This historical novel by Jennifer Chiaverini (Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker), tell the story of Elizabeth Van Lew, a young well to do lady of Richmond, Virginia during the turbulent Civil War. This historical figure risked her life as a Union sympathizer to pass information to Northern forces and offer aid and comfort to the wounded Union prisoners of war that lived in deplorable conditions. The author deftly tells her story and offers readers a fascinating portrait of this amazing woman. She was so well regarded by the North that when she died destitute in 1900, Massachusetts admirers arraigned for a boulder from the grounds of the Massachusetts State House to be shipped to Richmond to serve as her headstone.
Category Archives: literary
by Therese Anne Fowler This is a fascinating work of fiction that brings the mysterious and enigmatic Zelda Fitzgerald to life and fleshed out a personality previously portrayed as crazy and shrewish. Zelda had talents and dreams of her own but was unable to make a name for herself as hers were always subjugated by those of her husband F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his fragile ego feared anyone’s success over his. The author drew from archived letters from and to both F. Scott and Zelda to create this vivid and fascinating portrait.
by Joanna Hershon
A sweeping novel of the lives of two very different men, in background and temperament, who meet as students at Harvard in the early 1960’s. Bold and outspoken Ed Cantowitz is from working class Dorchester and strives to climb the economic and social ladder. Hugh Shipley on the other hand is from a wealthy Boston family, already perched at the top of his social class, he is a budding photographer with a penchant for whisky. Their paths converge and then part as the choices each of them make take unexpected tolls on each of their lives. Love, family, tragedy and social class distinction converge in a series of twists of fate in this lush novel.
Trudy is a young woman who leaves a comfortable life with her by her parents in Wisconsin in order to marry the man she loves, not the match long expected. She leaves everything she’s ever known to tend a secluded lighthouse on the California coast with her new husband, whom she barely knows. They work with and for the Crawley’s, a family who have kept the lighthouse for years.
As Trudy discovers a whole new world offered up by the sea, she becomes fascinated by the creatures that inhabit it, having been raised land-locked, it is a whole new world to explore. A beloved teacher had previously unlocked her curiosity in the natural world and she begins to draw the creatures and study them.
Slowly she discovers the secrets bound within the Crawley family, and within a dark cavern beside the sea. I loved this book, and found the exploration of natural history in the 1910’s particularly fascinating. It really rips along towards the end as a secret is revealed and the characters true natures are exposed.
Melanie Benjamin is one of my favorite author’s and one I love to recommend others to discover. Her newest, The Aviator’s Wife is even a step up from her previous work. In this work of fiction she imagines the inner (and public) life of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the daughter of an ambassador who is swept off her feet by the dashing young aviator, Charles Lindbergh, who is at the beginning of his career. Her marriage to the difficult Lindbergh, the tragedy of their baby’s kidnapping, and her care of him at the end of his life are all chronicled in a thoughtful and poignant way. I felt as if I finally ‘knew’ Anne, and had to keep reminding myself that this is a work of fiction. Ms. Benjamin was respectful of the Lindbergh families’ privacy and due respect, while engaging us thoroughly in the inner life of an amazing woman in her own right. I thoroughly recommend this novel.
This is a poignant tale of an older retired Englishman who embarks on a 600 mile walk across England after receiving a letter from Queenie Hennessy, a long ago co-worker, telling him she is dying. His marriage has become lifeless, his wife carps on him regarding how he butters his toast every morning. So after writing Queenie a letter, he goes out to post it and simply keeps walking, in the belief that as long as he does, Queenie will hang on till he gets there. Beautifully written, this novel prompts the reader to examine their own life and the choices we make.