For some reason I ended up with a bunch of historicals at my last visit to the bookstore. It could be that there are a lot of them out there, and it could also be that I'm drawn to them. Here's what I've got:
The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman-I'd read good things about this one, and I did enjoy the gradual narrowing of the distance between the two protagonists. Lots of interesting stuff about the times, when it was perfectly okay to display "freaks" and pretend it was science--although I guess today we do the same thing through television and pretend it's altruism.
A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger-This one isn't for the casual reader of historicals. Like Hilary Mantel's work, it's a book that immerses one in the time, with references to real people the reader is expected to recognize and words I wouldn't have known except for good old Dr. Calver's Chaucer class back at U of M many decades ago. I had to wade through dark passages and shifting points of view, both first person and third, for a while before I began to care about anyone in the slowly-emerging story. I also am not sure the premise of the mystery fits the machinations involved. Still, I'm far enough along that I'll stick with it and see where it all ends up. (After all, Chaucer himself is a character.) The author definitely has a gift for description, and he knows the period. This reader can almost feel the grit of medieval times beneath her fingernails.
My favorite of the bunch is The Tilted World, by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly. The book has it all: the disastrous flood of 1927 in the southern United States, a love story, characters I cared about, moonshine, revenuers, and lots of action. There was one suspend-your-disbelief moment, but it had to happen somehow to close the story arc, so I was okay with it. As I read, I kept imagining this book as a movie, and it would be a good one.
I still have Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist on the shelf; then it's on to Laurie King's The Murder of Mary Russell. I like her books, so it should be a good week!
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