Historical Fiction

The English Patient

By Michael Ondaatje

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With unsettling beauty and intelligence, Michael Ondaatje's Booker Prize-winning novel traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an abandoned Italian villa at the end of World War II. The nurse Hana, exhausted by death, obsessively tends to her last surviving patient. Caravaggio, the thief, tries to reimagine who he is, now that his hands are hopelessly maimed. The Indian sapper Kip searches for hidden bombs in a landscape where nothing is safe but himself. And at the center of his labyrinth lies the English patient, nameless and hideously burned, a man who is both a riddle and a provocation to his companions—and whose memories of suffering, rescue, and betrayal illuminate this book like flashes of heat lightning. (Catalog summary)
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Ancient Evenings

By Norman Mailer

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"Mailer breathes life into the figures of that era; the eighteenth dynasty Pharaoh Rameses and his wife, Queen Nefertiti; Menenhetet, their creature, lover and victim; and the gods and mortals that surround them in intimate and telepathic communion. His hero, three times reincarnated during the novel, moves in the bright sunlight of white temples, in the exquisite gardens of the royal harem, along the majestic flow of the Nile and in the terrifying clash of battle."

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Zorro, a Novel

By Isabel Allende

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"Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, he is a child of two worlds. Diego de la Vega's father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. Diego learns from his maternal grandmother, White Owl, the ways of her tribe while receiving from his father lessons in the art of fencing and in cattle branding. It is here, during Diego's childhood, filled with mischief and adventure, that he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.

"At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his celebrated fencing master and joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. With this tumultuous period as a backdrop, Diego falls in love, saves the persecuted, and confronts for the first time a great rival who emerges from the world of privilege.

"Between California and Barcelona, the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures -- duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues -- Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves."

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Tinisima

By Elena Poniatowska

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"A vibrant portrait of the controversial photographer and radical Tina Modotti discusses her love affair with Edward Weston, her trial for the murder of another lover, her militant communism, and her work for the international revolutionary organization Red Aid."
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The Years With Laura Diaz

By Carlos Fuentes

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"Laura Díaz is a complicated and alluring heroine whose brave honesty and good heart prevail despite her losing a brother and a grandson to the darkest forces of Mexico's turbulent, corrupt politics, and a son to the ravages of a disease that consumes him before his greatness can be fulfilled. Yet in the end she is a happy woman, despite the tragedy and loss, for she has borne witness to and helped to affect her country's life, and she has loved and understood with unflinching honesty."
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The Feast of the Goat

By Mario Vargas Llosa

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"It is 1961. The Dominican Republic languishes under economic sanctions; the Catholic church spurs its clergy against the government; from its highest ranks down, the country is arrested in bone-chilling fear. In The Feast of the Goat, Vargas Llosa unflinchingly tells the story of a regime's final days and the unsteady efforts of the men who would replace it.

"His narrative skates between the rituals of the hated dictator, Rafael Trujillo, in his daily routine, and the laying-in-wait of the assasins who will kill him; their initial triumph; and the shock of fear's release--and replacements. In the novel's final chapters we learn Urania Cabral's story, self-imposed exile whose father was Trujillo's cowardly Secretary of State. Drawn back to the country of her birth from 30 years after Trujillo's assasination, the widening scope of the dictator's cruelty finds expression in her story, and a rapt audience in her extended family."

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Monkey Hunting

By Cristina Garcia

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In 1857, when Chen Pan signs a contract that will take him from China “beyond the edge of the world to Cuba,” he has no idea that he will be enslaved on a sugarcane plantation . . . or that he will eventually, miraculously, escape his bonds and embark on a prosperous life in Havana’s Chinatown . . . or that he will buy a mulatto woman out of slavery and take her into his home and heart . . . or that he will end his long days in Havana, surrounded by children and grandchildren, as Cuban as he is Chinese.

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The Magician's Wife

By Brian Moore

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Based upon an actual incident from the early days of the French imperialist drive into North Africa...The Magician's Wife tells a profound story of political will in conflict with spiritual belief--and of one woman's desires and convictions.

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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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