Lurie, Alison. Truth and Consequences.

NY: Viking, 2005.

Lurie is a first-rate storyteller, and has been for fifty years now, though her oeuvre isn’t huge. You take a stroll with her around a college campus in upstate New York, and she tells you things about the academics she knows, and their families, and before you know it, you’re caught up in their lives and relationships.


Published in: on 29 April 2013 at 3:30 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Renault, Mary. The Last of the Wine.

NY: Random House, 1956.

This was the first of Renault’s historical novels set in the classical Greek world, and it’s still arguably her best, encompassing life in Athens and in the Aegean during the latter stages of the Peloponnesian War.


Nicolle, David. Medieval Warfare Source Book. Vol. 1: Warfare in Western Christendom.

London: Arms and Armour Press, 1995.

I’ve worked my way through several volumes in this publisher’s “Source Book” series — disappeared into them for days at a time, actually — and this one is well up to the superior quality I’ve found in the others. Each book takes an “everything you want to know” approach and is largely successful for any reader without a Ph.D. in the subject under discussion.


Published in: on 25 April 2013 at 6:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Healy, Mark. New Kingdom Egypt.

(Elite series, 40) London: Osprey Publishing Co, 1992.

Over the past couple of decades, I’ve worked my way slowly through perhaps one-third of Osprey’s long, long list of small, nicely illustrated volumes of military history. Even though I’m widely read in this field, I always learn something new, and (I admit it) I enjoy studying the full-color plates of uniforms and weapons. The quality of the writing, however, does vary somewhat, and this is one of the less successful efforts.


Published in: on 23 April 2013 at 6:44 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Grossman, Anna Jane. Obsolete: An Encyclopedia of Once-Common Things Passing Us By.

NY: Abrams, 2009.

I have a bright adolescent granddaughter who can’t imagine there was ever a world in which music came from flat plastic discs, or that telephones tethered you to the wall, or that a flashlight was too large to dangle from the zipper of your bookbag, or that car windows once had to be cranked up and down by hand.


Published in: on 21 April 2013 at 5:20 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Bowen, Rhys. Royal Blood.

NY: Berkeley, 2010.

Okay, so it’s late in 1932 and Lady Georgiana, living on tea and toast because her family’s broke and she has no way to earn a living, gets drafted by her cousin, Queen Mary, to go and represent the family at a royal wedding in a castle in Transylvania.


Renault, Mary. The King Must Die.

NY: Pantheon, 1958.

I first got hooked on history, and therefore on historical fiction, as a highly imaginative and rather geeky kid living in Europe in the ‘50s. Anywhere we went, I could look around and see buildings and street scenes that were ancient before the United States was even invented, and it affected me on a deep level.


Smith, Jennifer E. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.

NY: Little, Brown, 2012.

Seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan of Connecticut is not having a good day. Being very reluctantly packed off to London by her mother to act as a bridesmaid in her father’s second wedding, she misses her flight at JFK by four minutes.


Published in: on 15 April 2013 at 4:03 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,

Rankin, Ian. Tooth and Nail.

NY: St. Martin, 1992.

Detective Inspector John Rebus of the Borders and Lothian Police (i.e., Edinburgh) is as thorough a Scot as you can find, but in this quite mature third novel in the series he has to go and deal with those foreigners down in London, and it’s not a pleasant experience for him.


King, Stephen. The Running Man.

NY: Signet, 1982.

Early in his career, King, the modern master of suspense and horror fiction, felt the need for an alter ego through whom he could tell stories of a content and in a style he didn’t feel comfortable doing under his own name, and so he created “Richard Bachman.”