Historical Fiction

09/18/2015 - 5:47pm
Most-Wanted Westerns

I’ve never really liked horses. The way they side-step with those ginormous, clippy-cloppy hooves, bare those big, big teeth, and roll those huge eyes until the whites show all the way around?  Very scary!  Yes, they are beautiful, and yes, their shiny coats are like stroking silk. But still. Horses. <shudder>

My fear of horses probably is the reason that I never really wanted to read Westerns. But I quite often looked at Westerns.  So many great covers!  So many sub-genres!  I read Doc, by Mary Doria Russell.  And then Epitaph, the sequel. I wanted more, more, more!

I still don’t really like horses, but I have discovered that I really like Westerns! Check out some favorites in my Most-Wanted list.

09/22/2015 - 11:50am
The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott

A dream to get out of the drudgery of domestic service led Tess to take a leap of faith and board the H.M.S. Titanic. She knew she had more to offer the world than cleaning her mistress’ dirty linen, so when the beautiful dress designer Lady Duff Gordon agrees to take her on as a personal assistant,Tess is eager to become part of another, more glamorous life. In Kate Alcott’s The Dressmaker, Tess’ voyage veers from Cinderella story to disaster. Its aftermath will test her loyalties and love for two very different men.

09/01/2015 - 10:46am
Longbourn by Jo Baker

What would Jane Austen’s delicate world look like from the point of view of the young woman who launders the family’s linen? Life at Longbourn can be as raw as Sarah the housemaid’s hands as she lugs buckets of water across an icy courtyard. It’s not that the Bennet family isn’t well-liked by their servants. It’s simply that there’s a world of difference between what goes on above and below stairs, as Jo Baker deftly shows in her award-winning novel.

08/27/2015 - 4:04pm
Cover to A Test of Wills

For those of us who enjoy reading murder mysteries in a historical setting, a series written by Charles Todd is the perfect match. In the first book, A Test of Wills, we meet Ian Rutledge, who is returning to Scotland Yard for the first time after spending four years at the front and several months in a hospital for shell shock. Before the war, Rutledge had been a gifted and up-and-coming inspector with a flair for solving murder cases. Now, he often hears the voice of Hamish MacLeod, one of his men who died in the trenches of France. Hamish sarcastically comments on everything Rutledge is doing from a point behind his shoulder. Rutledge doesn’t dare turn around for fear of seeing Hamish in the flesh.

08/27/2015 - 4:17pm
The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer

In Georgette Heyer’s The Unfinished Clue, it becomes evident that whilst some marriages end happily, others end in murder. Sir Arthur Billington-Smith was dead, and he probably deserved it. He had been chuffing and harrumphing at his male guests, leering--and perhaps a bit more--at the female ones, all the while being quite revolting to his wife.

Aren’t English country house parties entertaining? Well, they are when penned by a master craftsman such as Georgette Heyer. Her thoroughly modern (for the early twentieth century) heroine Dinah, sister to the beleaguered soon-to-be widow, has a clever wit and no intention whatsoever of being set down by her blowhard brother-in-law.

08/18/2015 - 2:37am
The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht
Téa Obreht’s The Tiger’s Wife is an intense and richly rewarding reading experience that is also an intimate family story. Like her beloved grandfather before her, Natalia has beaten the odds in the war-torn Balkans to become a doctor. With a heart for others and her best friend at her side, she is trying to deliver and administer vaccines to orphans when she receives word that her grandfather has died.

It did not surprise her entirely. His advancing cancer had been their secret, allowing him to go about his usual routine as best he could. But now, on the other end of a bad phone connection, her grandmother is frantic. Why was her husband in a tiny village no one has heard of? What happened to his very personal belongings which were not returned with his body? Furthermore, she bitterly accuses Natalie (correctly) of having conspired to hide his illness.

08/11/2015 - 2:32am
Beekeeping for Beginners: A Short Story by Laurie R. King

Sherlock Holmes is looking for a swarm of wild bees and perhaps something more personally sinister at the start of Beekeeping for Beginners. What, or rather whom, he finds instead is a young person, dressed in good if tattered clothes, whose wits and keen observation are a surprising match for his own.

08/10/2015 - 10:04am
The Murder Stone by Charles Todd
Charles Todd’s The Murder Stone is an enjoyable gothic mystery with a touch of romance set during the Great War. Francesca Hatton, a nurse on the home front, is called to tend to her dying grandfather at his English estate. What was for her a place of wonderful childhood memories is now all in shadows, not only because of her grandfather’s impending death, but also because the war has taken the lives of her beloved boy cousins.

08/10/2015 - 10:02am
The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro
In 1950s London, women of a certain social set have a pattern to their lives. They attend glittering parties where everyone jockeys for social prominence whilst pretending to a vapid joy in an environment of sheer ennui, enlivened by scandals and the occasional backstabbing, husband-stealing hostess.

07/22/2015 - 12:19pm
The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani

Eduardo and Ciro watched their beautiful, bereft mother leave them behind, not looking back once. Surely, they were now orphans. Abandoned to be raised at a nunnery in the Italian Alps, they would grow into good if very different young men with only one hope—to see their mother again.

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