Check It Out Category: Historical Fiction

Staff Picks: Liz’s Selections of the Day

We asked Fiction Librarian Liz which books she’s recommending today.

She chose a combination of evocative stories that touch upon the mysterious and tragic, while searching for a measure of hope in complex situations.

 

 

 

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater are awake, magic is swirling around Blue and The Raven boys and Ronan Lynch’s ability to pull objects from his dreams is almost out of control but worst of all, the mysterious Gray Man is stalking the Lynch family, looking for something called the Greywaren.

 
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom. When their paths converge in route to the ship that promises salvation, Joana, Emilia, and Florian find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety. When tragedy strikes the Wilhelm Gustloff, they must fight for the same thing: survival.

Book Discussion Questions: The Paris Architect

Tthe paris architect book coveritle: The Paris Architect
Author: Charles Belfoure
Page Count: 388 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Suspenseful

Summary: A Parisian architect is paid handsomely to devise secret hiding spaces for Jews in his Nazi-occupied country but struggles with risking his life for a cause he is ambivalent towards, until a personal failure brings home their suffering.

 

 

SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2019 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

  1. 1. The story begins with Lucien Bernard rounding a corner at the Rue La Boetie and a man almost collides with him. The man is almost immediately shot down by the German soldiers.  What did you think of Lucien’s reaction to this and did it set a tone for his character?
  2. 2. Lucien is an out of work architect, desperate for work. He meets with Auguste Manet who asks him to build a hiding space for a Jewish man being hunted by the Gestapo.  Let’s talk about this interaction.
  3. 3. What did you think about Celeste and Lucien’s relationship?
  4. 4. Collaboration was a very sensitive topic for the French. Let’s talk about this
  5. 5. Let’s talk about Adele, Lucien’s mistress.
  6. 6. “The Occupation hadn’t just bred hatred of Jews; it had brought out the very worst in human beings, neighbor against neighbor and even friend against friend. People would screw over each other for a lump of butter”.  Let’s discuss.
  7. 7. It was dangerous to hide Jewish people. What did you think of anyone hiding a Jewish person? Would you?
  8. 8. What did you think about Celeste’s reaction when Lucien admitted that he had saved two Jewish people?
  9. 9. Let’s talk about some of the German characters, did any stand out? If so why?
  10. 10. Most WW2 fiction, including this book, seems to portray most Germans in a less than pleasant light. What do you think of this?
  11. 11. The book is a series of vignettes describing the plight of Jewish people that were hiding. Did any of the stories particularly strike you?
  12. 12. Did you imagine yourself in any of the situations the Jewish people found themselves in? What would you have done if Captain Bruckner lined up the people in your neighborhood or you were forced to hide under a set of stairs?
  13. 13. We meet Adele’s right-hand “man”, Bette Tullard. Let’s talk about her.
  14. 14. Why do you think it was so important to Schlegel to find any hidden Jews?
  15. 15. Let’s talk about Father Jacques, the priest that took in Pierre.
  16. 16. Lucien ended up loving Pierre like a son. Why do you think Lucien took Pierre in?
  17. 17. Pierre realizes that there is something “off” about Alain and follows him. Let’s talk about this chapter.
  18. 18. Lucien’s attitude about helping Jewish people has an abrupt change, let’s talk about this
  19. 19. Lucien is approached by the Resistance. What is/was your opinion of France’s Resistance?
  20. 20. “The Resistance does its best under extremely difficult conditions.  But we must fight back.  To live defeated is to die every day”.  Do you agree, or do you think it is better to choose your battles?  Which side do you believe you would end up in, Resistance or Collaborator?
  21. 21. What did you think of Lucien helping the Resistance to sacrifice his factory?
  22. 22. Let’s talk about the ending.
  23. 23. “When all this Madness if over, I hope we meet again,” said Lucien to Herzog. Do you think they will?  If so, what do you think would happen if they did meet after the war?
  24. 24. Did you have a favorite character?
  25. 25. Do you think history could repeat itself in today’s world?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

New York Journal of Books The Paris Architect: A Novel
Reading Group Guides Guide to The Paris Architect
Charles Belfoure’s Official Website
Lit Lovers Guide to The Paris Architect

READALIKES:

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Winter Reading: If You Are a Fan of Outlander

Our Winter Reading Program runs the month of February, and we want to help you Find Your Story. Throughout the month, both in the library and on our blog, we’ll be highlighting some of the various reader fandoms.

If your fandom is Outlander, check out the following books to see if they match your interest in the popular series.

The Outcasts of Time book coverThe Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

With the country in the grip of the Black Death, brothers John and William fear that they will shortly die and suffer in the afterlife. But as the end draws near, they are given an unexpected choice: either to go home and spend their last six days in their familiar world, or to search for salvation across the forthcoming centuries – living each one of their remaining days ninety-nine years after the last.

Themes:Time Slip, Historical Fiction

 

 

Outlander Cookbook book coverOutlander Kitchen by Theresa Carle-Sanders

Featuring more than one hundred recipes, “Outlander Kitchen” retells Claire and Jamie’s incredible story through the flavors of the Scottish Highlands, the French Revolution, and beyond. Following the high standards for prodigious research and boundless creativity set by Diana Gabaldon herself, Carle-Sanders draws on the events and characters of the novels to deliver inventive dishes that highlight local ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

Themes: Cookbook

 

The Midnight Witch book coverThe Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston

When the sixth Duke of Radnor dies, his hapless son, Freddie, takes on his title, but it is his daughter, Lilith, who inherits his role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. Raised as a witch, instructed in the art of necromancy, Lilith faces a daunting future, for the coven is threatened by a powerful group of sorcerers, the Sentinels. Nicholas Stricklend, a powerful force in the British government, is the Sentinel charged with wresting the Elixir from Lilith, and he cares not who he must crush in order to succeed. As a society beauty, engaged to another titled witch, and with a grieving mother and an unstable brother to look after, Lilith struggles to maintain her two very different existences.

Themes: Dramatic, Romantic, Magic, Witches

 

Into the WildernessInto the Wilderness book cover by Sara Donati

A judge’s daughter elopes with a white adventurer in Colonial America. Elizabeth arrived from England to marry a doctor, but is smitten by Nathaniel, a man raised by the Mohawks. The doctor, however, refuses to give her up and pursues them.

Themes: Dramatic, Moving, Romantic

 

 

The House on the Strand book ocverThe House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier

When Dick samples Magnus’s potion, he finds himself doing the impossible: traveling through time while staying in place, thrown all the way back into Medieval Cornwall. The concoction wear off after several hours, but its effects are intoxicating and Dick cannot resist his newfound powers. As his journeys increase, Dick begins to resent the days he must spend in the modern world, longing ever more fervently to get back into his world of centuries before, and the home of the beautiful Lady Isolda…

Themes: Time Travel, Fixing History, Romance, Suspense

Andrea’s Pick: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Andrea Staff Pick photoThe Civil War… with zombies? Dread Nation by Justina Ireland combines fantasy storytelling and the dark history of racial oppression in the U.S. in this genre-blending YA novel that’s a little bit historical fiction, a little bit steampunk, and only sort of about zombies.

When the dead walked at Gettysburg, all thoughts of rebuilding the nation fell away. A new law declared that young people of color must attend combat school to learn how to defeat the dead. Fresh from combat school, Jane finds herself in the clutches of powerful enemies who see her as less than human. In the war against the dead, she never expected that the living might turn out to be her biggest danger.

Have you taken up this summer’s challenge of Reading Takes You Everywhere? Enjoy this book for either of the following categories:

Q. Read a book of fantasy or magical realism.
Y. Read a book from the Young Adult collections.