It seems that, as Sue from Whispering Gums discovered whilst reviewing Classics and Literary, March is a big month. This month there were 19 historical fiction reviews but strangely for only a selection of 8 different books. The big winner this month is Wild Wood by Posie Graeme-Evans with a whopping seven reviews.
Monique from Write Note Reviews explains, “The story’s dual narrative hooked me quickly; on the one hand, there’s Jesse’s storyline, set in 1981 in the lead-up to Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding. This begins in London but quickly moves north to the border counties and Hundredfield Castle. Linked to this is Bayard’s story, set in 1321, which has the castle as its centrepoint.”
Angela S Walton at Goodreads writes, “I just love how the author managed to weave back and forth through time in such a way that it never lost connection with the reader.” Whilst Carolyn at Goodreads observes, “The writing was very evocative, giving a real feel of the harshness of 14th century life in a cold stone castle and the wildness of the woods and countryside.” Tracey from Carpe Librum writes, “I love to read novels by authors who believe that the past bleeds into the present, and Posie definitely belongs to this category.” And Brenda at Goodreads concludes, “I thoroughly enjoyed Wild Wood and have no hesitation in recommending it highly.”
In A Time of Secrets by Deborah Burrows, “It is wartime in Melbourne and loose lips sink ships, so when Australian Women’s Army sergeant Stella Aldridge overhears soldiers whispering about a revenge killing, she follows her instincts to investigate.” Tien from Tien’s Blurb writes, “A Time of Secrets was an absolute joy to read. It is an engaging tale of wartime in Australia, combining mystery and romance with a distinctive Aussie touch.” Monique from Write Note Review found “Burrows delivers an interesting and intriguing read that not only offers an insight into Australian wartime life, but also looks into themes of domestic violence, friendship and relationship.” Shellyrae from Book’d Out concludes, Burrows is a talented storyteller who brings wartime Australia to life. Offering an interesting mystery combined with strong characterisation and a well crafted plot.”
In The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader “the scenario is claustrophic: in medieval England, Sarah, a seventeen-year-old virgin, relinquishes worldly life—family, human touch, comfort, light, fresh air—and is locked into a tiny stone cell attached to the village church. It is voluntary. And it is permanent.” Amanda at Looking Up/Looking Down writes very eloquently, “Good historical fiction tells us something about our own world as it narrates a story of the past. While reading The Anchoress, I was struck time and again by the operation of power along gender and class lines. While these play out in the most extreme ways in the novel, I could not help but think of the residues of powerlessness that still exist today…”
In The Strays by Emily Bitto “On her first day at a new school, Lily meets Eva, one of the daughters of the infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are attempting to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work with them at their family home. As Lily’s friendship with Eva grows, she becomes infatuated with this makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it. Kelly at Orange Pekoe found that one of the highlights for her was, “The story from the 1930s is framed by the present, with events transpiring so that Lily begins to reflect on her friendship with Eva. The tone and hints indicate something went awry (and why wouldn’t it!) and this creates the tension in the story.” As I love literary fiction set between 1900 and 1960 I’ll be adding this to my enormous To Be Read pile.
In Razorhubrst by Justine Larbalestier “It’s 1932 and the tentative truce between Sydney’s rival underworld gangs, headed by Gloriana Nelson and Mr Davidson, is on the verge of collapse when Gloriana’s right hand man, Jimmy Palmer is murdered in his bed.” Shelleyrae at Book’d Out concludes, “Entertaining, thrilling and original, Razorhurst is a great read I’d widely recommend and I’m really hoping Larbalestier has plans for a sequel.”
Brenda at Goodreads was our busiest reviewer this month with three reviews. After Darkness by Christine Piper she writes, is “narrated by Tomokazu Ibaraki, the timeframe moved between Japan, Broome and Loveday camp between 1938 and 1942.” She says “I thoroughly enjoyed After Darkness – a hauntingly beautiful novel, written in such a profound way that it will touch your heart and stay with you long after you’ve turned the last page.” Caroline at Goodreads also has high praise. “I enjoyed this debut novel not just for the fine quality of the writing but also for the extensive research done by the author. The novel touches on the history of the Japanese in Broome and paints a picture of what it was before the start of WWII.”
It’s great to see Bittersweet, one of Colleen McCullough’s lesser known novels being reviewed here. Brenda at Goodreads writes, “I thoroughly enjoyed this Australian saga set in the 1920s by renowned Aussie author Colleen McCullough – the lives of four sisters; two sets of twins who were close in age and bond. The love they shared was deep and unable to be broken – the paths their lives took, though different, continued to keep them together, even when apart.” As I’m particularly interested in the 1920s, I’ve marked this “To Be Read”, number 540. Yes, I know, it’s quite ridiculous the amount I have marked to read. But hey, it’s nice to have something to aim for.
Last but not least is one high on my list, The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. “After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock. Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.” Rachel at Odds, Ends And Allsorts found “this book took some work on my behalf but it was well worth it because by the end I was crying like a little baby, not just for the characters and events of the story but because I get really sad when a book adventure has to come to an end.” And so do I. Which of these will you mark as To Be Read very soon?
My name is Debbie Robson and I am a bookcrosser, booklover and author. I love researching the 20th century and finding those small but relevant details that can make the past come alive. You can find me on twitter: lakelady2282
Thanks for the mention, and great to see The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader reviewed. This book is on my TBR list but I didn’t realise she was an Australian writer, even better!
Thanks Tracey. Love the name of your blog. It does sound like a challenging read. And as I am recuperating from a small op I’m going for comfort reads at the moment.
Great round-up Debbie – and thanks too for the mention. Fascinating how there are these peaks and troughs. I notice them in my blog hits but they relate mostly to drops at Easter, Christmas, and northern hemisphere holidays! But this is about reading and writing reviews … so a different thing, I suppose.
Anyhow, that’s amazing about Posie Graeme-Evans. Seven reviews in one month. She does seem popular. There are a few books here I’m keen to read and hope I will get to in the near future.
Thanks Sue. There actually was a virtual blog tour in March for Wild Wood so I’m guessing that’s the reason for the large amount but as you say the peaks and troughs are interesting. I’m hoping to get some serious reading down this this next week or so as I’m off on sick leave. Only booklovers would be pleased about such a thing!