Exploring what's "new" on the historical shelves
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...
Who doesn’t love to peek into the lives of the rich, famous and influential? To
spark your summer reading, this month we will take a look at protagonists (some
real historical figures, some fictional) who strive for fame, fortune, and glory
in the chaotic decades after the devastation of World War I.
We begin with Hazel
Gaynor’s Read More...
In May, thoughts turn to the May Pole dances and Spring
celebrations in Merrie
Olde England. This month’s selections illumine the worlds of court and
entertainment, revealing the sometimes stark reality of life for women in
England in the 18th century—both high-born and commoner.
Beginning with the political, we have MISTRESS OF THE COURT by Read More...
When spring is in the air, thoughts turn to romance…and what is more romantic
than springtime in Paris? Or to be more exact, springtime in Versailles, as all
the choices we’ll explore this month take place around the small hunting lodge
at the edge of a royal forest which became a palace whose very name conjures
images of luxury, excess, drama and tragedy. The kings who inhabited that
palace dominated the known world Read More...
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, this month we’ll give a nod to the wearin’ of the
green with a series of stories featuring Irish characters and settings. For as
the old Irish saying goes:
“Always remember to forget
The friends who proved untrue
But never forget to remember
The ones who stuck by you.”
And what friend is Read More...
What could be more romantic than Italy? The hush of a gondola plying the waters
of a Venetian canal, the painted beauty of the countryside around Florence, the
walled cities of Sienna and San Gimignano… For your Valentine month treat, I
offer up a quartet of historical fiction that explores the art, craft,
excitement and intrigue of Venice, Florence and Sienna. Enjoy!
Progressing chronologically, we begin with Read More...
Are you as distressed as I am that Downton Abbey will soon be ending FOR GOOD?
(sob) Given the world-wide popularity of the show, there are surprisingly few
books set in the Edwardian era that incorporate the upstairs-downstairs,
love-interest and drama that make the show so engaging (to say nothing of the
yummy fashions.) But, in an attempt to offer solace, I’ve gathered a few volumes
which segue in and beyond Read More...
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