Historical Fiction

#BookReview
The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor
@HazelGaynor

#BookReview The Girl From The Savoy by Hazel Gaynor @HazelGaynorTitle: The Girl from the Savoy

Author: Hazel Gaynor

Published by: William Morrow Paperbacks on June 7, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 419

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Presenting a dazzling new historical novel … The Girl From The Savoy is as sparkling as champagne and as thrilling as the era itself.

Sometimes life gives you cotton stockings. Sometimes it gives you a Chanel gown …

Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?


Review:

This novel is deeply moving, intriguing, and pensive.

The story is set in London in the early 1920s, and is told from three perspectives. Dolly, an ambitious young woman, who yearns for adventure and dreams of being more than just the help. Loretta, a starlet who seems to have it all, but who hides a heavy heart behind the smile and the charm. And Teddy, a soldier, who left for war full of love and hope, only to return with jumbled thoughts and frayed nerves.

The prose is precise, clear, and exquisitely descriptive. The characters are sympathetic, wounded, and real. And the plot is intricately woven together to flow seamlessly from start to finish.

This truly is an engaging, captivating story about love, loss, war, hardship, grief, resilience and determination that would be a wonderful addition to book clubs everywhere.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

#BookReview
The Girl and the Sunbird
by Rebecca Stonehill @bexstonehill

#BookReview The Girl and the Sunbird  by Rebecca Stonehill @bexstonehillTitle: The Girl and the Sunbird

Author: Rebecca Stonehill

Published by: Bookouture on June 17, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 502

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: Bookouture, NetGalley

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A haunting, heartbreaking and unforgettable novel of a woman married to a man she can never love, and drawn to another who will capture her heart forever… 

When eighteen year old Iris Johnson is forced to choose between marrying the frightful Lord Sidcup or a faceless stranger, Jeremy Lawrence, in a far-off land, she bravely decides on the latter. 

Accompanied by her chaperone, Miss Logan, Iris soon discovers a kindred spirit who shares her thirst for knowledge. As they journey from Cambridgeshire to East Africa, Iris’s eyes are opened to a world she never knew existed beyond the comforts of her family home. 

But when Iris meets Jeremy, she realizes in a heartbeat that they will never be compatible. He is cold and cruel, spending long periods of time on hunting expeditions and leaving Iris alone. 

Determined to make the best of her new life, Iris begins to adjust to her surroundings; the windswept plains of Nairobi, and the delightful sunbirds that visit her window every day. And when she meets Kamau, a local school teacher, Iris finds her calling, assisting him to teach the local children English. 

Kamau is everything Jeremy is not. He is passionate, kind and he occupies Iris’s every thought. She must make a choice, but if she follows her heart, the price she must pay will be devastating. 


Review:

This is a poignant, heart-wrenching, impactful story that I won’t soon forget.

It is the story of Iris, a young, naive woman who is sent to British East Africa to marry an arrogant, brutish widower, only to find true love in the arms of a native.

The story is predominantly set in Kenya during the early 1900s, and then again during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s, and is told by differing perspectives that sweep you along through the highs and lows of Iris’s life effortlessly.

This is, ultimately, a story about loneliness, loss, injustice, determination, strength, solace, happiness, and love.

The prose is poetic, precise, and exquisitely descriptive. And the characters are multi-layered, engaging, and empathetic. 

This is a truly powerful story. It will make you smile. It will make you cry. And it will resonate with you long after the last page is finished.

 

This book is due to be published on June 17, 2016.

Pick up a copy of this story from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

Thank you to NetGalley, especially Bookouture, for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Rebecca Stonehill

Rebecca Stonehill is from London but currently lives in Nairobi with her husband and three young children where she set up Magic Pencil, an initiative to give children greater access to creative writing and poetry. She has had numerous short stories published over the years, for example in Vintage Script, What the Dickens magazine, Ariadne’s Thread and Prole Books but The Poet’s Wife (Bookouture) is her first full-length novel, set in Granada during the Spanish Civil war and Franco’s dictatorship. Her second novel, The Girl and the Sunbird, was published by Bookouture in June 2016.

#BookReview
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave @chriscleave

#BookReview Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave @chriscleaveTitle: Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Author: Chris Cleave

Published by: Simon & Schuster on May 3, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 418

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Little Bee, a spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.

It’s 1939 and Mary, a young socialite, is determined to shock her blueblood political family by volunteering for the war effort. She is assigned as a teacher to children who were evacuated from London and have been rejected by the countryside because they are infirm, mentally disabled, or—like Mary’s favorite student, Zachary—have colored skin.

Tom, an education administrator, is distraught when his best friend, Alastair, enlists. Alastair, an art restorer, has always seemed far removed from the violent life to which he has now condemned himself. But Tom finds distraction in Mary, first as her employer and then as their relationship quickly develops in the emotionally charged times. When Mary meets Alastair, the three are drawn into a tragic love triangle and—while war escalates and bombs begin falling around them—further into a new world unlike any they’ve ever known.

A sweeping epic with the kind of unforgettable characters, cultural insights, and indelible scenes that made Little Bee so incredible, Chris Cleave’s latest novel explores the disenfranchised, the bereaved, the elite, the embattled. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and incredible courage.


Review:

This is a remarkable story that is incredibly insightful, and deeply moving.

The story is set in wartime London, and is told from two perspectives. Mary, a young woman of privilege and class, who decides to help and continues to help with war efforts, even when it seems like she is battling societal ideologies as much as the enemy itself.  And Alastair, an art restorer turned officer, who continues to fight for his country, even when all seems bleak and his resilience, strength, and memories of home are all that keep him moving forward.

This is story about war, loss, injustice, love, courage, and survival.

The writing is precise and poetic. The characters are sympathetic, valiant and real. The descriptive prose is stunning. And the dry wit of the dialogue keeps the story buoyant, above the darkness, and allows you to be impacted but not sunk.

Perhaps Kipling’s iconic words say it best, “lest we forget.” 

This story will resonate with you long after the final page has been turned. And I have a feeling it won’t be long before it is on book club lists everywhere. 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

For more information on Chris Cleave, visit his website at: chriscleave.com

or follow him on Twitter at: @chriscleave

 

#BookReview
Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson

#BookReview Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer RobsonTitle: Moonlight over Paris

Author: Jennifer Robson

Series: The Great War #3

Published by: William Morrow on January 19, 2016

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 352

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

Synopsis:

USA Today and internationally bestselling author Jennifer Robson takes readers to 1920s Paris in an enthralling new historical novel that tells the riveting story of an English lady who trades in her staid aristocratic life for the mesmerizing salons and the heady world of the Lost Generation.

It’s the spring of 1924, and Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr has just arrived in France. On the mend after a near-fatal illness, she is ready to embrace the restless, heady allure of the City of Lights. Her parents have given her one year to live with her eccentric aunt in Paris and Helena means to make the most of her time. She’s quickly drawn into the world of the Lost Generation and its circle of American expatriates, and with their encouragement, she finds the courage to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.

One of those expats is Sam Howard, a journalist working for the Chicago Tribune. Irascible, plain-spoken, and scarred by his experiences during the war, Sam is simply the most fascinating man she has ever met. He’s also entirely unsuitable. 

As Paris is born anew, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, Helena realizes that she, too, is changing. The good girl she once was, so dutiful and obedient, so aware of her place in the world, is gone forever. Yet now that she has shed her old self, who will she become, and where, and with whom, does she belong…?


Review:

This is the third book in the Great War Trilogy. And even though there is some cross over with the characters, this book can easily be read as a stand-alone novel.

The story takes place in Paris in the 1920s and gives us a fascinating view of the culture and lifestyle of the people, especially artists, who resided there at that time.

The characters are interesting and warm, and the story flows effortlessly from page to page.

It really is a wonderful love story. And if you like historical fiction, especially novels set in the interwar period, then you will like this book.

If you haven’t read the other two novels in the series, I would recommend them. The first novel is Somewhere in France, and the second one is After the War is Over. 

 

#BookReview
Circling The Sun by Paula McLain

#BookReview Circling The Sun by Paula McLainTitle: Circling the Sun

Author: Paula McLain

Published by: Ballantine Books on July 28, 2015

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 366

Format: Hardcover

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Brought to Kenya from England as a child and then abandoned by her mother, Beryl is raised by both her father and the native Kipsigis tribe who share his estate. Her unconventional upbringing transforms Beryl into a bold young woman with a fierce love of all things wild and an inherent understanding of nature’s delicate balance. But even the wild child must grow up, and when everything Beryl knows and trusts dissolves, she is catapulted into a string of disastrous relationships.

Beryl forges her own path as a horse trainer, and her uncommon style attracts the eye of the Happy Valley set, a decadent, bohemian community of European expats who also live and love by their own set of rules. But it’s the ruggedly charismatic Denys Finch Hatton who ultimately helps Beryl navigate the uncharted territory of her own heart. The intensity of their love reveals Beryl’s truest self and her fate: to fly.


Review:

This was one of my book club reads for this month and I enjoyed it.

This is a story based on the real life of Beryl Markham.

Beryl was a strong, independent, remarkable women who was definitely ahead of her time. She accomplished some incredible things and had an indomitable spirit. At the same time, however, there always seemed be an aura of sadness surrounding her. She was constantly searching for true freedom and happiness, which she could never find. Her struggles with abandonment, loneliness, heartache and disappointment seemed to overshadow all the rest.

I have to admit that I knew very little of Beryl Markham before reading this book and I found it interesting and captivating right from the prologue.

The writing, itself, is poetic and flows from page-to-page effortlessly. And the imagery of colonial Kenya is beautiful and vivid.

This was a good choice for book club and I look forward to discussing it.

 

#BookReview
The Winemakers by Jan Moran

#BookReview The Winemakers by Jan MoranTitle: The Winemakers

Author: Jan Moran

Published by: St. Martin's Griffin on April 5, 2016

Genres: General Fiction, Historical Fiction

Pages: 368

Format: eBook, ARC

Source: St. Martin's Press

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A young woman
A family secret
A devastating truth that could destroy the man she loves

Many years ago, the Rosetta family’s hard-won dreams of staking their claim in the vineyards of California came to fruition. Now high-spirited, passionate Caterina Rosetta, who has inherited both her mother’s talent for crafting the finest wines and also her indomitable will, wants nothing more than to win her mother’s approval and work at her side. But that can never happen, because Caterina is keeping a secret that could ruin her: a daughter of her own, fathered by the love of her life, who left her without explanation. Just as she feels she has nowhere to turn, Caterina discovers that she has inherited a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside in Italy, from a grandmother she’s never heard of, and she seizes the chance to start a new life for herself and her child.

But the past is not so easily outrun. In the country of her ancestors, Caterina meets the family of the father she never knew, and discovers that her mother is also hiding her own secret—a secret so devastating it threatens the future of everything her family has worked for. As an old murder comes to light, and Caterina uncovers a tragedy that may destroy the man she loves, she realizes her happiness will depend on revealing the truth of her mother’s buried past—if she has the strength to face it.

From author Jan Moran comes The Winemakers, a sweeping, romantic novel that will hold you in its grasp until the last delicious sip.


Review:

This book was very engrossing and I had trouble putting it down.

The story takes place in the picturesque vineyards of Napa, California and Tuscany, Italy. And the descriptions are so vivid that at times it almost felt like I was sitting amongst the grape vines savouring the bouquet of the most divine wine.

The plot revolves around secrets, lies, deception, familial relationships, wine-making, and romance. It is a wonderful love story with enough twists and turns and drama to keep you throughly engaged.

Overall, this is a well written, compelling novel with believable characterization and it is truly worth the read. In fact, I think this would be a great addition to any book club.

 

This book is due to be published on April 5, 2016.

Pick up a copy you won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview
The Confidant by Hélène Grémillon

#BookReview The Confidant by Hélène GrémillonTitle: The Confidant

Author: Hélène Grémillon

Published by: Penguin Books on October 30, 2012

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 245

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Paris, 1975. While sifting through condolence letters after her mother’s death, Camille finds a long, handwritten missive that she assumes came by mistake. But every Tuesday brings another installment from a stranger named Louis, a man separated from his first love, Annie, in the years before World War II. In his tale, Annie falls victim to the merciless plot of a wealthy, barren couple just as German troops arrive in Paris. But also awaiting Camille’s discovery is the other side of the story – one that calls into question Annie’s innocence and reveals the devastating consequences of revenge. As Camille reads on, she realizes that her own life may be the next chapter in this tragic story. 


Review:

This book intrigued me from the start.

The story is set in wartime Paris, and is a story within a story told from multiple characters’ points of view.  Each character is missing a piece of the story and what becomes clearly evident is the importance of perspective.

The writing is sophisticated. The characters are complex. And the plot takes us through twists and turns filled with betrayal, rejection, scorn and manipulation.

This is a quick but stimulating read. And I would recommend it, especially for book clubs, as I think it would be a good source for thoughtful discussion.

 

#BookReview
Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran

#BookReview Rebel Queen by Michelle MoranTitle: Rebel Queen

Author: Michelle Moran

Published by: Touchstone on March 3, 2015

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 355

Format: Hardcover

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

When the British Empire sets its sights on India in the 1850s, it expects a quick and easy conquest. After all, India is not even a country, but a collection of kingdoms on the subcontinent. But when the British arrive in the Kingdom of Jhansi, expecting its queen to forfeit her crown, they are met with a surprise. Instead of surrendering, Queen Lakshmi raises two armies—one male, one female—and rides into battle like Joan of Arc. Although her soldiers are little match against superior British weaponry and training, Lakshmi fights against an empire determined to take away the land she loves.

Told from the perspective of Sita, one of the guards in Lakshmi’s all-female army and the queen’s most trusted warrior, The Last Queen of India traces the astonishing tale of a fearless ruler making her way in a world dominated by men. In the tradition of her bestselling novel Nefertiti, which Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, called “a heroic story with a very human heart,” Michelle Moran once again brings a time and place rarely explored in historical fiction to rich, vibrant life.


Review:

I have to admit that when I picked up this book I knew very little about the Indian Rebellion against the British invasion in 1857, and I was not sure what to expect. Saying that, however, I was pleasantly surprised. 

This is the captivating and engaging story of Rani Lakshmibai, the Queen of Jhansi. And It is narrated by Sita, a young girl from a small village who grows up to become a Durgavasi, a select group of women who shield and protect the Queen.

It is a very interesting story about powerful women, independence, self identity, loyalty and sacrifice. The plot builds nicely. The characters are engaging. And the setting is vividly described.

It was a thoughtful, enjoyable read, and I hope that anyone who likes historical fiction will give it a try.

 

 

About Michelle Moran

Michelle Moran is the international bestselling author of seven historical novels. A native of southern California, she attended Pomona College, then earned a Masters Degree from the Claremont Graduate University. During her six years as a public high school teacher she used her summers to travel around the world, and it was her experiences as a volunteer on archaeological digs that inspired her to write historical fiction.

In 2012 Michelle was married in India, inspiring her seventh book, Rebel Queen, which is set in the East. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling, and archaeology. She is also fascinated by archaeogenetics, particularly since her children's heritages are so mixed. But above all these things Michelle is passionate about reading and can often be found with her nose in a good book. A frequent traveler, she currently resides with her husband, son, and daughter in the US. Her books have been translated into more than twenty languages.

#BookReview
The Evening Chorus by Helen Humphreys

#BookReview The Evening Chorus by Helen HumphreysTitle: The Evening Chorus

Author: Helen Humphreys

Published by: HarperCollins Publishers on February 3, 2015

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 304

Format: Hardcover

Source: Borrowed

Book Rating: 8/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Downed during his first mission, James Hunter is taken captive as a German POW. To bide the time, he studies a nest of redstarts at the edge of camp. Some prisoners plot escape; some are shot. And then, one day, James is called to the Kommandant’s office. 

Meanwhile, back home, James’s new wife, Rose, is on her own, free in a way she has never known. Then, James’s sister, Enid, loses everything during the Blitz and must seek shelter with Rose. In a cottage near Ashdown forest, the two women jealously guard secrets, but form a surprising friendship. Each of these characters will find unexpected freedom amid war’s privations and discover confinements that come with peace.


Review:

This is a touching story about three characters trying to survive and find their way amongst the unpredictability of war.

The imagery is beautiful and the power of nature and the solace one can find within it is clearly depicted.

This is a quiet, understated book that is elegantly written and definitely worth a read.

 

#BookReview
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

#BookReview The Boston Girl by Anita DiamantTitle: The Boston Girl

Author: Anita Diamant

Published by: Scribner on December 9, 2014

Genres: Historical Fiction

Pages: 320

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchased

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable coming-of-age novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine – a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today?” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth-century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.


Review:

I really enjoyed this book.

This is the life story of Addie, an eighty-five-year-old woman, who was born and raised in Boston in the early 1900s to Jewish immigrants. It is a sentimental story that touches on the importance of friendship, family relationships, the fight for women to be educated and employed outside the home, love, loss, disappointment, frustration, and success.

I thought this story was extremely interesting and captivating, and I really liked the way it was narrated.

I would definitely recommend this for book clubs.

 

This book is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from the following Amazon links.

Amazon UKAmazon USAmazon Canada

 

 

About Anita Diamant

Anita Diamant is the author of twelve books -- the newest novel being THE BOSTON GIRL.

Anita is best-known for her first novel, THE RED TENT, which was published in 1997 and won the 2001 Booksense Book of the Year Award. Based on the biblical story of Dinah, THE RED TENT became a word-of-mouth bestseller in the US and overseas, where it has been published in more than 25 countries.

Three other novels followed: GOOD HARBOR, THE LAST DAYS OF DOGTOWN and, DAY AFTER NIGHT.

Anita has also written six non-fiction guides to contemporary Jewish life, which have become classic reference books: THE NEW JEWISH WEDDING, THE JEWISH BABY BOOK, LIVING A JEWISH LIFE, CHOOSING A JEWISH LIFE, HOW TO RAISE A JEWISH CHILD, and SAYING KADDISH..

An award-winning journalist, Diamant's articles have appeared in the Boston Globe Magazine, Real Simple, Parenting Magazine, Hadassah, Reform Judaism, Boston Magazine and Yankee Magazine.PITCHING MY TENT, a collection personal essays, is drawn from twenty years worth of newspaper and magazine columns.

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