All posts tagged "historical fiction"

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Outlander Series

book coverOn August 9, Starz cable TV station premiered the first installment of the Outlander Series.  The production is sure to create a lot of excitement about Diana Gabaldon's beloved and addictive Outlander Series :  a collection of eight books chronicling the adventures of World War II nurse Claire Randall who travels back in time to the 18th Century Scottish Highlands.  Start with book number one: Outlander, which begins the time travel adventure.  It is post WWII and while on a vacation trip to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Claire touches a stone in a mystical stone circle and suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  Romance and adventure follow.  Here are the eight titles, in chronological order,  in the Outlander Series:


Dragonfly in ambervoyagerdrums of autumnthe fiery crossa breatj pf smpw amd asjesan echo in the bonewritten in my own heart's blood

Author Wendy Duong Presents "Mimi and Her Mirror"

Mimi and Her MirrorJoin us in an evening of literature and music with Ms. Wendy Duong, author of Mimi and Her Mirror, on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm, at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library – Room 255/257.


The program includes literary reading, poetry recital, and a performance of Ca Trù, a form of Vietnamese classical singing.


Mimi and Her Mirror, winner of the 2012 International Book Award in Multiculturalism category, contains an epic story about a family's escape from Saigon in 1975 during the Communist siege. Written in flash-back/stream of consciousness style, the story follows the life of the female protagonist Mimi, from the moment she entered Tan Son Nhat airport to the celebration of her 40th birthday in America. 


Check out other books by Wendy Duong (aka Duong Nhu Nguyen, Uyen Nicole Duong).

Paris: the Novel

Book CoverParis: the Novel written by bestselling author Edward Rutherfurd is historical fiction at its best.  Readers will be swept up in this dramatic saga of fictional and real characters set against  the backdrop of the history of France and its glorious City of Light: Paris.  Covering 700 years of French history, Rutherford never makes the reading journey boring.  Intrigue, romance, danger, loyalties and betrayals move the absorbing narrative along.  The real bonus is the incredible amount of  well researched and fascinating historical information about France and Paris that the author manages to imbed in his writing.  Versailles, Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Kings, Crusades, French Revolution, Belle Époque, Impressionists, First and Second World Wars, Nazi occupation…. and much more form the settings of the fictional story lines. Rutherfurd’s writing style is similar to author James Michener’s historical fiction  because  the reader learns centuries of history while being thoroughly engaged in a fictional plot .  Paris: the Novel is a wonderful way to take a trip back in time to visit and understand one of the most interesting and beautiful cities in the world. 

Girl With a Pearl Earring at de Young Museum

book coverFrom January 26 – June 2, 2013 art lovers will be able to view Johannes Vermeer’s celebrated masterpiece Girl with a Pearl Earring at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.   Girl with a Pearl Earring is part of an exhibition of 35 Dutch paintings on loan from the Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis, The Hague.  This exhibition will be touring the United States and the de Young Museum in San Francisco is its very first venue.  Several years ago Author Tracy Chevalier wrote the bestselling historical fiction book Girl With a Pearl Earring.  In her book Chevalier details the life of Vermeer as an artist and explores what might have been behind his captivating painting of a young girl wearing a turban and a pearl earring.  The success of Chevalier's book inspired the film Girl With a Pearl Earring starring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth.

The Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

With cover of book The Cloud Atlasthe arrival of the film version of Cloud Atlas, there's sure to be increased interest in the 2004 novel by David Mitchell on which the film is based. From my perspective, that's great - this novel should be reintroduced, so that readers who have not yet delved into the extravagant prose and complexity of plot and language of this extraordinary story can experience a truly original work of literature.

I've heard that the novel can be compared in structure to a Russian matryoshka doll: opened in layers until the center piece is reached, then reassembled  piece by piece to form the whole.


And the novel's structure does have that kind of symmetry. The novel is the clever blending of six novellas, wildly divergent in setting and tone, but with a common thread that emerges at crucial junctures in each story. The first is the story of a nineteenth century American, Adam Ewing,  whose innocence and faith in humanity is tested on a voyage through the south Pacific. The subsequent tales are set in Belgium in the 1930s, California in the 1970s, present-day Britain, Korea of the future (the 23rd century?), and, at the book's center, a post-apocalyptic Hawaii where civilization is reduced to a few small agricultural tribes surviving in one of the few areas of the world that has not be made uninhabitable by pollution and the depletion of natural resources. After this central piece, the other stories unfold in reverse order until we finally return to the nineteenth century and discover the fate of the Adam in the middle of the Pacific.


If you want a challenging read with beautiful prose and a timeless theme of hope in the midst of man's inhumanity to man, I recommend Cloud Atlas: Available in print, and as an e-book from San José Public Library.


View the trailer for the film

2011 Newberry Award Winner: Moon Over Manifest

Moon OVer Manifest coverMoon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool, is the story of a young twelve year old, Abilene, who is sent to live with her father's friend in Manifest, a small lazy town in Kansas.  She feels abandoned by the father she loves and is at loss for why he would do this.  She only knows that her father had changed after her sickness, when she had an accident and her leg became infected.  So, now, alone, in Manifest, the town where her father considers home, Abilene is trying to sort our her father's past and his identity and her own destiny.  Through the course of a summer, she discovers Manifest's history, her father's history, and her own place in Manifest's destiny.


A Newberry Award Winner for 2011, Moon Over Manifest is, in my opinion, a simply wonderful book, but I would not recommend it for everyone, because its narrative is sophisticated and complex with three threads which the author skillfully weaves to reveal a narrative which is a colorful depiction of life in small town Kansas.  This book is a book for a good reader, probably a girl, and for someone around 6th or 7th grade because the main character is young, but the scope of the story is big and the narrative complex. 

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