The Corset by Laura Purcell Book Cover Image

The Corset by Laura Purcell: Feminist Historical Fiction with a Magical Realism Twist

Rating: 3.5 stars

Genre: Historical fiction

Summary: Dorothea has enough of her own worries – trying to continue her studies of phrenology under the disapproving eye of her father, dodging her simpering stepmother-to-be at society balls, and dissuading men with matrimonial hopes. Yet when visiting a woman’s prison on charitable errands, she feels drawn to the tragic story of Ruth Butterham, a maid and seamstress condemned to death for the murder of her mistress.

Ruth is an enigma, a girl of only sixteen who has already endured a lifetime of suffering. Always refusing to become a victim, this young prisoner holds onto a burning core of vengefulness that allures and repels Dorothea in equal measure. Is Ruth guilty, or is her confession the product of her own disturbing delusions? Continue reading The Corset by Laura Purcell: Feminist Historical Fiction with a Magical Realism Twist

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Book Cover Image

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Psychologically Driven Classic

Rating: 3 stars

Category: Classics, Historical Fiction

Synopsis: Hester Prynne’s husband is missing, presumed dead. Most believe he drowned on the voyage from Amsterdam to join her in New England. Yet getting pregnant out of wedlock is still enough to earn Hester a lifelong punishment – wearing the scarlet letter ‘A’ embroidered on her clothing so her shame can never be forgotten.

Cast to the margins of her Puritan village community, Hester lives in solitude and tries to raise her daughter Pearl away from prying eyes. When a newcomer to the village brings old secrets, she is forced to choose between a life of piety and redemption, or following her perilously taboo passions. Continue reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: Psychologically Driven Classic

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood Book Cover Image

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood: Character-Centric Historical Crime

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Historical fiction, crime, literary fiction

Format: Audiobook

Synopsis:

Alias Grace is based on the actual historical figure Grace Marks, who was convicted of murdering her employer and his housekeeper in 1843, alongside James McDermott. In this fictionalised account, it is uncertain whether she was acting under duress, out of fear for her own life, or if she was McDermott’s lover and co-conspirator.

The ambitious psychologist Dr Jordan is sent to the penitentiary to draw out the truth. However, with Grace claiming to have no memory of the incident, it will be difficult to separate the innocent, exploited young girl from the woman capable of unspeakable violence. Continue reading Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood: Character-Centric Historical Crime

The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch Book Cover Image

Archive Nostalgia: The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch

This week, it would have been the 100th birthday of inimitable author Iris Murdoch. What better time to bring back this review of her novel, The Red and the Green?

Andrew: a slightly reluctant soldier in the First World War.

Pat: a member of the militant Irish Volunteers.

Millie: an eccentric and passionate woman whose home is being used to store weaponry.

The Red and the Green interrogates the lives of this troubled family as events escalate towards the Easter Rising, a pivotal moment that would change the course of Irish History. Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch

Archive Nostalgia: Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Historical, Romance

Synopsis: Constance is a suffragette with ambitions to become a surgeon and a deep aversion to following her sister’s footsteps into domesticity. Will is the rising star of county cricket, whose values are far more ‘traditional’. When the two fall in love, each finds their views of the world irrevocably shaken at their foundations. However, with war on the horizon and British society clinging to the ideals that are about to be torn apart, will their affection be able to overcome the gulf of circumstance that separates them? Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn

Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn Book Cover

Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn: Historical Romance with Absorbing Depth

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Historical, Romance

Synopsis: Constance is a suffragette with ambitions to become a surgeon and a deep aversion to following her sister’s footsteps into domesticity. Will is the rising star of county cricket, whose values are far more ‘traditional’. When the two fall in love, each finds their views of the world irrevocably shaken at their foundations. However, with war on the horizon and British society clinging to the ideals that are about to be torn apart, will their affection be able to overcome the gulf of circumstance that separates them? Continue reading Half of the Human Race by Anthony Quinn: Historical Romance with Absorbing Depth

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Cover Image

Archive Nostalgia: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

I’m bringing back my review of Uncle Tom’s Cabin if you are looking to read a powerful novel that has changed the course of history this summer. 

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Historical fiction

Synopsis: Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a powerfully moving story that follows the lives of African-American slaves. What makes this novel so poignant is that when written it did not fall into its current category of ‘historical fiction’. It was simply ‘fiction’. In her research, Stowe did not delve deep into encyclopaedias and trawl old newspaper articles; she asked her friends. A fervent abolitionist, she wrote the novel to bring the individual agonies of slavery accusingly into the public eye. Its mixture of compassion and almost bitter anger is so compelling that it was credited by Abraham Lincoln as a major catalyst of the civil war. Continue reading Archive Nostalgia: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch Book Cover Image

The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch: Irish Easter Rising from Character-Centric Perspective

Andrew: a slightly reluctant soldier in the First World War.

Pat: a member of the militant Irish Volunteers.

Millie: an eccentric and passionate woman whose home is being used to store weaponry.

The Red and the Green interrogates the lives of this troubled family as events escalate towards the Easter Rising, a pivotal moment that would change the course of Irish History. Continue reading The Red and the Green by Iris Murdoch: Irish Easter Rising from Character-Centric Perspective

Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe Cover Image

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Historical fiction

Synopsis: Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a powerfully moving story that follows the lives of African-American slaves. What makes this novel so poignant is that when written it did not fall into its current category of ‘historical fiction’. It was simply ‘fiction’. In her research, Stowe did not delve deep into encyclopaedias and trawl old newspaper articles; she asked her friends. A fervent abolitionist, she wrote the novel to bring the individual agonies of slavery accusingly into the public eye. Its mixture of compassion and almost bitter anger is so compelling that it was credited by Abraham Lincoln as a major catalyst of the civil war. Continue reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe