Friday, November 22, 2013

February Historical Fiction Preview



The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler (in PB Feb 4th)
In the wake of World War II, a young, enigmatic woman named Lily arrives in Montreal on her own, expecting to be married to a man she’s never met. But, upon seeing her at the train station, Sol Kramer turns her down. Out of pity, his brother Nathan decides to marry her instead, and pity turns into a deep—and doomed—love. It is immediately clear that Lily is not who she claims to be. Her attempt to live out her life as Lily Azerov shatters when she disappears, leaving a new husband and a baby daughter with only a diary, a large uncut diamond – and a need to find the truth. Who is Lily and what happened to the young woman whose identity she stole? Why has she left and where did she go? It's up to the daughter Lily abandoned to find the answers to these questions, as she searches for the mother she may never find or truly know.




The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (in PB Feb 4th)
Paris, 1878. Following the death of their father from overwork, the three Van Goethem sisters find their lives upended. Without their father's wages, and with what little their mother earns as a laundress disappearing down the absinthe bottle, eviction from their single boarding room seems imminent. With few options for work available for a girl, bookish fourteen-year-old Marie and her younger sister Charlotte are dispatched to the Paris Opera, where for a scant seven francs a week, the girls will be trained to enter its famous ballet. Their older sister, stubborn and insolent seventeen-year-old Antoinette, dismissed from the ballet, finds herself launched into the orbit of Emile Zola and the influence of his notorious naturalist masterpiece L'Assommoir -- and into the arms of a young man who may turn out to be a murderer. Marie throws herself into dance, hoping her natural gift and hard work will enable her to escape her circumstances, but the competition to become one of the famous etoiles at whose feet flowers are thrown nightly is fierce, and Marie is forced to turn elsewhere to make money. Cripplingly self-conscious about her low-class appearance, she nonetheless finds herself modeling in the studio of Edgar Degas, where her image will forever be immortalized in his controversial sculpture Little Dancer, Aged 14. Antoinette, meanwhile, descends lower and lower in society and must make the choice between honest labor as a laundress and the more profitable avenues available to a young woman in the Paris demimonde -- that is unless her love for the dangerous Emile Abadie derails her completely.


A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner (Feb 4th)
September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?



India Black and the Gentleman Thief by Carol K. Carr (Feb 4th)
India Black’s double life operating a high-class brothel and running high-stakes espionage for Her Majesty’s government can take its toll. But there’s no rest for the weary—particularly when an international conspiracy comes knocking. India Black is one of Victorian London’s most respected madams—not a bloody postmistress. So when Colonel Francis Mayhew forwards a seemingly innocuous shipping bill to her address, she’s puzzled. And when three thugs bust down her door, steal the envelope, and rough up both her and fellow agent French…well, that’s enough to make India Black see red. The veteran spies soon discover that Mayhew has been butchered in his own bedroom. An impromptu investigation leads them to London’s docks, where India makes a startling discovery she can’t bear to tell the rakish French—she has a history with their chief suspect, the gentleman thief who once stole her heart.



Who Thinks Evil: A Professor Moriarty Novel by Michael Kurland (Feb 4th)
In London, 1892, a well-guarded young nobleman goes missing under distressing circumstances. The nobleman, one Baron Renfrew, is actually Prince Albert Victor, eldest grandson of Queen Victoria. He disappeared while he was visiting a house of ill repute, with bodyguards both inside and outside the building—with his inside bodyguard rendered unconscious and the trussed-up corpse of a brutally murdered young woman left behind. Hoping to find the missing Prince and to clear him of the murder, the royal family is looking for a brilliant—and, more importantly, discreet—investigator. Sherlock Holmes, alas, is out of the country so, at the suggestion of his brother Mycroft, they turn to the only man who just might be more brilliant—Dr. James Moriarty. Moriarty, at the time, is up on charges of murder, awaiting retrial after his first jury was hung. In exchange for his release and the murder charges (of which he’s innocent), the so-called“Napoleon of Crime” will use all his resources to track down the missing prince and find out who is behind his disappearance and the brutal murders left in his wake. He soon finds that someone out there is laying a trail, setting up Moriarty himself to take the fall for the crimes. If the real Moriarty doesn’t manage to unravel and foil this plot soon, he may never again draw another free breath.



The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh (in PB Feb 4th)
Frances Irvine, left destitute in the wake of her father’s sudden death, has been forced to abandon her life of wealth and privilege in London and immigrate to the Southern Cape of Africa. 1880 South Africa is a country torn apart by greed. In this remote and inhospitable land she becomes entangled with two very different men—one driven by ambition, the other by his ideals. Only when the rumor of an epidemic takes her into the dark heart of the diamond mines does Frances see her road to happiness. But before she can follow that path, Frances must choose between passion and integrity, between her desire for the man who captured her heart and her duty to the man who saved her from near ruin, a decision that will have devastating consequences.




Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (in PB Feb 4th)
In 1924 George Mallory departs on his third expedition to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Left behind in Cambridge, George’s young wife, Ruth, along with the rest of a war-ravaged England, anticipates news they hope will reclaim some of the empire’s faded glory. Through alternating narratives, what emerges is a beautifully rendered story of love torn apart by obsession and the need for redemption.




I Always Loved You by Robin Oliviera (Feb 4th)
The young Mary Cassatt never thought moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination wavers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for the introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.



Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen (Feb 6th)
Jobless with a PhD, Lee Lien returns home to her Chicago suburb from grad school, only to find herself contending with issues she’s evaded since college. But when her brother disappears, he leaves behind an object from their mother’s Vietnam past that stirs up a forgotten childhood dream: a gold-leaf brooch, abandoned by an American reporter in Saigon back in 1965, that might be an heirloom belonging to Laura Ingalls Wilder. As Lee explores the tenuous facts of this connection, she unearths more than expected—a trail of clues and enticements that lead her from the dusty stacks of library archives to hilarious prairie life reenactments and ultimately to San Francisco, where her findings will transform strangers’ lives as well as her own.



The Swan Gondola by Timothy Schaffert (Feb 6th)
On the eve of the 1898 Omaha World’s Fair, Ferret Skerritt, ventriloquist by trade, con man by birth, isn’t quite sure how it will change him or his city. Omaha still has the marks of a filthy Wild West town, even as it attempts to achieve the grandeur and respectability of nearby Chicago. But when he crosses paths with the beautiful and enigmatic Cecily, his whole purpose shifts and the fair becomes the backdrop to their love affair. One of a traveling troupe of actors that has descended on the city, Cecily works in the Midway’s Chamber of Horrors, where she loses her head hourly on a guillotine playing Marie Antoinette. And after closing, she rushes off, clinging protectively to a mysterious carpetbag, never giving Ferret a second glance. But a moonlit ride on the swan gondola, a boat on the lagoon of the New White City, changes everything, and the fair’s magic begins to take its effect.



The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki (Feb 11th)
Everyone knows Benedict Arnold—the infamous Revolutionary War General who betrayed America and fled to the British as history’s most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold’s co-conspirator, Major John Andre, the British soldier who was apprehended with Arnold’s secret documents in his boots and hung at the orders of General George Washington. But few know the third integral character in the conspiracy: Peggy Shippen Arnold, the charming, cunning young woman who orchestrated the whole thing. At seventeen, socialite Peggy seduces the infamous war hero Arnold with her beauty and wit during his stint as Military Commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride’s allure, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret, lifelong loyalty to the British. Nor does he know that she is hiding a past romance with the handsome British spy, Major John Andre. Peggy Shippen Arnold watches as her husband, crippled from a battle wound and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her former lover and her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to turn over West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune for herself and Benedict Arnold.



Wake by Anna Hope (Feb 11th)
November 1920: the body of a soldier with no name begins itsjourney home from France. Five days later: he is greeted by cheering crowds and bright-red poppies at the Cenotaph. In the street on Armistice Day are three women, each overcoming loss in their own way: Hettie, who dances for sixpence a waltz at the Hammersmith Palais; wealthy Evelyn, who toils at a lowly job in the pensions office, and Ada, a housewife who snatches glimpses of her dead son in the street. As each struggles to move on with her life, a wartime mystery begins to unravel. But where will the threads lead, and will they bring the answers these women crave?



Girl on the Golden Coin: a Novel of France Stuart by Marci Jefferson (Feb 11th)
In 1660, the Restoration of Stuart Monarchy in England returns Frances Stuart and her family to favor. Frances discards threadbare gowns and goes to gilded Fontainebleau Palace, where she soon catches the Sun King’s eye. But Frances is no ordinary court beauty—she has Stuart secrets to keep and her family to protect. King Louis XIV turns vengeful when she rejects his offer to become his Official Mistress. He sends her to England with orders to seduce King Charles II and help him form an alliance with England. The Queen Mother likewise orders Frances to become her son's mistress, in the interest of luring him away from the Protestant mistress he currently keeps. Armed in pearls and silk, Frances maneuvers the political turbulence of Whitehall Palace, but still can’t afford to stir a scandal, determined to keep her family from shame. Her tactic to inspire King Charles to greatness captivates him and the two embark on a tenuous relationship. Frances survives the Great Fire, the Great Plague, and the debauchery of the Restoration Court, yet loses her heart to the very king she must control. A startling discovery will leave her with no other choice but to break his heart, while the fate of England hangs in the balance.




The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman (Feb 18th)
Coney Island: Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a boardwalk freak show that amazes and stimulates the crowds. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father’s “museum,” alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle. One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man photographing moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River. The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father’s Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as an apprentice tailor. When Eddie captures with his camera the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the mystery behind a young woman’s disappearance.



My Name is Resolute by Nancy E. Turner (Feb 18th)
The year is 1729, and Resolute Talbot and her siblings are captured by pirates, taken from their family in Jamaica, and brought to the New World. Resolute and her sister are sold into slavery in New England and taught the trade of spinning and weaving. When Resolute finds herself alone in Lexington, Massachusetts, she struggles to find her way in a society that is quick to judge a young woman without a family. As the seeds of rebellion against England grow, Resolute is torn between following the rules and breaking free. Resolute’s talent at the loom places her at the center of an incredible web of secrecy that helped drive the American Revolution. 


Second Summer of War by Cheryl Cooper (Feb 18th)
With the British traitor Captain Thomas Trevelyan incarcerated on a prison hulk in Portsmouth Harbour, Princess Emeline "Emily" Louisa sails back to England and is summarily dispatched to Hartwood Hall, home of the disagreeable Duke and Duchess of Belmont. There she endures weeks awaiting Trevelyan's trial, unable to leave the estate or find useful occupation. Relations with her guardians, chilly at best, soon escalate into a battle of wills when they attempt to marry her off in order to secure favour with her uncle, the Prince Regent. Meanwhile, England's naval war with the United States continues to rage on the Atlantic. When Fly Austen and his friend, Dr. Leander Braden, are given Admiralty Orders to testify at the trial, they return home with the hope of seeing Emily one last time. Their journey is anything but uneventful as they encounter devastating storms, menacing ships, and a spectre that proclaims their impending doom.



Brotherhood of Fear by Paul Grossman (Feb 18th)
Paris 1933. A refugee with no papers, no legal status, and few resources, Willi Kraus lives in fear of deportation back to Nazi Germany. His reputation as a top sleuth however precedes him, and he's soon enlisted to work as a private eye if-under shady circumstances. Despite his apparent good fortune he finds himself a stranger in a very strange land. France is gripped by a fog of disillusionment, anxious about the tides of fascism rising along her borders. Seduced by a sultry but troubled French girl and befriended by France's most flamboyant financier, Willi finds himself unwittingly drawn into a murder mystery which points towards the highest halls of power. Without a badge, working alone, he gradually gets the impression he's being led into a maze. By whom and for what purpose? To escape this web of intrigue he must learn to navigate not only the grand salons of Paris but her seediest alleys and darkest canals, her smokiest nightclubs-a landscape as disorienting as a hall of mirrors, where sex, politics, money and love are often just tricks of the eye.





A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger (Feb 18th)
London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt's flamboyant mistress, Katherine Swynford, England's young and untested new king, Richard II, is in mortal peril-and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London-catchy quatrains said to originate from an ancient book rumored to prophesize the demise of England's kings-including the assassination of Richard. Few besides the monarch's allies know that the songs derive from a "burnable book," a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to poet John Gower, a professional purveyor of information with far-reaching connections. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into unwitting hands-innocent lives that will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king's court to London's slums and stews. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate.



Long Man by Amy Greene (Feb 25th) 
A river called Long Man has coursed through East Tennessee from time immemorial, bringing sustenance to the people who farm along its banks and who trade between its small towns. But as Long Man opens, the Tennessee Valley Authority's plans to dam the river and flood the town of Yuneetah for the sake of progress-to bring electricity and jobs to the hardscrabble region-are about to take effect. Just one day remains before the river will rise, and most of the town has been evacuated. Among the holdouts is a young mother, Annie Clyde Dodson, whose ancestors have lived for generations on her mountaintop farm; she'll do anything to ensure that her three-year-old daughter, Gracie, will inherit the family's land. But her husband wants to make a fresh start in Michigan, where he has found work that will secure the family's future. As the deadline looms, a storm as powerful as the emotions between them rages outside their door. Suddenly, they realize that Gracie has gone missing. Has she simply wandered off into the rain? Or has she been taken by Amos, the mysterious drifter who has come back to town, perhaps to save it in a last, desperate act of violence?




Tyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin (Feb 25th)
Tyringham Park is the Blackshaws’ magnificent country house in the south of Ireland. It is a haven of wealth and privilege until its peace is shattered by a devastating event which reveals the chaos of jealousy and deceit beneath its surface. Charlotte Blackshaw is only eight years old when her little sister Victoria goes missing from the estate. Charlotte is left to struggle with her loss without any support from her hostile mother and menacing nanny. It is obvious to Charlotte that both of them wish she had been the one to go missing rather than pretty little Victoria. Charlotte finds comfort in the kindness of servants. With their help she seeks an escape from the burden of being the unattractive one left behind. Despite her mother’s opposition, she later reaches out for happiness and believes the past can no longer hurt her.  But the mystery of Victoria’s disappearance continues to cast a long shadow over Tyringham Park - a mystery that may still have the power to destroy its world and the world of all those connected to it.





The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott (Feb 25th)
A young farm girl named Alice, hungry for independence, strikes out to take her chances working as a spinner in the cotton mills of Lowell in the 1830s. The brutal murder of another mill girl sweeps her up into a passionate attempt to find justice for her friend. It also draws her into the life and heart of the mill owner’s son, opening a window into a wealthy world Alice has never experienced. Scandal erupts when an evangelical preacher is charged with the murder. The ensuing trial pits the mill owners – desperate to keep their reputation as protectors of the young women keeping their mills operating – against religious leaders who defend the preacher, fearing for their own reputations. In the midst of this, labor unrest at the mill is growing, and the town of Lowell is in ferment. And Alice – when the verdict finally comes in - must make an agonizing choice that will change her life.



Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell (Feb 25th)
Vienna Nocturne tells the story of the turbulent life and brilliantly successful career of young British opera singer Anna Storace, a child prodigy who is taken by her parents to Italy at age thirteen to advance her career. In love with life and wildly ambitious, Anna wants everything-to be famous, to be loved-and this leads her to make some fatal choices. We watch her turn from a carefree young girl to a passionate young woman, and it is during this transformation that her affair with Mozart blossoms. The story of their love, no less powerful for being forbidden, is reminiscent of the passionate thwarted romances described in Loving Frank and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Written in melodious prose by a young author studying opera at Yale, Vienna Nocturne is a dramatic story of a woman's battle to find love and fame in an eighteenth-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.



Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller (in PB Feb 25th)
In eighteenth-century Paris, Jacob Cerf is a Jew, a peddler of knives, saltcellars, and snuffboxes. Despite a disastrous teenage marriage, he is determined to raise himself up in life, by whatever means he can. More than two hundred years later, Jacob is amazed to find himself reincarnated as a fly in the Long Island suburbs of twenty-first-century America, his new life twisted in ways he could never have imagined. But even the tiniest of insects can influence the turning of the world, and thanks to his arrival, the lives of a reliable volunteer fireman and a young Orthodox Jewish woman nursing a secret ambition will never be the same.



Madam: A Novel of New Orleans by Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin (Feb 25th)
New Orleans, 1897. Mary Deubler makes a meager living on Venus Alley, the illegal red light district. That all changes when bible-thumping Alderman Sidney Story forces the creation of a legalized district of vice that’s mockingly dubbed “Storyville” in his honor. Despite her looks and intelligence, Mary doesn’t think she can make it on Basin Street, where girls turn tricks in plush, velvet wallpapered bordellos. But thanks to gumption, twists of fate, even a touch of voodoo, Mary rises above her hopeless lot to become the notorious Madam Josie Arlington.



Raiders of the Nile by Steven Saylor (Feb 25th)
In 88 B.C. it seems as if all the world is at war. From Rome to Greece and to Egypt itself, most of civilization is on the verge of war. The young Gordianus—a born-and-raised Roman citizen—is living in Alexandria, making ends meet by plying his trade of solving puzzles and finding things out for pay. He whiles away his time with his slave Bethesda, waiting for the world to regain its sanity. But on the day Gordianus turns twenty-two, Bethesda is kidnapped by brigands who mistake her for a rich man’s mistress. If Gordianus is to find and save Bethesda, who has come to mean more to him than even he suspected, he must find the kidnappers before they realize their mistake and cut their losses. Using all the skills he learned from his father, Gordianus must track them down and convince them that he can offer something of enough value in exchange for Bethesda’s release. As the streets of Alexandria slowly descend into chaos, and the citizenry begin to riot with rumors of an impending invasion by Ptolmey’s brother, Gordianus finds himself in the midst of a very bold and dangerous plot—the raiding and pillaging of the golden sarcophagus of Alexander the Great himself.


The Harem Midwife by Roberta Rich (Feb 25th)
In the opulent palace of the feared and revered Sultan Murat III, Hannah Levi, midwife to the Sultan's vast harem, is forced to deliver heirs to the kingdom. If she fails, the entire Ottoman Empire will collapse, but the woman who has been chosen to be the Sultan's mistress is not all she seems. And when a mysterious woman turns up on her doorstep, claiming to be her late brother's bride, Hannah must find the courage to defend herself - both against the threat of the Sultan and the widow-imposter - or lose everything she has ever loved...



The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbitt (Feb 25th)
Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago—and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses with P.O. box addresses in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn’t exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together—adapting to a landscape as fierce as it was absorbing, full of the banalities of everyday life and the drama of scientific discovery. And while the bomb was being invented, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from an abandoned school on a hill into a real community: one that was strained by the words they couldn’t say out loud, the letters they couldn’t send home, the freedom they didn’t have. But the end of the war would bring even bigger challenges to the people of Los Alamos, as the scientists and their families struggled with the burden of their contribution to the most destructive force in the history of mankind.



The Boleyn Bride by Brandy Purdy (Feb 25th)
At sixteen, Elizabeth Howard envisions a glorious life for herself as lady-in-waiting to the future queen, Catherine of Aragon. But when she is forced to marry Thomas Boleyn, a wealthy commoner, Elizabeth is left to stagnate in the countryside while her detested husband pursues his ambitions. There, she raises golden girl Mary, moody George, and ugly duckling Anne—while staving off boredom with a string of admirers. Until Henry VIII takes the throne. . .  When Thomas finally brings his highborn wife to London, Elizabeth indulges in lavish diversions and dalliances—and catches the lusty king's eye. But those who enjoy Henry's fickle favor must also guard against his wrath. For while her husband's machinations bring Elizabeth and her children to the pinnacle of power, the distance to the scaffold is but a short one—and the Boleyn family's fortune may be turning. . .



The Heretics by Rory Clements (UK Release Feb 28th)
England may have survived the Armada threat of 1588, but when Spanish galleys land troops in Cornwall on a lightning raid seven years later, is it a dry-run for a new invasion? Revenge for the sacking of Spanish shipping and ports? A warning shot to Drake and Hawkins? Or is there, perhaps, a more sinister motive? The Queen is speechless with rage at Spain's temerity. Sir Robert Cecil demands answers. But as John Shakespeare tries to get a grip on events, England's secret defences begin to unravel as one by one his network of spies is horribly murdered. But what has all this to do with Thomasyn Jade, a girl driven to the edge of madness by the foul rituals of exorcism? And what is the link to a group of priests held prisoner in the bleak confines of Wisbech Castle? From the pain-wracked torture rooms of the Inquisition in Seville to the marshy wastes of fenland, from the wild coasts of Cornwall to the sweat and sawdust of the Elizabethan playhouses, and from the condemned cell at Newgate to the devilish stench of brimstone and fear as demons are driven out by unspeakable means, THE HERETICS builds to a terrifying climax that threatens the life of the Queen herself.

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