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Historical Fiction February 2014
"But if we are to be sincere, then we know that we are not made for perfection. However we may try to fit the pattern, it pulls and bunches like a poorly sewn waistcoat and we exhaust ourselves with the fruitless smoothing of seams."
~ from Rachel Urquhart's The Visionist
New and Recently Released!
I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War - by Jerome Charyn
Publisher: W.W. Norton
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 02/03/2014
Share I Am Abraham%3a A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War ISBN-13: 9780871404275
ISBN-10: 0871404273
The author of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson turns his attention to 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, capturing his voice -- at once eloquent and homespun -- as the Great Emancipator recounts his life and career through a series of flashbacks. Abraham describes his hardscrabble childhood, his career as a lawyer and Illinois state legislator, and his election to the presidency of a deeply divided nation, while examining his personal relationships, ranging from his youthful romance with Ann Rutledge to his tumultuous marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln to his bonds with his sons. This reflective, character-driven portrait of a complex man artfully illuminates the inner life of a very public figure.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky: A Novel - by Nancy Horan
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/21/2014
Share Under the Wide and Starry Sky%3a A Novel ISBN-13: 9780345516534
ISBN-10: 0345516532
At the center of this sweeping biographical novel by the author of Loving Frank is the relationship between Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcée Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne, an artist ten years his senior. They meet in 1875 when Osbourne, fleeing her unfaithful husband while mourning the death of her youngest son, brings her surviving children to France. Already in disgrace for refusing to practice law in favor of writing fiction, Stevenson further shocks family and friends by marrying his paramour. As the unconventional, free-spirited couple travels the world together, their bond grows and changes as they find home and safe harbor in each other.
Motherland: A Novel - by Maria Hummel
Publisher: PGW
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/14/2014
Share Motherland%3a A Novel ISBN-13: 9781619022379
ISBN-10: 1619022370
When surgeon Frank Kappus receives orders to report to a military hospital in Weimar in 1944, he has no choice but to leave his three sons in the care of their new stepmother, Liesl. Frank's work with wounded soldiers may be difficult, but Liesl's task borders on the impossible. In addition to keeping the children fed and clothed amid strict rationing, she must also prevent middle son Anselm (declared "mentally unfit") from being sent to the local asylum. Writing to Frank in code, Liesl begs him to desert his post and return home. But can he? Will he? Inspired by letters written by her grandparents, author Maria Hummel explores the plight of an ordinary German family during World War II.
The Invention of Wings - by Sue Monk Kidd
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/07/2014
Share The Invention of Wings ISBN-13: 9780670024780
ISBN-10: 0670024783
In 1803, 11-year-old Sarah receives the worst birthday gift she can possibly imagine: a slave of her very own, a young housemaid named Handful. As the girls grow up (and apart) in antebellum South Carolina, they confront society's rules and rebel against them -- Sarah secretly teaches Handful to read and write, the first step on her path to becoming an anti-slavery activist; Handful pursues numerous avenues to freedom. Inspired by real-life Charleston debutante-turned-abolitionist Sarah Grimké, this moving novel by the author of The Secret Life of Bees sensitively explores issues of race and gender in the pre-Civil War United States.
The Ghost of the Mary Celeste: A Novel - by Valerie Martin
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/28/2014
Share The Ghost of the Mary Celeste%3a A Novel ISBN-13: 9780385533508
ISBN-10: 0385533500
On December 5, 1872, en route to the Strait of Gibraltar, the merchant brig Mary Celeste appears off the coast of Spain -- abandoned but still seaworthy, its cargo intact, and with no trace of its passengers or crew. Long after the event, people continue to speculate about what really happened aboard the doomed ship: a young Arthur Conan Doyle pens a short story about the incident; Philadelphia spiritualist Violet Petra offers her insights (while journalist Phoebe Grant seeks to expose the medium as a fraud); and the surviving relatives of Captain Briggs, members of an old seafaring family that's experienced its share of tragedy, are left wondering where their loved ones went. Based on true events, this well-researched novel employs an intricate, non-linear narrative to shed light on a still-unsolved historical mystery.
Belle Cora - by Phillip Margulies
Publisher: Random House
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/07/2014
Share Belle Cora ISBN-13: 9780385532761
ISBN-10: 0385532768
You can't keep a good woman (or a bad one) down, as this fictional memoir of a real-life adventuress demonstrates. A merchant's daughter, Arabella Godwin enjoys a childhood of wealth and privilege in 1830s Manhattan until she's orphaned. Sent to live with relatives in upstate New York, she meets her cousin -- and lifelong rival -- Agnes, who steals her sweetheart and ruins her life. Changing her name as often as she switches occupations, "Belle Cora" becomes in turn a millworker, a prostitute, a murderer, a missionary, a spirit medium, and a society matron, never forgetting those she loves -- or those who have done her wrong. From the sidewalks of New York to San Francisco during the Gold Rush, you'll want to follow Belle Cora's story wherever it leads.
Revolutionary - by Alex Myers
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/14/2014
Share Revolutionary ISBN-13: 9781451663327
ISBN-10: 1451663323
Desperate to escape 1782 Middleborough, Massachusetts and indentured servitude, 22-year-old Deborah Sampson disguises herself in men's clothing and enlists in the Continental Army as "Robert Shurtliff." As a soldier, Deborah/Robert fights not only for America's independence but for her/his own. For another historical novel whose protagonist, born a woman, goes to great length to transcend society's gender norms, try William Klaber's The Rebellion of Miss Lucy Ann Lobdell, set in 19th-century New York State.
The Wind is Not a River - by Brian Payton
Publisher: HarperCollins
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/07/2014
Share The Wind is Not a River ISBN-13: 9780062279972
ISBN-10: 0062279971
Following the death of his brother, a Canadian Air Force pilot, journalist John Easley heads to the Alaska Territory in April 1943 to document the Japanese invasion of the Aleutian Islands -- in spite of the fact that anything he reports will be censored by the government. Embedded with a bomber crew, John experiences war firsthand when their plane is shot down over the island of Attu. Now, he and one other survivor must find a way to stay alive on the shores of Attu while eluding Japanese soldiers. Focusing on the only World War II battle to be fought on North American soil, this compelling novel movingly recreates a little-known historical event through the eyes of its sympathetic characters.
The Visionist - by Rachel Urquhart
Publisher: Little, Brown
Check Library Catalog Pub Date: 01/14/2014
Share The Visionist ISBN-13: 9780316228114
ISBN-10: 0316228117
After setting a fire that burns her family's farm to the ground and kills her abusive father, 15-year-old Polly Kimball becomes an indentured servant in The City of Hope, a Shaker enclave in Massachusetts. Although Polly considers herself a murderer, the community's Elders believe her to be a Visionist when she ecstatically describes the Rapture during a religious service. Polly's story unfolds alongside that of Charity, a Shaker girl raised in the faith since infancy, and Simon, an arson investigator attempting to reconstruct the events that took place at the Kimball farm. This richly detailed debut vividly depicts life in a 19th-century Shaker community.
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