Archive for the ‘Historical Fiction’ Category

Book Review: The Forest Laird

March 29th, 2012 No comments

By Jack Whyte
Forge Books ©2012 | Hardcover 512pgs

Scottish history buffs and fans of historical fiction will have no trouble immersing themselves in The Forest Laird: A Tale of William Wallace, the first novel in the new Guardians Trilogy by Jack Whyte. The bestselling author of the Dream of Eagles series and The Camulod Chronicles, Scottish born Whyte imagines the early life of one of his homeland’s greatest heroes. The author conducted in-depth research into his subject, even traveling throughout Scotland on a fact-finding mission. Unfortunately little documentation remains of the freedom fighter’s life before his stunning victory against the English at Stirling Bridge in 1297. However, this absence of fact is fertile ground for the mind of an historical novelist, and the writer fills the void with very interesting and well-developed characters. Read more…


Philippa Gregory Paints History in Fact and Fiction

January 6th, 2012 No comments

Last Fall, fans of British history and historical fiction were twice blessed with new books from bestselling historical novelist Philippa Gregory. Esteemed historians David Baldwin and Michael Jones joined the author in writing The Women of the Cousins’ War (Touchstone, 352pgs), a book of factual essays on three influential female figures during the events of England’s Wars of the Roses (1455–1485). Baldwin writes of Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV, who was noted as being the first commoner in England to marry a king for love. Jones, outlines the life of Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, and one of the lesser known women of the Tudor dynasty. Gregory presents the early life of Jacquetta, duchess of Bedford, who at one time stood trial for witchcraft. Along with this non-fiction account, Gregory also published The Lady of the Rivers (Touchstone, 464pgs), a fictional telling of Jacquetta’s life. Read more…


Alzheimer’s Mystery Novel Takes Wellcome Prize

November 9th, 2011 No comments

Turn of Mind (Atlantic Monthly Press, 320pgs), the debut mystery novel by Alice LaPlante was announced today as the winner of the U.K. based Wellcome Trust Book Prize, an award for medical literature. The thriller is told through the perspective of Dr. Jennifer White, a retired surgeon battling the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease. When her best friend Amanda is found dead with one hand mutilated with surgical precision, Dr. White becomes the main suspect, though she cannot remember having played any part in the crime. As the story unfolds, details about the long lasting, yet turbulent, friendship between the two women are revealed, leaving Dr. White to question weather her absence of memory is hiding her guilt or protecting her from harm. Read more…


New Release: The Creation of Eve

March 24th, 2010 No comments

516H78dqFOL._SL160_By Lynn Cullen
Putnam Adult | 400pgs
Release Date: March 23, 2010

Lynn Cullen depicts the lavish and politically charged court of Spain’s Golden Age, in her new historical novel The Creation of Eve. Based on the obscure true-life story of Sofonisba Anguissola, one of the few distinguished female painters of the Renaissance, the book opens in 1559 as she leaves her Italian homeland amid rumors of a scandal involving a fellow art student. At the invitation of King Felipe II of Spain, Sofi becomes a lady-in-waiting at his court, and begins giving painting lessons to his new bride. The young Queen Elisabeth finds an ally in Sofi, as the artist helps the Queen maneuver through the gossipy trenches of the Spanish court and win the affections of the King. The painter yearns only to focus on her art, but is soon entangled in a dangerous love triangle between King Felipe, Queen Elisabeth and Don Juan, the King’s half brother. Drawing on historical fact, Cullen spins an engrossing tale of art, love and Renaissance culture.
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New Release: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

March 9th, 2010 No comments

51dzUj9767L._SL160_By Seth Grahame-Smith
Grand Central Publishing | 336pgs
Release Date: March 02, 2010

Seth Grahame-Smith’s fantastical foray into the horror/history genre Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, opens in a small cabin in Indiana, during the year 1818. Lincoln, a boy of just nine years, watches his mother’s life slip away as she suffers from a mysterious illness called “Milk Sickness.” Later as a young man, he learns that his mother’s death was caused by a vampire, and embarks on a life-long crusade to fight against the undead masses. Though Lincoln’s great accomplishments of ending slavery and fighting to keep America united have been well documented, his vendetta against vampires remained secret. Author Seth Grahame-Smith is finally able to bring these secrets to light with the discovery of The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln. Drawing on events recorded in the diary, Grahame-Smith stages an epic “biography” of the 16th President, revealing the shrouded history of the Civil War, and the role the undead evil-doers played in the upheaval.
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New Release: New York: The Novel

November 16th, 2009 No comments

51jxvhqKcML._SL160_By Edward Rutherfurd
Doubleday | 880pgs
Release Date: November 10, 2009

Bestselling historical novelist, Edward Rutherfurd, weaves the compelling strands of The Big Apple’s rich history into a fascinating multi-generational tale. The story follows several families, from different ethnic and economic backgrounds, through the years as their fates intertwine to become part of the tapestry of New York’s history. New York: The Novel spans more than three centuries, beginning in the 1600′s with the Native American and Dutch settlements, leading into the bloody conflicts of the Revolutionary and Civil wars, followed by the explosion of the Industrial revolution and the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Rutherfurd details New York’s development as a financial center, and its rapid population growth due to massive waves of immigrants looking for a better life in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s. Readers experience New York’s rocky ride in the 20th century, with the stress of World War II and the financial recession of the ’70′s, as well as its economic and cultural resurgence in the ’90′s. The tragic events of 9/11 and the collapse of the World Trade Center bring the novel to a close.

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Richard III Gets a Literary Makeover

October 13th, 2009 No comments
David Garrick as Richard III (detail) by William Hogarth

David Garrick as Richard III (detail) by William Hogarth

Did history and literature give Richard III a bad rap? Shakespeare immortalized the English king as a Machiavellian tyrant, and history has branded him as a hunched-backed villain, rumored to have murdered two princes in order to secure his ascension to the thrown. But according to author Philippa Gregory, Richard III may have just been misunderstood. In a recent interview with the LA Times, she discusses her new historical novel The White Queen (Touchstone, 432pgs), and her surprising take on this controversial figure. “It’s an act of historical recovery,” she says, “…history, of course, gets told by the victors. That’s what Shakespeare tapped into in his play about Richard — that and a medieval belief that a malformed mind led to a malformed body.” Gregory argues that there is historical evidence that supports a case for Richard’s innocence and for the guilt of the Tudor family, who eventually took Richard’s life and his thrown during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

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Book Review: Blindspot

September 23rd, 2009 1 comment

BlindspotBy Jane Kamensky and Jill Lepore
Spiegel & Grau ©2008 | Hardback 500pgs

Blindspot opens in Boston on the eve of the American Revolution, during the spring of 1764. When portrait painter Stewart Jameson sets foot on the docs of Boston Harbor, he arrives not hoping for a new life, but running from an old one. Wanted in his homeland of Scotland for outstanding debts, he has come to the Colonies to escape jail time and find his only true friend. Accompanied by his mastiff, Gulliver, he quickly sets up a small artist studio on Queen Street and advertises for a young man to apprentice him in his art.

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