Exploring what's "new" on the historical shelves
There's something about the cold and gloom of winter that makes it the perfect
time to snuggle up by the fire or the heater with a hot beverage and a novel
about "the Dark Ages." Far enough from the present to be wrapped in myth and
mystery, the extent record of events sketchy enough to allow inventive novelists
much room to spin stories, the medieval period is full of fascinating,
larger-than-life characters Read More...
It's a cliché that artistic people feel more intensely than non-artist types, are more driven by their passionate vision—and frequently live tragic lives. But in the process, they create work that enlightens and enthralls millions of viewers, listeners and readers.
The novels we'll look at here fully support the cliché. Whether the artist be painter, composer, or writer, the passion that consumes them often also brings heartache and disaster. While exploring Read More...
Inspired by the release of the new film “Dunkirk,” which explores the rescue of the trapped British
Expeditionary Force (by every vessel the British could muster, from Royal Navy
warships to fishing boats to ferries,) this month we’ll look at fiction set in
World War II.
One of my favorite dramatizations of Dunkirk was an episode of the BBC series Read More...
For many historical fiction fans, one of the draws of the genre is watching
woman of past confront challenges and restrictions to open up new opportunities
for themselves. In honor of the recent birthdays of some extraordinary women—my
mother-in-law, my stepmother and my daughter—this month I showcase a group of
enterprising women who dare to dream of doing something more than filling a
woman’s conventional place in society.
We begin Read More...
Spring always brings a sense of anticipation. The cold and gloom of winter
brighten into the season of warmth and rebirth, where new life seems full of
limitless possibilities, encouraging the idea that hard work can lead to
success, maybe even to fame and fortune.
Inspired by the return of spring, the heroines of the novels we’ll look at this
month all reinvent themselves to become, or be associated with, the rich, famous
and Read More...
Inspired by the lush PBS mini-series “Victoria,” this month we’ll look at fiction that explores
the world of imperial rulers—and check out the life of one who had more
influence on the next generation of royals than the hand that held the scepter.
As frost immobilizes the ground and chill winds blow, I think of cold castles
and harsh rulers—which brings to mind the medieval period, and one of my
favorite historical characters. In an era where women were chattels disposed of
by fathers and husbands, to use wits and beauty and sheer drive to carve out a
place of power and prominence is truly amazing, and Alienor (Eleanor) of
Aquitaine did just that. Heiress to the Read More...
What could be a lovelier Christmas gift than more Elizabeth and Darcy? Given
the plethora of P&P adaptations, remakes and variations, the answer must be
“nothing!” For your holiday pleasure, then, I offer two other interpretations
of this beloved story.
Novels by Monica Fairview
We’ll continue our exploration of the exotic this month with a group of novels
set in the Far East, in lands full of beauty, rich in history and culture.
Beginning farthest back in time and at the highest social level, we have two
views of the only female Chinese emperor, Wu Tse-tien. Weina Dai Randel’s more
favorable picture of the Iron Empress, THE Read More...
With the PBS series “Indian Summers” now running, this month we’ll stay
with the exotic and look at a genre of books that has proven perennially
popular, both with romance readers (there seem to be new Sheik books out every
month, contemporary or historical) and historical fiction fans—novels set in the
mysterious and titillating world of the Read More...
With the lush PBS Masterpiece series “Indian Summers” soon to begin Season Two, it’s time to look
at another round of novels that explore the exotic, complex world of the British
Raj in India and the struggles for Indian independence.
With children out of school and folks going on vacation, summer is traditionally
the time for blockbuster movies, usually action-adventure or comic-book-hero
sagas designed to snag the interest of kids and families. Then there are
“blockbuster books”—novels that strike the popular imagination and become
Though I tend not to like those extremely popular books, since several are set
in one of my favorite time periods—World War II—for Read More...
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