This is a well researched historical fiction that features daily life of a very poor in 1880s Paris. The mother is a laundress who is addicted to absiThis is a well researched historical fiction that features daily life of a very poor in 1880s Paris. The mother is a laundress who is addicted to absinthe. Antoinette, the eldest of three daughters holds many jobs to try to support her sisters - everything from walk-on parts at the Opera to laundress to a coquette. Marie, the middle sister, rises in the ranks of the Paris Opera - going from the being a petit rat to being one of the dancers in the second cadre with a gentleman protector. And Claudette is the youngest, very young, but quite talented as well.
Marie splits her time as a model for Edward Degas for his paintings, pastels and also for his famous sculpture, Little Dancer of Fourteen Years (both in the realm of the story & also in real life), working for the bakery down the street kneeding bread each morning and dancing at the Opera. Her struggles are real, as is the life of poverty that is told by Buchanan - they are not melodramatic or whitewashed, and neither are they overly seedy or harsh. They just are.
Antoinette falls in love with the wrong boy - he ends up being a defendant in not one, but two murder trials that rock Paris. This boy, Emile, is a huge wedge between the two sisters since Marie cannot stand him and is not afraid to tell her sister of his bad character as often as she can. ...more
This is a very interesting & in-depth look at the life & times of Han Van Meegeren. Van Meegeren was a painter in his own right, but he did noThis is a very interesting & in-depth look at the life & times of Han Van Meegeren. Van Meegeren was a painter in his own right, but he did not get the recognition he thought he deserved so he took to forgery & was able to sell his "Vermeer" paintings for astronomical prices both before & during World War II. He was able to dupe art historians & buyers in the era before much chemical testing by using a variety of materials including Bakelite e as the paint medium in conjunction with pigments used in the 17th Century. Author Jonathan Lopez outlines the various forgeries Van Meegeren painted, and helps illustrate why art historians & experts of the time were duped by these modern paintings. Lopez also shows how Van Meegeren was a Nazi sympathizer and how he used Nazi imagery in his forgery. All in all a very interesting look at the art world of the Netherlands in the 1930s & 40s. ...more
While I have not read the Iliad, I am almost knowledgeable in the ins & outs of the Trojan War...after all, I’ve see Troy! Madeline Miller tells tWhile I have not read the Iliad, I am almost knowledgeable in the ins & outs of the Trojan War...after all, I’ve see Troy! Madeline Miller tells the story in Song of Achilles, from a slightly different view of this chaotic time in history - we see it through the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles’s lifelong companion and lover. The novel starts with Patroclus’s unhappy childhood. He is awkward and not the son his father wanted. The anthesis of Achilles who was a lovely demigod who was the gold standard of being the perfect son - he was musical, a fierce warrior and a good scholar. These 2 young, 10 year old boys meet and become friends when Patroclus is exiled for causing the death of a powerful nobleman’s son. Achilles takes him under his wing as his father takes Patroclus on as a foster, as he did for many many other boys. As his chosen companion, Patroclus is given pretty much the same privileges as Achilles himself - including the same education and training. Their relationship blossoms and becomes a true love story that is treated with respect by Miller. They later go together to Troy to "rescue" Helen from Paris, which ended poorly for both young men.
The characters come to life in this novel and I had no trouble believing them and believing in them. I was pulled in by them, and really wanted to know how they would turn out, even though I have seen Troy. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this is the fact that it deals with the mythical and realistic aspects of the story in the same matter of fact manner. Miller describes very real battles and school-aged angst in the same way she deals with the boys being taught by a centaur and Achilles’s mother being a sea nymph.�...more
Soulless is a comedy of manners (aka romance) set in Victorian London. Alexia Tarabotti, spinster, and Lord Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, fall in love throSoulless is a comedy of manners (aka romance) set in Victorian London. Alexia Tarabotti, spinster, and Lord Maccon, Earl of Woolsey, fall in love through a set of adventures that would make most proper spinsters faint. Miss Tarabotti is interested in science and just happens to be a preternatural who doesn't have a soul. Her soullessness allows her to touch those with extra soul who happen to be werewolves or vampires back into their mortal selves. Lord Maccon is a werewolf in charge of sorting out why both rove werewolves and hiveless vampires keep disappearing.
I am not a fan of most vampire or werewolf fiction that has been popular lately, but I will admit I was riveted to this book and can't wait to read the other 4 books in the series. Carriger has taken the stereotypical traits of vampires and werewolves, and made them the reason behind a lot of the fashions and mores of this time period. Vampires, for example, are very pale, so the fashion is to be pale. The other part of this book that made it a lot of fun was a nod to steampunk science. It is melded together very well with witty and memorable characters. I can see it being popular with those who like a wide range of genres, including romance, paranormal fiction, steampunk fiction and historical fiction....more
The New York high society of the 1880s never saw Lucy Carlton coming. She suffers from hysteria and has already gone through 10 doctors in 4 years whoThe New York high society of the 1880s never saw Lucy Carlton coming. She suffers from hysteria and has already gone through 10 doctors in 4 years who haven't been able to cure her when her husband, William, takes her to Dr. Victor Seth. Dr. Seth is a neurologist who specializes in women's issues and treats his patients through hypnotism. Lucy Carlton is a hypnotists dream patient who takes to suggestion perfectly. This leads to Dr. Seth giving into temptation and suggesting to Lucy that she should act more like a modern woman than a society wife and lady. How will her straight-laced husband deal with a wife who no longer docilely does as she's bidden? What consequences will happen to her and her marriage? This novel looks at this completely male-dominated society and what happens when a woman is brave & brazen enough to buck the system.
The synopsis on the back of this book mentions that this Henry James's milieu & customary setting, but I saw more Kate Chopin in it than James. ...more
Wow - I had no idea of the very real fear of nuclear war in the early 60s. This book brings the time around the Cuban Missile Crisis to life by centerWow - I had no idea of the very real fear of nuclear war in the early 60s. This book brings the time around the Cuban Missile Crisis to life by centering around a family and specifically an 11 year old girl, Franny. This tension is magnified by the family conflicts and by Franny's strife-filled friendship with her "best friend" Margie.
I particularly liked the way nuclear war films and other propaganda text are woven into the story. It really enhances the way its tale is told. I recommend this book to anyone and everyone who has studied the Cuban Missile Crisis but wasn't old enough to live through it. ...more
My interest on King George was peaked by the recent movie of the same name, but I was unprepared for the wealth of knowledge and interest this book coMy interest on King George was peaked by the recent movie of the same name, but I was unprepared for the wealth of knowledge and interest this book contained. This book was written by Lionel Logue's grandson, based on diaries & letters of the period.
Lionel Logue was a speech therapist who helped King George VI of England with his stuttering before he took the throne, and also with his speech writing/editing once he was made King. Their relationship turned into an odd friendship as King & Subject worked closely together and learned to trust each other.
This book is a very good read & I recommend it for anyone interested in this time period or British royalty. I listed to it as an audiobook, and encourage people to search it out! It includes the complete speech delivered by King George on Sep 3, 1939, the day that Britain declared war on Germany....more
The American Revolution was a time of chaos and strife, not only for the white men & women seeking their freedom from the British, but also by theThe American Revolution was a time of chaos and strife, not only for the white men & women seeking their freedom from the British, but also by their black slaves. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson is the first book of a YA trilogy featuring a 13 year old slave, Isabel and her struggle for the same freedom and rights the Founding Fathers are fighting for.
Isabel and her sister Ruth are owned by Mary Finch who grants them their freedom upon her death. Unfortunately for Isabel & Ruth, the lawyer who wrote her will is gone and Miss Finch’s heirs decide to disregard her wishes and they sell them to the Locktons, a Loyalist family in New York City. Isabel is a very strong young lady who does all she can to keep her and Ruth together and search for freedom at the same time. She has to figure out who she can trust in the big city and what side she should risk her life helping. This is a very interesting look at what freedom is and who it is for. ...more
A young, 15 year old girl named Lina is taken with her family to a slave labor camp during World War II. The men are separated from the women & chA young, 15 year old girl named Lina is taken with her family to a slave labor camp during World War II. The men are separated from the women & children and are transported in overcrowded livestock train cars where their humanity and dignity is started to be taken from them. They are forced to survive on a piece of bread a day to sustain them in hard, physical farm labor. Oh, did I mention that Lina’s imprisonment is not the work of the German Nazis, but instead of Stalin’s Soviets? Before reading this book, I had no idea that the intellectuals of the Eastern Bloc lived in as much fear as the Jews did in Germany.
Along with her mother & brother, Lina ends up north of the Arctic Circle to build a factory. She is an artist, and she records her feelings and experiences through drawing, even drawing the labor camp’s director for extra rations. She also draws on scraps to try to let her father in another prison camp know where they are and that they are still alive.
While this is officially a YA book, it is something all readers should read as is one of those rare novels that opens your eyes to atrocities in a rather matter-of-fact way. Lina tells her story plainly and starkly. The reader is allowed to realize on their own just how horrible it is for themselves....more