17th century -- fiction

Runnery Granary by Nancy Farmer, Pictures by Jos. A. Smith

Runnery Granary by Nancy Farmer, Pictures by Jos. A. Smith

Something is stealing the grain in Mrs. Runnery’s granary. It must be weevils, thinks she, as she sets out spiders to eat them. But in the morning, the frightened spiders are clinging to the ceiling, their webs torn. It wasn’t weevils eating the grain. What could it be? The farmers need this grain from Runnery Granary to mill into flour so they can eat in the winter.

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks

It is fascinating to trace the domino effect caused by something so seemingly small and insignificant as a bolt of cloth. In Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague, by Geraldine Brooks, this bolt spreads misery in the form of the bubonic plague from London to a small, remote English village in 1666. Anna Frith, a young widow who has already seen her share of misfortune, is spared the fatal boils while all around her, family, friends, and neighbors succumb to the terrible disease.

The Barber of Seville

By Gioacchini Rossini

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The setting is 17th-century Seville. This production of Barber is appropriately over-the-top; the costumes reflect, in a very concrete sense, the occupations of each character (Figaro in barber stripes, "Lindoro" the "student" with books attached all over his coat, Berta wearing various cleaning items in various places on her clothes), Rosina shatters a glass while singing her second-act aria (much to her delight, as she picks up a shard and shows it proudly to Almaviva prior to continuing), et cetera.

Seeing as how Barber is over-the-top in the first place, the way the cast and crew play with this production only makes it more delightful--it would be much worse if one were to take it seriously. Beverly Sills is an outstanding Rosina. This is a wonderful treat to view. A must see. Available in VHS format. Other Rossini operas in our CD collection include La Cenerentola, featuring Cecilia Bartoli, and L'Italiana in Algeri, featuring Teresa Berganza.

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Catherwood

By Marly Youmans

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It is early May 1678 when Catherwood and her one-year-old daughter, Elisabeth, get lost in the woods of the New World. Catherwood has recently immigrated from England with her husband, and they have settled near Albany, New York. Now a moment's inattention on a spring day has turned a short visit to the closest neighbors into a long sojourn in the wilderness. As summer comes, Catherwood travels through a landscape which is as harsh and unforgiving as it is majestic and lush. With the winter months quickly closing in, she searches frantically through the sparsely populated terrain for signs of human habitation as she and her child struggle to stay alive.
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Captain Alatriste

By Arturo Pérez-Reverte

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A fictional 17th-century Spanish swordsman's instruction to frighten two travelers becomes a murder-for-hire arranged by Emilio Bocanegra, the name synonymous with the Spanish Inquisition. What happens next is only the first in a series of riveting twists and turns, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe.
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Dark Matter: The Private Life of Sir Isaac Newton

By Philip Kerr

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I swore not to tell this story while Newton was still alive.

1696, young Christopher Ellis is sent to the Tower of London, but not as a prisoner. Though Ellis is notoriously hotheaded and was caught fighting an illegal duel, he arrives at the Tower as assistant to the renowned scientist Sir Isaac Newton. Newton is Warden of the Royal Mint, which resides within the Tower walls, and he has accepted an appointment from the King of England and Parliament to investigate and prosecute counterfeiters whose false coins threaten to bring down the shaky, war-weakened economy. Ellis may lack Newton’s scholarly mind, but he is quick with a pistol and proves himself to be an invaluable sidekick and devoted apprentice to Newton as they zealously pursue these criminals. While Newton and Ellis investigate a counterfeiting ring, they come upon a mysterious coded message on the body of a man killed in the Lion Tower, as well as alchemical symbols that indicate this was more than just a random murder.

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Poison

By Kathryn Harrison

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A story set during the Spanish Inquisition follows the experiences of silk-grower's daughter, Francisca, whose obsessive love affair with a priest results in a witchcraft charge, and Princess Maria Luisa, who is attacked when she fails to conceive.

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The Twentieth Wife

By Indu Sundaresan

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"An enchanting historical epic of grand passion and adventure, this debut novel tells the captivating story of one of India's most controversial empresses -- a woman whose brilliance and determination trumped myriad obstacles, and whose love shaped the course of the Mughal Empire. Skillfully blending the textures of historical reality with the rich and sensual imaginings of a timeless fairy tale, The Twentieth Wife sweeps readers up in Mehrunnisa's embattled love with Prince Salim, and in the bedazzling destiny of a woman -- a legend in her own time -- who was all but lost to history until now."

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The Honorable Imposter

By Gilbert Morris

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Forced by his family to become a minister in the Church of England, Gilbert Winslow is offered a dangerous and challenging task by one of the most powerful nobles in Britain. Taking the post offers fortune and escape from a life he despises, but Winslow discovers it also means becoming a spy. His mission is to infiltrate a group of religious separatists and to ferret out the whereabouts of their leader, who is accused of dissention against the King.

In spite of his initial uneasiness, infiltration proves to be an easy matter. But will the ultimate betrayal be so simple? With the influences of good and evil, faith and doubt, compassion and selfishness pulling him apart, to whom could he turn?
House of Winslow, Book 1.

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Captain Blood: His Odyssey

By Rafael Sabatini

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In 1685, Irish physician Peter Blood is happily settled in a small English town when the rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth interrupts. After saving the life of a wounded nobleman who turns out to be a rebel, Blood is charged with treason and sentenced to ten years as an indentured slave in the Caribbean colonies. On the islands, Blood is recognized for his knowledge as a physician, and thus he develops a romance with a young lady. But their attachment is ill-fated, as her father is the owner of Blood's servitude. When Spaniards attack the colony, Blood and his fellow convicts take advantage of their victory celebration to steal their ship, sailing off to become the boldest and most fearless pirates on the Spanish Main.
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