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November 1, 2020

2 Novels for Fans of Historical Fiction

by Susan Roberts

I enjoy reading historical fiction.  A lot of history was ignored in the classrooms of the 60s and I must admit, I've probably forgotten a lot that was taught.  Today I have two books of historical fiction that are about two very different wars - the Civil War and WWII.
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Dawson's Fall by Roxana Robinson

Dawson's Fall
September 2020; Picador; 978-1250619662
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); biographical fiction
"How did people of principle navigate the ethical maelstrom of slavery?  How could they maintain personal integrity during that dark, basilisk reign or during its terrible aftermath?"
  (p x)

Dawson's Fall is a  novel based on the lives of the author's great-grandparents in Charleston, SC in 1889.  She used family papers, journals, letters  and newspaper articles for the basis of the novel but also did extensive research about America during the years after the Civil War. 

The war between the states was over but its effects were still felt in Charleston.  Frank Dawson survived the war and is now the editor of the Charleston News and Courier.  He appears to be living comfortably with his wife Sarah and their two children but is having several financial problems that he hasn't shared with his wife.  As Frank continues to write editorials about equal rights and nonviolence, his newspaper readership is dropping rapidly because these are not the views of most of the people in Charleston who were against Black people owning property and voting.  

This was an interesting look at the views of people after the Civil War.  I thought that it was well written and appreciated that the author used the journal entries and letters of her family to tell the story.  I do agree with many reviewers that the first half of the story was difficult to get through because of all the characters.  However, I encourage you to read this book for the story that's told in the second half.  ” In the end, Dawson―a man in many ways representative of the country at this time―was felled by the very violence he vehemently opposed."

Buy Dawson's Fall at Amazon

The Last Correspondent by Soraya M. Lane 

The Last Correspondent
November 2020; Lake Union; 978-1542023573
audio, ebook, print (335 pages); historical fiction
"Look, women are supposed to be at home or nursing, not running around in the middle of a war. This isn't a place for any woman, so don't take it personally when I tell you that you shouldn't be here."
(loc 450)

Soraya Lane has written several books about strong women who are trying to do their part during WWII but are restricted simply because they are women.  Her new book follows that main theme but gives us three strong women trying to overcome the prejudice against women during this time in our history.

Danni is a photojournalist who feels that it is her duty to take pictures so that people in American can see what war is really about.  In Italy, she gets restricted to the field hospital (one of the few places where women were accepted as nurses) by Gen Patton.  As D-Day approaches, she knows that she has to get to France but women correspondents were strictly prohibited from the front lines.

Ella is a writer who has just lost her job as a reporter for using a male pseudonym.  She knows that writing is the main part of her life and when she is offered a job to go to London to write about women's roles in the war, she jumps at the chance.  Once she gets to London, she realizes that she wants to write about more important subjects and knows that somehow she has to get to France for the invasion.

Chloe is a flighty Vogue model who despite the war, manages to travel from London to Paris to be with her boyfriend who is now part of the Resistance.  Once there, she finds out that he considered her to be a fling while she thought that they were both in love.  She starts out as being very naive and selfish but with  her growth during the novel, she too becomes a strong woman. 

All three women are determined to follow their dreams no matter what happens even as they are in the midst of a war and frequently in personal danger.    Their friendship with each other helps them all become stronger as they help each other through some perilous situations.

The one thing that I didn't like about this novel were the romances.  Finding love in war is great but at times, these women who were supposed to be strong sure relied on the man that they fell in love with to save their day! 

This fantastic novel is about war and survival, friendship and love and most importantly about strong women who are able to follow their dreams no matter how hard the men of the world try to keep them in their places.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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