Historical Fiction

Review: Homer and Langley by E.L. Doctorow

Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow is a fictionalized telling of the story of the Collyer brothers — two eccentric New York brothers from a wealthy family, living in a spacious brownstone on 5th Avenue.  They became famous, not for their wealth or their looks or their philanthropy, but for their compulsive hoarding.  It’s a tragic story and Doctorow’s fictionalized… Read more

Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Back in the late 1700’s-early 1800’s, Japan was closed to the world around them.  It was illegal for a Japanese citizen to leave Japan.  It was illegal for foreign citizens to enter Japan, except under the most strictly monitored conditions.  But countries around the world understood that Japan would be a lucrative market and trading partner, if only they could… Read more

Review: The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson

What makes someone a freak? It’s the question at the heart of The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson.  The story revolves around P.T. Barnum’s American Museum and the “freaks” who entertained the masses there.  There were midgets and fat ladies, savages from exotic lands, musclemen and other oddities.  But what made them freaks, and what would they choose,… Read more

Review: Heresy by S. J. Parris

These days, we talk about Banned Book Week and we talk about censorship in school libraries, but in the 1500’s, they were serious about censorship. Get caught reading something on the Vatican’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) and your prize was an appointment with the local Inquisitor. Based on the true story of Giordano Bruno — an Italian… Read more

Review: The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley

In The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel, Maureen Lindley looks at the life of a notorious Chinese princess from a forgiving angle. Eastern Jewel, also known as Yoshiko Kawashima, was considered quite scandalous in her day: a Chinese princess raised in Japan, a promiscuous young woman who wore men’s clothes, she drank and smoked opium, she spied for the Japanese… Read more