The Vatican Princess by G.W. Gortner

Lucrezia Borgia continues to be the subject of biographies, a hit TV series (sadly cancelled before its time), and historical novels, including the recent Vatican Princess that probes the depths of depravity that the infamous papal dynasty of the early 16th century sank into, engulfing everyone within its orbit. As an illegitimate but beloved daughter... Continue Reading →

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

I finally read Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders's Man Booker Prize winner for 2017, and it was quite an experience. The book made a splash for its unusual theme and innovative style - it is written in a quasi-dramatic form and composed in part of quotes from history books and primary sources, including diaries of White House... Continue Reading →

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

I have confessed on this blog to being conservative when it comes to my historical fiction: I prefer it realistic and serious, no fantasy, parody, alternative histories, etc. Then I came across a synopsis of The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer. The setting of the novel – medieval Siena – had me sit up... Continue Reading →

The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader

Anchoresses were medieval women who chose to pursue a particularly demanding form of monastic life, namely complete isolation from the world. Once enclosed, they would typically live out their lives in a small cell, servants delivering their food and the priest hearing their confession being the only people with whom they would have contact. So... Continue Reading →

Strangers in Budapest by Jessica Keener

Jessica Keener’s Strangers in Budapest may not *technically* be historical fiction, which is defined as taking place in a period before the author’s birth. Nonetheless, it is of considerable historical interest. It is set in the mid-1990s Hungary at the time of the transition from communism to capitalism, a process that is largely complete in... Continue Reading →

Apricots and Wolfsbane by K.M. Pohlkamp

Lavinia Maud lies and murders, but she is also hopelessly in love, goes to church regularly, and gives shelter to a pair of orphaned siblings. In other words, the heroine of K.M. Pohlkamp’s Apricots and Wolfsbane may be a monster, but she is also adorable. Herself orphaned at a young age, Lavinia turns her passion... Continue Reading →

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