Tag Archives: historical fiction

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

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I absolutely love reading reworks of the classics told from an alternate point of view, and “Mr. Rochester” definitely caught my attention. “Jane Eyre” is one of my absolute favorites and Mr. Rochester ranks right up there with Mr. Darcy as far as I am concerned. “Mr. Rochester” is an imagining of the life of Edward Rochester, from his days as a young boy in boarding school, to his formative years as a young man learning the business world at a mill, to his time in Jamaica running his father’s sugar plantation. I love how Ms. Shoemaker was able to weave in what we know about the Rochester family, his turbulent love/hate relationship with Bertha, and his caring for Adele into his backstory leading up to the arrival of his dear Jane at Thornfield Hall. It was faithful to the tone of “Jane Eyre” and beautifully told, helping us to understand a bit more why Mr. Rochester had so many rough edges that only Jane could smooth down.

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

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Special thanks to William Morrow for providing me an Advance Reader’s copy of this novel.

I adore historical fiction, especially during World War II, so when I received this in the mail, I was extremely excited to get a first look at it. It offers a female perspective of World War II which I highly enjoyed. “The Women in the Castle” tells the story of three very unique women, Marianne, Benita, and Ania, who are all deeply affected not only by the war raging around them, but by the losses of their husbands during it. Each woman approaches her struggle in different ways. Marianne looks for the deeper meaning of her husband’s sacrifice and tries to carry on his good work as the war ends and Germany rebuilds. Benita is desperately searching for love that she feels has been denied to her. And Ania keeps everything close to the cuff, until one day her secrets come raining down on her.

The powerful message of this book highlights the bonds of female friendship along with the shared sadness, loss and strength that woman of this time lived through. The ability of these three woman to create their own extended family in the aftermath of the war and keep each other safe was extremely uplifting when the overall tone of Germany at that time was one of defeat.

This novel had five parts and I was so pleased to see that the final part left me with the closure I needed. Seeing each of these women’s stories come full circle in so many ways left me extremely satisfied with the ending and in understanding the effect that they all had on each other and their individual families. For lovers of historical fiction, this one cannot be missed!

Mad Miss Mimic by Sarah Henstra

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This is well executed historical fiction from a YA perspective.  If you love Jane Austen, the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, or Ruta Sepetys, you will definitely want to try this book.  A very smart young lady named Leonora, or Leo for short, struggles with a terrible stammer that causes her to compensate by becoming a spot-on mimic of other people’s voices.  Charmed by a seemingly handsome, rich and good Lord, Leo gets swept up into an opium plot that threatens to literally blow up London.  Suspenseful, fast paced, and action packed, this book was a lot of fun to read and kept me guessing, as well as hoping that Leo would find her happily every after.

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

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Marie Benedict takes a woman who many consider a footnote in history as Einstein’s first wife, and creates excellent historical fiction.  A gifted physicist in her own right, was Mileva Maric more of an influence and collaborator with Einstein on his theory of relativity than we know her to be?  Mileva meets Albert Einstein in school where she is the only female physics student.  Her dream is to be a physics professor and she knows the only way to accomplish this is to study hard and don’t allow herself to get romantically attached to anyone.  However, Einstein’s charm and personality woos her onto a completely different role and path – wife and mother.

Benedict masterfully weaves location, facts and science into her supposition about the true talents and gifts of Mileva Einstein. She perfectly captures the time and setting that accurately treated women as secondary in both intelligence and status to their male counterparts.  And she truly built a well rounded character in Mileva, a woman conflicted with love of career and science, but also an emotional one who loves Albert and their children with every ounce of her soul.  One must wonder if Mileva hadn’t fallen under the spell of Albert Einstein, would we would today be discussing Maric’s Theory of Relativity?