Monthly Archives: March 2014

A Novel of the Titanic

titanic   Like many readers across the globe, I have been fascinated with the tragedy that took place in April 1912 in the Atlantic Ocean…..the sinking of the Titanic.  Fortunately, there are many gifted writers out there that are able to weave  fictional tales from this unbelievable event.  Hazel Gaynor is one of these authors.  She has penned The Girl Who Came Home: A Novel of the Titanic.

This is the story of Maggie Murphy, a 17 year-old girl from Ballysheen, Ireland who gain passage on the Titanic along with 13 others from her town.  This is their story…her story.  (This is based on a true story of the Addergoole Fourteen who lost their lives on April 15, 1912 on the Titanic).  Maggie along with her close friends are heading onto the journey of their lives.  Even though they will be passengers on the third class level , they consider themselves fortunate and blessed to be able to to be aboard this historical voyage.  Maggie is leaving behind  the love of her life…Seamus.  He promised to wait for her and has written her a letter for every month that she will be gone.  She keeps them close in her coat pocket with plans to read them once they arrive in America.

Meanwhile….flash forward to the year 1982….Maggie’s great granddaughter , Grace, is going through a rough spell when Maggie decides to reveal her story of the Titanic to her.  Maggie has kept the story to herself for 70 years and has not spoken of it to anyone….she had no desire to revisit the horror she experienced so long ago in those icy, dark waters.  Now, she is ready and Grace records this story and writes a hauntingly beautiful article on the events….an article that receives much attention.

The story is told through a few voices…Maggie’s, Grace’s and Harry’s…a steward on the boat.  There are journal entries and letters that fill in the pieces of the story which makes it all the more endearing.  A fantastic addition to Titanic historical fiction.

 

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Love and War

Image  In this massive undertaking, Kate Mosse has written a beautiful love story in the midst of World War II in France.  Kate Mosse researched for four years on the war and the women of the French Resistance,and then sat down to write this novel in two years.  Such a big commitment and motivation…such passion.  And it comes through in this novel.

She writes of Sandrine and her older sister Marianne both who are part of the French Resistance along with a group of amazingly varied and strong women.   The story involves another group of brave men who also fighting against the Nazi Regime as well as to protect a secret that was buried in the mountains in 344 AD….

Sandrine is the heroine who finds herself thrown into the cause by rescuing a man she finds tied and floating in a river.  This puts her life in danger, and at the same time, bring Raoul Pelletier into her life.  Their passion for each other and their cause bring them closer together and yet in danger.  Sandrine becomes part of this underground organization that provides food, shelter, and a new identity to those who must hide from the Nazis.  She become fearless and cunning, and she will do what ever is necessary to right the wrongs of the war.

The characters are so well-written….I could see them in their homes, drinking their tea and plotting.  I could feel their fear…their worry….and yet their bravery rose to the top and pushed them to do unbelievable feats.  The love story between Sandrine and Raoul was believable and enduring…not contrite.  It was perfect.

It always fascinates me that after reading historical fiction, I do more research to uncover the nonfiction within.  It is a beautiful thing that people like these characters in realty.  This story was inspired by two unknown women who executed while fleeing from Nazi forces.  Brave souls.

Side note:  the novel is long 679 pages long.  I read it in under a week, but it was not light reading.  If I was tired and my mind started to drift, I would find I would have to go back and reread passages so I could understand.  Well-worth it.  The last 100 pages flew by.

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Historically delicious

burnable  I love historical fiction and if you read my blog…you already know this. I especially love history when it involves England in the 1300’s with all the Kings and Queens and poets and peasants who are caught up in murder, deceit, treason and intrigue.  This novel — A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger — was perfect for me during yet another round of snow and cold temps.

It is the year 1385, and King Richard II’s life is in mortal danger.  There is a book that has been penned that prophesies all the deaths of England’s kings….it is now down to the last prophecy and it foretells the brutal murder of the King Richard II.  The book is stolen, and there are many who wish to have their hands on this leather-bound volume of rhymes: those who wish to protect the king and those who wish to see the prophecy fulfilled.

The book opens with a murder of a young girl in a moor….bludgeon with a hammer…and there is a witness.  A young maud AKA prostitute, Agnes, who is the only witness .  After witnessing the horrible murder, Agnes is left with something that will connect her to this great conspiracy and will make her desirable for more than her trade.

Geoffrey Chaucer (yes, the poet)  desperately wants to get his hands on the Burnable Book, so he asks his fellow poet and good friend, John Gower, to locate the book.  This begins a thriller like no other.  Who can you trust?  What is in this book?  Why are the drama of a one little poem?

The story…the plot was enough to keep me reading, but it was the characters who kept me invested in the story.  I loved Agnes, and her sister Millicent.  I adored John Gower and his background story with his son, Simon.  My favorite character was Edgar/Eleanor….I was rooting for him and his/her younger brother through the whole book.

I love reading this genre so very much.  I love being immersed in a different culture hundreds of years ago.  I am in awe of Bruce Holsinger who is a medieval scholar and professor at the University of Virginia.  His knowledge is one thing, but to be able to create a story so vivid and accurate of another time period…blows my mind.  Than- you for that.

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