Saturday, March 31, 2018

Portraits in Survival

On a Cold Dark Sea by Elizabeth Blackwell


The Titanic; it was supposed to be the most wondrous ship ever built. But for Esme, Charlotte and Anna, surviving that fateful crossing has stalked their whole lives, each in very different ways. Particularly because each of these three women were on different classes of tickets, and this isn’t a story mainly about the tragedy, but rather about what came afterwards for them. Blackwell’s newest work is therefore a different kind of Titanic novel.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

These Books May Fare Well

Murder in Belgravia by Lynn Brittany


This novel is the first in an upcoming series of “Mayfair 100” murder mysteries, which takes place amid the Great War (i.e., WW1), where two civilian women join with police officers to make up a special team, tasked with investigating crimes involving women. On Goodreads, the blurb says “London, 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services. Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is faced with investigating the murder of an aristocrat and the man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen. As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes.”

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Difficulties of Devotions

Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher


According to Goodreads, Jonathan (or Yonatan) is “preparing to serve in the Israeli army while also trying to reconcile his close relationship to two Palestinian siblings with his deeply ingrained loyalties to family and country.” This novel is told in the form of a letter to one of the Palestinians – the brother Laith – while Jonathan is in military prison and reflects on how his life changed after he met Laith and his twin sister Nimreen.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Majestic Clash

I was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon


For over five decades there were unending, international court battles, rumors and intrigue surrounding a woman called Anna Anderson, who claimed to be Anastasia, the sole surviving child of Tsar Nicolas II of Russia, who was famously executed during the Russian Revolution along with his whole family. Ariel Lawhon’s latest historical fiction novel delves into this story from two angles, with a wholly unique, fictionalized approach.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Duplicity or distortion?

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood


In 1843, Grace Marks and James McDermott were both convicted of the murders of Nancy Montgomery and Thomas Kinnear. While McDermott was executed for these crimes, Grace received a commuted sentence, and ended spending nearly 30 years in incarceration, first in an insane asylum and then later in a penitentiary. To this day, it is unsure if Grace was a willing participant in these gruesome killings, or if she was simply an accessory after the fact. Furthermore, after her release, no one knows what happened to her. This, however, didn’t stop Margaret Atwood from using this highly sketchy biography of Grace as the basis of an intense historical fiction novel.