Posts tagged with "Historical Fiction"

Posted by mingh on 04/23/12
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In St. Petersburg, Russia, world chess champion Aleksandr Bezetov begins a quixotic quest. With his renowned Cold War–era tournaments behind him, Aleksandr has turned to politics, launching a dissident presidential campaign against Vladimir Putin. He knows he will not win—and that he is risking his life in the process—but a deeper conviction propels him forward. And in the same way that he cannot abandon his aims, he cannot erase the memory of a mysterious woman he loved in his youth.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, thirty-year-old English lecturer Irina Ellison is on an improbable quest of her own. Certain she has inherited Huntington’s disease—the same cruel illness that ended her father’s life—she struggles with a sense of purpose. When Irina finds an old, photocopied letter her father had written to the young Aleksandr Bezetov, she makes a fateful decision. Her father had asked the Soviet chess prodigy a profound question—How does one proceed against a lost cause?—but never received an adequate reply. Leaving everything behind, Irina travels to Russia to find Bezetov and get an answer for her father, and for herself.

Spanning two continents and the dramatic sweep of history, A Partial History of Lost Causes reveals the stubbornness and splendor of the human will even in the most trying times. With uncommon perception and wit, Jennifer duBois explores the power of memory, the depths of human courage, and the endurance of love.


Posted by Kelley M on 04/02/14
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The story begins in 1912, when a Scottish, published poet named Elspeth Dunn, starts receiving fan mail from a young American named David Graham. Elspeth has a phobia for traveling & has been on the island of Skye almost her entire life. Through the continued correspondence of Elspeth & David, their fondness for each other grows. Elspeth, however, is married to a sailor/soldier. Will this alter a future for Elspeth & David?

We learn that Elspeth has a daughter & through her daughter’s letters, we learn more about Elspeth’s life. We find out that there is one lost letter that remains to help Margaret, Elspeth’s daughter, find out the truth about what happened to her family & her mother.

David goes off to France to drive ambulances during the war, to avoid the career his father demands. David’s storyline in France helps give a good framework for the letters & also helps us see what an impact war had on every day individuals like this. By telling the story through letters, you feel like you’re peeking into real peoples’ lives. The audio book version is delightful. It gives you a real feel for the characters. The author, Jessica Brockmole, describes historical aspects in delicious detail, helping transport the reader to that time.

If you liked The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, you might want to give this read a try.


Posted by mingh on 03/15/12
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January, 1737. Snow blankets Newcastle Upon Tyne. With plans afoot to build new Assembly Rooms for concerts, musician sleuth Charles Patterson is more concerned with the murder of an entire family. It looks an open-and-shut case--the murderer was the fashionable Alice Gregson, who'd upset several neighbours with her snobbish London airs and graces. But where is she now? And why is her sister convinced of her innocence? Patterson must solve the case before the snow clears, allowing the murder to escape the town

Posted by Uncle Will on 10/23/12
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Billy Boyle is born in Boston.  He comes from a long line of Irish policemen.  Just when he gets promoted to detective, he is drafted into the Army.  There's a war on and every able-bodied man is needed.
 
Some men are more able than others.  Some are just better connected.  It turns out that Billy's uncle is Dwight D. Eisenhower, the  Supreme Commander - Allied Armed Forces - Europe.  Strings are pulled and Billy becomes a commissioned officer and sails for England to join his uncle's intelligence team.
 
Before Lt. Billy can become acclimated to this new country, yet alone being an U.S. Army officer, he's assigned (whether he chooses it or not)  to uncover a spy.  A spy who is imbedded somewhere in the Norwegian network that is planning the invasion to recapture their homeland from German occupancy. 
Billy's new teammates are a beautiful British WREN officer and her unlikely lover...a member of Polish royalty.
 
To convolute things further, a Norwegian officer commits suicide.  The more Billy investigates, the less he is convinced that the suicide was a well-disguised murder.
 
If readers like World War II historical fiction, then this book will be an entertaining quick-read.   

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 06/29/11
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Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in the 1640's was primitive, rugged, yet beautiful place.  Inhabited by the Wampanoag Indian tribes, the island was rich with vegetation and wildlife, the ocean rich with fish and crab.  This is the place chosen by a ragtag group of Puritan English pioneers to establish a settlement in order to escape the cruel treatment of the rigid, Calvinistic British society on the mainland.
 
The voice of Caleb's Crossing is that of young Bethia Mayfield, whose father was Great Harbor's minister.  Bethia is a very bright, curious girl, longing for the education that is denied her because of her sex.  So she eavesdrops on her dull brother's Latin, Greek and Hebrew lessons, soaking up the new languages like a sponge.  Her free spirit presses her to explore the beautiful island that is her home, much against the strict dictates of a Calvinistic upbringing that demands obedience and domestic subservience from their womenfolk.  Through her wanderings, Bethia meets Caleb, an Indian boy her age, and the son of the Chieftan.  Bethia teaches Caleb to speak and read her language.  He in turn teaches her how to live off the land, gathering berries and herbs, and spear fish from the ocean's shore. She soon becomes fluent in his language.  They become the best of friends.
 
Minister Mayfield takes it upon himself the job of educating and converting the local Indians, thus incurring the wrath of the Shaman, Caleb's uncle.  He lands the big prize by taking Caleb into his home to tutor him in the classic languages in preparation for his formal education at Harvard University.  The opposing forces of the Calvinist minister and the Wampanoag shaman collide as tragedy and heartbreak follow celebrations and successes.
 
Caleb's Crossing is Geraldine Brooks at her best, weaving an beautiful, vivid story from a tiny shred of historical fact.  Brooks actually recently moved to Martha's Vineyard where she came across  a map made by the Wampanoag people that marked the birthplace of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard.  Not much is known about Caleb's short but remarkable life.  But that is just the hook that Brooks needed to immerse herself in the history of this Indian tribe and Martha's Vineyard, to create another evocative and absorbing historical novel. 

Posted by Ultra Violet on 11/07/11
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Award-winning author, Kim Powers, examines the unique relationship between the divergent geniuses, Truman Capote and Harper Lee. Powers throws in a ghost story to keep it fun and asks some worthwhile questions about authors crossing the line of privacy with their subjects.

Posted by mingh on 03/06/12
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James Carlos Blake is a master at weaving historical fact into fiction. Two generations of Wolfe men--begat by an English pirate in New Hampshire in 1828--track their violent but manifest destiny through the Diaz Regime in Mexico in the early 1900s and back to Gulf Coast Texas. The novel centers on two sets of identical "hero twins," each with a violent history that mirror the author's belief on the primacy of violence in the evolution of civilization. Their lives are intertwined with important events through the history of the United States, beginning in the 1820s. Crucial are the histories of the infamous Saint Patrick's Battalion (revered in Mexico as "los San Patricios") who deserted the U.S. Army during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the rise and fall of Porfirio Diaz Regime (1876-1910), which marked the beginning of the Mexican Revolution.

Posted by cclapper on 03/10/11
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London -- 1890: Mina Murray, here, tells the tale true- because Bram Stoker got it wrong!
 
Things are not what we thought.  Netherworlds work in ways we had not imagined-
 
There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio!  Are you willing to hear them?
 
Karen Essex garnered attention with Leonardo's Swans, Stealing Athena, Kleopatra, and Pharaoh...  She's on a new tack!

Posted by jdunc on 04/23/14
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From the critically acclaimed author Emma Donoghue comes the first novel since the best-selling book Room. Frog Music opens in 1876 San Francisco with the murder of Jenny Bonnet, a brash cross-dressing American frog catcher. Her friend and exotic dancer Blanche Beunon witnesses the murder and tries to bring the killers to justice while searching for her infant son.
 
Perhaps what makes the novel most fascinating is that Donoghue has taken facts from the real murder and weaved them into her novel. Many of her characters were real people that she pulled from newspapers articles and court documents from the time. The characters in Frog Music are vivid and seedy with conflicting internal desires. Blanche wants to be a loving mother, but is continually frustrated and annoyed with her infant son. She wants to be in control of her earnings, but is letting her “fancy men” take advantage of her and use the money to gamble. At the heart of the story is a friendship between two women, but as Blanche realizes, Jenny was a person that was “easy to enjoy, but hard to know”. As I wound through the tale, I became hooked on trying to solve the murder and drawn into the lives of so many vivid characters. Woven through the book are song lyrics of the time, including French, American, and Creole folk songs.
 
While Emma Donoghue is most widely known for her bestselling book Room, she really shines in her works of historical fiction. I would highly recommend Astray, a collection of short stories based on historical events. Here is a brief interview with Emma Donoghue where she discusses the actual events of the crime and her research process of writing Frog Music.

Posted by bweiner on 02/19/14
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HHhH(2012) is the mesmerizing story of Jan Kubis and Jozef Gabcik, recruited by the British Secret Service to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, also known as " The Butcher of Prague". Heydrich, often called the Architect of the Holocaust, was responsible for the deaths of countless Jews during World War II.  French author Laurent Binet has crafted an intricate tale: part historical and part glorious imagination that actualizes this transformative event in the history of the Holocaust.
 
But there is more to this brilliant narrative than the documentation of this important historical event.Binet's postmodern approach reminds us to be skeptical in our analysis of historical events and to rely on our own clarification of events. His attention to detail and to the maintenance of historical integrity elevate this novel to the status of a postmodern classic.
 
This story digs deeply into historical significance while maintaining  the suspicious eye of an author writing in a postmodern, post-9/11 world. The writing is engrossing, elegant and graceful, and the thrilling narrative will keep you interested till the end. We can only hope that Laurent Binet will continue to delight us with his exquisite storytelling skills.