“It’s About This Nurse…” Favorite Stories Retold

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It sometimes happens when I go to the theater, or the movies, or read a book, that I find the minor characters more interesting than the people the story is supposed to be about. This often means that I am paying more attention to the servants or the villain than the young lovers or other main characters, […]

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The Problem With Virtue

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Often when I read historical fiction, it seems that the 21st-Century world view is imported with the characters.  No more is this true than with the themes of sex and religion.  Fortunately, Marci Jefferson manages to avoid this pitfall in Girl on the Golden Coin. Young Frances Stuart, the protagonist, wishes only to make a good […]

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The Midwife of Venice and the Harem

Roberta Rich has written only two books so far, but I enjoyed both of them immensely. In The Midwife of Venice, Hannah Levi, a midwife of legendary skill and confined to the Jewish Ghetto, makes a decision to help a countess in natal distress. She takes along her "birthing spoons", a form of forceps, with her despite the […]

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Afghan Women Breaking the Mold

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Though the past decade and a half has brought enormous change to Kabul and other cities in Afghanistan, very little has changed in the villages, especially for women. Nadia Hashimi's The Pearl That Broke Its Shell tells the parallel stories of Shekiba, a woman at the turn of the last century, and her great-great-granddaughter Rahima just after […]

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Between the Unspeakable and the Unknowable

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After the Holocaust, many of the surviving European Jews went to British Palestine, soon to become the nation of Israel. However, the forces that destroyed their families often destroyed their vital documents as well, so those without official papers or family already in Palestine were put in detention camps until things could be sorted out.  Anita Diamant […]

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Sarah Waters Tells Some Tales

Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters hit the mainstream big time with The Little Stranger a few years ago, but she was already a superstar among lesbians and historical fiction buffs for her novels depicting gay and lesbian life in England. Her first novel, Tipping the Velvet, is a picaresque tale that combines Charles Dickens with Henry Fielding.  Sheltered Nan […]

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Living with the Complexities

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Axie Muldoon wants: nice clothes, a big house, a meal in her belly.  As an orphan on the streets of 19th century New York, these things seem out of reach. And yet, by the time she is thirty, Axie (AKA Madame Beausacq) has them all. Along the way, she rides the orphan trains, delivers her mother's baby, apprentices […]

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Don Quixote. Still Worth the Challenge 400 Years Later.

Don Quixote reading

The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote of La Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes is a story that clocks in at about 1000 pages, in very small print, on very thin paper. Deciding to start this epic really is a commitment, but worth the effort. The story is about an old retired man who spends his elder years reading from […]

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Dive into the Titanic

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On the morning of April 15, 1912, five days into her maiden voyage, newspapers around the world announced that the ship everyone believed was unsinkable, the RMS Titanic, had hit an iceberg and sunk.  Even though over 1,500 people drowned in the icy waters off the coast of Newfoundland, as the years passed, memory of […]

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City of Extraordinary Things

    Coralee and Eddie are running away from their fathers and inadvertently they run into each other. Set in 1911 in New York City, these two outcasts fall in love in the shadow of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and growing labor unrest in Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things. They have the darnedest time […]

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