Archive for the ‘Historical Fiction’ Category

Pope Joan

pope joan“Pope Joan” by Donna Woolfolk Cross tells the story of a woman in the 850s who could possibly be the only woman pope the Catholic Church has seen.  The possibility of a woman in such a position is seemingly unlikely however still a possibility based upon all of the tales told through the times.

Joan is born to a religious father and Saxon mother.  She is the yougnest child with two older brothers who are expected to learn and follow in their father’s footsteps.  Her oldest brother encouraged her love of learning by teaching her to read.  After he died, she continued to read and write and is tutored until a bishop from another town requests her presence in their school.  Her father immediately dismisses the idea and sends her brother instead.  So begins the journey Joan takes until she ultimately becomes the Pope.

This story follows her from the day of her birth through her childhood and the events that lead to Joan becoming John Anglicus and living the life of a man of religion.  She loves learning and questions the injustices of the world.  Her story is interesting and an incredible example of the possibilities for someone willing to fight for what they believe in.

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The Power of One

41vntzdbflFrom the first page, the reader is drawn into Peekay’s story.  Written with the innocence of a child when he is first learning of the very adult issues of German National Socialism and Apartheid, it seems like this one boy will be able to change the entire world, or at least all of South Africa.  Even when he gets older, the story remains uplifting despite the bad luck that continuously befalls him.  The power of one is a theme that is so strongly woven into the story that at times it becomes impossible to actually apply it to real life; however, the story is always good, always motivational, and always a page-turner.  The writing style will make you want to keep reading more and the 500 pages will fly by with joy.  There are few books that I actually enjoy reading every page of (especially when they are long) and I did not get the anxious feeling of wanting to finish the book at any point.  The actual story deals with Apartheid in South Africa, but more than that, it shows the power of one person being able to influence thousands of people around him purely through example and the power of the spirit.

Thunderstruck

thunderstruck“Thunderstruck” proved to be yet another good read by Erik Larson.  Last year, I read “Devil in the White City” and loved it so, when I saw this on the shelf I didn’t think twice about picking it up and reading it.

“Thunderstruck,” as in his previous works tells an intertwined tale of what is technically historical fiction but based fairly accurately on actual events.  This story told of a murder and the development of wireless communication in the early 1900’s.  These seemingly unrelated events come together in the end.  Larson does an excellent job of tying together events with dramatic stories coinciding holding my interest from the first page until the end.

I was not at all familiar with Marconi and his contributions to wireless communication and being the nerd that I am was immediately drawn to the technological developments he contributed to the scientific community.  I was also unaware of the Crippen murder in London and reading this story brought me in to quite a few pop culture references that I was previously clueless about.

Overall, a very interesting story and a very quick and easy read for anyone.

Sarah’s Key

51vc-l5es1l_sl500_I got this book for Christmas (mainly because it has my name in the title, I think…or at least that determined which daughter it went to) and when I read the back cover I was a little bit skeptical because it mentions the main character finding romance in the midst of her research of the Holocaust in France.  Seems unlikely.  However, I was pleasantly surprised and really pulled into the story.  The point of view switches back and forth every chapter in between the story of the American reporter researching the Vel d’Hiv roundup in 1942 and a little girl’s personal story of being taken with her family by the French police.  Once their stories catch up with each other, it switches to just the story of the reporter.  It was interesting and at least loosely based on actual historical events.  Albeit ones that I had never heard of and I would imagine most Americans haven’t.  Towards the end of the book, the story gets a little weak but by that time i was already interested in the characters so it wasn’t hard to finish.  It’s an easy read with short chapters but you won’t find yourself stopping at every chapter for a break like most books.