Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Not Our Kind – Kitty Zeldis

Not Our Kind

Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis

  • Source: William Morrow Publishing – Advanced Reader copy
  • Publication date: 9/4/2018

One a rainy day, two years after WW2, Eleanor Moskowitz’s world is turned around after being rear-ended by the taxi cab of Patricia Bellamy. The two come from two completely different worlds. Eleanor, the Jewish daughter of a widowed hatmaker, and Patricia, a wealthy wife living in Park Avenue. The two are brought together due to Patricia’s daughter Margeaux and her special need of a tutor. Once taken into this world, Eleanor’s life quickly turns upside down, even changing her last name to Moss, to better fit in with Mrs. Bellamy’s crowd. A summer retreat at the Bellamy’s countryside reveals that things aren’t always as they appear.

I loved the setting of the book. The immediate post-WW2 era is one that is usually overlooked. It was an incredible look back at this time in history when emotions ran so many generations are still still recovering from the after-effects of the war. It seemed too simple that life just flowed from day to day for Eleanor and Patricia. Sometimes, the viewpoints, particularly of Tom, felt way ahead its time. In the book, it seemed like Patricia’s life was falling apart, while Eleanor remained calm and collected all the way through, always saying or having the viewpoint to make all the difference. I wish Eleanor had some more depth to her character. I’ve never been a fan of the can’t-do-any-wrong type of characters. Everyone has a fault. Although, Eleanor’s saintlike quality was counter-balanced by Wynn Bellamy’s devilish behavior towards any woman he came across. This book is an interesting character study, and it does have my interested piqued in learning more about the post World War 2 era of American social history.


Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Bring Up the Bodies (Thomas Cromwell, #2)

Title: Bring Up the Bodies
Author: Hilary Mantel
Series: Thomas Cromwell Trilogy (book 2)
Source: Library Copy
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co

Book two of the Thomas Cromwell series picks up not to long where book 1 left us. Click the link to read my review of book one, Wolf Hall. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies have been the recipients of the Booker Prize the year of their publications.

By the time Bring Up the Bodies begins, Henry VIII has been rather unhappily married to Anne Boleyn. Unhappy with her, unhappy with her inability to give him a son, thus finding his eyes wandering towards the young and unassuming Jane Seymour. Book two begins and ends with the quick suspicion, trial and death of Anne Boleyn. Although it took me a good three months to finally finish this book, I enjoyed it and am still incredibly enamored with Mantel’s descriptive prose. I think the biggest draw to this book is that it’s not a romance and it’s not told through the eyes of either Boleyn or Henry VIII. I knew that Anne was sentenced to death due to treason and her suspected affairs on the side. Mantel’s second book put Anne in a more vulnerable place than Wolf Hall. In Wolf Hall, Anne was vicious, cunning and used (or rather didn’t use) her womanly wiles to find her way to king’s side as his Queen. In this book, she’s discussed and gossiped about more than directly perceived by the reader. I believe the author did that intentionally to ruffle the feathers against Anne’s case. Who was she to defend herself against horrible rumors of incest, affairs and treason against a king well-known for having an eye on a younger maiden. Many of her stalwarts and defenders went by the wayside as Cromwell interrogated everyone to find evidence against her. One can’t help but feel like these charged all trumped-up out of spite for her and just to clear a pathway for Henry’s next marriage.

Despite my lag in reading this book, I enjoyed it more than Wolf Hall. The pacing was much faster than Wolf Hall. Whereas Wolf Hall spanned almost seven years, Bring Up The Bodies quickly went through the three years of their marriage. I do wish there was more mention of the children Mary and Elizabeth, but maybe that’s for another book altogether. I didn’t realize how young Elizabeth was when her mother was executed. For some reason, I thought she was much older. I do wonder what will happen to her and how she does eventually become Queen as Henry had his marriage to Anne Boleyn annulled shortly before her death.

I’m not sure how quickly I’ll jump into book three, although as far as I know, that does not even have a publication date. I presume that it will end with Cromwell’s execution. I do wonder how he got on the wrong side of the king when he had been a running favorite for so long.

© 2015 by Nari of The Novel World. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

13 Rue Therese – Review

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13 Rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Location: Paris
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
ISBN: 9780316083287
278 pages
Source: Public Library

Back cover synopsis:

Trever Stratton is an American professor and translator, newly arrived at a Paris University. There, in his office, he discovers a box filled with letters, photographs, and antique objects – a beautiful pair of gloves, a rosary, a silk scarf. Whose life is preserved here? And who has left this mystery for him to find?

I have seen glowing reviews of this book scattered around the blogosphere for a while now. Luckily, the reviews that I did read did not give away anything of the plot which left me pleasantly surprised with how the story of this mysterious box unfurled in Trevor Stratton’s life. Elena Mauli Shapiro did an excellent job of weaving in two parallel stories and bringing them together in the end. The first story is of Trevor Stratton and his discovery and subsequent analysis of all contents of the box. The second story is of Louis Brunet and of her life in Paris in 1928.

I found Trevor to be a really amusing character, especially with his struggles in translating the French documents and his constant fevers and colds clouding his judgement and perception of reality. Louis Brunet is a full-bodied and complex woman. Lusty, frustrated, intelligent and witty, full of energy with no real outlet. Even her worst transgressions didn’t bother me, I wanted to know more about her life and her story.

What I really didn’t expect was to find out that the author, born and raised in Paris, actually came into possession of a box of trinkets by the real life Louis Brunet. I didn’t realize this until after I had finished the book and read the author’s biography blurb. This book is based entirely on objects that are real and dear to the author’s heart. I think its amazing that she was able to craft such a wonderful story based on a real person that she knew so little about.

Book 24 of 2011

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13 Rue Thérèse : a novel

Falling Angels – Review

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Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Audio CD

Brought together by the death of England’s Queen Victoria, the daughters of the Coleman and Waterhouse families form a strong friendship that sees them through some of the most trying, controversial and social ups and downs of the time, 1901-1910. Although on the surface this is a simple story of two girls growing up during a time of social change, there is more to the story than that. Chevalier is able to portray the larger scope of social and political thought through the ideas and voices of the two daughters, often mimicking and influenced by the views of their parents. Since the story is centered on the friendship of Maud Coleman and Lavinia Waterhouse, we see these social changes with a more sympathetic and realistic way. Despite the differences in the class status between their families, Maud’s being wealthier, the girls form a very strong friendship. This friendship usually involves the two, along with Lavinia’s younger sister Ivy May, playing around the cemetery with Simon, the son of a local gravedigger.  As social politics change, Maud’s mother becomes involved with the Suffragettes movement. The families are pushed together and pulled apart at various times in the book. The story is told through various characters: Maud, Lavinia, their parents and Maud’s cook and maid – Ms. Baker and Jenny.

In the beginning, the characters would tell their side of the same story, which had me worried that the book would be repetitious. I was pleasantly surprised that despite the overlaps, the different characters offered a completely different perspective making an event seem completely different from one an earlier character told. With each chapter the characters unfolded and developed in ways that wouldn’t be possible if the story was told through a single narrator.  I listened to the audio version of this book, and it was a wonderful production. 11 different narrators read for each of the characters. Each chapter was assigned to a different character, so there was always a different voice, mood, attitude and persona carrying the story throughout the years.

Chevalier is one of my favorite authors. I adored Girl with a Pearl Earring and Remarkable Creatures. She is very gifted at creating a definitive mood of angst, and frustration through social structure, the class system and feminist views and developments. You can really see how much care and time Chevalier spends in researching the eras that she writes about. The narrators were wonderful, fully embodied their respective characters and really carried the story. Despite the jumping around of perspectives, the story remained linear.

Falling Angels
By Tracy Chevalier
Recorded Books, 2002
ISBN 1402535066
8.75 hours / 8 discs
 Book 25 of 2011
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Falling angels

Call Me Kate – Review

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Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maguires by Molly Roe

Age: Teen

Call Me Kate takes place towards the beginning of the Civil War. Katie is a 14-year-old girl living in a small Pennsylvania coil mining town. After a mining accident that severely injures her father, Katie has to help her family survive and make ends meet. During a time of great prejudice and tension, Irish men in particular are sent to fight in the war if they are unable to repay $300 in debts. A secret Irish organization known as the Molly Maquires are planning something big and dangerous to counteract these standards. After finding out that a close friend of hers has become involved with this group, Katie decides that she has to do something about it.

I felt that Kate, was a very strong girl for the times. Her courage in keeping her family together during such an emotional and tumultuous times is inspirational and admirable. One thing that popped up for me while reading this book is that it would be a great piece of historical fiction for teen reading assignments. I could recommend this more for the younger teens. But it is a fascinating look at a piece of history we don’t really learn about in school.

Call Me Kate: Meeting the Molly Maquires
by Molly Roe
Tribute Books, 2009
ISBN 0-9814619-3-9
— Sent for Review by Tribute Books —


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Call me Kate : meeting the Molly Maguires

Author Information – from Tribute Books

Molly Roe Blog:

Molly Roe Bio:
Molly Roe is the pen name of Mary Garrity Slaby, a veteran language arts & reading teacher at Lake-Lehman Junior Senior High School. Mary holds a Ph.D. in education from Temple University, and Pennsylvania teaching certification in six areas. She has pursued the hobby of genealogy for the past decade. Mary was born in Philadelphia, raised in Schuylkill County, and currently lives in Dallas, Pennsylvania with her husband, John. They are parents of two grown children, Melissa and John Garrett, cover illustrator of Call Me Kate. Digging into the past has given Mary newfound respect for her ancestors and a better understanding of history. Call Me Kate is the first in the author’s trilogy of historical novels loosely based on the lives of the strong women who preceded her.

Victory – Review

In 1805, 13 year old Sam Robbins and his Uncle Charlies are kidnapped and forced to join the English Navy on the prized and renown HMS Victory with Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson (whose statue graces Trafalgar Square in England). 200 years into the future, young Molly Jennings is trying to adapt to her new home in America, having left England once her mother remarried, but suffers bouts of homesickness. After coming into possession of a biography on Admiral Nelson at a bookstore, Molly’s life begins to change when she comes across a secret treasure buried deep in the book’s spine that links the two lives together.

Based on real people from England’s past, Newberry award winning author Susan Cooper has devised a wonderful time-shifting tale of adventure, youth, danger and loyalty. Chapters alternate between Sam’s point of view, and then third person for Molly’s chapters. It takes a while to really get to the link between the two characters. At first, Molly is hauntingly drawn to the book, keeping its treasure a secret from everyone except her stepbrother Russell.

I adored the chapters about Sam Robbins and the HMS Victory. At times I wished the entire book was about him and his experiences aboard such a well-known and valued piece of English naval history. The Molly chapters were usually shorter than Sam’s chapters, but her scenes were relevant in putting together their connection through time.  Cooper also includes a glossary at the end for all the naval terminology used throughout the book. Her writing is sharp, clear and the story is well paced. The book was never boring, and even the secondary characters were as coloring and entertaining as the main.

This book is listed as Juvenile Historical Fiction. I would recommend it for both boys and girls about 10-13 years old. Boys will like it for the sea adventure, sailor talk and supernatural elements, girls will appreciate Molly’s character and probably end up with small crushes on Sam Robbins.

by Susan Cooper
Aladdin Books, 2006
ISBN 1416914781, 202 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Juvenile
Age Group: 10-12


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Books by Susan Cooper – The Dark is Rising Series

The Dark is Rising (Newberry Honor Book)

The Gray King (Newberry Winner Book)


Silver on the Tree

Over Sea, Under Stone

Immortal – Review & My first giveaway contest!

Immortal Immortal
by Traci L. Slatton
Bantem Dell, 2008
ISBN 9780385339742
513 pages

Immortal by Traci L. Slatton is a story of 180 year old Luca Bastardo. The novel traces his life from his childhood as an orphan on the streets of Florence to his death through a first person narrative. When he was barely ten years old, Luca was sold into a brothel by one of his best friends. Until then, Luca had been living on the streets, struggling to survive. Luca managed to survive in the brothel despite the violence inflicted upon him and the other children by the sadistic Bernardo Silvano as well as all the patrons patronizing the brothel. Slatton is not graphic on the physical details of the rape and sodomy that takes place, but rather focuses on the emotional damage, and Luca’s struggle to stay sane and strong in order to support himself and the other children held prisoner. Luca finally manages to escape Silvano and Florence, albeit temporarily, after the Black Plague struck. As Luca grows, he comes into contact with some Italy’s finest creators. Luca befriended Giotto, he saved Cosimo de Medici from kidnappers, tutored Leonardo da Vinci and befriended Botticelli. In his lifetime, Luca has the form of many professions, often striving to help the innocent and the poor in any way he can, while still trying to keep the mystical aura surrounding him from attracting unwanted attention. Luca attempts to learn about his origins and some explanation as to why he does not age as everyone else does. Luca tries to find out about his past, although the members of the Silvano family tree haunts his every step through his life.

What I like about this novel, is that Slatton was able to keep her writing elegant, detailed, but not overly dramatic or graphic. At times the dialog felt cliche and forced. It is really in Part 2 of the novel when Slatton’s talent is at its peak, and you are sucked into the Italian Renassiance, witnessing some of the most historic events in Italy’s history through the eyes of one of the world’s oldest men. Slatton is very accurate with the historical detail of Italy in the 1300s and 1400s. Her writing is very fluid and each chapter melds into each other before you realize you’ve read nearly half the book in a few short hours. You develop a sympathy with not only Luca, but with all of Italy through Slatton’s discussion of philosophy and religion and the simple act of finding love and happiness, two of Luca’s biggest struggles to achieve.


That being said, I would like to host my first giveaway of a copy of Immortal to celebrate 6 months of book blogging! I can’t believe I started blogging only six months ago at the beginning of February. I feel as if I’ve been reviewing books much longer than that.

Contest rules:

All you have to do is comment and tell me which historic person of the 20th Century you would like too meet. Comments must be posted by August 15th 11:59pm. You can also receive extra entries for blogging about this giveaway. Please check back on August 16th to see who the winner is!