Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
especially welcome to extensive readers

Monday, August 31, 2009

Start your back-to-school reading off right with some paperback history lessons

With September only a few short hours away,the time for some serious upgrading of your To Be Read piles is here. That doesn't mean you have to put aside any of those beach books that you haven't finished yet(I know I'm not,that's for sure)but it wouldn't hurt to plan on stocking up on more hearty fare for the coming chill of autumn that drives you indoors.

One category that's sure to have a good mix of knowledge and pleasure is historical fiction,which can take place in just about any time period or place and hosts a rather diverse range of characters both up and down the cultural class ladder. To make things easier on your wallet,I thought it would be a good idea to highlight a few of the top choices out in paperback that should hit the spot nicely.

Author Robert Hicks' new novel,A Separate Country,is due out later this month,but those who are unfamiliar with him can get well acquainted with his first book,Widow Of the South,which also has a Civil War theme.

Widow of the South tells the story of Carrie McGavock,who opened up her plantation as a field hospital during the Battle of Franklin in 1864 and insisted on burying the numerous dead in her backyard. Her dedication to honoring their sacrifice was not without some personal sacrifices of her own to bear and Hicks endeavors to honor the real life Widow McGavock with this touching tale:

The 19th Wife is a blend of past and present,as the history of Ann Eliza Young,the infamously known bride of Brigham Young who lead the charge against bigamy,is counterbalanced with a modern day tale of a young man raised in a secretive plural marriage community who only returns when his mother is charged with the murder of his father.

I was lucky enough to get an Advance Copy of this book before it came out in hardcover and now with it being available in trade paperback,The 19th Wife is ideal for any reading group selection this season. There's plenty of food for thought and lively debate about the compelling details of both sides of the controversy coin on this still sadly relevant issue:

If your number on the waiting list for Philippa Gregory's latest book that starts off her Plantagenet cycle,The White Queen,is in the lower digits,you can make the time go by faster with her last Tudor themed novel,The Other Queen.

The queen in question is Mary,Queen of Scots who was a "guest" of the Earl of Shrewsbury and his tough as nails wife,Bess of Hardwick. As is the way with Gregory's work,the take on Mary and her imprisonment takes a very different tack from the official history reports and shows the all too human sides of those caught within these sometimes deadly political struggles:

An interesting set of mysteries set in the Victorian era,Deanna Raybourn's Silent series is slowly but surely gaining a receptive audience. Starting with the first novel,Silent In The Grave,readers were introduced to Lady Julia Grey who teamed up with the haughty private inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane to solve the bizarre death of her husband during a dinner party at home.

In the newest book,Silent on the Moor,Lady Julia is in pursuit of Brisbane,who has retreated to his recently purchased estate in Yorkshire. Determined to find out why Brisbane has cut himself off from her,Lady Julia uncovers a long buried family that is ready to rise from the grave:

Another historical fiction hybrid is Andrew Davidson's debut novel,The Gargoyle. This strangely steamy book has it's main character,a male burn victim,listen to tales of times past told to him by a woman who claims to have been his lover during medieval Germany,where she was a nun and he was a wounded mercenary.

Whether or not you're willing to believe in reincarnation,the many stories of thwarted lovers thru out time that are recounted within the book are rather compelling,to say the least. You may,along with the disillusioned party boy suffering for his sins,doubt the truth of these narratives but the sincerity in which they're presented makes them feel so very real:

I hope this helps you to find a great historical read,but a word of warning to the hasty students out there. Don't use any of these titles(or any historical fiction,for that matter)as actual reference material for classroom use. The results may be a tad embarrassing. While most historical fiction is well researched,the key component here is fiction,folks-don't forget it!:

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

I may just have to see about picking Widow of the South up. It sounds like something I would really love. I'm with the author that people should know her story because that is just amazing and awe inspiring yet I had never heard of it until now. All your hitorical fiction choices are very interesting, thanks!