The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Historical Fiction , Women's Fiction / April 14, 2018

Recently I noticed a librarian had propped up The Miniaturist on her desk, it sat with a little sign that said, “Ask me about his book.” When I did, she smiled and said that it was a great read and that I should add it to my TBR list, and then be sure to read it as soon as possible. Of course my TBR list is long, so it took me awhile to get to it, but I have to say it was fascinating. The story begins with Nella, an eighteen year old new bride, traveling to her husband’s home. She comes from a family with a good name, but has few prospects, so she has agreed to marry Johannes, a wealthy merchant from Amsterdam. Seems simple? Right? Not at all. Enter Marin, Johannes unmarried sister, Otto and Cornelia, the two servants, and a wedding present — a miniature version of her new home. As a reader I felt for Nella, this young woman thrust unknowing into this strange situation. Nella hopes to be a wife to Johannes, hopes for babies, and hopes for happy laughter. Soon she realizes there will be none. We, as readers, uncover secrets as if we are Nella, and they are some big ones. I applaud the librarian who…

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

This book started slow, but ended up being both sweet and philosophical. A team of time travelers are sent to see if they can meet Jane Austen. They are assigned to befriend her and to locate a manuscript that is thought to be lost.  Of course the directive to alter history as little as possible and the social customs of 19th century England made this somewhat difficult.  Overall I am glad I stuck out the tea parties, carriage rides, and dress fittings of the beginning of the novel, as the end, with it’s thought provoking questions about time travel and changing history, has really stuck with me.

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach
Fiction , Historical Fiction / October 13, 2017

I just finished Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach. It came to my attention a while ago, and then I saw it had been made into a movie. I decided I had to read it. For those who like a quick, easy read, this might be for you. The format of the book is one that switched POV with each new chapter, but I found I could follow along without problem. The characters are well formed. The time period, circa 1640, is well described and believable. It is a troubled love story first of all, but also a tale of deceit and greed all wrapped into one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, because, well who doesn’t like love, deceit, and greed?

Stars Over Clear Lake by Loretta Ellsworth

This book really made me smile. It is one of those books that skips back and forth between the present day and the past. Each skip reveals more of the story between an Iowa farm girl and a young German POW who happens to be held close by, and who comes to help on her family farm. There are lots of geographical references that I happened to be familiar with: Clear Lake, Mason City, and the Grotto Of the Redemption are just a few. Really a quick, sweet read that anyone from the Midwest would especially enjoy.

Highland Master by Hannah Howell
Historical Fiction , Romance / July 23, 2017

Blue eyes, five o’clock shadow, and body armor. The male cover model of Highland Master caught my eye the other day and I decided to allow myself this guilty pleasure. This is a standard historical romance, with a meeting between the widow Lady Triona and Sir Brett, followed by attraction, trouble, and sex. For me it ran a little long and was a bit overdone on two parts: one-Lady Triona’s doubts about running of her estate and two: Sir Brett’s resistance to Triona. But, overall, it was a fun read, and hey: blue eyes, five o’clock shadow, and body armor!! Did I mention that?

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh

I started reading The Fever Tree without really knowing anything about it, and I am so glad I did. This novel by Jennifer McVeigh is one of the most compelling stories I’ve read in a long time. Frances Irvine finds herself in terrible circumstances after the loss of her father. Her mother passed away when she was a child and there is really no one left who cares for her. On top of that her father has risked his fortune and lost everything in his last few days. Frances is forced to make choices. Will she go to be a house servant to an uncaring aunt or travel to South Africa and marry a man she cares nothing for? This book has so many layers of interest. Frances is young and naïve, but as a reader I sympathized with her. The author touches on life in England and how many women of the time found themselves at loose ends with little or no choices. It also delves into South Africa’s corrupt business of making money in the bloody diamond mines while caring nothing for the native workers.  Some characters in the book are racist and I must mention there are offensive words and sentiment in…

The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies
Historical Fiction / June 10, 2017

The cover art of The Tea Planter’s Wife caught my eye one day, but it was the story that kept my interest.  Part love story, part mystery, part lesson on the secrets we keep, this novel covers it all, and then some.  Set on a tea plantation in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) the reader is enveloped in the story of a young women who finds herself married to widower.  Elements of social customs and race make this book a well rounded, thoughtful read.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
Historical Fiction / June 10, 2017

Love to learn about real history through novels? If so, put To Capture What We Cannot Keep on your list. This work of fiction is a light lesson on the building of the Eiffel Tower mixed with a bit of romance. Strong characters and vivid imagery round out an enjoyable, easy read.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue
Historical Fiction / June 10, 2017

Can a person live on faith alone?  The Wonder delves into this question through Lib, an English nurse who is sent to observe a young Irish girl who refuses to eat. The story progresses by examining the girl and her family’s religious beliefs, contrasted with Lib’s scientific ones.  Well written, a tiny bit slow in the middle, but wraps up strong.