Since March and the advent of the corona virus, I’ve been staying out of the library. Instead, I downloaded the Libby app that allows me to borrow books on my iPad or iPhone. The new releases almost always have waiting lists, so I go to “available books.” Lately I’ve been choosing historic fiction.
- Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant
This novel about the Borgia family was a good, fast read. It centers around Lucrezia Borgia and chronicles her life up to her third marriage into the d’Este family. The corruption, politics, murders, and wars of this period in Italy’s history are so extreme that it’s almost unbelievable. Pope Alexander VI and his son, Cesare, were ruthless manipulators. Dunant is promising us a sequel.
- 2. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Told through the letters a young girl writes to her deceased mother, this book recounts the flight of twelve-year-old Nisha’s family from Pakistan. It is a dangerous journey during the time of partition, when Pakistan is carved out from India after India gains independence. Nisha, half-Muslim and half Indian, feels as torn apart as her country.
- The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
Another tale of life in India. Lakshmi escapes from an abusive marriage and establishes herself as a henna artist for wealthy, upper class women. Her plans for her own independence are overturned with the appearance of a sister she never knew she had. I enjoyed learning about all the cultural paths and obstacles of India in the 1950s.
Right now I’m reading The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert – for the second or third time. This round, I’m reading partly as a writer, looking more closely at Gilbert’s technique. What a change from Eat, Pray, Love! Yet the confidence, warmth, and humor of her memoir still manage to shine through a very different type of story. Highly recommended.