Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Gold Standard in Historical Fiction?

Calling all fans of historical fiction and anyone else who can fog a mirror!

Today we’re reviewing three outstanding novels. They’re all historical fiction. All are set during World War II. Anchoring these narratives are strong women who survive and flourish against the odds.

Mom says The Nightingale and Cilka’s Journey are two disturbing but outstanding reads. And that The Things We Cannot Say is one of the year’s best. (And she reads alot. When she’s not out walking with me.)

Taken together, these three novels may represent the “gold standard” for historical fiction. 

So sit tight and get ready to dive in.  Let’s go!

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SPOON UP 3 Hefty Helpings of Historical Fiction!

You know Her Momness loves historical fiction, right?

“If historical fiction was a flavor, it’d be raspberry white chocolate cheesecake! With double hot fudge!” croweth Mom.

Why she says this, I don’t know. I do know she’s breaking out her Happy Dance. Because we’re reviewing three sturdy historical fiction titles today! All set during World War II.

Break out some extra spoons for Lilac Girls, Irena’s War, and The Orphan’s Tale:

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‘The Sky Worshipers’ & Echoes of Scheherazade

The Sky Worshipers: A Novel of Mongol Conquest (History Through Fiction, 2021)

By F.M. Deemyad

Historical Fiction

Setting:

Thirteenth century Asia, Middle East, and Eastern Europe

Main characters:

Chaka, youngest daughter of a Chinese emperor and a Tangut Princess of China. Kidnapped by Mongols. Becomes wife of Genghis Khan, founder of the Mongol Empire.

Reyhan, Granddaughter of the last Seljuk King of Persia, kidnapped by Mongols.

Krisztina, Princess of Poland and Mongol prisoner of war.

Lady Goharshad of Persia. In 1398 she discovers a hidden manuscript buried in a hidden compartment under a floor of some ancient ruins in Karakorum, the Mongol capitol.

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‘Giver of Stars’ – Better Than Bacon?

See the source imageThe Giver of Stars (Viking, 2019)

By Jojo Moyes

Historical Fiction

To seek knowledge is to expand your own universe.

Kimber here. Mom says she’s sometimes “biased” about certain books. I’m not sure what that means. But she says it applies to most any book that combines two of the best things in the world (besides bacon and more bacon): historical fiction and reading/literacy/libraries. (Okay. That’s four. But you get the picture, right?)

Well. Mom tends to love that stuff even before she opens the cover. So when someone suggested an historical fiction book about lady “Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky” serving destitute, isolated families in rural Kentucky during the Depression, Mom was like, “Oh yeah. Love this thing already.”

But Mom’s expectations are high. Here’s more from the Book Bias Queen:

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Meaning of ‘Home’ & ‘Family” Probed in Evocative Historical Fiction

The Children’s Train (Harper Collins, 2021)

By Viola Ardone

Historical Fiction

This book may not be what you think it is. Yes, it’s an historical fiction account of an effort to help impoverished children in southern Italy by transporting them by train to better off families in northern Italy in the aftermath of World War II. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – or the shoe – in this hauntingly beautiful novel spanning some fifty years.

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Set Sail for ‘Hope’ With Rousing Historical Ficiton

Acts of Hope (2020)

BookLife

By Martin Elsant

Historical Fiction

Perditus qui haesitat.

Acts of Hope is a prodigious tome of epic proportions. Set in the 16th century, the story adeptly navigates the serpentine coils of political, cultural and ecclesiastical clashes in multiple countries from England to the Holy Land. Also pirates. Forgeries. Narrow escapes. Double-crosses and desperate battles. Revenge and forgiveness. Steadfast courage and stalwart faith in the face of overwhelming odds. True love. And hope.

An enjoyable historical novel, this book features study characters, exotic settings, and a solid, engaging plot.

The story opens off the Portuguese coast as Diego Lopes and his daughter Maria flee the Inquisition. Their ship is bound for Diego’s estate in Bristol, England. When Maria’s father dies later as a result of wounds suffered during his arrest per the Inquisition, Maria takes over his substantial shipping business, becoming one of the wealthiest women in the world.

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‘Blood Countess’ Poses Strange Dichotomy

Blood Countess

Blood Countess (Lady Slayers)

Barnes & Noble

(Amulet Books, 2020)

By Lana Popovic

Historical Fiction/YA

“Sick puppy,” says I, Kimber the Magnificent.

“No kidding,” Mom rejoins. “Seriously off her rocker.”

I’m not sure what a “rocker” is. But the antagonist in this book, Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Hungary, is off it by about a mile and a half.

This is a weird book to peg or review. Mom started it the other night. She kept me up until one in the morning finishing it. Ugh!

It’s a gripping read. For sure.

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Finding Treasure in ‘The Lost Jewels’

The Lost Jewels

The Lost Jewels: A Novel

Barnes & Noble

(Harper Collins, 2020)

By Kristy Manning

Historical fiction

 

How can a heart be full of both sorrow and joy?

 

That’s the salient question at the core of this finely crafted historical novel by Kristy Manning. An ambitious undertaking, The Lost Jewels spans some four hundred years between 17th century London and modern day Boston. It features two strong female characters, Essie Murphy in the early 19th century, and Kate Kirby, present day jewelry historian.

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Monique Roy On Art, Historical Fiction

You know we’re big historical fiction fans here, right? Kimber here. Mom and I, we love the creativity of a novel balanced with actual people, places, and events. We eat that stuff up like gourmet dog chow! So when we were asked to review a historical novel about Nazi looting of priceless art items from Jewish owners during World War II, we ate it up!

The book is A Savage Kultur. It’s by Monique Roy. Read our full review here.

We reached out to Monique and asked her to do a guest post, telling us a little more about herself and her book. Why historical fiction. Stuff like that. Monique agreed. Here’s her post. Take it away, Monique!

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Dark Secrets & Mysterious Menace Revealed in ‘A Savage Kultur’

A Savage Kultur

A Savage Kultur

By Monique Roy

Historical Fiction

The art world is filled with secrets and a dark past.

Mystery abounds as Oxford art student Ava Goldman tries to unravel the truth about her family’s past with the help of her ailing grandmother, Gisela. It begins with a “chance” encounter with a uniformed Nazi on the banks of the Thames River in 2013, followed by a posthumous letter from Ava’s art loving grandfather, Karl. Vowing to find a priceless van Gogh painting plundered by the Nazis from her grandparents, Ava steps into a world of shadow, mystery, and menace.

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