Lee Smith, “Guests on Earth” (Algonquin Books, 2013)
On the night of March 9, 1948, fire consumed the Central Building at the Highland Mental Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. Although people at the time recognized that the fire had been set, the local police department never identified the arsonist. Among the nine women who died on a locked... Read More
James Forrester, “Sacred Treason” (Sourcebooks, 2012)
London, December 1563. Elizabeth I–Gloriana, the Virgin Queen–has ruled England for five years, but her throne is far from secure. Even though Elizabeth succeeded her half-sister Mary, the idea of a woman sovereign still troubles much of the populace. And although the burnings of Protestants at Smithfield ceased with Elizabeth’s... Read More
Carol Strickland, “The Eagle and the Swan” (Erudition Digital, 2013)
In 476 CE, according to the chronology most of us learned in school, the Roman Empire fell and the Dark Ages began. That’s how textbook chronologies work: one day you’re studying the Romans, and next day you’re deep in early feudal Europe, as if a fairy godmother had waved a... Read More
Yangsze Choo, “The Ghost Bride” (HarperCollins, 2013)
Malaya, 1893. Pan Li Lan, a beautiful eighteen-year-old, has watched her Chinese merchant family decline since the death of her mother from smallpox during Li Lan’s early childhood. Her father lives in isolation and smokes too much opium: bad for business, as anyone can see from the decaying surroundings of... Read More
Virginia Pye, “River of Dust” (Unbridled Books, 2013)
Few possibilities terrify parents more than the kidnapping of a child. Guilt, grief, helplessness, anger, and immobilizing fear mingle to create an emotional stew with a mix of ingredients that varies just enough from person to person to reveal the cracks in once-solid relationships, leaving individuals struggling alone–and often against... Read More
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