Posts tagged with "Historical Fiction"
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.
I normally do not read romance novels, but the vivid details of this period in history, the costumes, customs, food, and social lives of the upper class of the Gilded Age really drew me into the story. The author deftly used the culture clash of American new money vs. Victorian tradition to move the plot along. There were plenty of twists and turns in the plot, so that you were always second-guessing what you thought was going to happen. The cast of supporting characters was delightful, including Prince Bertie himself. The American Heiress is Daisy Goodwin’s debut novel, which came as a surprise to me. Her writing is excellent and mature. This was really a fun summer read.
New York City, 2016, Rose Lewis is a journalist who is working at a job she doesn't particularly care for. Her relationship status would be considered complicated at best and she's caring for her elderly father. She's living with her divorced boyfriend in a condo in the renovated Barbizon Hotel. It's here where she meets an elderly woman with a veil covering her face. From the doorman, she learns the woman was involved in a mysterious scandal back in the 1950s. The reporter in Rose is intrigued and can't let this go until she finds out every last detail about who the woman is and what happened to cause her to wear a veil.
New York City, 1952, Darby McLaughlin just stepped off the train from Ohio. Enrolled in Katherine Gibbs, Darby plans on making a career as a secretary. She's naive and has low self-esteem. After a run-in with some mean girls on her floor, Darby is ready to scurry back home when she meets Esme, a maid at the hotel. Esme helps Darby start to break out of her shell and explore new things. But Esme has a domineering influence over Darby that starts to take her down a dangerous path and ultimately leads to tragedy.
Davis illuminates past and present New York City, taking readers all over the city from Brooklyn to Harlem, eating at 50’s cafes, listening to jazz musician greats in nightclubs, and creating a mystery and love story all in one. I was intrigued by the twists and turns of the mystery, but I most enjoyed the history of the building and time period.
The backbone of the story was derived from the actual transcripts of the Senate hearings that took place to investigate the tragedy. Alcott's novel humanizes the tragedy, fictionalizing what happened to the real survivors of lifeboat #1 after the ship sank. Why were there only 12 people in that lifeboat, when it could have held 50-60? Lady Lucille Duff Gordon, who in the early years of the twentieth century was the one of the top names in the fashion world, was actually in lifeboat #1, along with her husband Cosmo. In real life, Lady Duff, as she was commonly referred to, was a driven, nasty, tough woman. Alcott gives her this persona in The Dressmaker, but with a hidden softer side as well. She hires Tess Collins as her apprentice seamstress just before they board the Titanic. In the aftermath, Tess stands firm against Madame Lucille's pressure, manipulations and lies about what actually happened, determined to be a success in the U.S. and make it on her own talent. With the Senate hearings conducted by Senator William Alden Smith as a backdrop, The Dressmaker examines the choices people make when faced with a life-threatening situation and how they live with those choices afterward. The impressive caste of characters also makes this believable and intriguing history - the "Unsinkable Molly Brown;" Pinky Wade, the indominable New York Times reporter; Tess's two suitors, Jim and Jack, who also survived the disaster; and Elinor Glyn, Lady Duff's sister, a real-life famous actress and author.