how little time was devoted to her life changing decision at the end. It felt rushed, where Blessings’ was beautifully crafted.
I was very irritated by a small error in Kate’s story. There’s a reference to a vicar in the same paragraph as details about Kate’s conversion to Catholicism – the Catholic Church has priests not vicars. It bugged me throughout the rest of the book, unfortunately.
I appreciate the free copy and hope I haven’t blotted my copy book!
There’s no time limit, just enjoy… we hope to have chat right up until the end of February
I really like reading this book. The descriptions and imagery in this story are easy to imagine being in Granada in both time periods. Love the premise.
I started reading The Court of Lions and I am hooked! I love the visual imagery of Granada. I like the premise of the story. And I can easily imagine myself in this setting as I’m reading this book.
Good evening, I have just started The Court of Lions and I’m fascinated by the stories developing from this this special place. What will become of our 2 stories and the link between them.
Hello, I’m four chapters in and really enjoying this book so far. I’m intrigued to learn more about both stories, but especially the 15th century storyline as this has grabbed my attention more (for the moment at least). I visited the Alhambra Palace about twenty years ago so this book is really re-awakening some old memories. I hope everyone else is enjoying this too so far.
That is wonderful to hear that in some ways the book has taken you back to the Alhambra, such a beautiful and interesting place. Very much have been enjoying the dual time lines!!!