All tagged Historical Fiction

“Father Divine's Bikes” Review and History

“Father Divine’s Bikes” introduced me to a historical figure I had never heard of, Father Divine (though Father Divine is more of a character in spirit). Father Divine was an African-American religious figure who rose to prominence in the 1930s. PBS, on it’s This Far by Faith Project page, “1866–1945: From Emancipation to Jim Crow,” calls Father Divine’s International Peace Mission Movement, “one of the most unorthodox religious movements in America.”

“In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills” Review and History

After a miscarriage, Rachel feels the urge to seek out her estranged photojournalist father, Henry, who she learns lived in Rwanda. She travels to Rwanda 10 years after the genocide to meet Lillian. Originally from Georgia, Lillian operates an orphanage in Rwanda that she and Henry built together. During her stay, Rachel learns about her father while witnessing how Rwandans are coming to terms with the genocide. Continue reading my review of “In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills” for more information about both the genocide and the book.

"Alias Grace" by Margaret Atwood: Summary, Analysis, and Canadian History!

Analysis and summary of “Alias Grace,” a novel by Margaret Atwood based on the real-life 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and Nancy Montgomery. Grace Marks and James McDermott were convicted of the crime. McDermott was hanged, and Marks had her sentence commuted and ended up in the Kingston Penitentiary. No one knows for sure whether or to what degree Grace Marks was involved in the murders.  “Alias Grace” gives readers a chance to decide for themselves whether this “celebrated murderess” was guilty or not.

“Full Circle”Review

From the prologue, which takes us inside the collapsing World Trade Center on 9/11, to the end, “Full Circle” lays bare many of the political and social issues the United States has been grappling with since before the 9/11 attacks. Despite its seriousness, “Full Circle” reads like a television drama. The cast includes Samia, an Iraqi refugee; Melissa, a faltering fashion mogul; and Susan, Samia's hapless friend who also happens to be Melissa's assistant. Continue reading my review of “Full Circle” by Regina Timothy to find out why I’m not completely in love with this one.

A Story of Romance and Espionage in World War II

Because historical romance isn’t usually my favorite genre, I didn’t think I was going to love this book. As with “Carnegie’s Maid,” however, I was wrong. “Searching for Gertrude” is satisfying in a way few books are, and I enjoyed it. “Searching for Gertrude” is well written and tidy. There are no loose ends or trying to be more than it is: a sweet love story set in World War II. Haggerty's writing style is to-the-point, no flowery language or overblown setting descriptions, which helps make “Searching for Gertrude” a light read as far as World War II novels go.

'White Houses' Review

Eleanor Roosevelt had an affair with a woman, who knew? Apparently, it’s not so common, common knowledge. In “White Houses,” Amy Bloom tells a fictional story about the real-lif romance between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. “White Houses” fascinated me, but not it the way you might guess. Read on for my review of “White Houses” as well as a look at the history surrounding the relationship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok.

'Carnegie's Maid' Review and Discussion Questions

Pam Jenoff’s quote on the front of “Carnegie’s Maid” says it all: “Downton Abbey fans should flock to this charming tale.” I’m a Downton Abby fan, and I loved this book. Like pretty much every book here on Picking Books, “Carnegie’s Maid” contains a wealth of accurate historical information. And within its pages you get a good sense of who Andrew Carnegie was and a loose outline of his rise to prominence.  Benedict also touches on the struggles Irish people continued to face after the famine in 1840 and the difficulties immigrants faced both on their way to America and once they got here. What I love most about “Carnegie’s Maid,” however, is how Benedict delves into Pittsburgh’s rich cultural history.

"The Nightingale" Review

A review of “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah as well as a discussion about Hannah’s inspiration for “The Nightingale,” Andrée de Jongh. “The Nightingale” is about how two French sisters, Viann and Isabelle, survive World War II. It has everything a good World War II book should have: pain, suffering, strength, hope, bravery, and loads of history.

I Learned More about World War II from 'When My Name Was Keoko' Than I Learned in School

I have no recollection of learning about World War II in high school. I took AP U.S. History, so you’d think it would have come up, and it might have, but I don’t remember it. So, before I read “When My Name Was Keoko,” all I knew about Japan during World War II was that we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I knew nothing about Korea. “When My Name Was Keoko” changed all that. Better late than never, right?

When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park came out in 2002. The book follows a young Korean girl, Sun-hee (Keoko), and her older brother, Tea-yul (Nobuo), during World War II. By the time we get to Sun-hee’s story, the Japanese have occupied Korea for thirty years. When My Name Was Keoko begins with Sun-hee having to choose a Japanese name. “Graciously allowing”—as the Japanese Emperor’s official order phrased it—Korean's to choose Japanese names was one tactic Japan used to indoctrinate the population of Korea.

Margaret Fishback, Maternity Leave, and the Glass Ceiling in 'Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk'

In “Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk,” author Kathleen Rooney explores women's issues using Margaret Fishback, the highest-paid ad woman in the the 1930s, as inspiration. In Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, Rooney explains the state of maternity leave and the glass ceiling in the 1930s and 1940s with historical accuracy. Using Lillian Boxfish as a jumping-off point, let's discuss maternity leave and the glass ceiling today.