Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow
By Amor Towles
Viking, 9780670026197, September 2016, 480pp.

The Short of It:

Thoroughly charming.

The Rest of It:

I tend to shy away from historical fiction and because of that, when A Gentleman in Moscow first came out, I didn’t think much of it. However, after all this time, it’s still a bestseller and you really don’t see that with many books. So, when it came time for my book club to select our books for the year, I pitched it and I’m very glad I did.

It’s the year 1922 and Count Alexander Rostov pens a counter-revolutionary poem which lands him under house arrest at the Hotel Metropol, a grand, luxurious hotel. Because of his friends in high places, he escapes execution but finds himself imprisoned in a smallish room but for the most part, left to his own devices.

The book covers his 30+ years at the hotel and is filled with gorgeous descriptions of the decadent meals prepared and enjoyed, the people he encounters, all of which play a critical role to the story, This is escapism at its best and yet, it’s also about imprisonment as the Russian Revolution unfolds outside.

This book is delightful. Charming. Entertaining, Touching. It’s a feel-good story but is tinged with the very real-world politics of that time period. Towles does an amazing job of making every moment mean something. Nothing seems wasted. I turned that last page and that was it. I was in love.

It was announced back in February that Kenneth Branagh will play the Count in the upcoming mini-series. He is also producing the series so I expect it to be very good.

If you are one of the few who have not read it yet, you really must.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Advertisements

Review: The House Girl

The House Girl

The House Girl 
By Tara Conklin
William Morrow & Company, Paperback, 9780062207517, November 2013, 372pp.

The Short of It:

A promising premise that fell flat for me pretty early on.

The Rest of It:

From Goodreads:

The House Girl, the historical fiction debut by Tara Conklin, is an unforgettable story of love, history, and a search for justice, set in modern-day New York and 1852 Virginia.

Weaving together the story of an escaped slave in the pre Civil War South and a determined junior lawyer, The House Girl follows Lina Sparrow as she looks for an appropriate lead plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking compensation for families of slaves. In her research, she learns about Lu Anne Bell, a renowned prewar artist whose famous works might have actually been painted by her slave, Josephine.

This was a book club pick. As a whole, it was well-liked and we had a really good discussion but it just didn’t work for me.  I preferred Josephine’s story which took place in 1852 to Lina’s present day story. Lina’s voice didn’t ring true. It seemed a tad forced and too perfect. The story is told by Lina and Josephine through alternating chapters so half of the time I was interested and the other half, not so much.

I did enjoy how the story revolved around art and found that story thread to be very interesting but it wasn’t enough to make me love this one. I think as a debut novel, this book was pretty well-received so my feelings about it are most definitely in the minority.

Have you read it?

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.