The Quiet Woman
Anne Gross’s novel The Quiet Woman tells the story of a modern day, time traveling nurse, Elise Dubis, who is conjured into Napoleonic era France by a likable fortune teller, Adelaide Lenormand. Elise, after snatching an emerald scarab from around Napoleon’s neck, is then transported horizontally in time to a land outside a pub in London. She spends the novel trying to figure out how to live in that time period and keep her identity secret until she can somehow manage to return to 21st Century Arizona where she belongs.
Although The Quiet Woman is billed as historical fiction, I find that very hard to agree with. It seems the author has done only the bare minimum amount of research into the Napoleonic time period as her historical mentions are the stuff of a modern grade school curriculum .
The characters are at best flat and at worst difficult to care about. The transitions are clunky and the plot leaves you turning to the end of the book to check how many pages you have left to read.
The Road To Rus’
In the 9th Century, Rome had long since fallen in the west, and its new capital in the East — Constantinople — desired to reclaim the empire’s former glory. The world was divided and splintered into warring tribes. The histories and legends of the past were told by song, life was hard, the climate was unforgiving, and the Vikings fearlessly roamed the known world.
In Michael Hnatyshyn’s new book The Road to Rus’, the reader is transported back to a time without laws and without borders — when life was cheap and the warrior’s sword ruled the day. A selection of tribes, along with their various allies and compelling leader Vratymyr, take on the new Byzantine Empire, daring to dream that they can form their own nation — a homeland that would ultimately become modern day Ukraine.
Some of the book’s greatest strengths are its attention to detail, the author’s deep knowledge of the time period, and its layered characters. There are parts of this book that feel like history, like you are suddenly knee-deep in a sweeping narrative that a brilliant historian has managed to stitch together. The author found a way to miraculously bridge the gap between our time and our long forgotten past. Other times, I’ll read a passage or finish a chapter and get the feeling that I am reading a great piece of fiction. Some of this book seems right out of Welsh mythology or The Chronicles of Prydain, with its similar dark undertones and complex characters. Other times, I feel like I am consumed in the same culture and world of the great novel the Eaters of the Dead. Similar to Michael Crichton’s great epic, Michael Hnatyshyn’s novel has managed to effectively combine historical events and concepts into this tale of middle aged combat with a touch of romanticism.
Hnatyshyn is a lifelong scholar of middle aged culture and customs, and it shows in every page of his book. It is simply impossible to not get sucked into the book and its characters. I hope this becomes a series of books, and, despite being a novel, there is something for the history lover in every family. Richly textured and inventive, this book is highly recommended.
Strings Cross is a unique blending of styles. The reader is taken through three generations of peace, war, and relationships between individuals and diverse groups vying for their place in the world. Throughout Strings Cross there will be moments when the reader is unsure of the content and intent of the book. Is it fiction, autobiography, historical fiction, creative nonfiction, or all of the above? The story is woven together with strands of many of these elements. Does this method of writing ultimately enhance the story? Id have to say no, but add that an author who has the chutzpa to try a new approach to storytelling deserves a certain amount of credit.
The main character, String, moves through childhood into adolescence within a supportive family. His activities are mostly typical of a young man who was born in the 1920s. Events take a sharp turn into a most interesting time when it becomes clear that his intellect is well above average, having helped shape the future of todays computers. This portion of the story could have been developed into a stand-alone book in itself. I doubt there would be any objection to Guri P. Essen writing an in-depth account of how computers found their way into our lives. His first-hand involvement in their evolution makes for fascinating ruminations by the author. I would have enjoyed learning more about this phase of Strings life.
Overall, the book is written with a command of history that succeeds in bringing to life events that appear mundane when encountered in traditional history books, not the least of which is the McCarthy Era. As String goes through the process of accusation, formal charges, and trial for speech, which was reported by a bystander as treasonous, the story unfolds in a way that illuminates this part of our history in a more personal way. Ultimately, Strings Cross is as informative and it is entertaining.
In writing a novel based on historical figures, there is always a question of how far one should carry the truth. On the one hand, an author should not do an injustice to anyone who was or is alive. On the other, novels are inherently fiction, and they must always be carried first and foremost by the narrative, even if that might mean bending the truth a little in order to tell a better story. The Prophecies is an excellent example of how to keep a balance between the two, as the author deftly weaves fact, fiction, and the gray area in between into a compelling tale of love and betrayal in occupied France.
Geneviève Zaepffel is a French woman with the astonishing ability to predict the future. Crowds gather to hear her predictions, and in these crowds is a young Luftwaffe pilot named Hermann Kaestner who was sent by the Nazis to see whether he could use her gift to predict how the war will go for the Axis. The two of them are drawn together and become lovers, even though that love is mingled with ulterior motives on one side.
The book is not solely about the two lovers, compelling a story as that might be. Instead, the author brings in a third player, Henri Gillard, who intends to create a church in the French countryside dedicated to the Holy Grail. Through these three, the author tells not only of a fateful encounter in the middle of World War II but also of various forms of spiritualism and the different (and, to modern American eyes, strange) beliefs of the time and place. I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in history, and if you do read it, be sure to look through the historical notes and the bibliography at the back. They’re a perfect place to continue research on this fascinating subject.
A fictionalization of a historical and seminal life, engaging, frustrating, and so immediately evocative of anger that the reader is fully engaged in just pages. Skillfully rendered, here is a girl becoming a woman in a high-caste Brahmin family in 1866. Rama is entering on her eighth year, a member of a family on perpetual pilgrimages, temple and shrine attendances; that speaks only Sanskrit, surviving by reciting the sacred stories.
Designated a Scholar by her father, a man whose total dedication is to the worship of Krishna, Rama discovers the gender restrictions of their belief system, and of her caste. In this process of discovery, we see the impulsive and compulsive tuggings of a mans religious obsession on the lives and welfare of his family. In a mileu where wife and children are subject to the husbands will, Rama, her mother, brother, and sister experience the rootlessness, material uncertainty, and ultimately the fatality of being on that hook of parental whim and illusion.
Because she is required to learn, as a scholar, Rama acquires proficiency in Sanskrit, the sacred stories, in public speaking, and the manipulation of audiences.
Despite her erudition, even after the deaths of all but her brother, Rama is forbidden, by his male dominance, to practice her recitative prowess for years of continued journeying.
Finally reaching Calcutta, the young woman has exposure to a learned audience, becomes known for her Sanskrit learning, and from there her story does nothing but expand.
The most significant aspect of this tale is the reality, for the actor, of the spirit or imaginative world. To her youthful self, the numerous Hindu deities are real personalities, actual actors on the world stage. And when she is eventually exposed to the Christian concept of one god, that imaginary world takes over her mind.
She is intellectually adroit, adding languages, texts, scriptures, arguments, with genius-level acumen. Through a marriage, a child, widowhood, travels and studies in England, America, and conflicts within the sects of her new faith, Rama continues to grow.
Biblical interpretations, quotations, and historically researched sermons evoke a stultifying obsession as the ladys drive to rescue high-caste Hindu child widows evolves into missionary zeal. Impulsive course shifting, imperative and self-willed life decisions, becoming more manipulative of others in her later life, become reminiscent of a previously met character. In her personal, inescapable labyrinth, Rama becomes her father, infecting those about her with religious hysteria, with a self-motivation of love and delusion, yanking her beloved daughters life about.
Adding to reader uncertainty is the very real depiction of the frequent advent of death on the subcontinent in that era. Coupled with Ramas own impulsiveness and self-will, reader reaction is constant apprehension.
Cleanly written, subtle in the treatment of intimacies, with excellent sensorial immediacy, Ramas Labyrinth is a weekends engaging pursuit.
Mallast tells the story of author Bob Prevosts ancestors, August and Rosina Mallast, and their seven children. Their migration from Prussia to America in the late eighteen eighties was prompted by Augusts fear for his oldest sons impending requirement to join the military. Having fought in several wars himself, he sees safety and opportunity in America. Upon arriving, the family focuses on their desire to become farmers in Michigan. This novel shares the hardships, decisions, and successes experienced by all of the members of the family over a period of several years before and after their arrival in America. This novel allows us to see them finding farmland to rent while saving to purchase a farm of their own, as well as watching their seven children grow and begin to have dreams of their own. Through research and family memories, Prevost invites readers to see what life was like for his ancestors, the Mallasts, and what the American dream meant to and afforded them.
It is a well-researched novel that tells of the triumphs and hardships faced by Prevosts ancestors as they migrated from Prussia to America in the eighteen eighties. The details, names, and time frames show the obvious time and dedication Prevost invested to collect accurate information about this time in his familys history to create this novel. He even states that most of the information came from direct relatives of the Mallast family, such as his cousin, mother, and one-hundred-and-two-year-old aunt. While dialogue between characters is limited, as actual conversations could not be recreated, the novel could have been enhanced if there was more dialogue between characters. Overall, Prevosts ability to paint a vivid picture of the Mallast familys journey through this novel allows for an interesting read for those who enjoy fact-based historical fiction.