Historical Fiction

Caleb’s Crossing

Friday, June 1, 2012
Geraldine Brooks
Caleb’s Crossing

Caleb’s Crossing is a fictionalized account of the first Native American graduate of Harvard College.  Caleb is the son of a chieftain of the Wampanoag Tribe on Martha’s Vineyard.  The story is told through the eyes of Bethia whose father is the Great Harbor minister.  I found the book a fascinating account of life in the 17th century as well as the settlement of Martha’s Vineyard.  Check our catalog

Laura G., Youth Services

 

Half Broke Horses

Friday, April 13, 2012
Jeannette Walls

Written by the author of The Glass Castle, this is billed as a “True Life Novel” because it is based on the life of the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.  Walls blends fact with fiction to create an intriguing story about a remarkable woman who grew up in West Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in the early part of the 20th century when that part of the country was remote and still mostly unsettled.  At age 15 she rode her horse alone on a 28 day trip to take a teaching job.   Her indomitable spirit helped her survive challenges by creatively using her wits, e.g. during the Great Depression she had a modest business bootlegging liquor to cowboys in the remote west.  Over many years she married twice, had two children, earned a college degree, took flying lessons and treated life as an adventure.  Great story. Check our catalog.

Kathleen Zaenger, Director

 

The Winter Palace

Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Eva Stachniak

Set amidst the dazzling decadence and intrigue of the mid-eighteenth century Russian royal court, Winter Palace traces the rise of Catherine the Great through the eyes of the orphaned servant girl/spy who befriends her.  I’m a big fan of historical fiction, but this was my first venture into the realm of Russian history and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  If you’ve enjoyed  Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir’s books about the Tudor courts you’ll appreciate the change of scenery. Check our catalog

Sue A., Reference

Cleopatra's Moon

Friday, January 13, 2012
Vicky Alvear Shecter
Cleopatra's Moon

Cleopatra’s Moon was an interesting historical fiction book geared for teens.   The book followed Cleopatra’s daughter, Cleopatra Selene while she was a teen.  I enjoyed reading about the era, customs, and people of that period in time.  I recommend for teens who do not normally enjoy historical fiction as it was fast-paced and very interesting.   Check our catalog.

Janice, Youth Services

The Exile of Sara Stevenson: a historical novel

Monday, November 8, 2010
Darci Hannah
Kudos to local author, Howell resident Darci Hannah on the publication of her first novel by Random House!  I enjoyed the book, the characters and the plot.  The characters, Sara and Willy, were fully developed so that, to my surprise, they sucked me into their relationship.  Well done.

Donna O., Reference and Technical Services

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Roy & Lillie: A Love Story

Monday, November 8, 2010
Loren D. Estleman

I love this book.  Yes, I love the author, too .  This is the story of The Jersey Lillie (person), The Jersey Lily (saloon), Lantry ,Texas and how that rascal Judge Roy Bean pulled it off.  This is a beautifully written story about how two people, on two continents, during the Gilded Age, with so little and yet so much in common, influenced each other and those around them because they wrote letters to each other.  (Aside to Loren: is this your whole point?)  they are contemporaries.  Their stories intersect because of letters.  They never met.  But wow, without those letters, history would have taken a different course.  The author's point?  the letters are fictional, but...it may have happened this way.

Donna O., Reference and Technical Services

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The Red Tent

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Anita Diamant

The Red Tent, tells the story of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, who is only mentioned briefly in The Bible in the Book of Genesis.  This story imagines the life of Dinah and other women who spend time in the red tent which is where women go when they are menstruating, giving birth or recovering from illness. The tent is a place where friendships are formed, healing and nurturing take place. Stories are passed on and wisdom is handed down.

I found this interesting information about The Red Tent on Author Anita Diamant’s website, “The amazing word-of-mouth support from readers and from book groups, has made The Red Tent a publishing phenomenon. First printed in 1997 with no advertising budget and few reviews in major newspapers or magazines, this book only found its audience through the loyalty of readers, the support of independent bookstores, and help from clergy, some of whom even preached about The Red Tent from the pulpit.”

This is a book that seems to pop up at book sales every once in a while. Whenever I see it, I buy it and give it to a friend.  I enjoyed it so much. It seems others do, too. I just checked and there are 1,555 reviews of this book, most of them.

Cyndi L. Reference

People of the Book: A Novel

Thursday, August 5, 2010
Geraldine Brooks

This book has an intriguing plot with beautiful writing.  One night in the city of Sydney, Australia,  Dr. Hanna Heath, a rare book conservator, gets a phone call that will change her life. The Sarajevo Haggadah, which disappeared during the siege in 1992, has been found, and Hanna has been invited by the U.N. to report on its condition.  Ultimately, the Haggadah brings together Jews, Christians and Muslims. 



It’s not an easy read in the sense that you can put it down for days and pick it up again.  There are several time periods, unfamiliar locations, difficult names – but the effort is well worth it.  Highly recommended!



Margaret, Reference

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My Name is Mary Sutter: A Novel

Thursday, August 5, 2010
Robin Oliveira

Set during the civil war, this book is an interesting story about the clash of traditional roles of women and those who go against society’s norm.  Mary wants to become a doctor.  During the 1860s, this would be highly unlikely.   She was already a very skilled midwife but wants to be a surgeon.  Those interested in medicine or nursing will be interested in the descriptions of medical care during the war; civil war buffs will find this fascinating.  The author did vast amounts of research and it shows.  Highly recommended.



Margaret, Reference

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The Pillars of the Earth

Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Ken Follett

I was drawn to this book by the cool architectural drawing on the front cover and the fact that it was historical fiction—a genre that I love but had not read in a while. The story is set in the early eleven hundreds in England and centered on the conflicts between kings and the hierarchy of Catholic Church. The main character was Tom Builder, a skilled mason whose vision and dream was to build a grand cathedral. The book focuses on the strife and conflicts of his family and the influence of the leader of the town’s monastery. The author skillfully wove in a wide variety of characters including kings, bishops, knights, monks, earls, peasants and several generations of a common family over the course of the novel. I loved how the author bridged the gap between the classes through love stories, corruption and power struggles. Aside from excessive violent acts between men and women and gruesome battle casualty details, the book was interesting and led me to an appreciation of the era. I feel the author assumed the reader had knowledge of that time period (which I did not), so topics such as the organization of English rule and the Catholic Church, I felt, could have been better explained. On a side note, this book has been made into a mini-series that is being shown the Starz (cable channel) this week! Perfect timing!


Donna L., Administration

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