Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving

Avenue of Mysteries by John IrvingReading John Irving is like seeing an old friend – there are tricks and troupes you know he’s going to bring out, you may roll your eyes or relished them with joy, but it’s comforting to know they’re there. So in answer to your question, yes Avenue of Mysteries is your same old John Irving, lots of dogs, penises, odd children and mother complexes. Continue reading

The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro

The Muralist by B.A. ShapiroI don’t know what I was expecting from The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro, but I got more than I was expecting. I really enjoyed reading it. It tell a great story that weaves fact with fiction, and history with intrigue. I had feared it would veer too much to the behind the scenes, inside of gossip of the art world, but instead it invented a world of secrets, lies and mystery. Continue reading

The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie BenjaminI’m continuing my spree of fiction based on real-life events with The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin. It recounts the adult life of Anne Morrow Lindberg. Yes, that Lindberg. Wife of the aviator, mother of the kidnapped baby. Overall, I really enjoyed The Aviator’s Wife. Let’s face it, it is a fascinating story. Do you sense a ‘but’ coming? ‘Cause I do. Continue reading

Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud

mr.mac and me by Esther FreudAs you may have noticed, historical fiction based on real people’s lives is a bit of a thing for me at the moment. That’s why i turned to Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud. Before moving to Scotland I’m not sure if a novel about architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh would have interested me, but here is Scotland, Glasgow in particular, he is a bit of a hero.

I didn’t know anything about the novel before digging in, so I must say it came as a bit of disappointment to me that the bulk of Mr. Mac and Me is more about the titular Me than Mr. Mac. I was hoping for an entertaining overview of Mackintosh’s life, instead I was given a glimpse into Macintosh’s brief escape to the Southeast coast of England right around the time of the outbreak of World War One.

In spite of the fact that most of the story revolves around Tom Maggs and the travails of his impoverished family, I did learn some startling things about CRM.

  • As much as he is revered today in Scotland, he was not all that successful during his own lifetime. This struggleMMM is made clear in Mr. Mac and Me.
  • The tall, stylized women I have always associated with CRM are, in fact, by his wife, Margaret MacDonald Macintosh.
  • CRM was thought to be a spy during WWI and was rather harassed for it.

Who would like this book? Though fans of CRM may like this book, I would be more inclined to recommend it to those who are looking for an English pastoral novel set in the 1910s. As I mentioned, Mr Mac is really a secondary character and the novel’s heart lies with Maggs family and their village pub.

Calling on all readers!

Friends and readers, I’m calling on your skills and expertise to help me. I’m working on a bit of a side project and I need you to help me brainstorm a little.

I’m looking for novels that are based on the lives of real life, historical people set in the early 20th century. Circling The Sun by Paula McLain is exactly the type of book I’m looking for. So far I’ve gathered this list. What can you add to it?

Z by Therese Anne FowlercoverCollage

Local Customs by Audrey Thomas

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

The Visitors by Sally Beauman

Mrs. Hemingway by Naomi Wood

Villa America by Liza Klaussmann

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannik Grannec

The Indian Clark by David Leavitt

The Confabulist by Steven Galloway

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

Us Conductors by Sean Michaels

Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gornter

Above All Things by Tanis Rideout.

Mr. Mac And Me by Esther Freud

Let me know what I’m missing and I’ll add to my list.


A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthy

A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthyI have been in a slump of epic proportions for months now. I don’t even want to read. It’s weird and crazy. And then in walks A Place We Knew Well by Susan Carol McCarthy, and it changes everything. For the first time in weeks I stayed up past my bedtime to read. Continue reading

Shriver by Chris Belden

shriverBetter late than never, right? Ok, so I read Shriver by Chris Belden a couple of weeks ago and I’m writing up my review now, so the detail may be lacking. Shriver is based on a promising premise: our Shriver is a reclusive man who is mistakenly invited to a writer’s conference as the American literary sensation SHRIVER (think Salinger) and of course he accepts. Hijinks, literary pretensions and a mystery ensue. Continue reading