Posts tagged with "Historical Fiction"

Posted by lsears on 11/14/15
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Before she was Beryl Markham the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic from east to west and the first licensed horse trainer at the age of 18, she was Beryl Clutterbuck. Born in England, her family moved to Kenya to farm and train racehorses around 1906. Her mother could not adapt so she returned to England leaving her husband and five-year-old Beryl behind. Left to her own devices she grew up a wild child in the Kenyan countryside, survived a lion attack and sought the company of the farm worker’s families. Without the usual social conventions to shape her upbringing, Beryl grew up very strong minded and thought that women should have the same privileges as men.  Her unconventional ideas also spilled over into her mostly unsuccessful love life. 

I enjoyed reading Paula McClain’s historical fiction novel, Circling the Sun, about an adventurous woman who fought against stereotypes and worked hard at her endeavors. It was also eye-opening to read about a time of European settlers in Africa. Those who read Out of Africa or saw the movie will recognize this storyline as Beryl had a long-term complicated friendship with the author Isak Dinesen (Baroness Karen Blixen in the book).

I listened to this story in audiobook format and appreciated hearing this narrator’s voice with the added important element of proper pronunciations for unfamiliar names and places.

Posted by Kelley M on 06/04/14
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“The park slumbers through the long winter, weighed down by ice and snow, dreaming of spring… it drowses beneath its quilt of snow, it dreams of all the people who flocked to its midways: men, women and especially children, the joy the park brought them, the laughter that was like oxygen for the park, which breathed it in as it floated up from the Cyclone, the Funhouse, the Wild Mouse, the Carousel.”
Through a look at the amusement park, Palisades Park, over several decades, we learn about history, the park itself & a family that very well could have actually worked there.  The story focuses on a family – The Stopkas – and through their eyes, we learn the history of the park.  Eddie Stopka owns a French Fry stand at the park & marries Adele.  Adele helps Eddie at the fry stand.  They have two children, Antoinette & Jack.  The story takes us through the Great Depression, the Second World War, the Korean War, a divorce, segregation/integration, and much more.  It has been said that Alan Brennert’s novel is more “nostalgia fiction” than historical fiction. 
Because of the novels nostalgic style, you feel like there are certain topics in the book that you want to read more about.  You want more meat to the stories within the story (but I don’t want to spoil these little stories & divulge anything further).  It’s a pleasant read, if you don’t mind a little strong language.  It really makes you think about what used to be controversial family-wise versus what we think of as controversial in today’s age.  It’s an interesting behind-the-scenes look at an amusement park & makes me think of the good old days of Riverview Park & Kiddieland here in the Chicago area.  It makes me want to read more about now-defunct amusement parks & their histories.
You may be familiar with the author’s previous novel “Moloka’I” which was a book club sensation.

Posted by jmurrow-res on 04/24/14
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After having survived the horrors of the mysterious Antarctic, Alan Moore's latest installment of his Nemo miniseries sees the pirate queen and her lover battling through a nightmarish World War II era Berlin to rescue their family from the Adenoid Hynkel
Whereas the earlier installment took its' inspiration from the Boy's-own adventures of the 1920s, this outing sees the world through the celluloid lens of the German Impressionist films of the era.  While Alan sticks to the fast-paced adventure format of the previous installment, O'Neill outdoes himself painting feverish vistas of totalitarian eye candy: from vast subterranean lairs split with zigzagging shadows right out of a Robert Wiene film, to the dehumanized human figures that pass under vertiginous buildings and phantasmagoric floating transport ships.  A rip-roaring adventure, this latest installment is a welcome addition to Alan and Kevin's League of Extraordinary series. 

Posted by Kelley M on 04/06/15
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Every time Michelle Moran releases a new book, I can’t wait to get my hands on it! Her latest book, Rebel Queen, did not disappoint. She has previously written historical fiction books about Cleopatra, Nefertiti, Cleopatra’s Daughter, Napoleon’s wife, and Madame Tussaud. Her newest book takes us to a whole different land and era. Rebel Queen tells the story of one of the most famous women of all time in India, Queen Lakshmi (India’s Joan of Arc) and the brave women soldiers (the Durgavasi) who protected her. The story is told from the point of view of Sita, one of Queen Lakshmi’s Durgavasi soldiers. Also interesting was learning more about the lives of women in purdah (the practice among women in certain Muslim and Hindu societies of living in seclusion by means of concealing clothing and the use of high-walled enclosures, screens, and curtains within the home).
I have always been of the philosophy that, if a novel of historical fiction is written the right way, it should entice me to further research the era highlighted in the book. Rebel Queen fits this theory. I found the first part of the book to be slow, but steady. The action and plot really picked up towards the last third of the book. It was definitely a read worth finishing. I can’t wait to see what female heroine the author chooses to write about next.

Posted by Kelley M on 02/03/15
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There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…
If you like the writing styles of Emma Donoghue, Sarah Waters, Sarah Dunant, Donna Tartt or Tracy Chevalier, you might want to give this historical fiction read a try.  The Miniaturist takes place in seventeenth century Amsterdam.  Nella Ortman, an eighteen-year-old, comes to Amsterdam, to begin her life as a married woman.  She marries Johannes Brandt, a merchant trader, who sails the seas.  She is left to her lonesome quite often with the house servants & Johannes’ harsh sister Marin. 
Nella’s husband, Johannes, buys Nella quite the extravagant wedding gift, a furniture-sized model of the Brandt household.  Nella seeks out a miniaturist to make furnishings for the replica-sized home.  The artist starts to make items that mirror life and foretell future happenings. 
Through the story, you get a great feel for race, sex and class issues in seventeenth century Europe.  I found that the novel did a good job of transporting me to seventeenth century Amsterdam.  The author has a gift for writing descriptive prose, without overwhelming the reader. This is Jessie Burton’s first novel.

Posted by jdunc on 02/24/14
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I was looking for a book to snap me out of this never ending winter and an escape to the Wild West seemed like just the fix. The Outcasts is a true, old fashioned western complete with Texas marshals, horse thieves, outlaws, buried treasures, and brothels. From the first chapter I was hooked into the lives of young Nate Cannon, Dr. Tom, and Captain Deerling, lawmen on the hunt for a notorious outlaw. At the center of the story is Lucinda, a young woman who escaped from a brothel and entwined herself with the ruthless outlaw McGill. As the lawmen chase Lucinda and McGill across the bayou, the tale unwinds in dramatic fashion, ending with an epic battle in New Orleans. The gritty novel was an engaging read that sweeps you into a different time.

If you are a fan of historical fiction, Kahtleen Kent has written a two other novels. She is a wonderful storyteller and weaves historical events into the fictional characters’ lives. I will definitely check out her other titles!

Posted by Trixie on 12/25/13
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Looking for a good book to keep you company while waiting to ring in the new year? Here's my top five for 2013 - all are great picks for teens and adults. Enjoy a cup of hot cocoa while you snuggle up with any of these reads! 
Set in a world where dragons and humans live in harmony, Serphina finds herself in the middle of a mystery that threatens their coexistence. It starts out kind of slow, but persevere. It’s well worth it!
In Sussex, England, a middle-aged man returns to the town that he grew up in and is flooded by dark and mysterious memories from his childhood. Beautifully written and a magical, fantastical story - love Neil Gaiman and LOVED this book!
Juxtaposing the lives and backgrounds of silent movie star Louise Brooks and Cora Carlisle, her chaperone on a trip from Wichita to New York, it examines the characters' sense of self - how their experiences and actions shaped their outcome. Well written and researched, I highly recommend it!
This book explores the tension between new technology and old, digital versus print, working out a problem longhand instead of relying on computer assistance. Clay, his friends, and Google through employee Kat try to help Mr. Penumbra solve an age-old mystery using modern technology. This is a quick read, definitely worth checking out…AND the cover glows in the dark!
An expressive novel set during World War II, Verity a secret agent is captured by the Gestapo and “convinced” to reveal her mission. As her intricate story unfolds, readers are left to wonder whether her detailed confession will be enough to save her life. Wein weaves a beautiful tale of desperation, courage, and friendship. The novel is written in journal-style from Verity’s and her pilot friend Kittyhawk’s points of view. Through these characters’ perilous journeys, readers experience the heartache and anxiety of friends and family separated during wartime.

Posted by mingh on 04/06/12
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White Truffles in Winter imagines the world of the remarkable French chef Auguste Escoffier (1846-1935), who changed how we eat through his legendary restaurants at the Savoy and the Ritz. A man of contradictions—kind yet imperious, food-obsessed yet rarely hungry—Escoffier was also torn between two women: the famous, beautiful, and reckless actress Sarah Bernhardt and his wife, the independent and sublime poet Delphine Daffis, who refused ever to leave Monte Carlo. In the last year of Escoffier's life, in the middle of writing his memoirs, he has returned to Delphine, who requests a dish in her name as he has honored Bernhardt, Queen Victoria, and many others. How does one define the complexity of love on a single plate? N. M. Kelby brings us the sensuality of food and love amid a world on the verge of war in this work that shimmers with beauty and longing.

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