Historical Fiction

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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The Help

Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Kathryn Stockett
The Help

There are a few books that have changed by outlook and captured a place in my memory. The Help is one of them. It was difficult to stop reading even when I was so tired my eyes were involuntarily closing and my mind could no longer comprehend the words. I loved everything about it. 

Southern settings, especially during the civil rights movement, are foreign to me. Despite the history classes and all the books I've read, nothing clicked in my mind until I read The Help. The revolving perspective of a white author and two black maids made it easier to understand the social hierarchy of the 1960s. It's difficult to imagine that only fifty short years ago, our country was still struggling with equal rights.

The Help was written brilliantly and simply. It is an extremely quick read because it's not easy to put down. I recommend it to anyone.

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Gabrielle M., Circulation

Alice I Have Been

Monday, May 3, 2010
Melanie Benjamin

A love story and literary mystery, as told by Alice Liddell Hargreaves, the muse for Alice in Wonderland, all grown up. Benjamin blends historical fact with rumor and innuendo as set in Victorian England mores. This is a sweet veiled story that I couldn't put down.

Donna O., Adult/Technical Services Librarian

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