Mostly Fiction BOOK REVIEWS


Facing History

Fiction based on real people & historical events

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The Invention of Everything Else by Samantha Hunt - A wondrous imagining of an unlikely friendship between the eccentric inventor Nikola Tesla and a young chambermaid in the Hotel New Yorker where Tesla lives out his last days.(March 2009) author page

Draining the Sea by Micheline Aharonian Marcom - A striking literary exploration of the effects of political violence as it everberates through the Armenian Genocide of 1915, the Guatemalan civil conflict of the 1980s, and present-day Los Angeles-from award-winning novelist Micheline Aharonian Marcom. (March 2009) author page

Song Yet Sung by James McBride - McBride tells the mesmerizing story of Liz Spocott, a beautiful runaway slave with troubling dreams of the future, whose escape exposes the barely concealed racial and social fault lines on Maryland’s eastern shore a decade before the Civil War. (January 2009)

Life Class by Pat Barker - Barker returns to her most renowned subject: the human devastation and psychic damage wrought by World War One on all levels of British society. Her skill in relaying the harrowing experience of modern warfare is matched by the depth of insight she brings to the experience of love and the morality of art in a time of war. Previous Booker Prize winner. (January 2009)

A Golden Age by Tahmima Anam - As young widow Rehana Haque awakes one March morning, she might be forgiven for feeling happy. Today she will throw a party for her son and daughter. In the garden of the house she has built, her roses are blooming, her children are almost grown, and beyond their doorstep, the city is buzzing with excitement after recent elections. Change is in the air. But none of the guests at Rehana's party can foresee what will happen in the days and months ahead. For this is 1971 in East Pakistan, a country on the brink of war. And this family's life is about to change forever. (January 2009) author page

The Seduction of the Crimson Rose by Lauren Willig - Lauren Willig continues the exciting Pink Carnation series with her fourth novel. Determined to secure another London season without assistance from her new brother-in-law, Mary accepts a secret assignment from Lord Vaughn on behalf of the Pink Carnation: to infiltrate the ranks of the dreaded French spy, the Black Tulip, before he and his master can stage their planned invasion of England. (December 2008) author page

Sword Song: The Battle for London by Bernard Cornwell - 4th in the new Saxon Chronicles series. (December 2008) author page

Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough - Colleen McCullough turns her attention to the legendary romance of Antony and Cleopatra, and in this timeless tale of love, politics, and power, proves once again that she is the best historical novelist of our time. (December 2008)

Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill - Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom—and of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. (November 2008)

coverThe Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett - In the fall of 1916, Americans debate whether or not to enter the European War. In an isolated community in the Adirondacks, the danger is barely felt. At Tamarack Lake the focus is on the sick-- wealthy tubercular patients live in private cure cottages; charity patients, mainly European immigrants, fill the large public sanitorium. An enterprising patient initiates a weekly discussion group. When his well-meaning efforts lead instead to a tragic accident and a terrible betrayal, the war comes home, bringing with it a surge of anti-immigrant prejudice and vigilante sentiment. (October 2008) author page

Joop: A Novel of Anne Frank by Richard Lourie - A stunning fictionalized account of the man who betrayed Anne Frank. (October 2008)

coverThe Indian Clerk by David Leavitt - On a January morning in 1913, G. H. Hardy—eccentric, charismatic and, at thirty-seven, already considered the greatest British mathematician of his age—receives in the mail a mysterious envelope covered with Indian stamps. Inside he finds a rambling letter from a self-professed mathematical genius who claims to be on the brink of solving the most important unsolved mathematical problem of all time. (September 2008) author page

The Chess Machine by Robert Lohr - Based on a true story, The Chess Machine is the breathtaking historical adventure of a legendary invention that astounded all who crossed its path. (September 2008)

coverFirst Wave by James R. Benn - Lieutenant Billy Boyle reluctantly accompanies Major Samuel Harding, his boss, in the first boat to land on the shores of Algeria during the Allied invasion. Their task is to arrange the surrender of the Vichy French forces. But there is dissension between the regular army, the local militia, and de Gaulle's Free French. American black marketeers in league with the enemy divert medical supplies to the Casbah, leading to multiple murders that Billy must solve while trying to rescue the girl he loves, a captured British spy. (September 2008) author page

coverDizzy City by Nicholas Griffin - a suspense-filled portrait of the darker - and more exciting- side of American capitalism on the eve of its entry into World War I. The year is 1916, Europe is at war, and American industrialists are getting rich. Englishman Benedict Cramb deserts the trench warfare of northern France and stows away on an outbound transatlantic ship. When he arrives in a city untouched and largely unaware of the horrors of war, he realizes New York City is the place to reinvent himself. In the process, he soon falls under the sway of the urbane and mysterious Julius McAteer. (September 2008) author page

The Spanish Bow by Andromeda Romano-Lax - In a dusty, turn-of-the-century Catalan village, the bequest of a cello bow sets young Feliz Delargo on the unlikely path of becoming a musician. (September 2008)

Swim to Me by Betsy Carter - Welcome to Weeki Wachee Springs, located in sunny Florida. The Springs and its mermaids have been attracting tourists since 1947, but now it must compete with the recently opened Walt Disney World Resort. In the tradition of Rebecca Wells, Betsy Carter writes of family, of chasing dreams, and of finding your way, conjuring up a time in America when anything was possible -- even mermaids from the Bronx. (August 2008)

Crusade by Robyn Young - The second volume in the Brethren trilogy, a gripping historical fiction that reads like tomorrow's headlines.(July 2008) author page

The Lost Diary of Don Juan: An Account of the True Arts of Passion and the Perilous by Douglas Carlton Abrams - (July 2008)

Redemption Falls by Joseph O'Connor - O'Connor illuminates a slice of the Civil War and Reconstruction. The stories of Eliza Mooney and her younger brother, Jeremiah, are intertwined in this enthralling saga with those of General James O'Keefe and his wealthy wife, Lucia, through letters, personal accounts, transcripts, newspaper articles, and miscellany. As the bloody war ends, Eliza—worldly wise beyond her teenage years—sets out on foot from Baton Rouge to find her only remaining kin. (June 2008) author page

coverThe Shadow Catcher by Marianne Wiggins -The life of legendary photographer Edward S. Curtis is the basis for this resonant exploration of history and family, landscape and legacy. (June 2008) author page

Redemption by Frederick Turner - New Orleans in 1913 from the author of 1929. (June 2008)

coverNorth River by Pete Hamill - It is 1934, and New York City is in the icy grip of the Great Depression. With enormous compassion, Dr. James Delaney tends to his hurt, sick, and poor neighbors, who include gangsters, day laborers, prostitutes, and housewives. If they can't pay, he treats them anyway. But in his own life, Delaney is emotionally numb, haunted by the slaughters of the Great War... (June 2008) author page

Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon - McCarthy-era Washington, D.C., is as twisted and morally compromised as a noir Los Angeles in Mallon's latest, a wide-ranging examination of betrayal and clashing ideologies. (May 2008) More on Author

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish by Elise Blackwell - Louis Proby is an old man now, sitting in his study in New Orleans awaiting what they say is a huge storm, Hurricane Katrina. (April 2008)

Brendan Wolf by Brian Malloy - A hard-luck Minneapolis guy hits the skids in a major way. Brendan Wolf, a gay 35-year-old perennial menial employee, can't cover rent and food on $7 an hour. His brother, Ian—in prison for fraud—directs him to Marv, a wealthy, withering elderly gay man. An interesting spin on classic noir. (April 2008) More on Author

Lost Son by M. Allen Cunningham - Fiction based on the life of artist Rainer Maria Rilke. Spanning Western Europe form 1875 to 1917, Lost Son brings a brooding atmosphere and human complexity to an intimate, imaginative portrait of one of the most sensitive artists fo the times. (April 2008)

Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett - The year is 1527. The great portraitist Hans Holbein, who has fled the reformation in Europe, is making his first trip to England under commission to Sir Thomas More. In the course of six years, Holbein will become a close friend to the More family and paint two nearly identical family portraits. But closer examination of the paintings reveals that the second holds several mysteries... Set against the turmoil, intrigue and, tragedy of Henry VIII's court. (April 2008)

The Mercy Seller by Brenda Rickman Vantrease - (April 2008)

coverThe Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney -The year is 1867. Winter has just tightened its grip on Dove River, a tiny isolated settlement in the Northern Territory, when a man is brutally murdered. (March 2008) Read review

Medicus by Ruth Downie - Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on his luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. The most likeable sleuth to come out of the Roman Empire. (March 2008)

All Will Be Revealed by Robert Anthony Siegel - Crippled from a childhood illness, the reclusive Augustus Auerbach has built a fortune in the pornography business; largely confined to his opulent mansion and rarely encountering people, Auerbach is as incurious about others' lives as he is clueless about his own. His controlled existence begins to unravel when one of his models brings him to a séance conducted by the widowed (and crooked) medium. (March 2008)

The Mosaic Crimes by Giulo Leoni - Florence, June 1300. The body of an artist, his face covered in quicklime, is discovered next to the mosaic he had almost completed. Dante Alighieri, the newly appointed prior of the city of Florence (and the man who will one day write that exhaustive treatise on criminology, the Inferno), is on the case. (February 2008)

The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips - With impeccable research into seventeenth-century Venetian politics, Phillips plots an intriguing literary suspense debut novel contrasted with a modern romance between two rival academics. (February 2008)

coverSkylark Farm by Antonia Arslan - A beautiful, wrenching debut novel chronicling the life of a family struggling for survival during the Armenian genocide in Turkey, in 1915. (March 2008)

coverRed River by Lalita Tademy - Tademy, author of the highly acclaimed Cane River, revisits her fascinating family history in this fictionalized account of the family's survival of a riot in 1873 in Colfax, Louisiana. (January 2008) Read our Review

Mistresss of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin - A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction. (Janaury 2008)

City of Glory by Beverly Swerling - Follow up to City of Dreams, set against the backdrop of the War of 1812, when New Yorkers are suffering the dire economic effects of a British blockade of American Ports and talk of secession is rife. (January 2008)

The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak - Shafak, whom the Turkish government has put on trial for "denigrating Turkishness," writes in her second novel about the 1915 massacre of Armenians. (January 2008)

Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell (January 2008) About Us| Last Modified | Join Newsletter | Contact Us | ©1998-2009