The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin is a historical fiction novel that explores the private life of Charles and Anne Lindbergh in their very public environment. Anne and Charles meet shortly after he completes his first solo flight across the Atlantic. It doesn’t take long for the two to be swept up in their love for each other and begin their headlining marriage. Anne quickly becomes the first female to carry a pilots license and becomes Charles co-pilot. However, all of her success never brings her out of the shadows of her husband. The two face many hardships over the years including the kidnapping of their son and the public’s dislike of Charles because of his view towards Germany. Despite everything, Anne always kept her adventuring spirit and continued to chase her dreams.
I really liked this book and I learned so much about this famous couple. They were constantly being hounded by the press and having their every move scrutinized. I can’t imagine the strain that would put on a marriage. However, Anne was incredibly strong in an era when women were not considered to be. She never let anything stop her. This is a great book for anyone who loves historical fiction or needs a good read for their book club. After finishing this book I realize that I want to know even more about Anne, so now I am reading War Within and Without: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and I am planning to read Gift From the Sea (By Anne Morrow Lindbergh).
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure is a fascinating historical fiction novel set in Paris during World War II. Overrun by German soldiers, the citizens of Paris are left distraught. Architect Lucien Bernard is asked to design factories for the Germans and persuaded to start building secret nooks inside the walls of houses for people to hide. To some he is a traitor and to some a hero. His new, rather lucrative albeit dangerous career is never as simple as one hopes and soon Lucien finds himself forced to make life altering decisions that will forever change the person that he is.
It was intriguing to read about Paris during WWII and how the people felt while being occupied. Most people are fighting to survive and yet there are others who are so consumed with greed that it astounded me. The Paris citizens were faced with cruelty on a daily bases from both Germans and other Frenchmen. The were forced to decide to either help others to survive or turn a blind eye. The intense look at humanity was both heartbreaking and joyful. Written by an architect this book was clearly a nod to design and building, but also a wonderful book on the human condition.
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is her second historical novel that has easily became a favorite read of mine. This book chronicles the unconventional love affair of the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. Fanny has left her old life in the states behind and has traveled with her children to Belgium. After suffering a tragedy Fanny finds herself in France where she meets the charming Scot. Before long she finds herself wrapped up in an exciting and adventurous love affair that takes them across the world and eventually to owning a large farm in the South Pacific.
The two lead such a courageous life that was fascinating to read about. They had amazing adventures together on chartered yachts traveling all over the seas. Horan captured the spirit of these historical figures so well. I loved that Fanny was such a determined woman who let nothing stop her, whether it be taking care of Louis when he was frequently ill or running the entire 400 acre farm in Samoa. She was a force to not take lightly.
Robert Louis Stevenson was the author of classics including Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and many others. This was such an amazing story that now I want to read all of his books!
Pre-order your copy today. (Book will be available January 21st)
JoJo Moyes The Last Letter From Your Lover was amazing! I typically don’t read books set in the 1960’s but I decided to give this one a try, and I am so happy I did. Jennifer Sterling wakes up in hospital with no memory of who she is or how she came to be injured. She is soon released to go to a home she does not remember and live with a husband she does not know. Deciding to get reacquainted with her old life, Jennifer starts to go through each room in hopes of sparking a memory. Her memories are slow to resurface, but she does discover old love letters sent to her from a man who only goes by the letter “B”. In 2003, Ellie also stumbles across mysterious love letters that she believes originated around the 1960’s. Fueled by the beautiful words and incredible emotions being portrayed, she decides to track down the owner and find out what happened between the two. Did they get their happily ever after?
Moyes wrote an incredible story. Her language is so elegant and beautiful that I found it easy to get lost in the pages. She portrayed the morals and culture of the time period perfectly. I felt instantly transported back in time to a generation that views the world quite differently; women are only beginning to enter the working world and the thought of divorce is non-existent. I really enjoyed the way Moyes told the story. She started the book in the present time for Jennifer but would go back a few months to tell the reader the events leading up to the accident. It was such a fun way to learn about this passionate love story. I thought I would be annoyed when the time suddenly changes to 2003 and involves all new characters, but I was pleasantly surprised by how clever this technique was in learning about what happened between Jennifer and Anthony. This is a great love story with fantastic characters-perfect for any historical or contemporary fiction reader.
Alison Weir’s A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secrets of the Tower is an absorbing historical novel that explores the entwining lives of Kate Plantagenet and Katherine Grey. At first glance, you wouldn’t think the two have much in common other than living in dangerous and scheming times. Kate’s father is Richard III, the infamous king who usurped his nephew for the throne and possibly murdered both of his nephews in the famous London Tower. Katherine’s sister was Jane Grey who snatched the throne from Mary Tudor after the death of Edward VI and was queen for eight days. This means that almost a hundred years separate the girls lives, but both begin to question the deaths of princes in the tower and their fickle monarchs’ rule.
Weir is one of the best historical writers. She does such meticulous research for both her fiction and non-fiction and it really shows in her writing. I never wonder if things are true when reading her fiction because I know she is constantly researching and writing history texts as well. However, I do love it when she gives her own flare to history by writing historical fiction. Her descriptions are so picturesque and detailed that I instantly feel transported back in time. I really loved this novel, but would suggest that you read a few other Tudor and War of the Roses books before reading this book. If you are not familiar with the “big players” of each of the time periods you might find yourself, at times, confused with who is talking and what the overall plot is for that character. That being said, this is a great companion novel to Weir’s past work Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey. It was fun to read Katherine’s story after hearing Jane’s. As always, I am sad to finish her book and can’t wait for her next one.
Michelle Moran’s newest novel The Second Empress: A Novel of Napoleon’s Court was an enchanting tale of madness and corruption found in Napoleon’s court. Napoleon has pulled himself up from being a boy living on the small island of Corsica to being, at least in his mind, the next Alexander the Great. He took control of France, took countless artifacts from his wars in Egypt, and is now setting his sights on the rest of Europe. Marie-Louise, or Maria-Louisa to her family, has been forced to marry Napoleon or else put her entire country of Austria at war. Napoleon is anxious for an heir and has cast aside his wife Josephine hoping to have children with his next wife. Marie-Louise has royal blood that goes back centuries. Royal blood is what Napoleon craves but lacks and he believes his heirs with her royal blood will be unstoppable . Life is not easy in Napoleon’s court because no one knows what will anger him and his favorite sister is a constant rival for his attention.
This was an incredible book. I loved that it was told from three perspectives, Marie-Louise, Pauline and Paul, Pauline’s chamberlain. Having the multiple views really lets the reader see how the court works and the manipulations involved in daily life. Moran did such a great job of giving her novel a historic feel with her language and descriptions. It was so easy to picture France and the beauty as well as the turmoil of living under an unstable tyrant ruler. This is a great read for any fan of historical fiction.