Historical events and people make a great basis for fasicnating and often thought-provoking stories. Girl Who Reads started with a review of the historical fiction novel Skeletons at the Feast. Whether the story is fiction, non-fiction, or a blend of the two, they transport us to a time we lived through or perhaps only heard about, but give us a deeper appreciation or a new perspective on it.
In May 4, 1970, four college students at Kent State University were killed by the Ohio National Guard after several days of protest about the Vietnam War. This book by Howard Means gives the background of the shooting, tells us about the people who were shot and the aftermath of the shooting. I had just finished college when the Kent State shootings occurred and thought that I understood all about them but I learned so much in this book that I either didn't know or had forgotten. But even if you weren't alive in 1970, this book is one that you should read - it gives a clear picture of the state that the country was in at this time, the way the town's people felt about the college students and the way the college students felt about the war. The author does a fantastic job of giving the facts but also humanizing the story to make it very readable and interesting. It was a sad time in American history and shouldn't be forgotten. (I received this book from NetGalley for an impartial review)
Buy 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence at Amazon
Dawn Tripp has painted a wonderful portrait of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe in her novel about the artist. I knew her paintings and a little bit about her life before I read this book but I learned so much more about her life and her struggles to become accepted as an artist in what was really a man's world. Alfred Steiglitz, already a famous photographer and much older than she, was her mentor, her lover, her husband and ultimately the person who tried to hold her back. She was a gifted, brash, solitary but very honest person who knew that her goal in life was to create art out of the life around her. After she moved to NYC to be close to Alfred and allowed him to take nude pictures of her that were shown in one of his shows, the art world saw her as his companion instead of seeing her as an artist in her own right and she had to struggle to establish an identity separate from his.
Even though this is a fictionalized account of Georgia O'Keefee's life, the author did a tremendous amount of research to make it as realistic as possible. Her writing is wonderful and she painted a wonderful portrait of the artist with her words.
The book was fantastic and I couldn't put it down. Since I finished, I have been on line, looking at her paintings and Alfred's many photos of her. Its more than just a book about a famous artist, it's a book about a woman who breaks out of the norms of her times and the struggles that she has to go through to be successful.
Buy Georgia: A Novel of Georgia O'Keefe at Amazon
I thought that this book was phenomenal and highly recommend it for two main reasons. First, it was a fantastic story. The characters were so real and so believable that I felt that I could sit down and talk to them - especially Jane. I found myself reading slower as I got to the end because I didn't want the story to end. Second, way back when I was in school, we were never taught about women who did heroic things during wars and this book was a real eye opener for me. It was based on the real life female journalists and photo journalists who were side by side (or tried to be) with the men during World War II. The two main characters Liv, a photographer, and Jane, a journalist, go AWOL from behind American lines to try to get to Paris for the liberation. They put up with lots of hardship to accomplish what was a major career and personal goal for both of them - to report the stories as they were happening. To sum it all up in two words -- READ IT!
Buy The Race for Paris at Amazon
What are some of your favorite historical books? Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?
Susan Roberts: reviewer. Susan grew up in the Detroit area but after deciding that city life wasn't for her she moved to North Carolina after college. She and her husband have several acres of land and they enjoy gardening and canning vegetables in the summer. They travel extensively and just returned from a month in Paris. Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. You can connect with Susan on Facebook or Twitter.