WTBE Historical Novel Reading Group

Book​ ​Selections​ ​for​ ​Fall​ ​and​ ​Winter​ ​2017-18

Meeting​ ​the​ ​second​ ​Monday​ ​of​ ​each ​ ​month​,​ ​contact Molly Lindner (burnham@umich.edu) or Pat McCune (phmccune@gmail.com) to let them know you are interested in being part of this group.

Monday,​ ​September​ ​11,​ ​2017

Mitchell,​ ​David,​ ​​The​ ​Thousand​ ​Autumns​ ​of​ ​Jacob​ ​de​ ​Zoet,
​ ​​42,214​ ​Ratings​ ​​
​ ​​5,167​ ​Reviews

In​ ​1799,​ ​Jacob​ ​de​ ​Zoet​ ​disembarks​ ​on​ ​the​ ​tiny​ ​island​ ​of​ ​Dejima,​ ​the​ ​Dutch​ ​East India​ ​Company’s​ ​remotest​ ​trading​ ​post​ ​in​ ​a​ ​Japan​ ​otherwise​ ​closed​ ​to​ ​the outside​ ​world.​ ​Jacob​ ​is​ ​intrigued​ ​by​ ​a​ ​female​ ​midwife​ ​who​ ​studies​ ​with​ ​the physician​ ​on​ ​the​ ​island​ ​where​ ​all​ ​foreigners​ ​live.​ ​This​ ​book​ ​concerns​ ​the​ ​carefully controlled​ ​exchange​ ​of​ ​ideas​ ​between​ ​Japan​ ​and​ ​the​ ​western​ ​traders​ ​during​ ​the 18​th​​ ​century​ ​and​ ​reveals​ ​the​ ​Japanese​ ​woman’s​ ​medical​ ​knowledge​ ​that​ ​causes her​ ​abduction​ ​by​ ​a​ ​Japanese​ ​monk​ ​to​ ​a​ ​horrendous​ ​and​ ​secret​ ​place.​ ​​ ​The
length​ ​of​ ​this​ ​book​ ​makes​ ​it​ ​ideal​ ​to​ ​spread​ ​over​ ​two​ ​months,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​will​ ​read​ ​it in​ ​September.

Monday,​ ​October​ ​9,​ ​2017

Sharan​ ​Newman,​ ​​To​ ​Wear​ ​the​ ​White​ ​Cloak​.​ ​2003.​ ​Seventh​ ​book​ ​in Newman’s​ ​Catherone​ ​LeVendeur​ ​series​ ​about​ ​Catholics​ ​and​ ​Jews​ ​in​ ​12​th​​ ​century
France.​ ​Historical/Detective​ ​fiction​ ​is​ ​the​ ​genre.​ ​
Recommended​ ​by​ ​Stephanie Newell.​ ​Goodreads​ ​rating​ ​3.84.

Friday, October 27 and Saturday, Oct 28th– both at TBE

WTBE​ ​is​ ​hosting​ ​Maggie​ ​Anton​ ​at​ ​TBE,​ ​Friday​ ​night​ ​and​ ​Saturday,​ ​for talks​ ​and​ ​book​ ​signings.​ ​We​ ​are​ ​planning​ ​on​ ​a​ ​dinner​ ​for​ ​Friday​ ​night. Sign up at tbesisterhood.org/whats-happening/programms/maggie-anton-at-tbe-oct-2728-2017/.​ ​

Monday,​ ​November​ ​13,​ ​2017.

Pope,​ ​Dudley,​ ​​Ramage​ ​&​ ​the​ ​Saracens​​ ​​(Lord​ ​Ramage​ ​#17)
​ ​​ 2002.
Barbary​ ​Coast​ ​pirates—the​ ​Saraceni—are​ ​capturing​ ​slaves​ ​and​ ​terrorizing fishing​ ​villages​ ​along​ ​the​ ​coast​ ​of​ ​Sicily.​ ​Ramage​ ​and​ ​his​ ​crew​ ​are​ ​sent​ ​to​ ​track them​ ​down​ ​before​ ​they​ ​can​ ​devastate​ ​another​ ​town.​ ​I​ ​recommend​ ​this​ ​book​ ​for anyone​ ​familiar​ ​with​ ​the​ ​famous​ ​Abrey-Matchuran​ ​series​ ​written​ ​by​ ​Patrick O’Brian.​ ​The​ ​Nicholas​ ​Ramage​ ​series​ ​follows​ ​the​ ​exploits​ ​of​ ​Lord​ ​Nicholas Ramage​ ​during​ ​the​ ​Napoleonic​ ​Wars.​ ​Genre:​ ​historical​ ​drama.​ ​Goodreads​ ​rating 4.12.

Monday,​ ​December​ ​11,​ ​2017

Sundaresan,​ ​Indu,​ ​​The​ ​Twentieth​ ​Wife​,​ ​2006​.​ ​(The​ ​Taj​ ​Mahal​ ​Trilogy,​ ​book 1).​ ​​ ​​An​ ​enchanting​ ​sixteenth-century​ ​epic​ ​of​ ​grand​ ​passion​ ​and​ ​adventure,​ ​this debut​ ​novel​ ​tells​ ​the​ ​captivating​ ​story​ ​of​ ​one​ ​of​ ​India’s​ ​most​ ​legendary​ ​and controversial​ ​empresses​ ​–​ ​a​ ​woman​ ​whose​ ​brilliance​ ​and​ ​determination​ ​trumped myriad​ ​obstacles,​ ​and​ ​whose​ ​love​ ​shaped​ ​the​ ​course​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Mughal​ ​empire.—I chose​ ​this​ ​book​ ​because​ ​it​ ​takes​ ​us​ ​to​ ​India​ ​around​ ​the​ ​time​ ​of​ ​Henry​ ​VIII​ ​and Elizabeth​ ​I​ ​of​ ​England.​ ​Goodreads​ ​rating​ ​4.03.

Monday,​ ​January​ ​8,​ ​2018

Cassell,​ ​Leila,​ ​​Girl​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Hat​ ​Shop,​ ​​Silverwood​ ​books,​ ​2016.​ ​The​ ​year​ ​is 1940.​ ​Fay​ ​is​ ​a​ ​salesgirl​ ​in​ ​a​ ​Mayfair​ ​hat​ ​shop.​ ​But​ ​Fay​ ​is​ ​no​ ​ordinary​ ​girl.​ ​She sees​ ​things​ ​before​ ​they​ ​happen​ ​and,​ ​forbidden​ ​by​ ​her​ ​mother​ ​to​ ​speak​ ​about​ ​the visions​ ​that​ ​have​ ​clouded​ ​her​ ​life​ ​since​ ​she​ ​was​ ​a​ ​child,​ ​she​ ​has​ ​learnt​ ​to​ ​stay silent.​ ​Now,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​threat​ ​of​ ​invasion​ ​on​ ​everyone’s​ ​mind,​ ​she​ ​must​ ​speak​ ​up, and​ ​in​ ​a​ ​climate​ ​of​ ​prejudice​ ​and​ ​suspicion…Reviewed​ ​favorably​ ​by​ ​Rachel​ ​Urist in​ ​Washtenaw​ ​Jewish​ ​News,​ ​July-August​ ​2017.​ ​Goodreads​ ​rating​ ​4.33.

Monday,​ February ​12,​ ​2018

Gulland,​ ​Sandra,​ ​​The​ ​Many​ ​Lives​ ​&​ ​Secret​ ​Sorrows​ ​of​ ​Josephine​ ​B., Scribner​ ​&​ ​Sons,​​ ​​1995
I​ ​highly​ ​recommend​ ​this​ ​book​ ​because​ ​Josephine​ ​Tascher’s​ ​story​ ​prior​ ​to meeting​ ​Napoleon​ ​Bonaparte​ ​is​ ​as​ ​interesting​ ​as​ ​her​ ​later​ ​career​ ​as​ ​Empress​ ​of France.​ ​Her​ ​Creole​ ​parentage​ ​and​ ​upbringing​ ​in​ ​the​ ​French​ ​Martinique​ ​where​ ​her family​ ​owns​ ​slaves​ ​and​ ​a​ ​plantation​ ​set​ ​the​ ​stage​ ​for​ ​Josephine’s​ ​exotic​ ​debut​ ​in France.​ ​Her​ ​life​ ​there​ ​a​ ​cliffhanger​ ​all​ ​the​ ​way,​ ​not​ ​least​ ​because​ ​of​ ​her experiences​ ​during​ ​the​ ​Revolution​ ​and​ ​the​ ​long​ ​aftermath​ ​of​ ​poverty​ ​and treachery​ ​among​ ​the​ ​factions​ ​vying​ ​for​ ​control​ ​of​ ​the​ ​country.​ ​The​ ​second​ ​and third​ ​volumes​ ​in​ ​her​ ​fictionalized​ ​biography​ ​take​ ​Josephine​ ​through​ ​the​ ​end​ ​of her​ ​life.

Winspear,​ ​Jacqueline,​ ​​A​ ​Dangerous​ ​Place​,​ ​​A​ ​Maisie​ ​Dobbs​ ​Novel​.
Anyone​ ​who​ ​knows​ ​this​ ​series​ ​loves​ ​the​ ​main​ ​character.​ ​I​ ​love​ ​the​ ​writing​ ​style. Having​ ​sought​ ​refuge​ ​on​ ​Gibralter,​ ​while​ ​Germany​ ​is​ ​
arming​ ​for​ ​its​ ​invasion​ ​of France,​ ​Maisie​ ​Dobbs​ ​is​ ​grieving​ ​the​ ​death​ ​of​ ​her​ ​husband​ ​and​ ​the​ ​subsequent loss​ ​of​ ​their​ ​child​ ​in​ ​a​ ​miscarriage.​ ​I​ ​have​ ​rarely​ ​read​ ​such​ ​a​ ​moving​ ​description of​ ​a​ ​woman’s​ ​sorrow​ ​and​ ​her​ ​efforts​ ​to​ ​put​ ​one​ ​foot​ ​in​ ​front​ ​of​ ​the​ ​other.​ ​Maisie
becomes​ ​draw​ ​into​ ​the​ ​small​ ​community​ ​of​ ​Sepharic​ ​Jews​ ​on​ ​Gibralter,​ ​one​ ​of whom​ ​is​ ​murdered​ ​and​ ​uses​ ​her​ ​detective​ ​skills​ ​to​ ​search​ ​for​ ​the​ ​murderer.

Rhys,​ ​Jean,​ ​​The​ ​Wide​ ​Sargasso​ ​Sea​,​ ​first​ ​published​ ​1966;​ ​reissued​ ​by Norton​ ​Critical​ ​Editions,​ ​2016.​ ​A​ ​colleague​ ​of​ ​mine​ ​at​ ​Kent​ ​State​ ​University,​ ​Stark told​ ​me​ ​to​ ​read​ ​this​ ​book​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​understand​ ​the​ ​Afro-Caribbean​ ​world.​ ​Rhys tells​ ​the​ ​story​ ​of​ ​the​ ​insane​ ​and​ ​depraved​ ​Creole​ ​woman​ ​in​ ​​Jane​ ​Eyre​,​ ​Bertha Mason,​ ​who​ ​Mr.​ ​Rochester​ ​keeps​ ​hidden​ ​in​ ​his​ ​mansion.​ ​A​ ​new​ ​introduction​ ​by the​ ​award-winning​ ​Edwidge​ ​Danticat,​ ​author​ ​most​ ​recently​ ​of​ ​​Claire​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Sea Light​,​ ​expresses​ ​the​ ​enduring​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​this​ ​work.​ ​Drawing​ ​on​ ​her​ ​own
Caribbean​ ​background,​ ​she​ ​illuminates​ ​the​ ​setting’s​ ​impact​ ​on​ ​Rhys​ ​and​ ​her astonishing​ ​work.

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