Historical Fiction

  • substitute moms

    This time of year we think about moms and the important place they have in our hearts. It is also a time to remember that not everyone has a wonderful mother or a mother who is still a part of their lives.  For those people often other women come into their lives and give them a mother’s love.  So many wonderful women have “mothered” children not their own and they deserve to be celebrated, too.  Luckily, there have been several children’s novels published lately with great “substitute mom” characters.  Here are five of my favorites. 

    5.16 The War That Saved My LifeTHE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE
    By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    (2015)

    Ada and her little brother, Jamie, live with a abusive mother in a flat in London at the beginning of WWII.  When the children are evacuated from London because of bombings Ada and Jamie are sent to a small village in Kent.  There they are taken in by a single lady who "doesn't like children." Miss Smith soon finds that caring for the neglected children fills a space in her own empty heart. 

     

    5.16 Betty Before XBETTY BEFORE X
    by Ilyasah Shabazz
    (2018)

    When Betty Sanders is two, her aunt takes her away from her mother because she feels that Betty is being neglected.  When Betty is six her beloved auntie dies, and she goes to live with her biological mother again. Betty finds herself drawn to the women of the House Wife's League, a women's civil rights group, so when her relationship with her birth mother falls apart again, she goes to live with one of the League women who prepares her for the role she will later play as the wife of Malcom X. 

     

    5.16 Beyond the Bright SeaBEYOND THE BRIGHT SEA
    By Lauren Wolk
    (2017)

    When Crow was an infant, she washed up on the shore in a small boat on one of the Elizabethan Islands in Massachusetts. She is adopted by kindly hermit, Osh, and raised by him and a neighbor woman, Maggie.  When Crow is twelve, begins to wonder about where she was born and why she was abandoned.  Even though her curiosity is painful to Osh and Maggie, they give her the support and love she needs as she searches for her origins.   

     

    5.16 The Wardens DaughterTHE WARDEN’S DAUGHTER
    By Jerry Spinelli
    (2017)

    Cammie lives with her father who is the warden of the local prison.  Cammie's mother died saving Cammie from a pedestrian/car accident when Cammie was a toddler, and Cammie desperately misses having a mother.  She decides that one of the inmates who works as a housemaid for the Warden should be her surrogate mom.   

     

    5.16 The Detectives AssistantTHE DETECTIVE’S ASSISTANT
    By Kate Hannigan
    (2015)

    Recently orphaned, Nell gets sent to her maiden aunt who is her only remaining relative.  The year is 1859 and Aunt Kitty is the first and only female detective in the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  At first Aunt Kitty wants to find a respectable boarding school for Nell, but gradually she comes to realize that Nell is not such a bad detective herself. 

     
     
  • period dramas

    Although I am working to expand the type of books I read, my favorite place to be is always in a Historical Fiction or Historical Memoir book. It gives me the ability to time travel a little and appreciate the qualities of another time without having to deal with an outbreak of disease or not having indoor plumbing.

    Naturally, my favorite shows to watch are Historical Period Dramas. As a result of watching these I have read the books they are based on and have found some that I love. Here are the best 4 adaptations I have seen and read:

    3.23 Lark Rise to CandlefordLARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD: A TRILOGY
    By Flora Thompson
    (2009)

    Adaptation: LARK RISE TO CANDLEFORD
    Directed by Susan Tully
    (2008- 2011)

    This show is based on the semiautobiographical series from Flora Thompson. She grew up in a small hamlet, but she begins the memoirs as she moves to a nearby village for her first job in a post office around 1899. Both the show and the books are focused on the changes that occur during this pivotal time, and the difficulties that can draw village and country together.

     

    3.23 Call the MidwifeCALL THE MIDWIFE: A MEMOIR OF BIRTH, JOY, and HARD TIMES
    By Jennifer Worth
    (2012)

    Adaptation: CALL THE MIDWIFE
    Directed by Emma Sullivan
    (2012 - )

    Many have probably heard of CALL THE MIDWIFE. A fair warning, if you read the books you will shed even more tears after all the ones that have poured out from this show. Along with the birth stories, I appreciate Jenny’s focus on the aftermath of the workhouse in her memoir and series.   

     

    3.23 North and South DVDNORTH AND SOUTH
    By Elizabeth Gaskell
    (2003)    

    Adaptation: NORTH AND SOUTH
    Directed by Brian Percival
    (2004)

    NORTH AND SOUTH was written a few years after the Great Exhibition of 1851, so the setting is very accurate even though Milton is a fictional place. The focus is on social classes, and although this took place long ago it is good to remember these social injustices still exist. We also own a book club set of this, so read it with your friends!

     

    3.23 PoldarkROSS POLDARK
    By Winston Graham
    (2015)

    Adaptation: POLDARK
    Directed by Edward Bazalgette and Will McGregor
    (2015 - )

    There is a whole series from Winston Graham that Poldark is based on, but I have only read the first. Ross is returning home from the American Revolutionary War, and things are very different back home. He has to now cope with his father dying while he was away, and the woman he loves is married to his cousin. His political views along with his reflections from the war are wonderful to read.

     
  •  middle grade historical fiction 01

    Find them in the catalog: 

    THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM - 1963

    CODE WORD COURAGE

    MOON OVER MANIFEST

  • read a romance 1

    August is Read a Romance Month, so we're sharing our favorite subgenres of romance. For last week's post on romantic classics, go here, and be sure to join us next week for our favorite funny and fantastical romances!

    PROPER ROMANCE

    Proper Romances have been around for a few years now and are published by local publishing company, Shadow Mountain Publishing.  They “allow readers to enjoy romance at its very best – and at its cleanest-portraying everything they love about a passionate, romantic novel, without busting corsets or bed scenes”.  These novels have becoming extremely popular, and here are a few titles we like to recommend.

    8.22 EdenbrookeEDENBROOKE
    By Julianne Donaldson
    (2012)

    When Marianne receives an invitation to spend the summer with her twin sister in Edenbrooke, she has no idea of the romance and adventure that await her once she meets the dashing Sir Philip.

     

    8.22 Lord Fentons FollyLORD FENTON’S FOLLY
    By Josi Kilpack
    (2015)

    Lord Fenton and Alice Stanbridge's marriage is one of convenience for him, but one of love for her. When Alice realizes the truth, she matches Fenton wit for wit until they both learn to see the truth of each other's hearts and find love beyond the folly.

     

    8.22 Beauty and the Clockwork BeastBEAUTY AND THE CLOCKWORK BEAST
    By Nancy Campbell Allen
    (2016)

    A plea from a desperate relative brings Lucy Pickett to Blackwell Manor, where she meets the estate's resident "Beast," the brooding Lord Blackwell. This series opener boasts an intense (but chaste) romance and a supernatural Victorian setting that blends Gothic atmosphere and Steampunk trappings.

     

    HISTORICAL ROMANCE

    I believe some of the best historical fiction includes a good dose of romance. Here are a few recent historical fiction titles that I think qualify as romances, though you will probably find them in our general fiction collection.

    8.15 Carnegies MaidCARNEGIE’S MAID
    By Marie Benedict
    (2018)

    Engaging, richly-detailed, biographical, and historical fiction. In 1860s Pittsburgh, Clara, an Irish immigrant takes a job working as a maid for Andrew Carnegie, with whom she falls in love, and then goes missing.

     

    8.15 Love and RuinLOVE AND RUIN
    By Paula McLain
    (2018)

    After meeting and falling in love while she covered the Spanish Civil War in Madrid, Martha Gellhorn is forced to choose between her marriage to Ernest Hemingway and her career as a war correspondent.

     

    7.22 Everyone Brave is ForgivenEVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN
    By Chris Cleave
    (2016)

    When war is declared Mary North signs up at the War Office, where she is made a teacher. Tom Shaw and his roommate Alistair enlist. When Mary and Alistair meet love and war tests them in ways they could never imagine.

     
  • Chains

    One of the hallmarks of African-American literature in the “slave narrative.” These are true biographical accounts of slaves who lived in the American South. Mostly they are written by the slaves themselves (such as NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS or INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL) giving a personal touch to each story. This, along with their experiences, make the storytelling distinctive and recognizable. Following the abolition of slavery, many African Americans have continued to write in this genre, calling it the “neo-slave narrative.” Mostly these new stories are fictional novels, but they take inspiration from real slave accounts, exploring the racial tensions and anxieties of this time period. Here are a few of the best in the genre: 

    3.25 KindredKINDRED 
    By Octavia Butler
    (1979)

    A black woman spontaneously travels back in forth in time: from her apartment in 1970’s Los Angeles to a slave-holding plantation in the early 1800’s. Things do not go well. Despite its fantastic premise, Butler did extensive research to prepare for this novel. From reading personal accounts, to actually visiting the plantations, her writing is based as much as possible on the historical experience of slaves. 

     

    3.25 BelovedBELOVED 
    By Toni Morrison
    (1987)

    This story was initially inspired by an article printed in a 1865, titled "A Visit to the Slave Mother who Killed Her Child.” Half-poem, half ghost-story, Morrison’s novel includes the hardest-hitting parts of slavery. This book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988 and was even made into a film starring Oprah Winfrey. 

     

    3.25 Underground RailroadTHE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD 
    By Colson Whitehead
    (2016)

    One of the oddest takes on “historical fiction” that I’ve ever read. In this story, the “Underground Railroad” is just that, literally an underground train riding through the Antebellum South. Another Pulitzer Prize winner, this novel purposefully drifts away from reality, mixing facts with fantastical reimagings. Despite the intentional inaccuracies, the work still rings true, highlighting the terrible atrocities that did occur.