Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A pair of historical women get a fictional focus for Women's History Month

Since March happens to be Women's History Month, many of the books that are being promoted and/or sought after are nonfiction, which is a good source for learning more,of course.

However, if you're more of a novel reader like me, historical fiction can make it easier to check those knowledge boxes while still giving you a bit of entertainment along the way. Granted, they are not meant to be substitutes for the real thing yet they do at least make a fine introduction to these real world heroines there.

 I have a couple of books on my current reading list that I think fit the bill rather nicely in this category. One of them is The Accidental Empress by Alison Pataki, that begins in 1853 with fifteen year old Elizabeth,"Sisi", a duchess of Batvaria whose elder sister Helene is to be engaged to the young Hapsburg emperor Franz Joseph.

 Helene,however, is extremely reluctant to step into this seat of power, let alone, marriage,leaving Sisi to do her best to bring the couple together.However, a mutual attraction between Sisi and Franz is sparked that is hard to ignore and it's not long before the notion of exchanging one sister for the other in the bridal position is obvious to all.

I started reading this book due to winning an ARC of it's recently released sequel Sisi:Empress on her Own, which follows the later years of this legendary lady of the Hapsburg dynasty, plus I also enjoyed Pataki's first novel about the wife of Benedict Arnold, The Traitor's Wife.

Pataki's enthusiasm for her leading lady is evident on the pages and she has a real knack at creating a narrative thread that draws you into the the full tapestry of her story. So far, this tale of Sisi is a lovely ride but I do know that there will be some hard times ahead for this soon-to be queen. Nevertheless, this is a journey of the heart that I want to take with this passionate princess:

The other novel is Sarah McCoy's The Mapmaker's Children, which sets it's story line between the past and the present. As Eden Anderson is trying to fix up her new house along with fixing up her troubled marriage, the discovery of a doll's head in the root cellar leads her to learn more about mapmaker Sarah Brown.

Sarah was one of the daughters of John Brown, the abolitionist who lead the ill fated raid at Harper's Ferry. Little did most people know that Sarah was one of the best artists the Underground Railroad had at their disposal for drawing up escape maps for slave seeking freedom to follow.

As Eden finds out more about Sarah's work for the Underground Railroad, she gets a better perspective on her own problems, some of which they happen to share even across the boundaries of time.  McCoy's writing style has a smooth and steady flow that gently but firmly pulls you in and makes it hard to not turn the page.

This title came from Blogging for Books and I'm glad to have found a new writer to enjoy as I will check out McCoy's other works once my time with this engaging story is over and done with:

Don't get me wrong, I'm not discouraging anyone from reading the many wonderful true stories about women in history. It's just that I'm not qualified to recommend any particular ones and believe me, there are a good number of smart and savvy readers who will be delighted to aid you in that quest. I will,however, look up some of the facts behind the fiction that I'm reading, which should be nearly just as good:

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