All tagged Historical Fiction

Two Reason’s You’ll Love “The Master and Margarita”

“The Master and Margarita” is a difficult book to summarize because there is so much going on. It is a conglomeration of subplots loosely tied together by Ivan Homeless, a poet who is admitted into an asylum after Woland (Satan) predicts the decapitation of Homeless’s colleague. Because “The Master and Margarita” is a difficult book, Penguin’s “The Master and Margarita: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky is especially helpful.

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 calls his 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!

Alias Grace is 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.

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.

'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, and bravery.

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 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.

'Lillian Boxfish Takes A Walk' Review and Women’s History

It’s 1931  and The New York World-Telegram declares Lillian “the highest paid advertising woman in America” (p. 24). Lillian, though proud of her achievement, confronts her boss: “But woman, Chester. It says woman. Why not person? I’ve come in here to ask for a raise. We both know I bring R.H. Macy’s more business than anyone else on the thirteenth floor, woman or man. Why not pay me what I’m worth?” Of course, it’s 1931 and Lillian doesn’t get the raise, “…this is just how it is,” Chester says (p. 27). In Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, author Kathleen Rooney explores women's issues. She explains the state of maternity leave and the glass ceiling in the 1930s and 1940s with historical accuracy.