Tag: Historical Fiction

First Line Friday #24

A Historical Fiction novel based on fact, Orphan Train is a novel I hope to read. From 1854-1929 a reporter 200,000 orphans were transported via train from the East Coast to the Midwest in the United States.  I did not know this occurred until I heard of this novel.

Through her bedroom wall Molly can hear her foster parents talking about her in the living room, just beyond her door.

The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from “aging out” of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Blog Tour: In Farleigh Field

Today is my stop on a blog tour for In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen.

Author: Rhys Bowen
379 pages in Paperback

Published: March 1, 2017
Dates Read: February 2-24, 2017

My Rating: 4 Stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.

As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?
Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.

My Review:

Don’t let the length of the time it took me to read In Farleigh Field deter you from reading it. I have been battling kidney stones and at times did not feel like reading or was not able to read. There was nothing wrong with the book.

First, I have to say I loved the cover! I loved seeing Farleigh Place on the cover with the planes flying over it. It gives you an impression of what’s to come in the novel. Even though Farleigh Place is fictional, you have an idea of how huge the home is.

When you first open In Farleigh Field you see a Cast of Characters. When I saw that I wondered what I got myself into as it shows a large cast. Don’t let that list intimidate you, as it is not really necessary, though it did help me and I did reference it from time to time.

Farleigh Place is the main setting of In Farleigh Field with Lord Westerham and his family. Farleigh has become a headquarters for British soldiers. A deceased parachutist is found on the property by Alfie, who is staying with the gamekeeper, and Lord Westerham’s youngest daughter Phoebe. The parachutist is found in a soldier’s uniform but is almost immediately suspected to be a spy, and Ben Creswell is assigned to investigate. Ben is a family friend and MI5 operative. He is also in love with Pamela who is Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, but she loves Jeremy Prescott, whom Ben is also friends with. Who this soldier was and if he was actually a spy is the main mystery of the novel though it is not the sole story:

Unknown to her family, Pamela is working at Bletchley Park which is the central site for British code breakers. Second oldest daughter Margot is living in Paris with her lover Count Gaston de Varennes. She is studying fashion and finds herself stuck between freedom and the Gestapo.

The stories all come together at the end of the novel. The book focuses on the family drama and there is a love triangle involved. This is a character driven novel, so if you are looking for a lot of action this is not the book for you. There is some action throughout the novel, but not as much as I expected with the premise. The last few chapters are packed with action as Rhys Bowen worked towards the conclusion. I found myself reading those last few chapters with anticipation, wanting to know what was going to happen.

You really get to know the characters throughout the novel. I did find myself wanting more of Pamela with her work at Bletchley Park and more of Margot and her life in Paris. I also really liked Phoebe.

Historical Fiction is not a genre I read often, but I will read it if I find the premise of the book intriguing. I have started to read more of Historical Fiction these past few years thanks to my sister-in-law Arleigh. Her website is: http://historical-fiction.com which she has run for nearly 10 years now! I enjoyed reading In Farleigh Field. I find myself wanting to know what happens with these characters next!

In Farleigh Field is recommended.

**I received an e-arc  from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley and an arc via Little Bird Publicity. Thank you so much for my copies!

About the Author:

Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of over thirty mystery novels. Her work includes the Molly Murphy mysteries, set in 1900s New York City, and the Royal Spyness novels, featuring a minor royal in 1930s England, as well as the Constable Evenas mysteries about a police constable in contemporary Wales. Rhys’s works have won fourteen awards to date, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and MacAvity awards. Her books have been translated into many languages, and she has fans from around the world, including the 12,000 who visit her Facebook page daily. She is a transplanted Brit who now divides her time between California and Arizona.

Contact Rhys:


The Wonder


Author: Emma Donoghue

Published: September 20, 2016
Dates Read: October 10-24, 2016

My Rating: 4 stars for the novel, audiobook version receives 2 stars

Book Summary from Amazon:

In the latest masterpiece by Emma Donoghue, bestselling author of Room, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.

Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels–a tale of two strangers who transform each others lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

My Review:

I enjoyed The Wonder. It is slow to start, but once it gets going I had to know what was going to happen!

English nurse Lib is brought the Ireland to watch 11 year old Anna O’Donnell. She is believed to not have eaten anything since her eleventh birthday, which was four months ago. Word has gotten out about Anna and people are traveling from everywhere to see or meet “The Wonder”. Anna believes she is surviving on manna from Heaven and has no need to eat. Lib is a skeptic. Is Anna actually not eating or is food being sent to her secretly to eat in private? That is Lib’s job: To not leave Anna alone for a moment to discover the truth.

There is an answer to this question, and once we have the answer, there is still more book to read! It becomes more than what the answer is as Lib tries to save Anna’s life.

This book is very well written. Well done Emma Donoghue! You can sense the tension between Lib, Anna’s family, and doctor. The book takes place in the year 1859 and much of the tension is that of the Irish vs English. You also see the honest faith of a child that Anna has, but is it misguided? You must read the book to find out! There is definitely more to this novel than you think going into it.

Audiobook Review:

I listened to the audiobook version of The Wonder. I don’t usually write a review for the audiobook, but I feel I need to in this case. The narrator is Kate Lock. I had difficulty understanding some of the characters as the Irish accents were too strong for me. There were times when the mother was yelling- and I could not understand what was said. Also, at times I could not understand Anna. Lib is the main character in the novel, I had no problems understanding her. There were other characters where I had this problem as well.

I know with this difficulty that I missed some of what happened in the novel, so I can not recommend the audio version. If you choose to read The Wonder, stay away from the audio version and read the book.

The Wonder is recommended!