I recently got a Goodreads account and for the first time I’m taking part in the yearly reading resolution. I’m hoping it will motivate me to stay on track. My first read of 2018 was Girl on the Golden Coin: A Novel of Frances Stuart by Marci Jefferson. Marci is the same author who wrote The Enchantress of Paris, one of my favorite historical reads of 2017. Once again Jefferson didn’t disappoint and I can’t wait to see what her third novel will be about. I loved this book and I give it 4.5 stars. First up, the plot. There are some big spoilers about the story in this post, so don’t read if you want the book to be a total surprise.
Impoverished and exiled to the French countryside after the overthrow of the English Crown, Frances Stuart survives merely by her blood-relation to the Stuart Royals. But in 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and springs to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches King Louis XIV’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty, she has Stuart secrets to keep and people to protect. The king turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He banishes her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and stop a war.
Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers through the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him. He believes her love can make him an honest man and even chooses Frances to pose as Britannia for England’s coins. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. Until she is forced to choose between love or war.
On the eve of England’s Glorious Revolution, James II forces Frances to decide whether to remain loyal to her Stuart heritage or, like England, make her stand for Liberty. Her portrait as Britannia is minted on every copper coin. There she remains for generations, an enduring symbol of Britain’s independent spirit and her own struggle for freedom. Continue reading
The Wardrobe Mistress is a historical fiction about a sixteen-year-old undertirewoman who works for Marie Antoinette. I was excited about the concept since this period of French history is fascinating with how it’s full of intrigue and excitement. I mean come on, there are riots, guillotines, and sweeping historical change. This wasn’t one of my favorite historical reads of the year, but it was decent. I’d give this 3.5 stars and recommend it to fans of French Revolution stories. Below I will explain what didn’t work in this book for me. However, after reading this book I’m thirsting for more stories about the time period, so give me recommendations if you have any. Continue reading
I love historical fiction and history, and of course I love to recommend books about some of my favorite topics including early American history. For those who don’t enjoy history, don’t worry I’ll eventually do the same on non-historical topics, but today it’s time to learn about English captives in early colonial America. Have I ever mentioned I love survival stories? Because I do!
During colonial America the tension often threatened to destroy the delicate peace between the English in New England and the Native Americans. Tensions continued to mount as Native Americans lost lands and died from disease brought over by the English not to mention the English attacks against natives. These tensions led to King Philip’s War in 1675, a war led by a Wampanoag sachem named Metacom, or Philip as named by the English. During the war 12 towns were destroyed including Lancaster. The raid on Lancaster led to the famous written account of Mary Rowlandson about the raid and her time spent in Native captivity. Continue reading
I got in the mood for historical fiction this year after devouring a bunch of fantasy last year and read one historical after another. I discovered I read a lot of books based on real women, which seems to be one of my favorite topics in historical fiction. With how many books I read, I decided to do a roundup of my top five favorite historical reads this year. Most of these have been published in the last few years and many of the authors have written other historical books, so if you like a book by one of them do yourself a favor and see what else they have.
Now here is the list in no particular order. I chose the books that sucked me in from the first chapter with stories that fascinated me. Below you will find fascinating stories with great voices that are often based on real historical women. Continue reading
Anne Boleyn is a popular figure in Tudor historical fiction and it’s easy to see why with all the drama surrounding her. Anne’s story began as a love story for the ages only to end with her tragic execution. Anne was the commoner who seduced King Henry VIII, a king willing to break from the Catholic Church to have her. More than that, she ended up being the first queen arrested and executed in Britain, a dark ending for a queen who chose “The Most Happy” as her motto.
Anne was the second of King Henry’s six wives. Before her came Queen Katherine of Aragon who never provided the king with an heir, a huge failure for a king who needed to ensure the safety of his line. By the time Anne appeared at court, it was clear there would be no heir from Katherine. At first Henry only wanted Anne as his mistress, but she hailed from a cunning line and in the true fashion of her family, used Henry’s desire for her and an heir to become queen. Anne and Katherine became rivals for the throne and Katherine held tight to her position as queen even after Henry banished her from court. Since the Catholic Church refused to grant Henry a divorce so he could marry Anne, he broke away from the Catholic Church and made himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England. Continue reading
Over the weekend I read a historical that I got sucked into and couldn’t put down. Flight of the Sparrow is by Amy Belding Brown and I give it four stars out of five.
Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1676. Even before Mary Rowlandson was captured by Indians on a winter day of violence and terror, she sometimes found herself in conflict with her rigid Puritan community. Now, her home destroyed, her children lost to her, she has been sold into the service of a powerful woman tribal leader, made a pawn in the ongoing bloody struggle between English settlers and native people. Battling cold, hunger, and exhaustion, Mary witnesses harrowing brutality but also unexpected kindness. To her confused surprise, she is drawn to her captors’ open and straightforward way of life, a feeling further complicated by her attraction to a generous, protective English-speaking native known as James Printer. All her life, Mary has been taught to fear God, submit to her husband, and abhor Indians. Now, having lived on the other side of the forest, she begins to question the edicts that have guided her, torn between the life she knew and the wisdom the natives have shown her.
Based on the compelling true narrative of Mary Rowlandson, Flight of the Sparrow is an evocative tale that transports the reader to a little-known time in early America and explores the real meanings of freedom, faith, and acceptance.