Category Archives: Historical

Vibrant Historical Tale

“Midwife of Venice” by Roberta Rich is a vibrant tale of 16th century Venice and the trials and tribulations of a Jewish couple living in an era of Christian persecution. Hannah Levi is a much sought after mid-wife who created secret ‘birthing spoons’ to help reluctant babies to be born.  Her husband, Isaac, has been captured and enslaved in Malta.  When a Christian count requests her assistance with his wife’s protracted birth she agrees, even though she knows it is against the law, because she will earn enough to ransom her husband back.  Continue reading

Stolen Youth

The Book Thief
“The Book Thief” my Markus Zusak was utterly captivating for me.  The story begins when Liesel Meminger is left in foster-care by her mother after the death of her brother.  It is 1939 Germany and Liesel’s father is missing and the family is on the run.  Liesel ends up in the care of the Hubermanns.  Mrs. Hubermann is abrasive and shrill; but Liesel finds a confidante in Mr. Hubermann.  Liesel is fascinated by books and when the opportunity presents itself she steals them. Continue reading

Voices for Change

The Invention of Wings
“The Invention of Wings”, by Sue Monk Kidd is based on real life abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimké.  The story spans several decades in pre-civil war Charleston, S.C.  The novel opens with Sarah receiving Handful, a negro slave, as a gift from her mother. Handful is to be Sarah’s personal slave.  Sarah is appalled and attempts to give her back or free her.  Her efforts are doomed to failure. Continue reading

Soaring Generations

“Wings” by Pete Abela, is a tale of a grandfather and grandson that share the joy of flying with each other.  Walt, the grandfather, is living in Lancashire, England at the start of World War II and is accepted into the R.A.F. as a pilot.  Scott, the grandson, lives in Australia and begins his pursuit of his pilot’s license at the age of 16. Continue reading

A Life of Hardship

Gap Creek
“Gap Creek” by Robert Morgan is the story of Julie Harmon and her husband, Hank, as they begin their married life in turn of the century Appalachia.  Before Julie married Hank, she did most of the heavy work on her family’s farm.  Her father had passed and it was left to the girls to run things.  When she marries Hank at the age of seventeen and moves to Gap Creek she quickly learns that there is no end in sight to the hard work. Continue reading

An Army on the Run

Army of Worn Soles
“Army of Worn Soles”, by Scott Bury is a memoir written in a fictional style of Bury’s own father-in-law’s experience in the Russian army.  Maurice Bury, a Canadian citizen, was living in the part of Ukraine controlled by Poland when Germany invaded in 1939.  The USSR took control of the area that Maurice was living and in 1941 he was conscripted into the Russian army. Continue reading

Crossing Lines

“Caleb’s Crossing”, by Geraldine Brooks tells the story of Caleb, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard in 1665. The story is narrated by Bethia, the young daughter of a Calvinist minister on the small island of Martha’s Vineyard. Continue reading

A Southern Stunner

The All-Girl Filling Station Last Reunion
Fannie Flagg’s “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion” is a delightful and engaging read.  It’s got mystery, humor and history all in one.  Flagg’s writing sparkles, as always. Continue reading

Romance in Dangerous Times

Call Me Duchess
“Call Me Duchess”, by Maggie Dove is a Victorian romance with a touch of Gothic intrigue thrown in for good measure.  The Wiggins’ sisters, whose father has gambled away their savings and their home, are off to London to land husbands during one “London Season” or resort to life as governesses.  Marguerite, the eldest, has long set her sights on the very eligible and wealthy Duke of Wallingford. Continue reading

Murder Lights Up the Past

The Light in the Ruins
“The Light in the Ruins” by Chris Bohjalian is a page turner that is both a murder mystery and a historical tale.  The story takes place in the hills south of Florence in 1955 with flashbacks to 1943.  In 1955, Serafina Bettini, a detective with the Florence police, is investigating the brutal murder of Francesca Rosati.  The Rosati’s, an Italian noble family, had an ancient villa that was virtually destroyed at the end of the German occupation in 1943.  When a second member of the Rosati family is found murdered in much the same way the race is on to find the killer before any more of the family is killed. Continue reading