Tag: Historical Fiction

Short Story Sunday: This Telling by Cheryl Strayed

This Telling
Series: Out of Line Collection
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Narrator: Kristen Bell
Published: September 1, 2020
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: March 29, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Short Story Description:

A genealogy test sparks a woman’s reflection on the two accounts of her life—the real one and the one she’s always told the world—in this poignant short story by Cheryl Strayed, the bestselling author of Wild.

In 1964 teenage Geraldine Waters was sent away by her parents to an unwed mothers’ home, where she gave up her newborn for adoption. Ever since, she’s lived an alternative narrative. Decades later, it’s time for Geraldine to reconcile the telling of her life, to finally grieve, and to discover what happened to that part of her past that slipped away.

Cheryl Strayed’s This Telling is part of Out of Line, an incisive collection of funny, enraging, and hopeful stories of women’s empowerment and escape. Each piece can be read or listened to in a single thought-provoking sitting.

Jessica’s Review:

This short story was all that I thought it would be.  Taking place in 1964 when women were heavily shamed for pregnancy outside of marriage, we have Geraldine’s story. The father is going off to Vietnam and thinking of the different options available and even possibly going through with them, Geraldine ends up gives her baby away for adoption. Now, in present day with genealogy tests coming up everywhere, she must come to face her past.

This very well written short story covers all the angles that it should. The reader sees what an unwanted pregnancy at the time meant.  I only wish it was longer!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Book Review: Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

Time’s Convert
Series: All Souls #4
Author: Deborah Harkness
Published: June 25, 2019
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 20-March 1, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars     

Book Description:

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast-forward to contemporary Paris, where Phoebe Taylor–the young employee at Sotheby’s whom Marcus has fallen for–is about to embark on her own journey to immortality. Though the modernized version of the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable than they were in the eighteenth century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both–forever.

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities not just for change but for revolution, Time’s Convert channels the supernatural world-building and slow-burning romance that made the All Souls Trilogy instant bestsellers to illuminate a new and vital moment in history, and a love affair that will bridge centuries.

Jessica’s Review:

I have not read the previous novels in the series, but I just finished the show Discovery of Witches which I enjoyed.  I’m not a huge fan of Matthew, but I was a big fan of Marcus and Phoebe in the show and I saw the fourth novel was Marcus’ backstory and Phoebe’s transition to vampirism… so I had to grab the audiobook!  I know I missed some things by not reading the previous books, but I was ok with that since I knew the story through the show.

As I mentioned, we get Marcus’ backstory in Time’s Convert along with present day events. Diana is also our narrator and we are updated with her and Matthew’s story along with their twins.  I really enjoyed hearing Marcus backstory, especially with what happened in New Orleans which was referenced on the show.  Seeing Phoebe going through her transformation as a modern woman was intriguing as she went along with ancient customs.  There are also some funny situations that occur. 

We also have more of Miriam in this novel as she has a certain importance in this novel.  I also liked Miriam in the show though she was just a minor character. We see more of who she is in Times Convert.

I still am not a fan of Matthew, who just comes off as an older version of Edward Cullen.  I just don’t see what made Diana fall for Matthew. On the show she goes from not liking him at all to an intense ‘insta-love’. I guess some women just ‘smell’ irresistible…

I do hope that Harkness chooses to continue the story of the de Clermont family as there is still so much story to tell! I personally want to see more with Marcus and Phoebe actually together.  And the continuing story doesn’t even begin to include the Congregation and all of those politics!

Times Convert is recommended. 

Kim has read the entire series and her reviews are here.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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Anatomy: A Love Story by Dana Schwartz

Anatomy: A Love Story
Author: Dana Schwartz

Published:  January 18, 2022
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: February 13-28, 2022
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

A gothic tale full of mystery and romance about a willful female surgeon, a resurrection man who sells bodies for a living, and the buried secrets they must uncover together.

Edinburgh, 1817:

Hazel Sinnett is a lady who wants to be a surgeon more than she wants to marry.

Jack Currer is a resurrection man who’s just trying to survive in a city where it’s too easy to die.

When the two of them have a chance encounter outside the Edinburgh Anatomist’s Society, Hazel thinks nothing of it at first. But after she gets kicked out of renowned surgeon Dr. Beecham’s lectures for being the wrong gender, she realizes that her new acquaintance might be more helpful than she first thought. Because Hazel has made a deal with Dr. Beecham: if she can pass the medical examination on her own, the university will allow her to enroll. Without official lessons, though, Hazel will need more than just her books – she’ll need bodies to study, corpses to dissect.

Lucky that she’s made the acquaintance of someone who digs them up for a living, then.

But Jack has his own problems: strange men have been seen skulking around cemeteries, his friends are disappearing off the streets. Hazel and Jack work together to uncover the secrets buried not just in unmarked graves, but in the very heart of Edinburgh society.

Jessica’s Review:

Anatomy is a YA Historical Fiction novel that is so much more than what meets the eye!  We have Hazel who is a young woman ahead of her time: She wants to become a surgeon when women were not. This is also a time when being a surgeon is looked down upon versus being a regular doctor. Hazel was attending lectures disguised as a man, and she is kicked out when her true gender is discovered. She does make a deal with the professor that if she can pass the doctor’s test then he will let women attend his lectures.  Being kicked out she is forced to find her own ways to learn about the human body which involves a ‘resurrection man’ (a man who is paid to steal bodies of the newly deceased. We also have a mystery when resurrection men start to go missing.

The title is a bit deceptive, there is a love story, but it is minor to the story itself.  If you go in expecting a full-on love story, then you will be disappointed.  Anatomy was a solid four star read for me until we got closer to the ending and the novel went in a direction I would have never expected!  It was a bit mind blowing for me and this unexpected twist brought this novel up to five stars and I anticipate that it will be in my top ten of this year. 

Being this is a YA novel, Hazel comes off older than her actual age, but that is due to the times she is living in. She is smart and determined, yet also unsure of herself due to her young age.  I couldn’t help but like Hazel.

This is a dark novel that will have some scenes that could make some readers squeamish. It is not entirely accurate: towards the end there is a particular medical scene that most readers would know that the procedure would not actually ‘work’, so you have to suspend disbelief and I did because the story was so intense at this point!  Towards the end there is no way a reader can put this novel down!

I listened to the audiobook version which includes a conversation with the narrator and author.  Definitely listen to this as you will learn more, which includes a possible sequel which I hope Schwartz delivers on!   She also started writing this novel before our current pandemic hit and changed the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed Anatomy and very highly recommend it! Another positive:  Just look at the gorgeous cover options available to a reader!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

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