Tag: historical fiction

Book Review–The First Princess of Wales

Karen Harper’s historical novel is about Joan of Kent, who lived in the 1300’s and eventually married the Black Prince, Edward of Wales, and was the mother of Richard II. To say she had a checkered past, is to put it mildly, but considering the prince waited to marry until he was nearly 30, in an age where one could easily be dead by 30,  you can’t help but wonder if this was indeed a love that spanned time! 

This story did get me looking up all sorts of stuff, more info on Edward, Joan, surcotes, and kirtles, even the plague! It covered battles, described knights and their chargers, medieval warfare, lots of interesting fodder for a history buff like me. I didn’t care if it was close fiction or grandiose fiction, I was intrigued by the court politics, power of the King and everything else from a time period with which I am ill acquainted.

For a medieval novice, I found it interesting, and it piqued my interest enough to have me looking up the real history, so I call it a win!

Book Review-Love Finds You in Lahaina Hawaii

Bodie Thoene has written some of my favorite book series, so I decided to check this one out of the library, even though the title sounded odd for her. What most would assume is a typical romance novel is far from it. It is actually two stories in one, and they are woven together to create an interesting read. One is set in 1973 and the other in 1898. I was not disappointed with a fluffy romance novel, but an intriguing and mysterious story.

I’ll just quote Bodie’s forward: “…in 1976. Brock and I met an old Hawaiian woman with a binder of early photographs beneath the enormous banyan tree across from the Pioneer Inn. It was among those sepia photographs that I first saw the haunting face of the beautiful young princess. When I asked the old woman about Princess Kaiulani, she smiled and said, ‘There is a difference between LEgend and the Truth. All is not as it seems in the history books. The true story of the Kingdom of Hawaii is a secret that has not yet been written.’ This is, in part, the story we heard that day.”

Of course it is fiction, some of the time sequences don’t match with the historical record, but is it ALL fiction?  While it wasn’t a typical can’t-put-it-down Thoene read, it was a good summer read, and one that kept me pondering for several days after I finished!

Book Review–America’s First Daughter

I read and listened to this book, because I was unable to finish it during my library checkout period, but was alerted I could continue through one of our library’s online partners. The book is 587 pages, the audio 23 hours, but Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie tell the untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter, Martha “Patsy” Jefferson Randolph.  It was fascinating; the era, what she witnessed, the human quality the authors were able to capture, an amazing reading/listening adventure.

America’s First Daughter is a novel, but the biographical research was quite meticulous, drawing from thousands of letters and original sources. Being a novel allows the authors some storytelling and assumptions that the records point toward, but do not confirm, creating a pretty engaging and informative look at some very exciting times. I was impressed by their desire to make the story compelling, while keeping things as accurate as possible. There is a section at the end where they explain where they left the historical path and moved into fiction and the reasons for those departures.

While this book may be most interesting to US residents, it covers a very rich part of world history, and provides insight into the revolutionary mindset in America and France.

Book Review–Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

This novel about the teenage Victoria was a light read and enjoyable. I don’t know how accurate it was; I’m certain that details were added or left out to make the story flow for the author, but it was a nice weekend read. The author made the characters accessible and human, and made me interested in picking up a true biography to learn more. I saw this book several months ago, and It has been on hold since then, so when it popped up on my overdrive a account, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to check it out. I don’t think I would buy it outright, but that’s the beauty of library books!

Book Review–1906

I listened to this book, because I needed a diversion while driving to and from Pierre last weekend (190 miles one way). It was an engaging listen, formatted much like a police report, with dates and times. The author,  James Dalessandro, took the events in and around the San Francisco earthquake, created some characters for the story, and wove them in and out of the real life events and characters. I was ready to hunt the actual history when I finished. It was an enjoyable listen, and a very interesting piece of history I knew little about. It also kept me alert on the drive home, which was well past my normal bedtime, so while not riveting, it was definitely entertaining!

If you enjoy historical fiction, you may want to check this one out. I’d never read/listened to anything by this author, but I’m going to see what else he’s written. Happy Friday!

Book Review – Radio Girls

This historical novel, by Sarah-Jane Stratford captures a bit of the flavor of the post WWI era and the beginnings of the BBC. I was intrigued by the the subject, and am always willing to give a historical novel a try. I am an avid library user, both books and e-books, so I’ll give most things a go.

I enjoyed the story, and the history, and appreciated Stratford’s note at the back outlining where she went “novel,” and where she stuck to straight history. I think her current sensibilities filtered some of what she wrote, but it was still an enjoyable, relaxing read, which was perfect for me this week.

If I see other stories by this author, I’ll at least read the book jacket to see if I’m interested. I think the topic will be more of a draw than the author, but I could be wrong!

Book Review–The Winter Palace

So you all may have noticed I’m on a bit of a posting plan here, at least for January! Thursday’s posts, when they occur, will be about books, another one of my great loves. I read lots of stuff, and this year have challenged myself to read some new authors and to pick up another five or six classics as well. You might see some commentary here, or just a brief rating.

I’m still pondering the first new author I read this year. Eva Stachniak wrote the Winter Palace in the first person, narrating from the main character’s point of view. She is an orphan who comes to the palace while Elizabeth was Empress of all the Russias. The story focuses on palace intrigue, spies and the story of Sophie, renamed to Catherine, who eventually became Catherine the Great. Honestly, the story ran a little slow, and didn’t really grab me, though I did finish the book. Mainly, I kept wanting to just google Catherine the Great and skim her biography online!

Do I recommend it? If you are a die hard historical fiction fan and are fascinated with court life in the later 1600’s, you’ll love it. Not sure that I will be looking for more of he books…maybe read a sample of another one and give her a second chance…