Category: Historical Fiction

A review of The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Kidd’s extensive historical research does much more than provide a backdrop to the story. The period details further the plot. For instance, the Grimke family acquires a state-of-the-art copper bathing tub on wheels, an innovation which allows a lying-down bath, and can be drained rather than dumped or bailed. When Sarah discovers Handful emerging from this tub in her room she feels, at first, that her privacy has been invaded. Then she realizes that “Handful had immersed herself in forbidden privileges, yes, but mostly in the belief that she was worthy of these privileges.

A review of The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

The names of these characters alone would be enough to inspire a novel, but Forsyth goes deeper, exploring a range of themes that includes the impact of tyranny (shown on multiple levels – both domestic and historical), emotional strength and weakness as manifested in drug addiction and prejudice, and the enduring power of the human spirit and love even when under great duress. In short, The Wild Girl is a novel that speaks, like the fairy tales that are woven deftly throughout the narrative, to the very nature of human existence in all of its frailties and strengths.

A review of I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira

The forty year relationship between Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) and Edgar Degas, (1834-1917) is the subject of Robin Oliveira’s latest novel. Both artists were associated with the Impressionist group, which went outside the Paris art establishment, L’Ecole des Beaux Arts, with its annual juried “Salon” show, to win acceptance for their non-traditional paintings.

A review of The Old American by Ernest Hebert

Caucus-Meteor comes across as a deeply human and interesting person who will win your respect and compassion.  His tribe made Nathan and two other captives run the gauntlet.  An old acquaintance and rival of Caucus-Meteor, Bleached Bones, a gambling man, places bets on Nathan bring deliberately harmed.  Caucus-Meteor accepts the bet.  Working behind the scenes, Caucus-Meteor tries to make the gauntlet easier for Nathan.  He succeeds, and Nathan’s bravery as he ran the gauntlet wins the Indian’s admiration.  They adopt him.

A review of Hold Still by Cherry Smyth

It would be a shame if readers overlook this vivid, sensuous novel because of the plain cover and cryptic title. Written in the third person, it reveals the heart and mind of a girl in her late teens who blossoms in the art world. Irish-born, London-based Cherry Smyth, the author, is uniquely qualified to write such a novel, being an art critic, curator, poet and creative writing professor.

A review of In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl

In Falling Snow is a great book with a little bit of everything—history, family drama, romance, lighter moments with Iris and Violet, and even a little bit of mystery. MacColl notes that the telling of the story itself and capturing the spirit of Royaumont and the women who ran in was more important than scrutinizing every historical fact and figure, and I feel she pulled this off very well.

A review of Bristol House by Beverly Swerling

Bristol House is as unique a literary mystery as one is ever likely to read. Swerling makes some interesting choices with her narrative. At first impression, Annie Kendall strikes the reader as a brilliant, competent researcher whose personal transgressions have cost her, deeply, on a professional level. There are moments in the story where her carefully reconstructed self—the self rebuilt from countless AA meetings and confronting her deepest fears and strongest weaknesses—nearly shatter and the former, scarred Annie threaten to reemerge.

A review of The Woodcutter by Steven Bartholomew

The reader will see first hand what comprises the life of a writer. It is a lonely endeavour, one that can very quickly be speckled with controversy.  The reader will almost be able to picture Dana sitting all alone in his hotel room, eating, and writing stories that will help readers realize how hard the lives of Native Americans really is.

A Review of No One Is Here Except All Of Us By Ramona Ausubel

This is not the type of novel you can expect to race through or finish in a weekend. Ausubel’s lyrical, beautiful language and disturbingly compelling imagery seize the reader almost immediately. Even if the reader wants to turn away at some of the more graphic scenes, they don’t turn away for long, as Ausubel manages to capture the best parts of the human spirit while not shying away from describing the atrocities of war.

A review of Pearl by R. Lee Salkind Meliment

She was always a writer first and foremost. She kept a diary from a very early age.  One of Pearl’s favourite pastimes was to sit down and write about her experiences and feelings. Some of her journal entries are contained in the book.