Like you, we are all starting to get Gatsby fever! We’ve set up a display of some great books set in the same time period.
Historical Fiction Archive
I love everything to do with Scotlandand the Highlands. It must be the romantic in me, but the vision of rolling hills, lochs and brawny Lairds makes me wish to visit. In Julia London’s, The Last Debutante, she takes us an adventure that is sure to satisfy all of us Scottish romantics. The last person Daria Babcock expects to find in her grandmother’s home is a brawny, naked Highlander. She doesn’t buy Mamie’s explanation about finding the poor man shot in the woods. Nor does she trust the gorgeous laird, who insists his own memory fails him. But Daria came to Scotland looking for adventure and romance, and after the intriguing stranger kidnaps her, she gets her wish. This is a lovely story of falling in love and the stumbles we all encounter.
Sherlock Holmes has had a resurgence of interest the past few years–and one of the reasons is this excellent series by Laurie King. Her first, The BeeKeeper’s Apprentice introduced a young Mary Russell and the intrepid Sherlock Holmes.
In their newest and most thrilling adventure, Garment of Shadows, the couple is separated by a shocking circumstance in a perilous part of the world, each racing against time to prevent an explosive catastrophe that could clothe them both in shrouds.
In a strange room in Morocco, Mary Russell is trying to solve a pressing mystery: Who am I? She has awakened with shadows in her mind, blood on her hands, and soldiers pounding on the door. Out in the hivelike streets, she discovers herself strangely adept in the skills of the underworld, escaping through alleys and rooftops, picking pockets and locks. She is clothed like a man, and armed only with her wits and a scrap of paper containing a mysterious Arabic phrase. Overhead, warplanes pass ominously north.
Meanwhile, Holmes is pulled by two old friends and a distant relation into the growing war between France, Spain, and the Rif Revolt led by Emir Abd el-Krim—who may be a Robin Hood or a power mad tribesman. The shadows of war are drawing over the ancient city of Fez, and Holmes badly wants the wisdom and courage of his wife, whom he’s learned, to his horror, has gone missing. As Holmes searches for her, and Russell searches for herself, each tries to crack deadly parallel puzzles before it’s too late for them, for Africa, and for the peace of Europe.
Ms. King keeps the action moving throughout and the smells and heat of the middle east bares down on the reader until the last page.
I LOVE Eloisa James. Her writing is wonderful–her characters interesting and her plots are never what you expect. Her last few novels may be considered “bent” fairytales as they manage to have the bones of the original fairytale but the story is pure James.
When she discovers that her husband James, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, married her only for her dowry, Theodora Saxby, known throughout the ton as The Ugly Duchess, is devastated until James launches an amorous compaign to prove that he loves the duckling who blossomed into a swan. Theodora is a strong woman who has equally strong beliefs. She works to right wrongs. James had grown up with Theodora and married her for financial reasons–though secretly always had a longing for her. These two must deal with many misunderstanding and changes before they realize they are perfect together. A lovely story with (as usual) a happy ending.
Gillham brings up so many questions. Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?
It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.
Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.
But Sigrid is not the only one with secrets.
A high ranking SS officer and his family move down the hall and Sigrid finds herself pulled into their orbit. A young woman doing her duty-year is out of excuses before Sigrid can even ask her any questions. And then there’s the blind man selling pencils on the corner, whose eyes Sigrid can feel following her from behind the darkness of his goggles.
Soon Sigrid is embroiled in a world she knew nothing about, and as her eyes open to the reality around her, the carefully constructed fortress of solitude she has built over the years begins to collapse. She must choose to act on what is right and what is wrong, and what falls somewhere in the shadows between the two.
In this page-turning novel, David Gillham explores what happens to ordinary people thrust into extraordinary times, and how the choices they make can be the difference between life and death.
This is the second in the All Souls Trilogy began by Harkness. The first, A Discovery of Witches, became an overnight bestseller and this will surely follow. Shadow of Night plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. As the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different journey, one that takes them into heart of the 1,500 year old vampire’s shadowed history and secrets. For Matthew Clairmont, time travel is no simple matter; nor is Diana’s search for the key to understanding her legacy.
Shadow of Night brings us a rich and splendid tapestry of alchemy, magic, and history, taking us through the loop of time to deliver a deepening love story, a tale of blood, passion, and the knotted strands of the past.
This wonderful tale is filled with history, supernatural doings, famous historical persons and a love story for the ages.
I must start by saying that many of my favorite stories are told from the voice of a child. In the past few years there have been several stand-outs—Room by Emma Donoghue and The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew. This is Ms. Mayhew’s first novel and it has shades of The Help and To Kill a Mockingbird.
In this beautifully written debut, Anna Jean Mayhew offers a riveting depiction of Southern life in the throes of segregation and what it will mean for a young girl on her way to adulthood and for the woman who means the world to her.
On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family’s black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father’s rages and her mother’s benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally.
Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence.
Infused with the intensity of a changing time, here is a story of hope, heartbreak, and the love and courage that can transform us from child to adult, wounded to indomitable. This is a wonderful story told from Jubie’s amazing voice and perspection. Our book discussion will be meeting on Saturday, June 16 to discuss it. Please join us.
One of the advantages of reading historical fiction is all of the fascinating information you learn. Women were not allowed much in the way of ownership and were forced to a tighter moral code than men. This remarkable story, Accidents of Providence, is set during the Puritan Revolution in the 1600′s and showcases the struggle of humanity.
It is 1649. King Charles has been beheaded for treason. Amid civil war, Cromwell’s army is running the country. The Levellers, a small faction of political agitators, are calling for rights to the people. And a new law targeting unwed mothers and “lewd women” presumes anyone who conceals the death of her illegitimate child is guilty of murder.
Rachel Lockyer is under investigation for murder.
Rachel Lockyer, unmarried glove maker, and William Walwyn, Leveller hero, are locked in a secret affair. But while William is imprisoned in the Tower, a child is found buried in the woods and Rachel is arrested.
So comes an investigation, public trial, and a cast of extraordinary characters made up of ordinary Londoners: gouty investigator Thomas Bartwain, fiery Elizabeth Lilburne and her revolution-chasing husband, Huguenot glover Mary Du Gard, a lawyer for the prosecution hell-bent on making an example of Rachel, and others. Spinning within are Rachel and William, their remarkable love story, and the miracles that come to even the commonest lives.
I just read this really great book called The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: a novel in pictures by Caroline Preston. What makes this book so creative and fun is that it’s told in scrapbook form. But not just any old scrapbook, full-color vintage memorabilia line every page. It’s like time-warping back in history. This is the story of a girl in 1920 who graduates and goes to college. She receives a scrapbook for graduation, finds her father’s typewriter and viola the story of her life is born. This format seems natural for her since she aspires to be a writer. If you want to dip your toe into the world of graphic novels, this would be a good first step. Check out this book trailer!