October Picks - History & Historical Fiction

The theme for October was History and Historical Fiction. Participants read any historical non-fiction and/or fiction books and shared them in the literary discussion.

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All the light we cannot see : a novel

All the light we cannot see : a novel

Doerr, Anthony, 1973- author
2014

Marie Laure lives with her father in Paris within walking distance of the Museum of Natural History where he works. When the Germans occupy Paris, father and daughter flee to Saint-Malo on the Brittany coast, where Marie-Laure's great uncle lives in a tall, narrow house by the sea wall. In Germany, an orphan boy, Werner, grows up with his younger sister, Jutta, both enchanted by a crude radio Werner finds. He becomes a master at building and fixing radios. Werner travels through the heart of Hitler Youth to the far-flung outskirts of Russia, and finally into Saint-Malo, where his path converges with Marie-Laure.

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Captain Corelli's mandolin

Captain Corelli's mandolin

De Bernières, Louis
1995


The children's blizzard

The children's blizzard

Benjamin, Melanie, 1962- author
2021

Based on actual oral histories of survivors, on the morning of January 12, 1888, it was unusually mild weather. It was warm enough for children to return to school without their heavy coats - leaving them unprepared when disaster struck. At just the hour when most prairie schools were letting out for the day, a terrifying, fast-moving blizzard blew in without warning. Schoolteachers were suddenly faced with life and death decisions: keep the children inside, to risk freezing to death when fuel ran out, or send them home, praying they wouldn't get lost in the storm?

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Cilka's journey

Cilka's journey

Morris, Heather (Screenwriter), author
2019



The dig

The dig

Preston, John, 1953-, author
2021

"In the long hot summer of 1939 Britain is preparing for war. But on a riverside farm in Suffolk there is excitement of another kind: Mrs Pretty, the widowed farmer, has had her hunch proved correct that the strange mounds on her land hold buried treasure. As the dig proceeds against a background of mounting national anxiety, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary find... John Preston's recreation of the Sutton Hoo dig - the greatest Anglo-Saxon discovery ever in Britain - brilliantly and comically dramatizes three months of intense activity when locals fought outsiders, professionals thwarted amateurs, and love and rivalry flourished in equal measure."--Provided by publisher.

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Em

Em

Thúy, Kim, author
2021

In the midst of war, an ordinary miracle: an abandoned baby tenderly cared for by a young boy living on the streets of Saigon. The boy is Louis, the child of a long-gone American soldier. Louis calls the baby em Hong, em meaning "little sister," or "beloved." Even though her cradle is nothing more than a cardboard box, em Hong's life holds every possibility. Through the linked destinies of a family of characters, the novel takes its inspiration from historical events, including Operation Babylift, which evacuated thousands of biracial orphans from Saigon in April 1975, and the remarkable growth of the nail salon industry, dominated by Vietnamese expatriates all over the world.

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Erosion : essays of undoing

Erosion : essays of undoing

Williams, Terry Tempest.
2019

In these new essays, Williams explores the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear. She wrangles with the paradox of desert lands and the truth of erosion: What is weathered, worn, and whittled away through wind, water, and time is as powerful as what remains.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Shaffer, Mary Ann, author
2008

As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey--a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island.

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The light of days : the untold story of women resistance fighters in Hitler's ghettos

The light of days : the untold story of women resistance fighters in Hitler's ghettos

Batalion, Judith, author
2020

One of the most important untold stories of World War II. The light of days is a soaring landmark history that brings to light the extraordinary accomplishments of brave Jewish women who helped weaponize Poland's Jewish youth groups to resist the Nazis. Witnesses to the brutal murder of their families and the violent destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland--some still in their teens--became the nerves of a wide-ranging resistance network that fought the Nazis.

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Madness, betrayal and the lash : the epic voyage of Captain George Vancouver

Madness, betrayal and the lash : the epic voyage of Captain George Vancouver

Bown, Stephen R.
2008

The tragic story of Captain Vancouver, a great explorer whose triumphs were overshadowed by public humiliations; in particular Archibald Menzies, the ship's naturalist; Thomas Pitt, a well-connected midshipman whom Vancouver flogged and sent home. Pitt publicly challenged Vancouver to several duels and then beat him in a London street with a cane when he declined. Unable to collect back pay, Vancouver was left impoverished and ill. He died just after finishing the manuscript of his voyage, scrawling out the final pages on his deathbed.

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Marrying Mozart : a novel

Marrying Mozart : a novel

Cowell, Stephanie.
2004


The mountains sing : a novel

The mountains sing : a novel

Nguyễn, Phan Quế Mai, 1973- author
2020

This novel tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Tràn family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Tràn Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Huong, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family, apart.

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The nine : the true story of a band of women who survived the worst of Nazi Germany

The nine : the true story of a band of women who survived the worst of Nazi Germany

Strauss, Gwen, author
2021

Follow the true story of the author's great aunt Hélène Podliasky, who led a band of nine female resistance fighters as they escaped a German forced labour camp and made a ten-day journey across the front lines of WWII from Germany back to Paris. The nine women were all under thirty when they joined the resistance.

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Obasan

Obasan

Kogawa, Joy
1983

Tells, through the eyes of a child, the moving story of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War.

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The opposite house

The opposite house

Oyeyemi, Helen.
2007


Paris : the novel

Paris : the novel

Rutherfurd, Edward
2013


The Paris wife : a novel

The Paris wife : a novel

McLain, Paula
2011

Through the eyes and voice of Hadley, Ernest Hemingway's first wife, we experience Paris of the Lost Generation and meet fascinating characters such as Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and Gerald and Sara Murphy. The city and its inhabitants provide a vivid backdrop to this engrossing and wrenching story of love and betrayal.

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