Archive for the ‘Historical’ Category


Sunday, October 4th, 2015

9780732298883_915c1Calling her “an Olympic gold medalist combined with Lady GaGa,” Kelly Gardiner spoke to Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday about Julie d’Aubigny, the true-life subject of her novel, Goddess (HarperCollins; OverDrive Sample),

A legendary 17th century swashbuckling figure, a bisexual, cross-dressing opera singer and noted duelist who was raised in the servant side of Versailles, d’Aubigny was once sentenced to burn at the stake for her relationship with a nun.

After writing a string of historical fiction/adventure YA books, d’Aubigny Gardiner’s debut adult novel re-tells the highlights of d’Aubigny’s many adventured life, told in retrospect from her deathbed.

D’Aubigny has become somewhat of a standard barer Gardiner says, telling NPR:

“Throughout the centuries, she’s been written about … and every so often, she becomes famous all over again, and she’s famous all over again now. It’s fascinating to see — whenever society starts to think about, what does gender mean, what does sexuality mean, she’s just one of the names that comes up, and people start thinking about her, and talking about her, and portraying her all over again.”

Pennie’s October Pick

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

9780062279972_08eefCostco’s book buyer, Pennie Clark Ianniciello has recently featured well-known titles as her influential monthly “Pennie’s Pcks” (Me Before You, Circling The Sun, and The Girl On The Train were the July, August, and September selections).

Her October pick breaks the mold.

Brian Payton’s 2014 novel The Wind Is Not a River (Harper/Ecco; OverDrive Sample), while not exactly under the radar, did not achieve bestseller status.

It was both an Indie Next and a LibraryReads choice when it came out in hardcover. Librarian Nancy Pearl interviewed Payton in an “Author One-on-One” for Amazon, when it was picked as an Amazon Best Book of the Month.

9780062279989_27b0cThe novel explores a little-known aspect of WWII, the fierce fighting between Japanese and U.S.soldiers on Alaska’s Aleutians islands. The trade paperback edition features a cover that focuses on the relationship in the novel, underscored by a blurb from the USA Today review, “a haunting love story,” over the WWII survival story.

This month’s Costco Connection interviews Payton. In a sidebar Ianniciello says the novel is “so much more than a history lesson, this is a beautiful story about the way loss can affect people.”

Keep your eye on this one; Pennie’s Picks often have a widespread effect.

Beryl Markham May Get
Her Close-Up

Friday, September 25th, 2015

9780345534187_5a2b2-2It seemed inevitable that Paul McLain’s bestseller Circling the Sun, (RH/Ballantine), with its echoes of Out of Africa, would be a candidate for film treatment. Now, The Hollywood Reporter announces that the book has been optioned.

Says producer Lauren Sanchez, “”She was a pioneer for women,” says Sanchez. “Everyone says Hollywood is looking for female-driven roles and stories — this is one of them.”

The only question: what took them so long?

Nancy Pearl Interviews Paula McLain

Monday, September 14th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.48.46 AMLibrarian Nancy Pearl, who has often recommended Beryl Markham’s West with the Night (Macmillan/North Point Press; Blackstone Audio; eBook from OpenRoad Medic; OverDrive sample), interviews author Paula McLain as part of the Book Lust series airing on the Seattle channel. McLain’s  fictional take on Markham’s life, Circling the Sun (RH/Ballantine; BOT and RH Audio; OverDrive Sample) has been a NYT best seller since its publication at the end of July.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.49.41 AMThe two discuss how McLain came to focus on Markham after her success writing about Hemingway’s first wife in the novel The Paris Wife (RH/Ballantine; BOT and RH Audio; OverDrive Sample). It turns out that McLain struggled after the publication of that breakout book, spending years searching for a subject.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 9.50.27 AMShe wrote hundreds of pages on both Georgia O’Keeffe and Marie Curie only to have both projects fail to take off. Finally, while on vacation with her sister and brother-in-law she stumbled across West with the Night, Markham’s vivid memoir (which even Hemingway, who hated Markham, praised to the skies). McLain’s brother-in-law was reading it poolside and told her it was going to be important in her life. She ignored him and it for a year longer before picking up the story and getting swept away.

Iggulden Novels to Big Screen Franchise

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

9780385343428_9f032 9780385343015_8bbd8

After The Hunger Games and Divergent where do you turn for your next franchise?

Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment will move from the dystopian future to the historical past, reports Deadline, with a potential trilogy about Julius Caesar, based on Conn Iggulden’s Emperor novels.

The first film, titled Emperorwill be based on The Gates Of Rome and The Field Of Swords (both trade pbk, RH/Delta).

The series consists of five books.

The author recently began a new series about England dynastic wars. The second in the series was published this year, Wars of the Roses: Margaret of Anjou (Penguin/Putnam, 6/16/15).

Along with his brother Hal Iggulden, he also published the surprise best seller, The Dangerous Book for Boys (Collins, 2007). In the fall NBC bought the rights to a series based on the book to be produced by Bryan Cranston.

ROOTS Remake

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

9781593154493Referred to as an “up-and-coming British actor” by Deadline, Malachi Kirby has just landed the lead role as Kunta Kinte in A+E Networks’ remake of the seminal 1977 TV series Roots, based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Alex Haley (cover of the 2007 Thirtieth Anniversary Edition, left). LeVar Burton played Kinte in the original series.

Playing author Alex Haley in the series is Laurence Fishburne. In the original, James Earl Jones played Haley, appearing in the first episode of the series.

Set to begin shooting next month in South Africa and New Orleans, it is expected to air some time next year.

Kirby is known in the U.K. for his role in the TV series East Enders. He also starred as the younger brother in the 2013 British film Gone Too Far. The trailer, below, includes an eerie foreshadowing of his future role.


Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-08-05 at 12.52.23 PMCharles Frazier’s 1997 novel Cold Mountain, a long-running best seller and National Book Award winner that was made into an equally successful movie, has recently become, wait for it, an opera.

Composed by Jennifer Higdon (who won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in music) with a libretto by Genre Scheer, it premiered last week at the Santa Fe Opera.

Scheer told NPR’s Morning Edition that both he and Higdon “were convinced that [the novel] was really a great idea for an opera. That there was a way of inviting music in to really illuminate the story.”

Frazier was surprised by the request for opera rights, telling NPR “My first reaction was that Inman is such an internal character — that he hardly speaks … To see him on stage singing took a little bit of adjustment.”

That is a common response from authors of print books. But perhaps one that will have to be recalibrated as more and more titles move from the page to the stage. The adaptions are not done, the beloved Tuck Everlasting is coming to Broadway in 2016.

The New York Times reports that interest is so high in Cold Mountain that the Santa Fe Opera mounted an additional a performance and is making plans to release a recording. Until then, here is a sample

The production will move to Opera Philadelphia in Feb. 2016. The Minnesota Opera also has plans to stage it.


Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

A BBC TV series based on Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Tales, titled The Last Kingdom, after the first book in the series, is to premiere on BBC America on Oct. 10.

No full trailer yet, the following is just a teaser:

The Last Kingdom tie-in
Bernard Cornwell
Harper Papberbacks: September 22, 2015
9780062438621, 006243862X
Paperback; $15.99 USD

The ninth book in the series Warriors of the Storm, is coming in January (Harper; HarperAudio; HarperLuxe).

Closer to Screen: CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

9780609610978The  pilot for a Lifetime series, The Clan Of The Cave Bear, based on Jean M. Auel’s 1980’s books, has behind it high-profile executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The cast is now taking shape, indicating that filming may begin soon.

Set 25,000 years ago, Auel’s Earth Children series, the first of which is The Clan Of The Cave Bear (RH/Crown), imagines a clan of Neanderthals adopting an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl Ayla, who, as she grows up, demonstrates superior intellect and eventually breaks free of the restrictions imposed on the female members of  the Clan. The book was a New York Times best seller for five months.

The lead role of the adult Ayla went to British actress-model Millie Brady in January. Since then, other major roles have been filled. Johnny Ward will play Broud, the future clan leader. Hal Ozsan will play Brun, the current Clan leader. Charlene McKenna has just joined the cast in the role of  Brun’s sister Iza, the Clan’s medicine woman and Ayla’s mentor.

The book was made into a disastrous movie in 1986, starring Daryl Hannah as Ayla.

Nancy Pearl Loves Historical Mysteries

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-22 at 10.38.21 AMLibrarian Nancy Pearl picks a title from one her favorite genres, historical mysteries, for her weekly radio show.

The Strangler Vine (Penguin/Putnam; HighBridge Audio; OverDrive Sample, 3/31/15) by M.J. Carter is a debut set in 1837 India. Nancy calls it “an old-fashioned adventure novel.”

Carter is the author of two nonfiction works and uses her skills in research to create a vividly set historical thriller tracing the adventures of William Avery, a newly arrived British solider, and Jeremiah Blake, a seasoned spy gone native.

In praise any publisher would kill for, Nancy says it is “wonderful reading, I just couldn’t put it down.”

The New York Post agrees, making it one of their “This week’s must-read books” and calling it a “yarn reminiscent of adventures by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.”

Nancy appears every Tuesday on Seattle’s NPR affiliate KUOW and an archive of her appearances is also available.

Crystal Ball:

Friday, March 27th, 2015

At the Water's Edge  9781565124998_36937  book_AH

Will word of mouth sink or buoy up Sara Gruen’s At The Water’s Edge (RH/Spiegel & Grau; RH Audio; RH Large Print; Overdrive Sample), arriving next week?

Early reactions are sharply divided. It’s the #1 LibraryReads pick for April but both Kirkus and Booklist were less than enthusiastic, with Kirkus calling it plain “silly” and complaining that the main characters came across as “spoiled brats.” Past history is also divided. The author has published one blockbuster, Water for Elephants, the basis for a successful movie (which may even become a Broadway musical), followed by the less successful Ape House.

We checked in with several collection development librarians to get their take. All of them expect At The Water’s Edge to hit best seller lists based on the author’s name recognition and to continue due to word of mouth. Several took a strong position early and others have gone back to order more copies.

Below are their major points (sorry, quotes had to be anonymous).


  • “The World War II setting will definitely be a bigger attraction than that of Ape House (a research center dedicated to studying bonobo apes).”
  • Set in Scotland, it includes fascinating details about the Loch Ness monster

Comparison to previous titles:

  • Most said that Ape House had not done well at all in their libraries, but one librarian cautions, “Underperformance is relative. We might have considered Ape House a success if we didn’t have Water for Elephants as a comparison.”


  • “Unlikeable characters have held back some titles from star writers for us before.”
  • “Some people complain about the characters in GOTT, but that hasn’t killed word of mouth.”
  • The main character shows emotional development and don’t forget, there’s a romance involved.

Reading Group Appeal:

  • “Reading groups who will have a great time dissecting this book and parsing the characters.”


  • The LJExpress review, posted after the less appreciative Kirkus and Booklist reviews, has it right. “Get past [some issues with believability], and you’ll find yourself skimming along entertainingly with Maddie as she grows up, asserts herself, and gets the right man.”
  • “One of my very best ARC readers raved about it, and she’s never wrong.”
  • The consumer press will have an effect, especially if Entertainment Weekly and/or People are enthusiastic. It will get media attention of course. The  author is scheduled to appear on the upcoming NPR Weekend Edition Saturday and next week on the Diane Rehm Show.


  • “My best guess (educated, of course ) is this book will circulate briskly for most of the summer into the fall and be a book club favorite. It’s success will be closer to Water for Elephants and much better than Ape House, which was a bust for us. It has a lot of hooks going for it: Scotland, World War II, romance, Loch Ness monster, a Downtown Abbey vibe (few seem to be bothered that Lord Grantham and family continue going to balls and teas in the midst of war).”

Place your bets in the comments section, below!

Release Date

Friday, March 6th, 2015

9780140298482_581f7Eddie Redmayne already has one Oscar for his startling physical transformation as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Another may be in the works.

In the upcoming film adaptation of  David Ebershoff’s first novel, The Danish Girl, (Penguin/Viking, 2000; NYT review), he will play a man who in the 1930’s had one of the earliest transgender surgeries.

The release date has just been announced for Thanksgiving weekend, making it Oscar bait.

A first look at Eddie Redmayne in the role was released on Twitter last week:


Indie Favorite for April

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-27 at 8.31.58 AMA debut novel that is an in-house favorite at Algonquin, strongly promoted by Workman’s library marketer Mike Rockliff, tops the just-released April Indie Next List. Orhan’s Inheritance (Algonquin Books, 4/7) by Aline Ohanesian which takes place in both the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, centers upon a dark segment of Turkish history as explored through two characters, an elderly woman living in an Armenian-American nursing home and a Turkish man learning about his family’s past.

In his recent library newsletter (download it here), Rockliff extols Ohanesian’s prose, sharing an excerpt to prove his point:

Seda takes a deep breath and picks up the embroidery in her lap. She hunches over her hands, letting her fingers work the delicate stitching. Three rows of red and yellow diamonds mark the pattern as Anatolian in origin. Despite her resolve, the past is bleeding out of her fingers, staining everything it touches.

The Indie Next annotation is equally compelling:

Debut author Ohanesian’s historical novel relives the nearly forgotten tragedy of the Armenian Genocide during and after WWI. Through deportations, massacres, and executions of Christian and Jewish Armenians, the Ottoman Empire and its successors eliminated 1.5 million citizens. Ohanesian’s beautifully written book shares a tale of passionate love, unspeakable horror, incredible strength, and the hidden stories that haunt a family. Highly recommended. — Doug Robinson, Eagle Eye Book Shop, Decatur, GA

Orders are light at many libraries we checked.

In the newsletter, Mike also announces he will retire in June after ALA Annual in San Francisco, which gives us one final chance to thank him for many years of unflagging enthusiasm for both books and libraries.


Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Lawrence Hill’s novel Someone Knows My Name, (Norton, 2008) has been adapted as a 6-part TV series, using the book’s original Canadian title, The Book of Negroes. Debuting last night, it will continue over the next two nights.

Critics are mostly favorable, with some predicting that this puts BET in line for its first Emmy nomination.

The following is from our December story about the series:

The novel, a fictional slave narrative, is based on the stories of American slaves who escaped to Canada after the Revolutionary War and were then recruited by British abolitionists to settle in Sierra Leone. The Washington Post praised its “heart-stopping prose” and noted that “Hill balances his graphic depictions of the horrors of enslavement with meticulously researched portrayals of plantation life.”

Directed by Clement Virgo, the movie stars Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Cuba Gooding Jr., and Lyriq Bent.

Gossett was interviewed about the series during its premiere at the  Toronto International Film Festival in November. He compares it to another TV mini-series he starred in, Roots.

Learn more at the Official Web Site.




Lawrence Hill
W.W. Norton; January 12, 2015
9780393351392, 0393351394
$15.95 USD

DOVEKEEPERS Trailer Debuts

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

The trailer for four-hour mini-series adaptation of The Dovekeepers, (S&S/Scribner, 2012), Alice Hoffman’s historical novel about the Siege of Masada has just debuted online. The series will air in two parts on CBS, March 31 and April 1, 9-11 p.m. ET/PT.

Produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, dubbed by Deadline, “Hollywood’s It Couple when it comes to religious programming,” it stars Cote de Pablo, with Rachel Brosnahan, Kathryn Prescott, Diego Boneta and Sam Neill.

Speaking to TV critics on Monday during the Winter TV Press Tour, Downey explained why she wanted to adapt the novel, “What attracted me is it had these amazingly powerful and courageous women. For many years as an actress myself I was always looking for the story or scripts that really put women out front and center. This does that. It’s profoundly moving.”

Tie-ins (for tie-ins to all upcoming movies and TV see our catalog on Edelweiss):


The DovekeepersAlice Hoffman
S&S/Scribners, March 17, 2015
Trade Paperback

Mass Market, S&S/Pocket Book

Simon & Schuster Audio