Posts tagged with "Historical Fiction"

Posted by Sltader on 09/28/16
cover image
From the Roaring 20s through the 1960s, there was no address more glamorous than New York’s “women only” Barbizon Hotel.  Nicknamed 'The Dollhouse' by the gentlemen of the time, the Barbizon was a combined charm school and dormitory that would shelter a parade of yet-to-be-discovered damsels—Joan Crawford, Grace Kelly, Candice Bergen, Sylvia Plath, Ali MacGraw, and many more.

Fiona Davis’s debut novel, The Dollhouse, alternates chapters between 1952 and present day.

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.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 03/24/12
cover image
April 15th marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  So Kate Alcott's new novel The Dressmaker is very timely.  Not to minimize the seriousness of the subject, this book could be described as The Devil Wears Prada meets The Titanic, with a little Daniel Steel drama thrown in for good measure.  You very well could envision Kate Winslett in the part of our protagonist, Tess Collins, the dressmaker.  Leonardo Di Caprio could play the part of any male in the story since he seems to be so versatile.  But this only speaks to the many layers of this book.

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.    


Posted by Ultra Violet on 04/13/11
cover image
Kau is a fierce pygmy warrior. His family and his entire village have been destroyed by the Ota tribesman. Five years after Kau is enslaved and sent to America, he escapes and embarks on a journey through the unspoiled lands of early nineteenth century Florida.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 08/16/11
cover image
In 1944, at the age of 23, Marshall Stone was a cocky young U.S. Army pilot with nine successful missions to brag about when his B-17 bomber was shot down in a Belgian field, near the French border.  With German troops closing in to capture him and his fellow downed crewmates, he fled into the nearby woods. Miraculously, he was found right away by nearby villagers who hid him from the Germans.  The people who helped him were part of a network of French citizens, from all walks of life, who formed the Resistance, sheltering and moving downed Allied airmen through covert routes to return them to their airbases in England.  To these brave people Marshall owed his life.
 
Forty years later, newly widowed and retired, Marshall Stone returned to that crash site in Belgium.  The overwhelming memories from that experience drove him to stay in France and try to find the people who helped him, especially a vivacious young girl in a blue beret.  In his odyssey, he finds many of those people, all of whom had their own terrifying experiences during the war.  But none more horrific than the story of the young French girl who helped him and so many other airmen to escape the German soldiers.  His journey becomes a life-changing experience, helping him to find closure and a second chance at life.
 
Based on the true wartime experiences of her late father-in-law, author Bobbie Ann Mason writes a very authentic account of the French Resistance during WWII. The details and vivid narratives bring history alive for the reader.

Posted by mingh on 04/18/12
cover image

1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever.

Timothy Wilde tends bar near the Exchange, saving every dollar and shilling in hopes of winning the girl of his dreams. But when his dreams literally incinerate in a fire devastating downtown Manhattan, he finds himself disfigured, unemployed, and homeless. His older brother obtains Timothy a job in the newly minted NYPD, but he is highly skeptical of this untested police force. And he is less than thrilled that his new beat is the notoriously down-and-out Sixth Ward-at the border of Five Points, the world's most notorious slum.

One night while returning from his rounds, heartsick and defeated, Timothy runs into a little slip of a girl --a girl not more than ten years--dashing through the dark in her nightshift . . . covered head to toe in blood.

Timothy knows he should take the girl to the House of Refuge, yet he can't bring himself to abandon her. Instead, he takes her home, where she spins wild stories, claiming that dozens of bodies are buried in the forest north of 23rd Street. Timothy isn't sure whether to believe her or not, but, as the truth unfolds, the reluctant copper star finds himself engaged in a battle for justice that nearly costs him his brother, his romantic obsession, and his own life.


Posted by Ultra Violet on 05/24/13
cover image
It's the last part of the 19th Century, and an evil Jewish mystic creates an incomparable golem who ends up lost and alone in New York City. Blending in to the human population is hard enough for Chava, but getting involved with Ahmad, a Jinni who has been cruelly trapped in human form thousands of years ago, causes even more complications. Their uneasy alliance stems from their shared situations, but their natures are so far from each other that they are constantly butting heads.When Chava's creator comes to America, Ahmad and Chava must fight for their lives and try and outwit a mastermind with no conscience.
 
The Golem and the Jinni is a fun, fast read with great details of 19th century New York, particularly the Jewish and Syrian neighborhoods and lifestyles. The Jewish tradition of the golem and the Middle Eastern stories of the jinni add a delightful twist.

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 04/26/12
cover image
In Paris, France in the 1860's, Emperor Napoleon III ordered the vitual destruction of his city.  Neighborhoods full of history and nostalgia, charmingly winding their way through Paris were to be razed to make way for long straight boulevards designed by Baron Georges Haussman to modernize the city.
 
Rose Bazelet lived in her husband's family home on Rue Childebert since there were married.  Her beloved husband has been dead 10 years, but Rose still clings to cherished memories of home, family and friends.  She feels a strong loyalty not only to the house itself but to its tenants, neighbors, and friends. So much so that she writes letters to to her deceased husband, relating the destruction of their city, reflecting on their life together, and revealing an occasional secret that she has kept all these years.  Rose dedicates herself to saving the house and quietly takes a stand, moves to the basement,  refusing to leave, preparing for the eventual demolition.
 
The premise of this book may sound rather depressing, but it is beautifully and lovely written as only De Rosnay can write about her Paris. The House I Loved is really a love letter, not only to a dead husband but also to a Paris of 150 years ago.   This Victorian era Paris comes to life through the rich details of the book's characters and livestyles as well as of the streets of the city itself.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love this book. 

Posted by roseh on 05/18/12
cover image
Helen Allston and her daughter Eulah are enjoying all the perks their first-class passage affords aboard the Titanic.
 
Fast forward three years to Boston where Sibyl, the eldest daughter of Helen and Harlan Allston, and reluctant matriarch of the family, is attending an annual seance. This secret and somber affair is dedicated to communicating with departed loved ones lost on the Titanic.
 
Flashback to 1868 Shanghai where Harlan is a novice sailor trying to make a name for himself. 
 
From seedy back alleys and opium dens to the lavish lifestyles of the privileged upper class, this novel brings together three distinct settings to produce a vivid snapshot of life during the turn of the century.

Posted by Kelley M on 04/18/14
cover image
“History is not just facts and events. History is also a pain in the heart and we repeat history until we are able to make another’s pain in the heart our own.”
 
This book is loosely based on the real lives of two abolitionist sisters, Sarah & Nina Grimke.  Sarah & Nina grew up in Charleston, South Carolina during the decline of the plantation era.  The novel spans over 35 years & tells the story of not just Sarah & Nina, but also the slaves that their family owned.  We watch as Sarah, Nina, and Hetty “Handful” Grimke (their slave) move past the social barriers placed upon them (the Invention of Wings), being ostracized along the way.

The author, Sue Monk Kidd, adds fictional dimensions to the history of the Grimkes.  Through these fictional accounts, we learn a lot about actual history.  We become acquainted with the relationships between children slaves & plantation owners’ children, religious dynamics of the era, family relationships, the lives of slaves and the abolitionist movement as the story progresses.  The plot, while slow to start, really picks up momentum about halfway through. 

If you liked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom or Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini, you might want to give this read a try…
 

Posted by Auntie Anne. on 12/01/11
cover image

Having been awarded a scholarship to study architecture at the Ecole Speciale in Paris in 1937 was no small feat for Andras Levi, a poor Hungarian-Jew from the small Hungarian town of Konyar.  He arrived from Budapest with only a single suitcase and a mysterious letter he had promised to deliver to a C. Morgenstern.  He makes friends with some fellow Jewish students, allying with them against increasing Nazi threats.  He falls in love with C. Morgenstern - Klara - a beautiful Hungarian ballet instructor nine years his senior with a hauntingly dark past. With war threatening, Andras is forced to return to Hungary and Klara insists on coming with him.  Andras and his two brothers find themselves pawns in the Nazi chess game of using Hungary to advance their invasion of Russia, sent out in work details for months at a time in labor camps that were little more than concentration camps.  By the autumn of 1939, all of Europe erupted in the full-blown catastophe of World War II.  Even Hungary, thinking themselves safe in allying with Germany, was been invaded by the Nazis. As in Dr. Zhivago, lovers Andras and Klara cannot escape the horrors of war, but find courage in their love for each other and in their families.

I must admit that I balked a bit at reading a 600 page novel that appeared to be yet another novel about World War II.  I was surprised to find myself unable to put it down, taken in by the grandeur of Paris opera houses and the Parisian architecture.  Andras' simple yet close family ties in Hungary contrasting with his new life in Paris as student, friend and lover was beautifully portrayed by the author, Julie Orringer. As the inevitable history unfolded with the characters caught up in it, I found myself totally absorbed and caring very much about how they would survive the war.  The Invisible Bridge is a novel of epic proportions but so well written that it felt intimate.  


 
If your status is Confirmed Registration, your spot for the event is confirmed.

If registration for this event is full, you will be placed on a waiting list. Wait listed registrants are moved to the confirmed registration list (in the order of registration) when cancelations are received. You will receive an email notification if you are moved from the wait list to the confirmed registration list.

6.012 Patron-Generated Content

04/27/2011
The Library offers various venues in which patrons can contribute content that is accessible to the public.  These include, but are not limited to, blogs, reviews, forums, and social tagging on the Library’s website and catalog.  Any instance in which a patron posts written or recorded content to any of the Library’s venues that are accessible to the public is considered “patron-generated content” and is subject to this policy.
 
By contributing patron-generated content, patrons grant the Library an irrevocable, royalty-free, worldwide, perpetual right and license to use, copy, modify, display, archive, distribute, reproduce and create derivative works based upon that content.
 
By submitting patron-generated content, patrons warrant they are the sole authors or that they have obtained all necessary permission associated with copyrights and trademarks to submit such content.
 
Patrons are liable for the opinions expressed and the accuracy of the information contained in the content they submit.  The Library assumes no responsibility for such content.
 
The Library reserves the right not to post submitted content or to remove patron-generated content for any reason, including but not limited to:
 
  • content that is profane, obscene, or pornographic;
 
  • content that is abusive, discriminatory or hateful on account of race, national origin, religion, age, gender, disability, or sexual orientation;
 
  • content that contains threats, personal attacks, or harassment;
 
  • content that contains solicitations or advertisements;
 
  • content that is invasive of another person’s privacy;
 
  • content that is unrelated to the discussion or venue in which it is posted;
 
  • content that is in violation of the Library’s Code of Conduct or any other Library policy