All posts tagged: history

Daring resistance efforts of Jewish women in the ghettos of Nazi occupation, a remarkable portrait of resilience and strength in this tremendously researched new book, THE LIGHT OF DAYS by Judy Batalion

By Leslie Lindsay  In these history-changing times, one thing has remained hidden until now: the daring resistance efforts of Jewish women in the ghettos of the Nazi occupation. Now, let’s see the light.  ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Recently optioned by Stephen Spielberg for a major motion picture Memoirist Judy Batalion (White Walls) delivers a remarkable portrait of young Jewish women who fought in the Polish resistance during WWII in THE LIGHT OF DAYS (William Morrow, June 23 2020). Drawing from “dozens of women’s memoirs” and “hundreds of testimonies,” Batalion documents an astonishing array of guerilla activities, including rescue missions for Jewish children trapped in Polish ghettos, assassinations of Nazi soldiers, bombings of German train lines, jailbreaks, weapons smuggling, and espionage missions. These women were couriers, smugglers, spies, and also…inspirations.  “A vigorous narrative that draws on interviews, diaries, and other sources, Batalion delivers an objective view of past events that are too quickly being forgotten—and a story much in need of telling.” –Kirkus Reviews, starred review But be warned: no details are spared …

THE DOCTORS BLACKWELL

By Leslie Lindsay  Thorough and impeccable history of the Blackwell sisters, their claim to fame is that they were the among the first female physicians in the U.S. ~WEEKEND READING|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Historical Focus: Women in Medicine THE DOCTORS BLACKWELL (W.W. Norton, January 2021) is a biographical-medical-historical account of two very enterprising young women from the rather large Blackwell family, who immigrated from England to New York and then Cincinnati. From a young age, Elizabeth Blackwell felt she was destined to be more than ‘just an ordinary’ woman, and though she at first recoiled from the idea of studying medicine, that’s exactly what she did. I am not sure if she did it to ‘prove’ something, or if there was more–and THE DOCTORS BLACKWELL does go into this a bit, but overall, it’s more of a this-than-that type of read, chronicling the life of Elizabeth Blackwell, and then her younger sister, Emily, both of whom become physicians. Nimura has clearly done her homework and it shows in this impeccably researched book. However, it’s pretty dry. Perhaps I …

WHAT IF YOU WERE DRIVEN BY REVENGE but also trauma? ANDROMEDA ROMANO-lax talks about this, the early days of psychoanalysis, & so much more in a genre-bending new book, ANNIE AND THE WOLVES

By Leslie Lindsay A modern-day historian finds herself enmeshed with the life of Annie Oakley, in a dual-timeline novel exploring the concept of revenge and changing one’s past/path. ~WRITERS INTERVIEWING WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ “2020 Best & Most Anticipated Historical Fiction” Oprah Magazine “Most Anticipated Books of 2021” by Buzzfeed  Several years ago, I read and loved Andromeda Romano-Lax’s BEHAVE, about Behaviorist John Watson and his wife, Rosalie Raynor Watson, their inhumane ‘experiments’ on children and parenting, done in what they believed was what was ‘best’ for the children (withholding affection, etc.). When I discovered her forthcoming ANNIE AND THE WOLVES (Soho Press, Feb 2, 2021), I knew I had to get my hands on it. Ruth McClintock is a historian in her early thirties and completely obsessed with Annie Oakley. For nearly a decade, she has been studying the show-stopping sharpshooter, convinced a tragic past is what elevated her status as one of the best shots in the land. But Ruth sort of loses it all–her book deal, her finance, her dissertation because her own mental health gets in …

Kendra Atleework talks about personal loss & shared loss, homesickness, what it means to leave a place & return, loving her high desert home, and so much more in her memoir MIRACLE COUNTRY

By Leslie Lindsay  A rare and powerful memoir combing aspects of travel, history, environmental writing with autobiography and told in luminous prose. ~MEMOIR MONDAY| ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ On the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevadas, a tiny town known as Swall Meadows resides. A bit farther south, a larger (but still small) town of Bishop lies cradled in the hands of Owens Valley California. This is the primary setting of MIRACLE COUNTRY (Algonquin Books, July 14) by debut author Kendra Atleework. I was initially drawn to MIRACLE COUNTRY because I have a ‘thing’ with land and geography, how it shapes one’s worldview, art, and essence.Having recently visited a high desert myself, I was intrigued and enthralled with this grittier, rustic side of life–from raging wildfires to blizzards and gale-force winds, this area witnesses it all. MIRACLE COUNTRY blends autobiography with environmental writing along with history. Here, we learn about the origins of L.A. (Owens Valley being just a few hours away), and how the Los Angeles Aqueduct was developed to usher water to the sprawling metropolis, rich with …

Scott Carson dives into the chilly waters of the fictional–but inspired by an actual reservoir–in upstate New York, the fall-out, plus the murky depth of the supernatural in this eco-thriller THE CHILL and so much more

By Leslie Lindsay  A literary thriller based on actual small upstate NY towns flooded in effort to create drinking water for the residents of NYC, with a supernatural twist. ~WEDNESDAYS WITH WRITERS|ALWAYS WITH A BOOK~ Far upstate, in New York’s ancient forests, a drowned village lies beneath the deep, still waters of the (fictional) Chilewaukee Reservoir. THE CHILL (Atria/Emily Bestler Books, Feb 2020) is about that drowned town, Galesburg, once home to many. It wasn’t a booming metropolis, but people were happy. Early in the twentieth century (1910-1928), many towns like Galesburg were destroyed for greater good: bringing water to the millions in downstate NYC. The local folks settled there many years prior to America’s founding (some say the town dates back to 1682), and they didn’t leave without a fight…some didn’t leave at all. Now, a century later, the repercussions of human arrogance are finally making themselves known. An inspector notes problems on the dam, a man decides to swim in in and uncovers a corpse…or does he? He suffers from addiction so maybe he’s just strung out? Others …

Sweeping meditation on sacrifice and survival spanning generations, weaving into the present, Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s shattering, THE REVISIONERS

By Leslie Lindsay Gifts, glories, and gospels of generational legacies spanning time, race, and more in THE REVISIONERS.  ~WeekEND Reading: Spotlight~ NATIONAL BESTSELLER A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year  Just how much our past is woven into our present? That’s the question Margaret Wilkerson Sexton’s asks in THE REVISIONERS (Counterpoint, 2019). Told in a trifurcated timeline from a first person POV–1924, 2017, and 1855–but focusing on one family and several strong women, this is a tale of generational legacies, healing, traditions, motherhood, prejudices, and a dash of magical realism. Set in New Orleans 2017, Ava and her teenage son, King, are living with Ava’s white, wealthy grandmother, Martha, serving as her companion/caretaker. Ava–a single mother and recently laid-off–is paid for her service to her grandmother and saving up so she and her son can leave and have a home of their own. But Martha’s behavior soon becomes erratic, then threatening and Ava must leave before her story–and that of an ancestor she never knew–Josephine–collide. “Sexton takes on [Toni Morrison’s artful invocation of the …

Historian-turned internationally bestselling author Jennifer Robson talks about the lovely behind-the-scenes women who created the Queen’s wedding gown in her novel THE GOWN

By Leslie Lindsay Warm, glimmering tale of friendship, legacy, loss, and love featuring the women who helped sew the royal wedding gown, THE GOWN will immerse and capture your heart.  I fell into the folds of THE GOWN (William Morrow, December 31 2018) immediately. The writing is wholly immersive, the attention to detail superb, and the overall execution came across as meticulously researched with compassion; I loved every minute.  Royalty has become an obsession in our culture and around the world. Every event is anticipated (and critiqued)…but what of the people who act behind-the-scenes? For example, who designed the Queen’s wedding gown? Who sewed it? Who were the embroiderers? That’s what THE GOWN sets out to discover and I fell in love with these characters–they became like my own friends. It’s 1947 in post-war London and times are a little bleak. Folks are adjusting. And rationing. Ann Hughes works at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell and everything there is pretty ho-hum until they get the commission to create the famed wedding dress for the then-Princess Elizabeth. The women are overjoyed, …

Who knew Grand Central Terminal had a defunct art school? Fiona Davis explores art, history, and the intersection of the 1970s NYC in THE MASTERPIECE

By Leslie Lindsay  Gorgeous book inside and out (total cover crush!) about blazingly unique–and strong–woman separated by two different time periods and combining art, history, NYC, and a bit of woman’s lib. Fiona is joining us to chat about Depression-era art, real-life inspiration behind her fictional characters, how story and art is so important in times of unrest, and an inkling of her next book.  Fiona Davis has wow-ed me once again with THE MASTERPIECE (Dutton, August 7 2018), which I feel is exactly that–her best yet. What she excels at is in this and also THE DOLLHOUSE (2016) and THE ADDRESS (2017) is so apparent: meticulous research makes for a rich reading experience; plus dazzling prose, an element of mystery, and intriguing characters. It’s 1928 and Clara Darden is a single woman artist living in NYC and teaching at the little-known Grand Central School of Art (which existed between 1924-1944 at the Grand Central Terminal). Clara is an up-and-coming illustrator but many of her contemporaries don’t consider illustrations ‘real art.’ But it’s her dream. She wants to …