Darkness and Light: The Marriage of Opposites

St Thomas 2

I always relish a new Alice Hoffman book, and I am not disappointed with The Marriage of Opposites; far from it. This is a story of people who defy convention to be their true selves. Rachel always wants her own way, and her father usually lets her have it, until he arranges for her to marry an older man to […]

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Holy Women, Batman! Women Religious in Historical Fiction

Nuns At The Beach

Robyn Cadwallader is a new novelist, and The Anchoress is a delight. Sarah, a cloth merchant's daughter in 1255, is looking to escape the anguish of her sister's death and the predations of the local lord's son. This leads her to vows as anchoress, a holy woman contained in a nine-paces-by-five-paces cell, never to emerge. As […]

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Travel to Novel Places: Colonial Kenya

Rift Valley 4

Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife, has a new novel: Circling the Sun.  It focuses on the early life of Beryl Markham, a horse trainer and one of the first female commercial pilots. Coming to what would become Kenya at a young age and abandoned by her mother, Beryl grows up wild on her father's […]

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Flying the Unfriendly Skies

Hurricane and Spitfire planes

I couldn't be more excited to see some of the cool aerial and water stunts at this year's Chicago Air and Water Show on August 15 and 16. To prepare for the show, check out these great flying and sailing books. After spending his life around diesel-powered Clanker machines, Austrian Prince Alek is suspicious of the […]

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Growing up Black and Female

school girls

On the occasion of the publication of Disgruntled by Asali Solomon, I want to make you aware of some other books about growing up as an African-American girl. Set in different time periods, there are certain themes that carry through. Responsibility, otherness, friendship, and family are all explored. In Solomon's Disgruntled, Kenya is an outsider everywhere from […]

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Can’t Get Enough Jane Austen?

Source: tiaragwin, flickr

I first encountered Jane Austen through the BBC miniseries Pride and Prejudice. After falling in love with Colin Firth as only a girl of 12 can, I quickly devoured as much Austen as I could get my hands on. Years later, I still grab Persuasion to read on vacation. I recommend the following titles for all Jane […]

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Women’s History Through Novels: Michelle Moran


Michelle Moran writes riveting novels about history from a woman's point of view. These novels are both extensively researched and richly imagined, leading to deeply atmospheric tales. The physical description is also a treat. While there is no question that Moran's heroines operate in a man's world, they more than measure up to those who would destroy […]

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Boston Girl Readalikes

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For those of you waiting for The Boston Girl, I have a few suggestions while you wait. First, let me tell you are in for a treat in Anita Diamant's latest, about a young woman who works her way from tenement child to a social worker. Addie Baum is as old as the century when her granddaughter […]

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“Handmaid” Hits 30: Readalikes

Handmaid's Tale 2

Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale turns 30 this year, and as an avid fan of the book, I'd like to propose some readalikes. For those of you not familiar with Atwood's dystopian story, the United States has been taken over by Christian fundamentalists and (supposedly) biblical rule is the law. There's also a venereal disease going around that makes […]

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Perseverance is Triumph: Lalita Tademy

Cane River cabin

Lalita Tademy used to have a high-powered job at Sun Microsystems before delving into her genealogy, leading to three books (so far) imagining her family's history. The  results are historical novels that tell of little-known parts of the American narrative, which we forget to our peril. All three family sagas are moving, atmospheric, and accurate down to the smallest […]

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