At the age of 2, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to illness. Several years later, she was taken to the Perkins Institute in Boston where, under the tutelage and guidance of Samuel Ridley Howe she not only learned how to communicate, but became one of the 19th century’s most notable women. Yet few people know about her today. Kimberly Elkins’ stunning debut, What Is Visible, promises to change all that.
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, June 2014
The best historical fiction offers readers a new look at a well-known subject, or illuminates an episode or individual that has been lost to history. Playwright Kimberly Elkins achieves the latter in What Is Visible, a strikingly original debut novel about Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person to communicate through finger spelling.
Chinese-American author Lisa See has made her mark in the realm of historical fiction by melding her well-researched historical sagas with strong female characters linked either by birth, as in Shanghai Girls (2009) and Dreams of Joy (2011), or by lifelong friendship, as in her breakout book Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (2005).
Listen up! With finance, mystery and historical fiction titles, this month's audio column has something for everyone.
“Am I really going to tell a story from a dead-and-buried baby’s point of view?” Courtney Collins asked herself, early in the writing of her stunning debut novel, The Untold.
The author was a year into a fictionalized portrait of real-life Australian female outlaw Jessie Hickman. And to be perfectly honest, the story just wasn’t working.
When people think about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, they often think of the iconic pink suit she wore on the fateful day that her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., was assassinated in Dallas. Many people thought it to be a Chanel; however, it was a knock-off—made, like most of Mrs. Kennedy’s clothing, by an American dressmaker. Nicole Mary Kelby imagines the lives of one of those dressmakers through the lens of that famous outfit in her new novel, The Pink Suit, a luxurious narrative about Jackie Kennedy, a young seamstress, and the creation of the pink boucle suit.
Three excellent novels from 2013 are now available in paperback, perfect for sparking discussion in your reading group.
This beautifully written novel opens with the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas, the first on an American college campus. On a sunny August Monday, a student and former marine opened fire on the campus from the iconic clock tower, shooting 48 people and killing 16. But the shooting is only a touchstone for this story, which is more interested in the lives of a trio who met that fateful day.
Even before cracking its pages, it’s impossible not to marvel at the strange hybrid that is The Harlem Hellfighters. The topic—a fictionalized account of the real experiences of the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I—is certainly book-worthy, be it fiction or nonfiction. The soldiers of the 369th encountered plenty of bigotry and hatred from their own countrymen before gaining the opportunity to fight in the trenches alongside the French.
BookPage Fiction Top Pick, May 2014
Paris may be known as the City of Light, but in Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932, it serves as the backdrop for some of the darkest events of human history—and for an exhilarating new novel from writer Francine Prose.