Category Archives: Historical

Mischling

Title: MISCHLING

Author: Affinity Konar

Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books, September 2016

Summary/Review: On the surface, MISCHLING is a haunting novel about the brutality and depravity inflicted upon “multiples” at the hands of Josef Mengele in Auschwitz. It soon becomes apparent, however, that this novel is an affirmation of the importance and power of family, whatever your definition of family may be.

Precocious twins, Stasha and Pearl, arrive in Auschwitz when they are twelve years old. Their daily survival depends on their memories of the family they are separated from, their devotion to each other, and the bonds they form with the people around them. Perverted attempts are made to alter the meaning of family with names like “Uncle Doctor” for Mengele and “Twin’s Father” for their reluctant caretaker, but it is with their fellow prisoners that the twins forge a new family, not of blood, but of something deeper.

MISCHLING is a beautifully written, powerful reminder of the destructive nature of hate and the redemptive powers of love and hope. Stasha and Pearl will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

Who will like this book?: Someone looking for a book that is beautifully written.  Someone who doesn’t shy away from one of the most difficult topics in one of the most brutal time periods in history.

If you liked this, try this: If you’re interested in World War II historical fiction, try “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr, or “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak.  If you like Konar’s writing, she does have one earlier novel entitled “The Illustrated Version of Things”.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

 

Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet


 

 

 

 

 

Title: Magruder’s Curiosity Cabinet

Author: H.P Wood

Publisher: Sourcebooks, June 2016

Summary/Review: Ah, turn of the century Coney Island. The sun, the surf, and its newest amusement park Dreamland. Yes, it’s all fun and games until someone dies from the plague. Who better to blame for this scourge than the misfits who work and live along the Boardwalk? Soon it will become a classic battle between “the haves” and “the have nots”, fueled by prejudice and fear of the unknown.

The wonderful, fully developed characters are what make this novel the gem that it is. A story that is atmospheric and reminiscent of a bygone era before wonderment gave way to cynicism and people could still believe in magic. 

Who will like this book?: Someone interested in historical fiction that focuses on the gritty atmosphere of old-time Coney Island.  Someone looking for a book that’s character-driven but dark.

If you like this, try this: This is a debut novel from the author, so if you liked the writing you may have to wait a while until another book is released!  If you liked the Coney Island setting, Alice Hoffman’s “Museum of Extraordinary Things” and Kevin Baker’s “Dreamland” both incorporate the location.

Recommended by: Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you would like to place a hold on this book, please click here.

 

 

Hide

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Title: Hide

Author: Matthew Griffin

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, February 2016

Summary/Review: Matthew Griffin’s debut novel is an honest, realistic look into the lives of of two men in love. Griffin reminds us in our 2016 marriage equality world that not so long ago, gay couples had to hide their authentic selves if they were to carve out any kind of life with each other. Frank and Wendell abandon everything – literally to be together in a hostile post-WWII small Southern town. Does it damage them permanently? Yes. Was it worth it? The answer is also a resounding yes. If you’ve ever wondered if regular people make huge sacrifices to advance civil rights, this novel will answer that question. Hide chronicles the love story of the two young men and their twilight years together. The care they give each other is honest and unedited. Matthew Griffin has created a fascinating, raw story and a powerful tale of two men and the love they share despite having no support from the outside world.

Who will like this book? Someone who’s a fan of books about LGBT people specifically older gay men, aging and end of life care, rural stories, post-WWII stories.

If you like this, try this: Christopher Bram’s Exiles in America, Alice Munro’s Away from Her, and Lisa Genova’s Still Alice.

Recommended by: Philip B., Reference Librarian

If you think this is something you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

Paying Guests

 

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Title: The Paying Guests

Author: Sarah Waters

Publisher: Riverhead Books, September 2014

Summary/Review: I have never read the fiction of Sarah Waters before, but I am happy to have now read The Paying Guests.  She writes beautifully – creating characters that you can literally see and hear in your own head as you read the book.

The story begins at the dusk of the Edwardian era, a few years after the end of World War I.  Frances lives with her mother in what was previously a grand house.  They have fallen on hard times.  Frances’ father is dead, after having mismanaged the family fortune and a brother has died in the War.  In order to make ends meet, they must take in paying guests — a matter of some shame.

The Barbers, a young middle class, perhaps lower middle class couple, take rooms on the second floor.  They are young, stylish in their way, and are a product of a new society growing in England that has tossed aside the trappings of propriety of the past.

The author slowly unfolds the plot to reveal events that would never be understood or tolerated at this time in English society. Then the final unforgivable act takes place– and it is a fast and furious ride all the way to the end of the novel. So hang on.

Who will like this?: Those interested in period novels that describe post WWI-era. Someone looking for a gripping novel.

If you like this, try this: If you’re interested in the 1920’s, the standard is “Great Gatsby”. However, you could also try Hemingway or Fitzgerald. If you liked Sarah Waters’ writing, you could try her other novels including “The Night Watch” and “Affinity”.

Recommended by: Susan Z, Reference

Does this look like a book you’d like?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

 

Miniaturist

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Title: The Miniaturist

Author: Jessie Burton

Publisher: Harper Collins, August 2014

Summary/Review: When 18 year old Nella Oortman travels to Amsterdam to meet her new husband, she finds her life will be very different than she could ever have imagined.

Nella’s new husband, Johannes Brandt, is a 39 year old merchant trader in the city of Amsterdam. His successful business has allowed Johannes to have a nice home, servants, and some of the finer things in life. Nella arrives to find Johannes’ sister, Marin, at home but not Johannes. In fact, Johannes deftly dodges his new bride for as long as he can, claiming his business keeps him away from home.

To make up for his absence, Johannes gives Nella a gift-a miniature replica of her new home. She is also given the means to furnish it as she wishes. As Nella orders pieces to complete the cabinet sized house, she receives more than she bargained, or paid, for. Somehow, the miniaturist she hires creates exact replicas of their real life counterparts as if he or she has been in the home before. Nella also receives pieces that she did not order, but still perfectly match items in her home. As her life in repressive Amsterdam starts to take dangerous twists and turns, Nella has to wonder whether the mysterious miniaturist is foretelling her future with each new reproduction or orchestrating her destruction.

Jessie Burton’s debut novel may be set in 1686, but the prejudices and discrimination that take place are still, shamefully, taking place in 2014. Burton’s writing will transport you to Amsterdam complete with the sights and sounds of the bustling city. A great choice for book clubs and historical fiction readers, The Miniaturist will give you plenty to think about and talk about.

Who will like this book? Someone looking for a book that will lend itself to conversation.  Someone looking to be transported to another time and place.

If you like this, try this: If you are looking for more good historical fiction, try Geraldine Brooks, Phillipa Gregory, or Ken Follett.  “Girl With the Pearl Earring”  may be another choice for you.  This is Burton’s first novel, but the buzz with this book is huge – so be on the lookout for more!

Recommended by:  Sue B, Circulation Coordinator

If you think this is a book you’d like to read, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or to place a hold!

100 Years and 4 Days

In our final installment of World War I fiction and non-fiction recommendations, we would like to suggest the following titles.

cavendon hall wild rose no graves last

Cavendon Hall                                                                                                                                                By Barbara Taylor Bradford

“The popular and prolific Bradford knocks another fast-paced family saga out of the park with charming characters and manor-house mayhem.” ~Booklist

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Cavendon Hall please click here.

The Wild Rose                                                                                                                                                 By Jennifer Donnelly

“A lush story of epic proportions . . . Donnelly peoples her book with larger-than-life characters whose tragedies and triumphs lift your heart and soul.” ~Romantic Times Book Review

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on The Wild Rose  please click here.

No Graves as Yet                                                                                                                                          By Anne Perry

“This absorbing mystery/spy thriller, set in tranquil Cambridge just before the onset of the Great War, marks a powerful start to bestseller Perry’s much anticipated new series.” ~Publisher’s Weekly

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on No Graves as Yet please click here.

The Last of the Doughboys : the Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War  By Richard Rubin

“…the last known American veteran of the Great War died in 2011. Determined to obtain and document the remembrances of the surviving “doughboys,” journalist Rubin began an effort to locate and interview many of them a decade ago. The result is this fascinating and deeply moving collection of individual stories.” ~Booklist

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on The Last of the Doughboys : the Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War  please click here.

100 Years and 3 Days

This week we are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WWI. Florence Green, the last known WWI veteran, died in 2012 at age 110. Frank Buckles, the last living U.S. WWI veteran died in 2011, also at age 110. Here are today’s reading suggestions if you would like to learn more about this global conflict, or if you want a novel set during that time period.

waiting for sunriseliesomewhere in francewomen heroes 1

Waiting for Sunrise: a novel                                                                                                                       By William Boyd

“Sex, psychiatry and Vienna on the eve of World War I – those are promising ingredients for a novel. And William Boyd makes the most of them. . . . Boyd’s narrative moves briskly, and his local color is deftly done.” ~The Seattle Times

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Waiting for Sunrise: a novel please click here.

The Lie                                                                                                                                                            By Helen Dunmore

“[A] tender tale… subtle and enduring…A quiet tragedy… a poet’s feeling for language shines through the descriptions of the landscape…in this novel Dunmore has wreaked tenderness out of tragedy, so that the reader is left with the sense that something beautiful, however fleeting, has been salvaged from the darkness.” ~The Observer (UK)

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on The Lie please click here.

Somewhere in France                                                                                                                                  By Jennifer Robson

“Utterly engaging and richly satisfying, Somewhere in France depicts the very best in love and war. Fans of Downton Abbey will devour this novel!”  ~author Erika Robuck

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Somewhere in France please click here.

Women Heroes of World War I : 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics                 By Kathryn J. Atwood

“In time for the 2014 centennial of the start of the Great War, this book brings to life the brave and often surprising exploits of 16 fascinating women from around the world who served their countries at a time when most of them didn’t even have the right to vote.” ~Amazon.com

If you would like to check our catalog or place a hold on Women Heroes of World War I : 16 Remarkable Resisters, Soldiers, Spies, and Medics please click here.

 

100 Years and 2 Days

World War I, which began 100 years ago Monday, involved a total of 76 current nations and more than 65,000,000 troops. Here are today’s suggested fiction and non-fiction titles that are set during or around The Great War.

secret lifestella bain canal bridge great war

The Secret Life of Violet Grant                                                                                                                  By Beatriz Williams

“Rumor has it that Violet murdered her husband and mentor, Dr. Walter Grant, before mysteriously disappearing with her lover on the eve of WWI. As Vivian closes in on the past, she has a heart-wrenching problem of her own to resolve in the present. Readers will love wallowing in the twists and turns of this irresistibly luxurious tale.” ~Booklist

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Secret Life of Violet Grant, please click here.

Stella Bain: a novel                                                                                                                                       By Anita Shreve

“An intriguing character study that delivers compelling mystery without melodrama. Shreve offers a fresh, feminine twist on a topic that’s much in vogue lately-World War I…. Shreve cleverly and movingly shifts between Stella’s two lives, as we learn who she really is. A custody battle, a horrible case of wartime disfigurement, and even questions of women’s rights emerge in this spare but involving novel….” ~USA Today

To check our catalog or place a hold on Stella Bain: a novel, please click here.

The Canal Bridge                                                                                                                                              By Tom Phelan

“From Phelan’s effectively constructed and emotionally honest novel about Irish participation in WWI, the reader gains a new perspective on how the Great War decimated lives throughout Europe.” ~Booklist

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Canal Bridge, please click here.

The Great War : a Combat History of the First World War                                                                   By Peter Hart

“Hart demonstrates an admirable command of the subject matter and offers a compelling case for the lasting impact of the ‘unwaking nightmare that was WWI.'”
~Publishers Weekly

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Great War : a Combat History of the First World War, please click here.

100 Years and a Day

This week we are highlighting some novels set during or around World War I. We’ll also share a few non-fiction titles to commemorate this historic event. 100 years and a day ago, World War I, “The Great War”, began and would last more than 4 years.

shoemakers wife first of julyashton park  stubby

 

The Shoemaker’s Wife
By Adriana Trigiani
“Trigiani’s page-turning newest… is a sweeping saga… More than an epic romance, Trigiani’s work pays homage to the tribulations of the immigrant experience, and the love that makes the journey and hardships worthwhile.” ~Publishers Weekly

To check our catalog or place a hold on The Shoemaker’s Wife, please click here.

The First of July
By Elizabeth Speller
“Utterly gripping and completely immersing, Speller’s historical novel of WWI captures the experience of four very different young men during the war’s early years, leading up to one of the grimmest campaigns, the Battle of the Somme, which began on July 1, 1916.” ~ Booklist

To check our catalog or place a hold on The First of July, please click here.

Ashton Park
By Murray Pura
“For fans of the hugely popular Downton Abbey series, comes this equally enthralling story of the Danforth family of Ashton Park… The year is 1916. The First World War has engulfed Europe and Sir William’s and Lady Elizabeth’s three sons are all in uniform—and their four daughters are involved in various pursuits of the heart and soul.” ~Amazon.com

To check our catalog or place a hold on Ashton Park, please click here.

Sergeant Stubby : How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation
By Ann Bausum
“For those who loved New York Times bestseller Rin Tin Tin comes the memorable story of Sergeant Stubby–World War I dog veteran, decorated war hero, American icon, and above all, man’s best friend.” ~Amazon.com

To check our catalog or place a hold on Sergeant Stubby : How a Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation, please click here.

Mrs. Hemingway

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Title: Mrs. Hemingway

Author: Naomi Wood

Publisher: Penguin, May 2014

Summary/Review: Favorable comparisons with Paula McLain’s outstanding novel “The Paris Wife” are inevitable and deserved, and anyone who enjoyed “The Paris Wife” will no doubt love “Mrs. Hemingway.”  What makes Naomi Wood’s book such a treat is that the reader will get to know not just one but all four of Ernest Hemingway’s wives – Hadley, Pauline, Martha and finally, Mary.  And through the story of the wives and their relationships also comes a vivid portrayal of the tortured man they loved.  Wood’s writing flows with a deceptive ease; make no mistake that the pain and suffering the women experienced was real and not romanticized in these pages.   In fact this fictionalized account of the lives and times of these people feels as real as any well-researched biography; perhaps this comes from all of the research that the author did, visiting Hemingway’s homes and old haunts in Chicago, Paris, Antibes, Key West and Havana.  “Mrs. Hemingway” is beautiful, gripping and tragic – a worthwhile revisiting of what may be a familiar story.

Who will like this book?  Fans of historical, literary fiction, particularly those who love reading fictionalized biographies.  And anyone who likes to read about the lives of writers.

If you like this, try this;  The Paris Wife by Paula McLain; Z: a Novel of Zelda by Therese Ann Fowler; Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck.

 Recommended by:  Mary C, Branch Reference Librarian

If this looks like a book you’d like to try, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!