Tag: historical fiction

Review: Washington Black

Washington Black was short-listed for the 2018 Man Booker Prize. From its nomination to the glowing praise around the Internet, most people liked this book more than I did. Though the first half of the book is well-written, the plot’s over-reliance on coincidence strains…

Review: Girl with a Pearl Earring

Chevalier’s classic is technically “good,” but it’s flat. Griet’s character might be better explored by Vermeer’s famous painting than by this book.

Review: Minds of Winter

As you can tell from my love letter to The North Water, I like books set in the arctic. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an explorer right after my ballerina phase and just before my Indiana Jones phase. (Current phase: I…

Review: The Narrow Road to the Deep North

I’m adding Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish to my queue (for next year, not this year). The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a show of real skill, but I suspect Flanagan’s other works are better. Narrow Road took 12 years to complete. Something I…

Review: City of Thieves

I stumbled over City of Thieves when it came out and was early on the bandwagon. First to read and last to blog: a neat summation of how I run things around here. City of Thieves is simultaneously funny and sad, which is a…

Review: Wolf Hall

Historical fiction is a messy business: too much history and it’s dry; too much fiction and readers assume you don’t know your history. Few authors juggle fact and fiction more deftly than Hillary Mantel in Wolf Hall, but she made a mistake in her…

Review: The Orphan Master’s Son

Like everyone else, I read through the surge in articles after Kim Jong Il’s death to learn more about his cult of personality with morbid fascination. The North Korean propaganda machine perpetuates such myths as Kim Jong Il being a demi-god able to control the…

Review: Shanghai Girls

If you have read Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, you’ve read a book enormously similar to her more recent Shanghai Girls. In Shanghai Girls, the girls are natural sisters instead of close friends; the horrifying foot-binding is swapped for a horrifying…