Wednesday, February 10, 2010
History Thru the Lens of Fiction: New Historical Novels for the Kindle (10 Feb 10)
Blending historical fact with fiction, a novel set in other times and places can transport you into the past more convincingly than a dry historical treatise - and entertain you in the bargain. What I look for in historical fiction are books by authors who, after reading the histories and doing the research, create stories based in the past that include characters I want to know better and a plot that keeps me turning pages - books like Peter Ackroyd's The Clerkenwell Tales, Bernard Cornwell's The Last Kingdom, and Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth.
Now you can spend less time searching and more time reading as I watch for new historical fiction in the Kindle Store so you don't have to. New on historical fiction shelves:
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake. Putnam. Print Length: 336 p. TIME FRAME: 1940 - in the U.S. and Europe. Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (34 reviews). Kindle edition $9.99. Text-to-Speech: Disabled.
"Weaving together the stories of three very different women loosely tied to each other, debut novelist Blake takes readers back and forth between small town America and war-torn Europe in 1940. Single, 40-year-old postmistress Iris James and young newlywed Emma Trask are both new arrivals to Franklin, Mass., on Cape Cod. While Iris and Emma go about their daily lives, they follow American reporter Frankie Bard on the radio as she delivers powerful and personal accounts from the London Blitz and elsewhere in Europe. While Trask waits for the return of her husband - a volunteer doctor stationed in England - James comes across a letter with valuable information that she chooses to hide..." - Publishers Weekly.
Secrets of the Tudor Court: Between Two Queens by Kate Emerson. Volume two of Emerson's Tudor Court series, following Secrets of the Tudor Court: The Pleasure Palace. Pocket. Print Length: 384 p. TIME FRAME: 16th century England. Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (4 reviews). Kindle edition $9.99. Text-to-Speech: Disabled.
"Pretty, flirtatious, and ambitious. Nan Bassett hopes that an appointment at the court of King Henry VIII will bring her a grand marriage. But soon after she becomes a maid of honor to Queen Jane, the queen dies in childbirth. As the court plunges into mourning, Nan sets her sights on the greatest match in the land...for the king has noticed her. After all, it wouldn't be the first time King Henry has chosen to wed a maid of honor. ... But the favor of a king can be dangerous and chancy, not just for Nan, but for her family as well...and passionate Nan is guarding a secret, one that could put her future - and her life - in grave jeopardy should anyone discover the truth.Based on the life of the real Anne Bassett and her family, and drawing extensively from letters and diaries of the time, Between Two Queens is an enthralling picture of the dangers and delights of England's most passionate era." - Amazon.
The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. Touchstone. Print Length: 384 p. TIME FRAME: Late 18th and early 19th century Virginia. Amazon customer rating: 4 1/2 stars (2 reviews). Kindle edition $9.99. Text-to-Speech: Disabled.
"Lavinia, an orphaned seven-year-old white indentured servant, arrives in 1791 to work in the kitchen house at Tall Oaks, a Tidewater, Va., tobacco plantation owned by Capt. James Pyke. Belle, the captain's illegitimate half-white daughter who runs the kitchen house, shares narration duties, and the two distinctly different voices chronicle a troublesome 20 years: Lavinia becomes close to the slaves working the kitchen house, but she can't fully fit in because of her race. At 17, she marries Marshall, the captain's brutish son turned inept plantation master, and as Lavinia ingratiates herself into the family and the big house, racial tensions boil over into lynching, rape, arson, and murder. The plantation's social order's emphasis on violence, love, power, and corruption provides a trove of tension and grit, while the many nefarious doings will keep readers hooked..." - Publishers Weekly.
The Blue Orchard by Jackson Taylor. Touchstone. Print Length: 416 p. TIME FRAME: Depression-era Pennsylvania. Amazon customer rating: 5 stars (9 reviews). Kindle edition $9.99. Text-to-Speech: Disabled.
"On the eve of the Great Depression, Verna Krone, the child of Irish immigrants, must leave the eighth grade and begin working as a maid to help support her family. Her employer takes inappropriate liberties, and as Verna matures, it seems as if each man she meets is worse than the last. Through sheer force of will and a few chance encounters, she manages to teach herself to read and becomes a nurse. But Verna’s new life falls to pieces when she is arrested for assisting a black doctor with 'illegal surgeries.' As the media firestorm rages, Verna reflects on her life while awaiting trial. Based on the life of the author’s own grandmother and written after almost three hundred interviews with those involved in the real-life scandal, The Blue Orchard is as elegant and moving as it is exact and convincing..." - Amazon.
The Last Station by Jay Parini. Anchor. Print Length: 304 p. TIME FRAME: 1910 Russia. Amazon customer rating: 4 stars (6 reviews). Kindle edition $9.99. Text-to-Speech: Enabled.
Now a major motion picture starring Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, & James McAvoy.
"...a fascinating glimpse into the turbulent final year of Leo Tolstoy's life. Based on the diaries of various family members and associates and the great Russian's own words, and told through their different voices, it effectively and sensitively depicts the forces vying for his very soul. Tolstoy's stormy relationship with his wife, the philosophical as well as practical implications of her battle with his beloved disciple Valdimir Chertkov over the rights to his literary heritage, and the mental anguish of a man professing the virtues of poverty and chastity while living a life of great privilege become clearly manifest... - David W. Henderson for Library Journal.
The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper. Putnam. Print Length: 368 p. TIME FRAME: 16th Century England. Amazon customer rating: 4 1/2 stars (5 reviews). Kindle edition $14.27. Text-to-Speech: Disabled.
"Katherine Ashley is the daughter of a country squire with no hope of a future, until a chance meeting with Thomas Cromwell gets her sent to Henry VIII's court as a waiting gentlewoman to Queen Anne Boleyn and a spy for Cromwell. When Boleyn comes to an untimely end, Ashley becomes tutor and servant to her daughter, Elizabeth, and accompanies the girl throughout her trials and tribulations before she finally takes her father's throne and goes on to become England's greatest queen. Rarely does a work of historical fiction endeavor to cover so much territory - Ashley lives through the reigns of four Tudors - but Harper's diligent research, realistic portrayal, and insider/outsider heroine will hook those who can't get enough of England's turbulent history.." - Publishers Weekly.
War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk. Originally published in 1978, this is the sequel to The Winds of War. Back Bay Books. Print Length: 1042 p. TIME FRAME: 1941-1945 in many locales. Amazon customer rating: 4 1/2 stars (71 reviews). Kindle edition $9.99. Text-to-Speech: Enabled.
"...picks up where Winds of War stopped: Pearl Harbor, December 1941, yet the book stands alone to be fully enjoyed without its prequel. After U.S. Navy Captain Victor 'Pug; Henry watched the first ship he was about to command, the U.S.S. California, sink brutally broken beneath the waves, he has been given a new command, the U.S.S. Northampton. He's learned that his son Byron survived the sinking of his submarine, but that Byron's wife, Natalie and their son are missing in Europe. Natalie is the daughter of a famous Hebrew scholar, also missing, and the implications, as Nazi atrocities are only beginning to surface, are terrifying. Pug's marriage is shaky, the United States is in chaos as it struggles to recover from its isolationism and join, at sword's point, the allies in the conflagration to come. Wouk's scrupulous attention to historic accuracy and finely honed storytelling skills offer what many feel is the finest wartime novel ever written about World War II." - bookreporter.com
The Boleyn Wife by Brandy Purdy. Kensington Books. Print Length: 384 p. TIME FRAME: 16th century England. Amazon customer rating: 5 stars (2 reviews). Kindle edition $9.60. Text-to-Speech: Enabled.
"Shy, plain Lady Jane Parker feels out of place in Henry VIII's courtly world of glamour and intrigue - until she meets the handsome George Boleyn. Overjoyed when their fathers arrange a match, her dreams of a loving union are waylaid when she meets George's sister, Anne. For George is completely devoted to his sister, and cold and indifferent to his bride. As Anne acquires a wide circle of admirers, including King Henry, Jane's resentment grows. But if becoming Henry's queen makes Anne the most powerful woman in England, it also makes her highly vulnerable. And as Henry, desperate for a male heir, begins to tire of his mercurial wife, the stage is set for the ultimate betrayal..." - Amazon.
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