Posts tagged with "Historical Fiction"

Posted by lsears on 10/11/17
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Lorena Hickok (a.k.a. Hick) was a self-made woman. She became the first woman reporter for the Associated Press (AP) in New York shortly after women earned the right to vote. In 1932 Hick began a friendship with Eleanor Roosevelt when she reported on Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s campaign for president. After the election, Hick accompanied Eleanor on many trips and was a frequent guest in the White House. Media-savvy, Hick encouraged her to become the first presidential First Lady to hold regular press conferences for an audience of women reporters and to write a newspaper column expressing her own views.
 
Hick soon found herself breaking the AP’s cardinal rule to stay out of the story. She got too close to the Roosevelts to remain objective. She left her AP job to work as an investigative reporter for FERA, the Federal Emergency Relief Act, at the height of the Great Depression. The deplorable conditions Hick saw across America affected her greatly. Again, unable to stay out of the story she enlisted the aid of Eleanor to try to bring assistance.
 
At times, author Susan Albert Wittig’s novel, Loving Eleanor, reads more like a recitation of facts but these two women lived in a rapidly changing world. Through the years, they kept in touch via letters. It is through these letters that a picture emerges that suggests they were more than friends. The extent of their relationship is still of some dispute. Whether it was an intimate relationship or an extremely loyal friendship almost seems too private to pry into.
 
The reporter and the reluctant First Lady’s friendship lasted for the rest of their lives. I most enjoyed reading about their many accomplishments, their enduring companionship, their compassion and tolerance. A woman of privilege who became a social activist and a small-town woman of humble origins who paved her own way.
 

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 12/01/11
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It was the summer of 1880 in Paris, 10 years after France's crippling defeat in the Prussian war.  Even though France was finally recovering from a serious economic depression, the devastating psychological effect of the war could still be felt.  Parisian energy rebounded, however, when workers were given Sundays off.  A new society emerged - la vie moderne - and cafes, caberets, dance halls, and theaters all flourished.  The building of railroad lines to the countryside allowed Parisians to enjoy their Sundays in the enchanting riverside villages west of Paris.

A small group of artists, called Impressionists, had discovered the new engergy and modern individualism as well.  Breaking away from the classic artistic traditions of form and line, with scenes from the Bible or history as inspiration, the Impressionists left their studios to paint "La vie moderne" as they saw it and lived it.  Boldly using feathery touches of unblended color in textural brushstrokes, they painted scenes from the caberets, dance halls, theaters and Sunday boaters and picnicers.  Pierre-Auguste Renoir was one such painter. The Impressionists met with much criticism, since their technique was such a radical break with the classic artists.  One such critic threw down the gauntlet by saying "the Impressionists are inferior to what they undertake.  The man of genius has not arisen."  August Renoir picked up the gauntlet and created a work of true genius - "Luncheon of the Boating Party."

Susan Vreeland, the author, has given the reader a wonderful fictional accounting of the creation of this masterpiece by Renoir.  Renoir met with almost insurmountable obstacles.  He had only eight weeks of Sundays to paint it on the terrace of La Maison Fournaise at Chatou before he would lose the good summer light.  He was totally broke but somehow had to pay for the huge canvas, paints, fees for 14 models and rent for the terrace each Sunday.  When he began working on the painting his right arm was broken, so he painted with his left.  Crippling rheumatoid arthritis was beginning to take its toll on his fingers. Woven throughout the book are the personal stories of the 14 people who are in the painting.  Their colorful stories paint their own picture of la vie moderne in Paris - an actress, a mime, a journalist, an adventurer, a singer-flower seller, an art collector, a poet, a boatman, a baron, a yachtsman-painter.  Vreeland gives us a good taste of the conflicts and hedonism of the era, as well as the anguish and the joy, without which the Impressionists would have had no inspiration.


Posted by lsears on 11/11/14
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It is May 1911 in Paris, France. Eva Gouel is a young woman who sets off for Paris leaving her parents and their restrictive, old-fashioned ideas behind. Renaming herself Marcelle Humbert, she finds a job as a seamstress for the performers at the Moulin Rouge.  She meets Pablo Picasso and falls under his spell and he under hers, changing her world dramatically.
 
The book is a love story and depicts a time that was prudish yet pushed limits with new avant-garde art, dance and literature. Relationships with luminaries of the day, Georges Braque, Gertrude Stein, and Guillaume Apollinaire fuel Picasso’s creative expression. His volatile temperament is calmed by Eva and Picasso shows a side of himself that is generous and kind.
 
In writing this work of historical fiction, author Anne Girard cannot know the entire dialog that went on between people, so liberties are taken in the telling, but the facts remain. The people, events and places described are all real, even the accusation of Picasso participating in the theft of the Mona Lisa.  This short-lived period of time when Eva and Picasso are together reveal a talent driven by tragic experiences and ambition and a woman devoted and strengthened by her love for Picasso.
 

Posted by Ultra Violet on 05/15/15
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Historical fiction that reads like a romance novel (a good one) with a bit of suspense thrown in. Everyone has an image of Edgar Allan Poe from his work and from the stories of his poverty, alcoholism and instability. But not everyone knows that much of his negative image was constructed by a literary rival, Rufus Griswold, in a posthumous biography.

In Cullen's well-researched novel she shows us a softer side of Poe. Cullen built a story around the rumour of Poe's affair with poet, Frances Osgood. Their forbidden love-match makes their lives a roller coaster ride of exultation and torture. They risk ostracism from the oppressive nineteenth century New York society to be together. I had a hard time picturing him being called "Eddie" by his wife and mother-in-law, but as the book progresses, the character becomes quite believable. Throughout the tense, forbidden romance there are plenty of factual tidbits from the lives of Poe, Frances Osgood and others of New York intellectual society.

This is a great read for fans of historical fiction, poetry, and literary romances.


Posted by dnapravn on 07/10/14
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Molly Ayer has lived with a number of foster families in her seventeen years. When she gets in trouble at school, her current placement is in jeopardy unless she makes the most of her community service assignment. As she begrudgingly helps the elderly Vivian sort through her belongings in a packed and dusty attic, Molly learns that Vivian has not always lived a comfortable life. Vivian was once a passenger on one of the many orphan trains that traveled west in order to provide children with a "better" life.
 
As Orphan Train unfolds, we find the two main characters growing closer to each other and realizing that despite their age difference they have quite a bit in common. As Molly grows more attached to Vivian and learns more of Vivian's past, she realizes that there may be something she can do to help her.
 
Told in alternating voices, Orphan Train was a quick read and a reminder of a lesser known part of American history. If you'd like to learn more about the orphan trains, make sure to check out these materials on the subject.

Posted by cclapper on 04/10/11
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Scotland -- 1074: Shipwrecked! Her family cast ashore- including Edgar of England, outlawed.  Warrior-King Malcolm Canmore will help... for the price of her hand in marriage.  Her hand that will steer the development of a barbaric Scotland and its peoples.  Rough-hewn times.  Rough justice.  Strong wills.
 
See Susan Fraser King's other novels, too: Lady Miracle and Lady MacBeth.  Yup.  THAT Lady MacBeth.      

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 Auntie Anne. on 08/31/11
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The setting is the alluring social scene of New York City in 1938.  Katey Kontent (“like the state of mind’), our heroine, is the daughter of a Russian immigrant.  Smart, witty and fearless, we first find Katey working at a Wall Street secretarial pool and living in a boardinghouse with her roommate Eve.  Katey and Eve pinch pennies all week so that they can go out on the town on the weekends.  Until New Year’s Eve when Eve’s social-climbing eye manages to land them in the path of Tinker Grey, a handsome New York up-and-comer banker.  Soon Tinker takes them under his wing and introduces them to the world of New York’s wealthy.  Thus the story unfolds.  These are three very complex characters, each with their own story to tell.  Eve has tunnel vision as far as improving her social status and the power it can bring.  Tinker, of course, is not the person he appears to be.  But Katey is a shining star.  Looking to improve her job status, she uses her brains and guts to move up from the secretarial pool to the upper echelon of Conde Naste magazine.  She manages to sidestep every bump in the road, and there were quite a few,  with grace and a strong sense of self.  We see her grow through her experiences and applaud her successes.
    
Rules of Civility is a very sophisticated, classy book, reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald in its smart dialogue and strong sense of the setting and time period.  With a dry martini in one hand and a cigarette in the other, the unforgettable characters stroll through the book with an edgy reality that only New York City can provide.  Sometimes brilliant, sometimes reckless, sometimes heartbreaking, this first novel by Amor Towles is a must read.

Posted by mingh on 04/02/12
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London, summer of 1584: Radical philosopher, ex-monk, and spy Giordano Bruno suspects he is being followed by an old enemy. He is shocked to discover that his pursuer is in fact Sophia Underhill, a young woman with whom he was once in love. When Bruno learns that Sophia has been accused of murdering her husband, a prominent magistrate in Canterbury, he agrees to do anything he can to help clear her name.

In the city that was once England's greatest center of pilgrimage, Bruno begins to uncover unsuspected secrets that point to the dead man being part of a larger and more dangerous plot in the making. He must turn his detective's eye on history,on Saint Thomas Becket, the twelfth-century archbishop murdered in Canterbury Cathedral, and on the legend surrounding the disappearance of his body, in order to solve the crime.

As Bruno's feelings for Sophia grow more intense, so does his fear that another murder is about to take place; perhaps his own. But more than Bruno's life is at stake in this vividly rendered, impeccably researched, and addictively page-turning whodunit;the stability of the kingdom hangs in the balance as Bruno hunts down a brutal murderer in the shadows of England's most ancient cathedral.


Posted by cclapper on 04/15/11
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Paris -- 1889: Murder... and epidemic!  And just as the world is flocking to Paris, visiting the new World's Fair and Mr. Eiffel's fresh wonder, the Eiffel Tower!  Explorer and investigative journalist extraordinaire Nellie Bly knows something is going on- could these murders and the epidemic be connected?  She's put her latest expose to bed, and is looking for a new challenge.  And helpers-interesting helpers: Louis Pasteur, Oscar Wilde and Jules Verne.  Nelly Bly is a woman of action, and she will play no small part in a world usually reserved for men.
 
This novel has gotten some good attention.  And Carol McCleary has spun a second tale of Nelly Bly- The Illusion of Murder.   May be more to come-

 
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6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
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