I never would have picked up Dominion by C.J Sansom if it weren’t for Willoughby Book Club, my book subscription service. But it landed on my doorstep and in this political climate, I’ve felt compelled to read it. Continue reading
The premise of The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe immediately grabbed my attention. Set at Vassar at the end of the 19th century, it tells the story of Anita Hemmings the first black women to graduate from the gilded institution. While at Vasser, she passed as white until … well, you know. It is wonderfully researched and I loved the afterword that tells you what parts are made up and what is true. Continue reading
M.G. Vassanji has long been a favorite writer of mine. I’ve had The Magic of Saida sitting on my shelf for years now – it moved from Canada to Scotland with us – but it just hasn’t been calling to me. In fact, many of his more recent books haven’t hit me the way his earlier works did. So what did i think of The Magic of Saida? Continue reading
Gutted. That’s how I felt while reading The Undertaking by Audrey Magee. And I mean it in the best way possible. I’d give this book 4 out of 5 stars if I were one to give stars, but it is not an easy read. It’s about a Nazi soldier on the Russian front in WWII and his new wife back in Berlin. So yeah, it’s a pretty horrific war story and Magee’s writing style makes it ever so real. There is not one word to many or out of place. That’s what leaves you feeling gutted. Continue reading
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Seriously, are we back to that old adage? But so, so true. I picked up The Japanese Lover for two reasons: I haven’t read anything by Isabel Allende in years and based on the cover I assumed it was a war time novel set in Japan. I was close. The Japanese Lover is a novel partially set during WWII in San Francisco. Continue reading
I 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
I’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
As 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 struggle 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.
Villa America was, perhaps, my most anticipated read of the summer. I loved Liza Klaussmann‘s last novel, Tigers In Red Weather (review), so much. That plus the fact that Villa America recounts the life and times of Sara and Gerald Murphy and their famous friends, including Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Picasso, and I felt certain that this book was going to steal the summer. Continue reading