Exploring what's "new" on the historical shelves
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...
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...
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