Posted in 19th Century Art Reviews

review: The Other Alcott

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper Abigail “May” Alcott, sister of Louisa May Alcott, is followed in this fictional biography which takes place in the 1870’s in Boston, London and Paris. May, whom Louisa had fictionalized as “Amy” in her Little Women series, had received negative reviews of her illustrations included in the books, and as such set out to improve her skills by taking classes for lady artists. When the opportunity arose, she set off for Europe to take advantage of the superior learning environment and instructors. Louisa continually called May home when she became exhausted with caring for their ailing mother. This rankled May, as she had finally begun making a living with her art and felt Louisa, who had the money for…

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Posted in 19th Century Author Guest Post

guest post: Scarlette Pike on Researching her 19th Century Africa Novel

A desperate prayer and a dream led me to read the journals of Dr. David Livingstone (You may know him from the famous quote: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”). He landed in southern Africa in 1841 employed by the London Missionary Society to spread Christianity. He then traveled through the interior of Africa preaching, but after only one man was converted after years of sermons he largely gave up on missionary work and set his sights on documenting, mapping and exploring the African interior – making historical, noteworthy strides and putting a serious hitch in the slave trade as he went. But what about his one convert? He was actually a chief of a large tribe: Chief Sechele of the Bakwena. He listened to David’s and…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century America

guest post: John Nuckel on a Chance Meeting with Teddy Wilson

One of the most important events in American music happened at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1938. There was a Benny Goodman concert that night. It actually was radical to have Goodman there at all playing his brand of swing music on the stage of such a prestigious venue. The seminal moment came when he brought out his quartet to play Sing Sing Sing with a Swing. The quartet that evening was Harry James on the trumpet, the great Gene Krupa on drums, and Goodman of course, on clarinet. The fourth member was Teddy Wilson on piano. Teddy Wilson, an African American center stage at Carnegie Hall nine years before Jackie Robinson walked onto the diamond at Ebbet’s Field. Not only did Goodman have the…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century

History + Vampires

Browsing the sadly lacking audiobook selection at my local library (this particular library seems to have something against audiobooks that aren’t your usual big name mystery novels), I picked this one up even though I have not read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I don’t think it will be an issue, as it’s giving a bit of a recap. So far it’s off to a good start with a pleasant narrator. I truly enjoyed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I listened to on audio earlier this year, and look forward to reading about eras and events that will be featured in a couple of upcoming books on my TBR list: the Bolshevik Revolution through JFK. The Last American Vampire (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter #2) by…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century

And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer

Here’s an odd duck I came across yesterday. The strange title coupled with the enormous girth of this book caught my eye in the Historical Fiction section. I was also intrigued with the octogenarian author’s life and decided to do a little research. I found a nice review of the book at Novel Matters with a ‘strong recommendation’. And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer BOOK DESCRIPTION (Wikipedia) And Ladies of the Club recounts the lives of a group of women in Waynesboro, Ohio, who begin a study club. Over the years the club evolves into a influential community service organization in the town. The book spans decades in the lives of the women involved in the club, between 1868 and 1932. Numerous…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century Gilded Age Non-Fiction

Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners

This one is non-fiction, but caught my eye today. Looks like an interesting biography…her life would make an intriguing novel! Emily Post: Daughter of the Gilded Age, Mistress of American Manners by Laura Claridge BOOK DESCRIPTION “What would Emily Post do?” Even today, Americans cite the author of the perennial bestseller Etiquette as a touchstone for proper behavior. But who was the woman behind the myth, the authority on good manners who has outlasted all comers? Award-winning author Laura Claridge presents the first authoritative biography of the unforgettable woman who changed the mindset of millions of Americans, an engaging book that sweeps from the Gilded Age to the 1960s. Born shortly after the Civil War, Emily Post was a daughter of high society, the only…

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Posted in 19th Century New Books

Reader, She Married Me: A New Jane Eyre Novel

Mr. Rochester: A Novel by Sarah Shoemaker “Reader, she married me.” BOOK DESCRIPTION: For one hundred seventy years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s most romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told. Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to…

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Posted in 19th Century

Victoria Wilcox’s Doc Holliday Debut

Before reading this immensely detailed novelization of the early life of John Henry “Doc” Holliday, I had only the 1993 film version of his character in mind (played by Val Kilmer), and a steampunk fantasy novel I reviewed for the May 2013 issue of Historical Novels Review—The Doctor and the Rough Rider by Mike Resnick—in which to form an opinion of the legend. Neither compare in substance to this novel, Inheritance: Southern Son: The Saga of Doc Holliday, nor I heartily believe (though have not yet read) the next two installments: Gone West and The Last Decision. What I didn’t know is that Doc Holliday, John Henry Holliday, was a fascinating man before becoming a by-word of the Wild West. From his early years as…

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Posted in 19th Century First Line Friday Victorian

First Line Friday: A Conspiracy in Belgravia

From the Prologue… Thank goodness for a blatantly obvious murder. From Chapter One… This is an account of a remarkable man named Sherlock Holmes. BOOK DESCRIPTION “Being shunned by Society gives Charlotte Holmes the time and freedom to put her extraordinary powers of deduction to good use. As “Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective,” aided by the capable Mrs. Watson, she’s had great success helping with all manner of inquiries, but she’s not prepared for the new client who arrives at her Upper Baker Street office. Lady Ingram, wife of Charlotte’s dear friend and benefactor, wants Sherlock Holmes to find her first love, who failed to show up at their annual rendezvous. Matters of loyalty and discretion aside, the case becomes even more personal for Charlotte as…

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Posted in 19th Century Civil War First Line Friday

First Line Friday: Gone with the Wind

Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were. GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell “Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel. Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction. This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter…

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Posted in 19th Century Alternate History Highlight

highlight: Napoleon in America

I came across this one on Twitter and it sounds intriguing! Napoleon in America by Shannon Selin Author’s Website “What if Napoleon Bonaparte had escaped from St. Helena and wound up in the United States? The year is 1821. Former French Emperor Napoleon has been imprisoned on a dark wart in the Atlantic since his defeat at Waterloo in 1815. Rescued in a state of near-death by Gulf pirate Jean Laffite, Napoleon lands in New Orleans, where he struggles to regain his health aided by voodoo priestess Marie Laveau. Opponents of the Bourbon regime expect him to reconquer France. French Canadians beg him to seize Canada from Britain. American adventurers urge him to steal Texas from Mexico. His brother Joseph pleads with him to settle…

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Posted in 19th Century America Civil War Giveaways Guest Post

guest post: Fiction and History in Richard Buxton’s Whirligig – A writer’s choice

I decided to base Whirligig, my novel set in the American Civil War, largely in Tennessee and Georgia. The battles around Chattanooga were interesting to me. I only knew of Chickamauga and the subsequent epic charge up Missionary Ridge in summary, but I liked their relative anonymity when compared to the better known eastern battles of Gettysburg or Sharpsburg. I thought it would allow me room to manoeuvre. We do that as writers: try to find space for our fiction. Whirligig follows the fortunes of Shire, an English immigrant sucked into the war and into the ranks of the formidable 125th Ohio Infantry. He has a love interest and a duty to reach Appalachian Tennessee. But in order to keep his promise he has to…

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