Historical fiction – Short stories & novels
Three books of historical fiction reached the top of my TBR stack this month.
Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads by S. L. Mallery is an engaging collection of short stories spanning events from the 1400s to modern day. This collection indulges those who enjoy history in small bites and those who enjoy sewing and the related arts.
Mallery does an admirable job capturing events in eleven vastly different historical eras. I found it easy to see the locations, hear the voices, and relate to the characters in each story, whether the story was set in Medieval England, the New York garment district in 1911, Germany during World War II, or Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of love.
Sewing Can Be Dangerous will appeal to readers who sew and sewers who read, as well as fans of historical fiction and short stories.
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman is set in Australia post-World War I and follows the story of a lighthouse keeper who carries the heavy burden of his military service during which he led men into battle and many died. When his wife suffers repeated miscarriages, it seems a miracle when a boat carrying a dead man and a live baby washes up on their shore.
The lighthouse that marks the transition between two oceans — the quiet Indian Ocean and the tumultuous Southern Ocean — presents a powerful metaphor for the dichotomy of choice. Beautifully written and heartbreakingly sad, The Light Between Oceans explores the challenge for humans who make decisions they want to believe are right and then have to live with the reality of how those decisions may harm others.
I’ve added this book to my very short shelf of all-time favorite reads.
The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti follows a Palestinian boy, Ahmed Hamid, from his twelfth birthday in 1955 to 2009. As a child, Ahmed watches as his family loses their property, home, jobs, and freedom during the occupation. Though Ahmed’s father is unjustly imprisoned as a terrorist, he coaches his son to try to understand and reach out to the Jews. Gifted in science and math, Ahmed follows his father’s advice and eventually achieves academic and career success living and working with Jews. At the same time a brother and others in the family succumb to hatred for the Jews as their home is destroyed again and again, as the children die in bombings, as people are unable to hold jobs or feed their families.
The Almond Tree shows the complexity of the Palestinian/Israeli situation. Both sides are fighting for a life they know they deserve. An answer may be carried in something Ahmed says to his brother Abbas, “You cannot go back and make a new start, but you can start now and make a new ending.”
I’m always looking for good historical fiction reads. Have you found some you’ve enjoyed? Let me know.