Book Review: On A Cold Dark Sea

On A Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell is about three women who were aboard the Titanic. No Jack and Rose here, so no need to debate if they could have both fit on their makeshift raft, but there is still a touch of tragic romance. Honestly that movie scared me away from boats for a while as a kid and to this day I refuse to watch the movie again because watching the Titanic sink makes me sob my eyes out and gives me nightmares about being on a sinking ship. But back to the book, I give it four stars. While there are romantic elements on it, the story focuses more on the human element and how the tragedy impacted the lives of survivors and not the excitement of the sinking.

This book is about three women from varying backgrounds and social standings: Charlotte, Esme, and Anna. The book shows us snippets of their life before boarding the Titanic, their time aboard, and how they fared after surviving including coming to terms with those they lost in the sinking. This makes it easy to see the big picture and the impact the tragedy had on their lives and in some cases, how it changed the course of their lives. The actual sinking of the ship itself gets little screen time, which is unfortunate for those of us interested in it, but it also keeps the sinking from taking up too much of the book. The blurb for the book does a great job of describing the story perfectly. Continue reading “Book Review: On A Cold Dark Sea”

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Book Review: The Traitor’s Wife

I recently read The Traitors’ Wife by Allison Pataki. I mentioned this book in my previous post about observers in historical fiction, but I’m going to cover the overall story in deeper detail. I give this book a 3.5, mostly due to the issue mentioned in my previous post, which I’ll explore again. This is a read intended for those interested in the American Revolution and the women involved. We often hear of men like George Washington and Benedict Arnold, but less often we hear about their wives, the women who helped support their causes. The Traitor’s Wife follows the story of Peggy, Benedict Arnold’s wife.

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Peggy is not a character you want to root for, quite the opposite. But that works well in this story since otherwise the ending would be tragic instead of satisfying. It’s not often I see a main character who I dislike but want to keep reading about. Peggy is a fascinating woman as is her sly plotting. This book gave me a whole new perspective on her, albeit a negative one. The book also gave some insight into Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War as it changed between British and American hands. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers about Peggy, but she was if anything a stubborn woman set on getting her way, making for a great villain. Continue reading “Book Review: The Traitor’s Wife”

Historical Fiction About King Louis XIV

Time for some historical fiction recommendations. The topic we are focusing on today is fiction surrounding King Louis XIV of France, also known as the Sun King. Louis is a fascinating historical figure. He’s the king who built Versailles and turned France into a fashion leader as well as many other achievements. There’s even a show called Versailles that can be found on Netflix about him. Behind every king is sweet juicy drama and with Louis the drama came from all his mistresses. He had several including taking an interest in his sister-in-law for a time. The books I’m recommending focus on his mistresses.

The portrayal of Louis is a little different in each book. Some take the stance that he truly loved his mistresses, while others not so much. Even in nonfiction historians debate on how much he loved the women in his life. At times he comes across as quite the romantic character while at other times it can be easy to hate him with how he treated some of his mistresses.

Continue reading “Historical Fiction About King Louis XIV”

Girl on the Golden Coin – Book Review

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.

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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 “Girl on the Golden Coin – Book Review”

Review: The Wardrobe Mistress

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 “Review: The Wardrobe Mistress”

Colonial Historical Fiction: English Taken Captive

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 “Colonial Historical Fiction: English Taken Captive”

Historical Fiction Roundup 2017

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 “Historical Fiction Roundup 2017”