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Tag Archives: historical fiction

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Storyteller: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books; First Edition edition (November 5, 2013), 480 pages, ISBN-10: 1439102775, ISBN-13: 978-1439102770

The Storyteller is comprised of several separate and distinct stories that interconnect. Sage is a young woman who has a disfiguring facial scar, and she is battling an inner torment that disfigures her far more than the scar on her face. Josef is a 94 year old, healthy, German man who no longer wants to live because he is tormented by his past and the things he did as a Nazi commander at Auschwitz. He asks Sage to help him end his life. Minka is Sage’s grandmother and she is many things including a survivor of the Holocaust as well as a creative writer. Within is included a story that Minka wrote about a young woman who falls in love with a vampire.

Jodi Picoult has written 20 novels, including My Sister’s Story. The Storyteller is both a drama and a historical novel. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the character whose story is being revealed.

I enjoyed the story and I liked how the past and present combined to slowly reveal the truth. I thought the characters were well developed and multidimensional. My favorite was Minka; I enjoyed reading her tale. I thought she was a strong and resourceful woman, and I found it fascinating how her fictional story about Ania and the Vampire saved her life. It provided both a sense of hope, as well as entertainment to the other prisoners, because it was a metaphor for love and redemption.   The Storyteller may have been about the Holocaust, and parts of the story provided a heart-wrenching view into what it was like, but it was so much more than that. It was really about forgiveness, and not just for Josef, but for all of the characters and on many different levels.

I liked how the story unfolded, and I was surprised by the twist at the end. I recommend this book as a very good read, and if you enjoy reading about the Holocaust, both the horror of it as well as the triumph over it, then you will enjoy The Storyteller.

 

Favorite Quote

“Mary folds her arms. “I know I’ve told you how I left the convent, but did I ever tell you why I entered it?” she says. “My mother was raising three kids on her own, because my father walked out on us. I was the oldest, at thirteen. I was full of so much anger that sometimes I woke up in the middle of the night with the taste of it in my mouth, like tin. We couldn’t afford groceries. We had no television and the lights had been turned off. Our furniture had been reclaimed by the credit card company, and my brothers were wearing pants that hit above the ankle because we couldn’t afford to buy new school clothes. My father, though, he was on vacation with his girlfriend in France. So one day I went to see our priest and I asked what I could do to feel less angry. I was expecting him to say something like, Get a Job, or Write your feelings down on paper. Instead, he told me to forgive my dad. I stared at the priest, convinced he was nuts. ‘I can’t do that,’ I told him. ‘It would make what he did seem less awful.’

I study Mary’s profile as she speaks. “The priest said, ‘What he did was wrong. He doesn’t deserve your love. But he does deserve your forgiveness because otherwise he will grow like a weed in your heart until it’s choked and overrun. The only person who suffers, when you squirrel away all that hate, is you.’ I was thirteen, and I didn’t know very much about the world, but I knew that if there was that much wisdom in religion I wanted to be part of it.””

“She faces me. “I don’t know what this person did to you, and I am not sure I want to. But forgiving isn’t something you do for someone else. It’s something you do for yourself. It’s saying, You’re not important enough to have a stranglehold on me. It’s saying, You don’t get to trap me in the past. I am worthy of a future.””

(page 451)

This was my favorite quote because it sums up forgiveness and why it is important.

 

To Purchase The Storyteller from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Longbourn by Jo Baker

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of Longbourn: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Knopf (October 8, 2013), Sold by: Random House LLC, File Size: 1708 KB, Print Length: 353 pages, Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385351232, ASIN: B00CCPIITQ

 


Longbourn is a look at the world of Pride and Prejudice from a different point of view, from the view downstairs. It is the story of the servants who work at Longbourn, the home estate of the Bennets. The author, Jo Baker, has created interesting backgrounds for the lives of these people.

I really enjoyed the book. I thought it was well written and I liked the characters. I enjoyed tying the story into Pride and Prejudice. I thought it was an interesting look at the separation of class, especially in England during this time. I recommend this book as a very good historical read.

Favourite Quotes:

“She was as sweet, soothing and undemanding as a baked milk-pudding, and as welcome at the end of an exhausting day.” Page 50

“A blur of rich colours—one green velvet coat, one blue—and the soft creak of good leather, and a scent off them like pine sap and fine candlewax and wool. She watched their glossy boots scatter her tea leaves across the wooden floor. The two gentlemen were so smooth, and so big, and of such substance: it was as though they belonged to a different order of creation entirely, and moved in a separate element, and were as different as angels.” Page 195

“Fear now was a creature; it slithered around him, covered his face and got in amongst his hair and he could not breathe and he could not think, and he just stared across the wide poor land, and along the empty road, then spun to look back off the way they’d come from.”  Page 236

“ It was not the end, of course; it was just an end. Mrs. Hill’s thread may have become snarled up into an intractable knot, but others were still unspooling. One had wound all the way out through the wild Derbyshire hills, and then along the gentler lanes of Cheshire, and then drifted across to the flat lands by the sea.” Page 328

To purchase Longbourn from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The Signature of All Things is the next book in the Online Book Club


Welcome all book lovers to our Online Book Club

Today at Find The Treasure, our Online Book club, we start reading a new book, The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. This historical fiction spans almost two centuries, through the age of enlightenment and into the industrial revolution. The story covers the adventures of one family. Henry is the founder, and he is also a successful and intelligent botanist who becomes wealthy. Alma is his daughter and she not only carries on the family tradition, but she also reaches far past it and in the process gets drawn into the realm of the mystical.

To Join our discussion, please click on the page tab on the right. Find the Treasure – Online Book Forum, and then click on “The Signature of All Things”

We hope you join us and we look forward to hearing all your comments and feedback.

Book details as outlined on Amazon.com

A glorious, sweeping novel of desire, ambition, and the thirst for knowledge, from the # 1 New York Times bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed

In The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert returns to fiction, inserting her inimitable voice into an enthralling story of love, adventure and discovery. Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry’s brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father’s money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma’s research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction—into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist—but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who—born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution—bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert’s wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

 

 

Posted by on November 2, 2013 in Book Club, Historical Fiction

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Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of Wedding Night: 1 Treasure Box
Publisher: Random House Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 13 hours and 13 minutes (464 pages,) ASIN: B00CAZKFJ4

Lottie is convinced that the man she has been dating for four years is going to ask her to become his wife. Fliss, the older and wiser sister, is going through a divorce. However, things do not go as expected, so when Lottie ends up engaged to an old flame, someone she has not seen in fifteen years, Fliss does everything she can to stop the marriage from becoming official

Madeleine Wickham is the author of this book written under the pen name of Sophie Kinsella. She has written numerous books under this name, including the  Shopaholic novels.  Please see my other reviews at Sophie Kinsella reviews. All of these novels including Wedding Night are considered chick lit. The story is told in the first person narrative alternating between two sisters. 

Wedding Night combines and interweaves two story lines and is told in the alternating voice of these two sisters, showing their different perspectives.  I l

iked Lottie’s character, but I found Fliss annoying at times. The story had no suspense or sense of mystery and I knew after the first third of the book what was going to happen. I also found the story unrealistic and trying. Especially all the scenes concerning Lottie and Ben’s wedding night experience. Although I think the biggest flaw in the book was the lack of romance.

There were a few funny scenes in this book, but overall I found it rather lackluster and disappointing. I did finish the book, but I could only rate it as okay. Not good, not bad, just okay. Overall, I was disappointed because it was not what I had come to expect from this author.

To Purchase: “Wedding Night” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Chaperone: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (June 5, 2012), Hardcover: 384 pages, ISBN-10: 1594487014, ISBN-13: 978-1594487019

It’s 1922 and women have only recently received the right to vote, so when a young dancer has the opportunity to go to New York City to study her craft, she needs a chaperone. Cora Carlise, an unhappy, middle aged woman with a secret past, decides to accompany the girl. In the process she finds what she has been seeking all her life.

Ms. Moriarty has written several novels, but The Chaperone is her first book in the historical fiction genre, it is also a drama.  The story is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Cora Carlisle.

The character of Cora, a middle aged woman and the chaperone of a wild and troubled fifteen year old girl, was really well developed. I also liked how Ms. Moriarty tied in Louise Brooks, but I would have liked more insight into Louise’s character. The story was primarily about Cora and spanned over her entire life with details sprinkled in a non-linear fashion. This made the story more interesting because her upbringing and experiences were slowly revealed. Cora was my favourite character, at first I thought she was stuffy, yet she showed her true self right at the beginning when she convinced her friend that the KKK was to be avoided. I thought that she blossomed as the book unfolded. She had many hardships that she had to deal with, but she dealt well with everything that she faced. She seemed at times to be judgemental, but as the story progressed she softened up. The subject matter was surprising, because it touched on homosexuality as well as child molestation. The story was nothing like I was expecting, but it pulled me in from the beginning, and I was never really sure where it would lead.

There were several surprises as the story unfolded. I also found the facts about the orphan trains surprising as well as upsetting. To think of all those little children, in the first half of the century, just sent off without any consideration of the people who were picking them or what kind of lives they would have to lead. It also made me think about why there were so many orphans, but I guess the combination of the great wars, the influenza breakout, and the great depression, caused many children to be left without parents.

This book fell somewhere between good and really good, and I gave it a 2 Treasure Box rating although I enjoyed the book, I was not obsessed with it, and had no problem putting it down

Favorite Quotes:

“Show me a mother with that much thwarted ambition, and I’ll show you a daughter born for success” (page 111.)

I just thought that this was an interesting quote about Hollywood mothers.

“As young as Lousie was, she was a grown woman, a modern woman, smart and fearless of judgement, a lovely sparkle on the blade of her generation as it slashed at the old conventions” (page 302.)

I loved this sentence, I thought it beautifully written and I loved the idea of cutting away the old conventions, which oppressed women.

 

Question to consider: Was this book an accurate portrayal of women during the 1920s? For example, Cora was afraid to show her own husband affection for fear that he would think her forward.

 

To Purchase: “The Chaperone” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Winter of the World by Ken Follett

This entry is part 2 of 1 in the series The Century Trilogy
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of Winter of the World: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book Two of the Century Triology
Publisher: Penguin Audio, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 31 hours and 48 minute (818 pages,) ASIN: B009CMO4JU

Five different families living in separate countries are each trying to live with, and against, the fascism that seems to be gaining strength.  It is 1933 in Berlin and Hitler along with his Nazis regime are brutally taking over Germany. The Red Army is infiltrating Germany and working with citizens who despise Hitler’s tactics but are afraid to speak out.  This story follows the next generation of families from The Fall of Giants as the Second World War breaks out.

Ken Follet has written numerous novels in the suspense and historical fiction genres. His most famous work is Pillars of the Earth, which was produced as a mini-series in 2010. The Century Trilogy is a series that starts in 1911 and the first two books span both World Wars. The final book, with a working title of Edge of Eternity is not yet released but will conclude with the final events in the 20th century and it is expected to be released in late 2014. These books are historical fiction and follow the lives of five interrelated families. The stories are told in a third person narrative from different characters within each of the families.

Winter of the World gives a detailed description of the brutality of WW2, but it also shows how people can make a difference and can fight against injustice. It is an inspiring tale of integrity and shows the importance of making the right decision, rather than the easy one. The historical tale told through the eyes of the participants was fascinating and really well done. It covered the Spanish Revolution, the rise and fall of Nazism, several key events within the Second World War, even the threat of British Fascism, and the beginning of the cold war.

I enjoyed this story more than The Fall of Giants because the characters were already established and many of them grew and developed as the tale unfolded. I recommend this book as a very good read although I did find it a long book and at times it dragged a bit. I am looking forwarding to the release of the final book in the series. I am curious to see where Mr. Follett goes with the final installment of this trilogy.

 

To Purchase: “Winter of the World” from Amazon, click here or on picture above


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An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

This entry is part 7 of 4 in the series Outlander
Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of An Echo in the Bone: 1 treasure Box
Seventh Book in the Outlander Series
Publisher: Recorded Books, Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 45 hours and 58 minutes, ASIN: B002RCJ9LA

The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776 and Jamie Frazer is fighting on the side of the Rebels, but his son William is an English solder. Jamie’s greatest fear at the Battle of Sartoga, where they are both fighting on opposite sides, is that he will shoot his own son. An Echo in the Bone continues the adventures of Clare and Jamie Fraser and starts in 1776 in America. The book follows several separate storylines and moves between 1776 and 1980.

There are currently seven books in the Outlander series and book eight, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood is expected to be released in the fall of 2013. These books are all considered historical fiction, but they also include some of romance. The majority of the story is told in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, a English woman, Clare, who has time traveled over 200 years into the past. The story moves back and forth through time depending on the characters and at times is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of some of the other main characters including Jamie, Claire’s husband; Brianna, Claire’s daughter; Roger, Brianna’s husband; and William, Jamie’s son.

There are three plotlines running simultaneously in 1776, one revolves around Clare, Jamie and Ian as they deal with the repercussions of the American Revolution; another follows Lord John, and his stepson, William, who also happens to be Jamie’s secret illegitimate son; another follows a couple of new characters, the Quaker Doctor Denzell Hunter and his pretty sister Rachel. When the story moves to the 1980s, it revolves around Brianna, Roger and their two small children who all live in Lallybrock, Scotland.

The book was really slow, particularly the first half and spent far too much time on Sir John and William. I found all the prose concerning Sir John rather boring, as well as the first half of the book when William was on his own. I enjoyed the scenes with Claire and Jamie as well as everything that occurred in present day. I also liked the new characters who were introduced, the Hunters. Not much really occurred to more the plot forward, but I am curious to find out what will happen to Brianna and her family.

Additionally, the book did not have an ending, did not have a cliff hanger, it just stopped in the middle of the tale. I had a hard time trying to decide if it should be an OK book or a good book, but for me it fell closer to OK than it did to good. The book was too long and did not have a proper ending.

To Purchase: “An Echo in the Bone” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Valley of the Horses by Jean M. Auel

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Earth's Children

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book 2 of the Earth’s Children Series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Listening Length: 21 hours and 46 minutes (592 pages), ASIN: B001AYHPH6

Ayla has been cursed by The Clan, she has been forced to leave the only family she has ever known to go out on her own. She is a young Cro-Magnon woman who was raised by Neanderthals but is now searching for her birth people. All alone, she survives through the use of her wits and her hunting abilities. She finds a sheltered valley which she calls home and where she plans to stay through the winter.  Meanwhile Jondalar and his brother, two new Cro-Magnon characters, have journeyed for several years from the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii, meeting people and having adventures.  This novel follows both of these separate story lines following them on their journeys.

The Valley of Horses is the second of six books in the Earth Children’s series. This is a fictional story that takes place at the dawn of time, over 30,000 years ago and examines the practical and spiritual life of Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons. Ms. Auel has done extensive research on this time period and her books have a wonderful historical quality. The story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator centering primarily on Ayla, but at times also on Jondalar.

Ayla’s journey is well told and interesting.  I really enjoyed the relationship she developed with the wild animals. The details of life during this time period is interesting and the personal interactions of each of these people as they deal with the challenges that they must face was at times heart wrenching but also heart-warming. The concept of prejudice was introduced and continues as a thread throughout the story.

This is a standalone story that alternates between Ayla and Jondalar as they move closer to each other. It continues Ayla’s story as it shows what life was like at the end of the ice age. I recommend this book as a very good read.

To Purchase: “The Valley of Horses” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Earth's Children

Book Review: 4 Treasure Boxes
Book 1 of the Earth’s Children Series
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Listening Length: 19 hours and 36 minutes (512 pages), ASIN: B001AWVRX6

An earthquake during the Ice Age separates a little girl, Ayla, from her family. This same earthquake destroys the home of The Clan of the Cave Bear. While the clan is looking for a new home they find the little girl, who is hurt and dying.  They decide to adopt Ayla even if she is one of the “others” and different from themselves.  This is Ayla’s story as she grows up within her new family.

Clan of the Cave Bear is the first of six books in the Earth Children’s series. This is a fictional story that takes place at the dawn of time, over 30,000 years ago and examines the life of The Clan. They are Neanderthals at the twilight of their existence. The series also explores life with Cro-Magnons, the first early modern humans. Ms. Auel has done extensive research on this time period and her books have a wonderful historical quality. The story is told by a third-person omniscient narrator centering primarily on the main protagonist, Ayla, a young Cro-Magnon woman who is adopted and raised by The Clan.

I first read this book many years ago and I enjoyed it as much today as I did then. The pre-historic setting is well drawn. The characters are all thoroughly developed and the reader really gets to know what life was like living in the clan. The theme is one of community, family, love and belonging. Ayla must repress who she really is in order to exist within the confines of their society. Without the safety and security of the clan she would surely die, besides this, she also deeply loves these people who have become her family. The ending is sad but satisfying.

This is a standalone story, ending at a turning point in Ayla’s life. It also ends with a beginning, Ayla’s story will continue on in a completely different direction in The Valley of the Horses, the next book in the series. I highly recommend this book  it is excellent, well told and very interesting.

 

 

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Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Outlander

Book Review: 4 Treasure Boxes
Third Book in the Outlander Series
Publisher: Dell; First Edition edition (October 1, 1994), Paperback: 1072 pages, ISBN-10: 0440217563, ISBN-13: 978-0440217565


I loved this book, it is truly a romantic tale. Since it was revealed at the end of the last book that Jamie could still be alive in the past, the beginning of the book  goes back and forth between the present and the past showing what both Claire and Jamie are up to.  Claire has a hard decision to make, leave her daughter and attempt to find Jamie or stay with Brianna.

There are currently seven books in the Outlander series and book eight is expected early in 2013. These books are all considerate historical fiction, but they also include plenty of romance.  The story is told in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, a English woman, Clare, who has time traveled in Scotland to just over 200 years into the past.

Needless to say, she decides to attempt to go back and find Jamie and due to research she is fairly certain where to find him.  It is a very brave thing for her to do since it has been 22 years since she last saw him and anything could have happened in that time. It is really touching the nervousness she has when they first meet again.  I could really relate to Claire’s insecurities surrounding this event.

There are many touching scenes between the two as well as some sexy ones as well.  The story moves around over the globe covering many advertures by the couple and with trouble following Jamie around it leaves room for lots of excitement. We learn more about how the stones work and there is some interesting parts concerning mystism.  Claire is also a doctor now which makes her ability to help people in the past even greater than in the first book.

The ending is quite thrilling with an interesting twist that leaves you wanting more.

To Purchase: “Voyager” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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