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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
If Masterpiece Theatre doesn't make this book into a movie starring Derek Jacobi, it will be a crime. There has not been so perfectly English a read i ...more
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Jan 29, 2011
The Queen's Vow: A Novel of Isabella of Castile
Spain is difficult for historical fiction readers. Say "Spain" and thoughts trigger of bullfights, bloodshed, torture, and religious fanaticism. Spani ...more
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Jun 01, 2012
The Sister Queens
As a disclaimer, I will admit that Sophie Perinot is a friend of mine, and I very much hope that her debut novel “The Sister Queens” hits the New York ...more
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Oct 04, 2011
The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan
I've never met Stephanie Thornton in person, but boy, do I want to, because her brand as an author is unapologetically kick-ass women of the ancient w ...more
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Dec 02, 2014
The Red Lily Crown: A Novel of Medici Florence
I've rarely been so happy to offer a cover quote for a novel. Elizabeth Loupas hit it out of the park with "The Second Duchess," and "The Flower Reade ...more
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Aug 05, 2013
The Botticelli Secret
This book was pure fun. The plot was improbable and at times inexplicable, but I smiled all the way through. Mainly this was due to the narrator: chee ...more
Jun 2010
May 25, 2010
The Eagle and the Raven
I normally avoid historicals if they contain the words "sweeping" or "three generations" - but this book deserves both without irony. It tells the sto ...more
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May 12, 2009
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
Book One of one of the best fantasy series out there. I'm lukewarm on fantasy - so much of the time it's warmed-over Tolkien, heroes and princesses en ...more
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May 04, 2009
The Flower Reader
There are not many authors who could convincingly tie together such diverse things as flower magic, Highland politics, and a hero who wears eyeliner - ...more
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Dec 17, 2011
Blue Asylum
Sometimes it seems as if the only historical fiction is yet another retread about a Tudor Queen or Plantagenet princess - where are the little people ...more
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May 02, 2012
The Oracle Glass
My favorite of Judith Merkle Riley's books. I read this in junior high, and managed to severely unsettle a number of teachers with my in-depth knowled ...more
Jan 1996
May 04, 2009
The Heaven Tree Trilogy
This is one of the finest historical fiction novels out there. Technically it's three novels, but they all blur into one. The story revolves around a ...more
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May 11, 2009
This is one of the great historical fiction romances of all time, and a surprisingly accurate portrayal of the Middle Ages. Katherine is a pretty fift ...more
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Nov 28, 2009
Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English
What a wonderful treat this book is: sparkling wit, crystalline prose, characters full of courage and sympathy. The middle-aged Jack Rosenblum is a Ge ...more
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Sep 22, 2010
Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady
I read this book at thirteen, and my world fell into place. No longer did I have to wonder why my loved ones annoyed me, why I didn't want to hang out ...more
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May 07, 2009
The Tigress of Forlì: Renaissance Italy's Most Courageous and Notorious Countess, Caterina Riario Sforza de Medici
A fascinating biography of the woman who went toe to toe against Cesare Borgia, and nearly won. Caterina Sforza isn't as well known a figure of the Re ...more
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Nov 09, 2011
Mademoiselle Chanel
Kate Quinn
Gortner writes such wonderful women. He's written a lot of queens, and fashion designer Coco Chanel might seem like a departure for him, but
Apr 11, 2015
Jul 02, 2014
The Paris Winter
Superbly atmospheric novel of bohemian Paris, and a top-flight mystery as well. The heroine, a fierce young art student, is sensitive and appealing, a ...more
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Jan 31, 2015
The Burning Land (The Saxon Stories, #5)
Alfred the Great, in Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, has a love for order, peace, and Christianity. He has always been dismayed by his reliance on U ...more
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Feb 28, 2010
Under the Dome
Stephen King's latest books have been quirky, to say the least, but with "Under the Dome" he returns to his roots. Here's a book very much like "The S ...more
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Nov 20, 2009
Sacred Hearts
Novels about nuns are difficult to get right. Many are too evangelical; others simply seize the trappings of veils and prayers as a dramatic setting f ...more
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Jan 11, 2010
Foreign Affairs
As the heroine of "Foreign Affairs" complains, there is no grand romance in our culture for the middle-aged, only for the young and beautiful. This bo ...more
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Jan 15, 2010
The Second Duchess
"She had a heart too soon made glad." Browning's immortal line from his poem "The Last Duchess," said by Renaissance Duke Alfonso of Este about his fi ...more
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Apr 11, 2011
The Little Stranger
A good ghost story should have you behaving irrationally: stealing the night-light out of your child's room, or unable to sleep until you put the book ...more
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Dec 15, 2009
The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles, #1)
Hands down the best King Arthur fiction ever written. "The Winter King" begins Bernard Cornwell's trilogy of Arthur, the king who may have lived in ea ...more
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May 06, 2009
A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2)
A marvelous follow-up to Game of Thrones. When we left the world of Westeros, the land has been torn apart by the death of King Robert, who has left s ...more
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May 08, 2009
Becoming Josephine
Josephine Bonaparte springs so vividly to live in these pages she practically walks right off them. Webb paints a full and charming portrait of the Cr ...more
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Jan 29, 2014
The Crown (Joanna Stafford, #1)
I somehow missed meeting Nancy Bilyeau at the last Historical Novel Society Conference, which is a pity because I'd have liked to congratulate her on ...more
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Jul 20, 2013
Memoirs of a Geisha
Writers usually work by the truism of "write what you know," which makes this book astounding. How did a middle-aged modern Western man write so compe ...more
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Jun 09, 2010
The Last Queen
C.W. Gortner has one of the more interesting literary platforms I've ever seen for a historical fiction writer, particularly a male one: he takes the ...more
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Apr 30, 2011
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