Historical Novels

This month our book club read A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, in which the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s famous painting “Christina’s World” is fictionalized. The story is interesting, but I also enjoyed its depiction of both an early 1900s’ American city and farm. I’ve always enjoyed historical novels but find that I’m not reading as many as I used to. Maybe it’s because I don’t have as much patience to absorb the details (descriptions of clothing, houses, décor, day-to-day chores, etc.) that come with these books. As social media makes current events and people more accessible, I find myself easily distracted from the book I’m reading unless it has a compelling plot. But here are some historical novels I’ve recently read that kept me glued to the page:

In a Lonely Place by Dorothy Hughes. Though it really isn’t a historical novel, it was for me. It was published in 1947 and depicts the forties’ era. I loved the Los Angeles setting and the descriptions of the local streets, fashions, restaurants, and nightclubs.

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. A very entertaining rags-to-riches immigrant story that begins in the early 1900s.

City of Palaces by Michael Nava. The first in a planned four-volume set. It focuses on pre-revolutionary Mexico City politics and families.

This is not a long list, but like I said, I no longer read many historical novels.

It is difficult to find quiet time to read without distractions. My favorite time is early morning as I drink my coffee. The house is quiet. Ironically, though, my second favorite time to read is during the TV commercial breaks of the shows I like to watch (obviously, commercials don’t interest me) or while my husband watches a movie or program that I don’t want to see. TV is very often less entertaining than books.


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