Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: Muse by Mary Novik

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 321
Received: Received an ARC from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 13, 2013
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Richly engaging historical adventure in the vein of The Winter Palace and The Malice of Fortune.

Muse is the story of the charismatic woman who was the inspiration behind Petrarch's sublime love poetry. Solange LeBlanc begins life in the tempestuous streets of 14th century Avignon, a city of men dominated by the Pope and his palace. When her mother, a harlot, dies in childbirth, Solange is raised by Benedictines who believe she has the gift of clairvoyance. Trained as a scribe, but troubled by disturbing visions and tempted by a more carnal life, she escapes to Avignon, where she becomes entangled in a love triangle with the poet Petrarch, becoming not only his muse but also his lover.

Later, when her gift for prophecy catches the Pope's ear, Solange becomes Pope Clement VI's mistress and confidante in the most celebrated court in Europe. When the plague kills a third of Avignon's population, Solange is accused of sorcery and is forced once again to reinvent herself and fight against a final, mortal conspiracy.

Muse is a sweeping historical epic that magically evokes the Renaissance, capturing a time and place caught between the shadows of the past and the promise of a new cultural awakening.

My Review:

I had this book on my Waiting on Wednesday post a few weeks ago, I had just finished reading CONCEIT by Mary Novik and I knew I wanted to read more from her. Lucky for me I ended up getting this in the mail a little while ago, it was a great surprise and I'm so happy to be able to feature a review for this book for Canadian Historical Fiction Month!

This book is very different from CONCEIT, and yet I loved it just as much (if not even more). This book is about Solange's journey growing up with the gift of clairvoyance and all the danger she is in throughout her life. Solange moves around a lot, but what I love about her is that she does things for herself, in a world that is dominated by men, Solange is the woman who tries to change things and be her own person.

The one thing that I absolutely love about Mary Novik's writing is that she brings her characters to life. She also really shows the dark and gritty parts of history. I love that she doesn't shy away from making her stories dark. Solange has good fortune every so often, but much of her life is difficult.

The book is intriguing, and readers are kept wondering about what Solange will deal with next. I definitely loved the love story between Solange and Petrarch and how it grows and changes over time. She finds herself in love with this man, who continually betrays her, Novik writes this love story beautifully and really makes readers feel for Solange (yet I also wanted to yell at her many times over as well).

I really enjoyed how this story is split into different sections, depending on where Solange is in her life. Solange becomes stronger and she continually fights for herself and what she believes she deserves. I believe that this book gives female readers a hero that they can root for. Solange picks herself up again and again, and continually fights.

I think it's great to see writers picking up female figures in historical fiction and bringing them to the forefront more often. I have fallen in love with Mary Novik's writing style and I hope she doesn't wait as long in between her stories!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Interview with Ania Sazdo

Today I have the lovely Ania Szado who wrote Studio Saint-Ex stop by and answer some questions. I reviewed this book earlier in the year and absolutely loved the story. You can check out the review here

1. What made you decide to choose the story of Antoine Saint-Exupery as your basis for the novel?

Picture taken from author website
I'd always loved The Little Prince, but didn't know much about its author until I stumbled across a biography of him several years ago. I became completely entranced by him. He was very contradictory and complex, and he had a richly adventurous, romantic and creative life. I was especially drawn to his WWII New York period, when he was living on Central Park South and writing The Little Prince. I'd had no idea that he wrote the book entirely in New York, or that the storyline and its details were so reflective of his own personal struggles at that time. I felt compelled to tell that story—and to bring Saint-Exupéry back to life for a while.

2. Who was your favourite character to write? Do you feel that you wrote yourself in any of the characters?

Of all the characters in Studio Saint-Ex, I'd have to say that Consuelo, Saint-Exupéry's estranged wife, was the most fun to write. In the novel, she's a fiery, tempestuous, needy and manipulative character—quite a piece of work—but I actually toned her down from real life. For example, to illustrate her volatile nature, I had her throw a makeup compact and a picture frame at her husband. In reality, she broke plenty of furniture and was known to send dinner plates flying at his head as he tried to entertain guests with a story. She casts herself as a long-suffering, self-sacrificing wife in her own memoirs, but at the same time, she reveals (presumably inadvertently) how exasperating, infuriating and conniving she was. The contradictions gave me some freedom to interpret and shape her as I thought appropriate. She wasn't well liked by her husband's friends or admirers, and many of the Saint-Ex biographies are fairly dismissive of her, but she had an incredible hold on Saint-Exupéry to the end of his days, despite the on-and-off nature of their relationship.

I think the part of me that appears most directly in the novel is in the exploration of creative impulses and struggles, and in Mignonne's love of the old, well-worn, sunlit space that is Madame Lachapelle's studio. I did visual art before turning to writing, and lived in non-residential studio spaces before the days of factories and warehouses becoming converted to pristine lofts. Of course, Mig's longing for Saint-Exupéry also reflects my irrational yearning to have known him in real life.

3. My favourite part of the book was the idea of artists, each of the characters is some sort of artist, but you wrote it in such a sensual way, it was beautiful. What part did you have the most fun writing?

Thank you! I loved writing about the fabrics that enthralled Mignonne, and how she drew on their most distinctive and sensual qualities to create her fashion designs. I've been told that you don't need to be interested in fashion to be drawn into the story, and I think that's because I tried to convey the artistic sensibility and struggle rather than just the mechanics of working with materials. I knew how it felt to yearn to make art, the mixed sense of calm and anxiety that accompanies the initial opening of a jar of linseed oil or tubes of paint, the sensual satisfaction of moving brush bristles through oil paint on a palette, and so on. I had to confer with my mom, an accomplished lifelong seamstress, to find out how those feelings translated into cutting and working with seductive fabrics. I anchored the fabric and design work with some technical details to ground it in Mig's workaday world, but the real enjoyment came of entering with her into the less pedestrian aspects of creativity.

4. How much research did you have to do on the subject before sitting down to write this story?

I tend to start writing quite soon after I begin researching—as soon as I get a sense of what the possibilities for story or characters may be—fully expecting to have to discard or revise this early writing as I learn more. And then I never really stop researching; I just go back and forth between reading and writing, as seems fit or necessary. For Studio Saint-Ex, I read Saint-Exupéry's writings, including his letters, as well as books and articles about him and his works; numerous biographies; Consuelo's memoirs; books on WWII Europe, the US and New York City; WWII fashions and the American fashion industry; Manhattan's French expatriate community; Expo '67; and other materials. I checked out adaptations of The Little Prince and fashion collections inspired by it. I was very fortunate to be able to ask questions of Stacy Schiff, whose biography of Saint-Exupéry first set me down the path of writing Studio Saint-Ex, and Howard Scherry, a Saint-Ex scholar with vast knowledge of the author's New York period, who was extremely generous with his time and resources. I drew on my mom's experiences as a seamstress and my sister's in the New York fashion world. I did many research trips to NYC, as well as to Long Island, Montreal and Quebec City.

5. What was the most difficult thing to write for this book?

The most difficult thing to write, initially, was the character of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. At first I worked on storylines in which he was kept at a distance. I had a protagonist living in the 1990s who was obsessed with him and his death; she was an artist who volunteered at a warplane museum, and whose canvases depicted Saint-Ex's plane lost in hostile skies. After I put that aside, I got quite far into a version of the story in which each member of a family is deeply affected by an encounter with Saint-Ex. Eventually I summoned the courage to write Saint-Exupéry directly—to dare to really enter his character and feel what he might have felt, to show him naked, to write in his hand. Once I made that commitment, he turned out not to be all that hard to write, particularly since I'd been researching him for years by then... but it took a long time to get there, and many tens of thousands of discarded words.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: Bride of New France by Suzanne Desrochers

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 294
Received: Borrowed from a friend

Release Date: January 18, 2011
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1669, Laure Beausejour, an orphan imprisoned with prostitutes, the insane and other forgotten women in Paris’ infamous Salpetriere, is sent across the Atlantic to New France as a Fille du roi. Laure once dreamed with her best friend Madeleine of using her needlework stills to become a seamstress on the Rue Saint-Honoré and to one day marry a gentleman. The King, however, needs French women in his new colony and he finds a fresh supply in the city’s largest orphanage. Laure and Madeleine know little of the place called New France, except for stories of ferocious winters and men who eat the hearts of French priests. To be banished to Canada is a punishment worse than death.

Bride of New France explores the challenges of coming into womanhood in a brutal time and place. From the moment she arrives in Ville-Marie (Montreal), Laure is expected to marry and produce children with a French soldier who can himself barely survive the harsh conditions of his forest cabin. But Laure finds, through her clandestine relationship with Deskaheh, an allied Iroquois, a sense of the possibilities in this New World.

What happens to a woman who attempts to make her own life choices in such authoritative times?

Bride of New France is a beautiful debut novel that explores a fascinating chapter in Canadian history.

My Review:

I wasn't really sure what to think about this book when I closed it, and I had to take some time to think about everything that happens. This book takes on a very interesting part of Canadian history.

This book was actually a pretty quick read, as readers follow Laure's journey. The book is cut off into sections as follows Laure's life first in Paris, then on the boat over to New France, and from there her life in Canada as she grows and slowly adapts to this new place. Laure deals with many hardships over the course of this book, the hardest is dealing with the difficult weather that is found in Canada.

Laure is sent off to this new land and is expected to marry and have children as soon as possible to help populate. Laure is very hard-headed and does what she likes, despite the consequences it may cause. I found that it took me some time to really understand everything Laure was going through, in the beginning while living at the Salpetriere, readers see Laure as being jealous of this new girl that has come in and wishes for her to leave for New France like she is supposed to, but when the girl does leave it is not how Laure expects, and Laure ends up learning a lot more about this girl. From there, Laure gets put on a boat with her best friend Madeline, she is expected to help populate this new land for the King.

We get a section about Laure's travels to the New France, this one I had some difficulties getting through. I'm not sure why, but for me I just wanted to know what would happen when she finally got to Canada, and how she dealt with the differences. I didn't care so much about the girls she traveled with to get there (though I can see that it shows Laure's differences from the other girls actually sent to Canada). Laure definitely learns a lot on the trip of what she may expect from this new place, but when she gets there it is still a shock.

This book is really about watching as Laure grows up and learn the rules of a new place. Laure must quickly learn to take care of herself and her new husband. Laure is looked down upon by everyone because she is so different and she doesn't hide it, I really loved her character and how she wouldn't let other people put her down. She is someone that when she puts her mind to something, it gets done.

This is not a story that everything is all happy, this is a very dark book where many disasters happen in a short amount of time. This is not a sweet and good time book, it's about the difficulties people had when first coming to Canada (or "New France") and how the Iroquois were treated.

The one complaint I had with the story was that everything moved so fast. This is one of those books that I think needs a little more fleshing out in places, and could be even better if it was a little longer. Other than that, I did enjoy this story, and I think Laure makes huge leaps through everything.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Interview with Tricia Dower

Today I'm happy to have Tricia Dower stop by and talk about her writing, and her book Stony River. Welcome Tricia and thank you for taking the time to answer some questions!

What were some of the things that influenced your writing over the years?

I didn’t start writing fiction until I retired from business the end of 2001, so I’d say my entire life up to that point influenced my writing. I learned storytelling from my father. He’d hold our family captive at the dinner table for hours as he related funny and sad tales starring colourful characters from his past. Most stories ended with a realization he’d come to or a lesson he’d learned. All the years since then have generated what I find most compelling to write about: the dynamics of intimate relationships, issues of social justice and the beliefs that drive human behaviour. Writers I admire, including Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Ondaatje, Louise Erdrich and Cormac McCarthy, inspire me to keep pushing the limits of my storytelling abilities.

Whose voice was the easiest and whose was the hardest to write?

Miranda’s voice was the most foreign to me. I had to slip into a mystic zone to channel her. She also required the most research, including early twentieth century Irish speech patterns and Irish witchcraft practices. I read (or re-read) many of the books she could have, to imagine what she might think the World outside of her cloistered existence was like. Tereza’s voice was the most fun; I enjoyed being the “bad” girl.

Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

I see bits and pieces of myself in each of the three main characters as well as in all the others; it’s difficult for me to create a character I can’t identify with to some extent, including a “villain.” Linda’s home life is closest to what mine was growing up but I did not suffer the trauma she does.

Do you plan on revisiting these characters in the future?

You bet. I’m writing a sequel of sorts right now that follows one of the characters from 1965 – 1973.

What are some of your favourite historical fiction novels?

The first historical novel I recall reading was about Anne Boleyn and it affected me deeply. I was maybe twelve and discovered the book in my aunt’s house while on vacation. I was outraged at how Anne suffered at the hands of a selfish, capricious king. I continue to be drawn to novels about injustice. Ones I read years ago that still stick with me are: The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck), The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck), A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens), The Red Badge of Courage (Stephen Crane) and Exodus (Leon Uris); I read the last one in high school because a friend was becoming politicized about issues around her Jewish heritage and wanted me to understand what she was feeling. Although I’ve characterized The Good Earth and The Grapes of Wrath as historical because they offer a window into a significant era, they were contemporary novels when published. I’ve just finished Tamas Dobozy’s powerful Siege 13. A collection, it has the feel of a historical novel because each story reflects the impact of the siege of Budapest during World War II.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: Stony River by Tricia Dower

Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 400
Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 24, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

Stony River, New Jersey, 1955: On a sweltering June afternoon, Linda Wise and Tereza Dobra witness a disturbing scene. A pale, pretty girl who looks about their age is taken from Crazy Haggerty’s house by two uniformed policemen. Everyone in Stony River thought Crazy Haggerty lived alone. The pale, pretty girl is about to enter an alien world, and as Tereza and Linda try to make sense of what they’ve seen, they’re unaware their own lives will soon be shattered as well.

Set in a decade we tend to think of as a more innocent time, Stony River shows in dramatic and unexpected ways how perilous it was to come of age in the 1950s with its absent mothers, controlling fathers, biblical injunctions, teenaged longing, and small-town pretence. The threat of sexual violence is all around: angry fathers at home, dirty boys in the neighbourhood, strange men in strange cars, a dead girl, and another gone missing.

An engrossing novel about growing up, finding your voice, and forgiving your family, Stony River is a brilliant story from a remarkable new Canadian voice.

My Review:

This book tells the tale of how one afternoon in 1955 affected the lives of many people in the small town of Stony River, at the heart of the tale is three girls, Tereza, Linda and Miranda but readers have many other voices as well throughout. This book is a coming of age story of three girls who are all growing up in different families and readers get to see how their lives change over time because of the people that they are surrounded by.

I really enjoyed the setting of this story, taking place in a small town where everyone knows everyone else. It's the type of place where you are supposed to always feel safe, but this book shows that even these small towns have their secrets. Tricia Dower also does such a great job of taking readers back to the time of the 50's, there are many mentions of the TV shows that were on and the music people listened to, even descriptions of the cars that were driven in that period.

These three characters all have very different lives, and each of them takes their circumstances and changes their lives in one way or another. The most interesting girl for me in this book was Miranda, and how she grows up with so many things stacked against her. Watching as Miranda learns new things about herself and the different things she can do was amazing, and I loved how she became independent and trust worthy even though people in the town disliked where she came from.

Tereza has a completely different lifestyle from the other two girls and she learns to take matters into her own hands and makes a life for herself. Tereza is one who hates asking for help, but eventually she lets someone help her get her life back on track and it affects the rest of her life in a large way. I felt bad for Tereza seeing what she went through and then to see her grow up so fast when she shouldn't have to is heart breaking.

Linda's character was the one that I didn't care for as much as the others in the story. Linda grows up as a very guarded child and she is naive about many things in the real world. Her parents are protective to the point that Linda is sheltered and doesn't understand a lot of things. But she grows and learns how to speak up for herself.

I had a few difficulties with the many changing perspectives in the beginning, but it made sense as to why there are so many voices. Not only do we see how one small event changed the lives of the girls who experienced it for themselves but how these three girls change the lives of others along the way.

Honestly, this book is a beautiful portrayal of growing up in the 1950's and the secrets that everyone has. This is a great book about growing up and how different lifestyles can really affect the rest of your life. Tricia Dower has such a unique voice in her writing and she keeps her readers interested in the story.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Pages: 357
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 5, 2012
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

The most painful secrets create the deepest of lies.

A young, enigmatic woman - Lily Azerov - arrives in post-war Montreal expecting to meet her betrothed, Sol Kramer. When Sol sees Lily at the train station, however, he turns her down. His brother, Nathan, sees Lily and instantly decides to marry her instead.

But Lily is not the person she claims to be, and her attempt to live a quiet existence as Nathan Kramer's wife shatters when she disappears, leaving her baby daughter with only a diary, an uncut diamond, and a need to discover the truth.

Who is Lily, and what happened to the young woman whose identity she stole? Why has she left and where did she go? It is up to the daughter Lily abandoned to find the answers to these questions as she searches for the mother she may never find or truly know.

My Review:

This book is a beautiful portrayal of how the war affected people and causes them to shut themselves off from the rest of the world. Nancy Richler delves deep into the minds of the characters, showing how even though people have lived through the war it still causes a lot of pain. This story is told in alternating chapters from Lily's view of arriving in Montreal and her daughter's search for who she is without a mother.

Lily's chapters show readers her journey to Montreal and how the war has affected her thoughts. Lily is strong when she needs to be, understanding that her only way to get out was to steal someone else's identity. Slowly readers learn who this woman was through a journal that Lily has taken along with the identity, and we learn that she has family in Montreal that look for the truth as well.

My favourite part of the story was watching Lily's daughter, Ruth grow up and learn about herself and how different life is for her without a mother. I really felt for Ruth, seeing how these secrets her family has kept from her for years has changed her. She doesn't find out about what really happened with her mother until she is an adult. Ruth goes back and forth on choosing whether or not to search out this woman who left her so many years ago and get answers as to why someone would do that.

All of the characters in this book are very lost, the adults being affected by the war and Ruth growing up without a mother in a time where people are still very against the Jewish. Ruth definitely has a lot of hardships growing up, but I love her character and the strength she gets from her family, learning that she has so much love around her.

Richler tells a detailed story of what life was like in Poland following the war and the many difficulties people encountered attempting to leave. I love books where the characters all have problems that they must come to terms with and this book really shows that off. Richler brings her characters and their feelings to life, and I found it difficult not to fall in love with these characters, watching as they grow and learn about themselves in this new place.

This book is definitely one of my favourites because it is all about character development and learning to overcome hardships. I really loved how the notebook tells us all about the character Lily has stolen the identity from and we learn what happened to her as well.

To learn more about Nancy Richler and THE IMPOSTER BRIDE, check out the Harper Collins Canada website!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Interview with Cathy Marie Buchanan

Taken from Cathy's website
Welcome and thank you Cathy for participating in Canadian Historical Fiction Month here.
What inspired you to write historical fiction novels?

In 1973, my childhood family of seven made a two-month camping sojourn into Mexico.  It was the first of the many extended, far-flung treks my family would undertake.  Those early experiences made me into a lifelong traveler (I’ve visited close to forty countries) and a person who takes deep pleasure in immersing herself in a culture other than her own. Each of my novels—The Day the Falls Stood Still and The Painted Girls—and in my current work in progress are historical fiction.  I expect my desire to create another time and place stems from my love of experiencing new cultures.

How much research went into your stories?

For The Day the Falls Stood Still I researched for about four months before putting fingertips to keyboard.  For The Painted Girls the upfront research was about six months.  And then, of course, I was constantly turning back to the history books as I wrote.

Who was your favourite character to write?

I had a lot of fun writing Antoinette, the real life sister of Marie van Goethem, who was the model for Edgar Degas’s famous sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, the inspiration behind The Painted Girls.  I am likely more aligned with pensive Marie in temperament, and I sometimes wonder if I enjoyed writing brazen, impulsive Antoinette so much because she is an alter ego of sorts for me.

I really loved that you chose to write a story based around Niagara Falls, what brought you to write about that specific place?

Born and bred in Niagara Falls, Ontario, I grew up amid the beauty of the Niagara River and awash in the lore of William “Red” Hill, Niagara’s most famous riverman.  I’d see the rusted-out hull of the old scow still lodged in the upper rapids of the river and be reminded of him rescuing the men marooned there in 1918.  I’d see the plaque commemorating the ice bridge tragedy of 1912 and know he’d risked his life to save a teenage boy named Ignatius Roth.  I’d open the newspaper and read a story about his son Wes carrying on the Hill tradition and rescuing a stranded tourist.  When I set out to write my first novel, Red Hill’s life and the beauty of Niagara Falls were natural places to find inspiration.  

I have read both The Day the Falls Stood Still and The Painted Girls, which one did you enjoy writing about more and why?

That’s a tough question. I’d say I enjoyed writing the first draft of The Day the Falls Stood Still more than the first draft of The Painted Girl, mostly because, at one point, while writing The Painted Girls, I was overcome by the idea that the novel was too ambitious.  They are many experts who know far more than I about Edgar Degas, Emile Zola, the Paris Opéra and the history of ballet.  My primary sources were mostly French, I was writing about a culture other than my own, and it seemed I was in over my head and opening myself up to harsh criticism.  That said the rewriting process for The Painted Girls went much more smoothly than it did for The Day the Falls Stood Still.  I was rewriting that novel for two and half years, something I hope to never experience again.

Thank you so much Cathy, and I am excited to see what you come up with next!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 320
Received: Borrowed from my local library

Release Date: August 25, 2009
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Tom Cole, the grandson of a legendary local hero, has inherited an uncanny knack for reading the Niagara River's whims and performing daring feats of rescue at the mighty falls. And like the tumultuous meeting of the cataract's waters with the rocks below, a chance encounter between Tom and 17-year-old Bess Heath has an explosive effect. When they first meet on a trolley platform, Bess immediately recognizes the chemistry between them, and the feeling is mutual.

But the hopes of young love are constrained by the 1915 conventions of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Tom's working-class pedigree doesn't suit Bess's family, despite their recent fall from grace. Sacked from his position at a hydroelectric power company, Bess's father has taken to drink, forcing her mother to take in sewing for the society women who were once her peers. Bess pitches in as she pines for Tom, but at her young age, she's unable to fully realize how drastically her world is about to change.

Set against the resounding backdrop of the falls, Cathy Marie Buchanan's carefully researched, capaciously imagined debut novel entwines the romantic trials of a young couple with the historical drama of the exploitation of the river's natural resources. The current of the river, like that of the human heart, is under threat: "Sometimes it seems like the river is being made into this measly thing," says Tom, bemoaning the shortsighted schemes of the power companies. "The river's been bound up with cables and concrete and steel, like a turkey at Christmastime."

Skillfully portraying individuals, families, a community, and an environment imperiled by progress and the devastations of the Great War, The Day the Falls Stood Still beautifully evokes the wild wonder of its setting, a wonder that always overcomes any attempt to tame it. But at the same time, Buchanan's tale never loses hold of the gripping emotions of Tom and Bess's intimate drama. The result is a transporting novel that captures both the majesty of nature and the mystery of love.

My Review:

Earlier this year I got the chance to read Cathy Marie Buchanan's THE PAINTED GIRLS, I loved that it was a story set in Paris and about trying to become a dancer. I really loved her writing and when I found out that she had an earlier book that takes place in Niagara Falls (seriously it's like an hour away from me) I knew I was going to feature it for Canadian Historical Fiction month!

This is definitely a story that rivals many love stories out there for me. Cathy really shows how these two characters really fit with one another and I loved watching their relationship as they learn about one another slowly. Bess's family has fallen from their high position in society and she must leave school and help her family get by. I really loved Bess's character, she stood by her family and did everything she could to bring her sister back out of this depression she is in.

Tom's character intrigued me the most throughout my reading of THE DAY THE FALLS STOOD STILL. It was interesting to see the connection he had with the falls and to really see someone be passionate about something as he is throughout the entire book. Tom puts so much energy into protecting the falls from running low and his passion comes across beautifully in this book.

This book is about more than just Tom and Bess though, I really felt like the falls themselves were a character in this story and that is what really spoke to me. Cathy's descriptions of Niagara falls were beautiful and really something I never thought about, and I loved the history behind it. Cathy goes deep into the ice bridge and how the weather changes affect things in town. Cathy also adds in newspaper clippings throughout the story, giving even more history to readers that goes further back than Tom and Bess themselves.

I'm so happy that I finally got to pick this up, being able to read a book about a place that I know so much about and have spent so many summers at is amazing, but I think this story has given me a new outlook on the falls. I think this is one of those perfect books for Canadian Historical Fiction!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: The Fallen by Stephen Finucan

Publisher: Viking Canada
Pages: 240
Received: Borrowed from my local library

Release Date: August 25, 2009
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

In the winter of 1944, the newly liberated city of Naples has become an ever more dangerous place. Among those charged with maintaining the military security of the city is a young Canadian, Lieutenant Thomas Greaves. Greaves seems naïve at first, but it soon becomes clear that he has demons to exorcise and that he sees his time in Naples as the opportunity to make amends for a tragic mistake made on the battlefield. But his plans go awry, and Greaves lands in the murky world of gangsters and black marketeers.

My Review:

I have to be honest, this book was one of the most difficult for me to get through of the ones I chose to read this month. I loved the idea behind it, having the setting in Naples following the liberation from the Nazi's and seeing what is now happening. I love Italian settings as I have mentioned before, and I'm always interested in WWII and how certain countries recuperated following those events.

The main issue I had with this book was that there were so many characters that readers follow along with, and I felt confused in the beginning as to what exactly was happening. I felt like the story jumped around a lot, and it took me awhile to understand who I was following and what exactly was happening (I think I was fairly close to the end of the story when things finally started getting put together). I also felt like some of the chapters dragged on and I lost focus a few times during my reading of this book, but I will say the ending of this book redeemed itself and I found myself a little more interested in the story and how things would end for everyone.

What I really enjoyed about this book were the characters, even though I felt confused at times with them, each of them have issues. You can really see right from the beginning of this story how the war has affected each of them, and in a way is still affecting them now even though the Nazi's are gone from their area. Greaves is the one character who is trying to help everyone around him and he is naive to everything that is happening in Naples, it definitely is a scary place at this time.

I think I was most confused with Greaves' POV in the beginning, but also there is the world of the gangsters that took awhile to wrap my head around. Once I was able to figure out what was going on I was intrigued at how the world these gangsters inhabited worked, and Finucan really makes his readers know that this is not a safe place for anyone. Corruption is such a large theme in this novel, and it is so surprising to see everything that people do at this time.

The tone of this book is very dark and gritty, and I think Stephen Finucan did a great job at bringing the misery these people went through at this time to life in the book. The way the setting and the characters are described goes along well with the feeling of the story, everyone is down on their luck and will take whatever means possible to get by each day.

Honestly, I was ready to give up on this book, but I had invested so much time and it was a fairly short book that I wanted to finish it. And by the end I am glad, I had my issues but this book was definitely a gritty and dark book, with characters that all had issues, making them very real in a time where nothing is pretty. What I really wish with this book was that there was not so many characters that readers follow, that makes the reading and understanding of the book quite difficult.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Muse by Mary Novik

Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine is a weekly feature where I get to gush about something (usually a book) that I am really excited for.

I featured Mary Novik's CONCEIT earlier, and when I found out she has another book coming out, I knew I had to feature it as well.

August 13, 2013
Doubleday Canada

Richly engaging historical adventure in the vein of The Winter Palaceand The Malice of Fortune.

Muse is the story of the charismatic woman who was the inspiration behind Petrarch's sublime love poetry. Solange LeBlanc begins life in the tempestuous streets of 14th century Avignon, a city of men dominated by the Pope and his palace. When her mother, a harlot, dies in childbirth, Solange is raised by Benedictines who believe she has the gift of clairvoyance. Trained as a scribe, but troubled by disturbing visions and tempted by a more carnal life, she escapes to Avignon, where she becomes entangled in a love triangle with the poet Petrarch, becoming not only his muse but also his lover.

Later, when her gift for prophecy catches the Pope's ear, Solange becomes Pope Clement VI's mistress and confidante in the most celebrated court in Europe. When the plague kills a third of Avignon's population, Solange is accused of sorcery and is forced once again to reinvent herself and fight against a final, mortal conspiracy.

Muse is a sweeping historical epic that magically evokes the Renaissance, capturing a time and place caught between the shadows of the past and the promise of a new cultural awakening.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: Conceit by Mary Novik

Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Pages: 402
Received: Borrowed from my local library

Release Date: August 8, 2007
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

It is the Great Fire of 1666. The imposing edifice of St. Paul's Cathedral, a landmark of London since the twelfth century, is being reduced to rubble by the flames that engulf the City.

In the holocaust, Pegge and a small group of men struggle to save the effigy of her father, John Donne, famous love poet and the great Dean of St. Paul's. Making their way through the heat and confusion of the streets, they arrive at Paul's wharf. Pegge's husband, William Bowles, anxiously scans the wretched scene, suddenly realizing why Pegge has asked him to meet her at this desperate spot.

The story behind this dramatic rescue begins forty years before the fire. Pegge Donne is still a rebellious girl, already too clever for a world that values learning only in men, when her father begins arranging marriages for his five daughters, including Pegge. Pegge, however, is desperate to taste the all-consuming desire that led to her parents' clandestine marriage, notorious throughout England for shattering social convention and for inspiring some of the most erotic and profound poetry ever written. She sets out to win the love of Izaak Walton, a man infatuated with her older sister.

Stung by Walton's rejection and jealous of her physically mature sisters, the boyish Pegge becomes convinced that it is her own father who knows the secret of love. She collects his poems, hoping to piece together her parents' history, searching for some connection to the mother she barely knew.

Intertwined with Pegge's compelling voice are those of Ann More and John Donne, telling us of the courtship that inspired some of the world's greatest poetry of love and physical longing. Donne's seduction leads Ann to abandon social convention, risk her father's certain wrath, and elope with Donne. It is the undoing of his career and the two are left to struggle in a marriage that leads to her death in her twelfth childbirth at age thirty-three.

In Donne's final days, Pegge tries, in ways that push the boundaries of daughterly behaviour, to discover the key to unlock her own sexuality. After his death, Pegge still struggles to free herself from an obsession that threatens to drive her beyond the bounds of reason. Even after she marries, she cannot suppress her independence or her desire to experience extraordinary love.

Conceit brings to life the teeming, bawdy streets of London, the intrigue-ridden court, and the lushness of the seventeenth-century English countryside. It is a story of many kinds of love — erotic, familial, unrequited, and obsessive — and the unpredictable workings of the human heart. With characters plucked from the pages of history, Mary Novik's debut novel is an elegant, fully-imagined story of lives you will find hard to leave behind.

My Review:

This book was on a list of recommended books from Random House of Canada and I will have to say that this is one of the books that took me the longest to get through, but it was really interesting. The book is long and very detailed but not in a way that distracts from the story. Every little thing adds to the story and I found that Mary Novik's writing made it easy to imagine the setting and the characters. She gives readers every little detail so that you can really see the characters for who they are.

The writing style of this book is very dark and gritty. I felt that it matched the story perfectly, making me feel like I was going through the same problems as Pegge. I was intrigued by Pegge's character throughout the entire book, she tried her hardest to make those around her happy and yet at the same time only wanted one thing for herself and that was to choose the person she would marry.

What was very interesting was how Novik inserts the voices of John Donne and Ann More into the story as well, telling the readers their courtship story. This added story really shows why Pegge is so interested in making her own life instead of having someone chosen for her. I did feel a little confused at one point of whose story I was following, but I eventually got used to the different voices.

As much as I loved Pegge, I found that at other times her character annoyed me, she would find things to complain about when she was given so much, she was still very much child-like even when she did grow up. I can see why she was so young at heart though, never really learning how to take care of a household because her sister always managed everything. Pegge's relationship with her father was the best part of the story for me, even after John Donne has passed away, Pegge just wants to preserve the love story between her parents and make it known, even though everyone else sees something else.

I really liked learning a little more about John Donne and his poetry in this book, Mary Novik really brings Donne to life and shows off the reactions to his poetry well. Especially how people saw him after his death, it was very interesting to say the least. This is definitely a historical fiction book that is very literary and you won't want to leave these characters.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

Publisher: McLelland & Stewart
Pages: 400
Received: Borrowed from my local library

Release Date: April 10, 2001
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis

Set in the first half of the twentieth century, but reaching back to Bavaria in the late nineteenth century, "The Stone Carvers" weaves together the story of ordinary lives marked by obsession and transformed by art. At the centre of a large cast of characters is Klara Becker, the granddaughter of a master carver, a seamstress haunted by a love affair cut short by the First World War, and by the frequent disappearances of her brother Tilman, afflicted since childhood with wanderlust. From Ontario, they are swept into a colossal venture in Europe years later, as Toronto sculptor Walter Allward's ambitious plans begin to take shape for a war memorial at Vimy, France. Spanning three decades, and moving from a German-settled village in Ontario to Europe after the Great War, "The Stone Carvers" follows the paths of immigrants, labourers, and dreamers. Vivid, dark, redemptive, this is novel of great beauty and power.

My Review:

This is my first Jane Urquhart book, and I enjoyed the story but there were a few times I felt a little disconnected with the characters and the story. I could see how the switching of perspectives made this book difficult for some readers, but after getting used to it, I did enjoy the different stories and how they all connected to one another. The one story that really interested me was that of Klara's brother Tilman and what happened to him once he left home. It takes readers awhile to actually get to his story though. This book spans over many years, beginning with the settlers coming to Canada, and we see the effects of the First World War, to the building of the memorial at Vimy Ridge.

I really enjoyed the back and forth from Klara growing up and her story of finding love, interspersed with the story of the building of the church and really how this little town got started. Klara's grandfather is the one who helped the priest build this great church and from there he teaches generations to come about carving. Klara learns by eavesdropping on her brother's lessons, and she becomes a master carver herself as well as a seamstress.

At the heart of this story is how each of these characters has an obsession with some form of art, and it consumes them. But this obsession has also connected each of them to others over the course of their lives, and that has had affected their futures in large ways. Klara's story was beautiful and heartbreaking, watching her fall in love and then seeing him leave for war, it becomes difficult for Klara to trust again.

I do have to say the most interesting point of the book for me was reading about the building of the monument. I found that as the book got further along, there were a few points that the point of view changed and we learned the history of a new character and it was confusing for me. I will say that I did love the power of art in this book and how it could hurt and heal at the same time. I think this is a beautiful book for Canadian Historical Fiction Month because readers really get a sense of Canadian history and seeing the immigrants come to Canada and make a home and the beginning of some cities. I also loved seeing the name of my hometown come up a couple of times (because it used to be a tiny place but now more people know about it!)

Yes, this book was difficult to get through at times because of the many changing perspectives, but something about the writing kept me intrigued and kept me reading even when I wanted to put it down.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction: Guest Post from Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk

Today I would like to welcome Gina and Janice, the authors of THE WOLVES OF ST. PETER'S to Cozy Up With A Good Read! 

Gina Buonaguro & Janice Kirk: Accidental Historical Novelists

We fell into writing historical fiction by accident. Our first novel, The Sidewalk Artist, was to be a contemporary travel story where our heroine met a sidewalk artist in Paris. But what was he drawing? The first things to pop into Janice’s head were Raphael’s iconic cherubs (from The Sistine Madonna). And boom - we had our story, and it was suddenly part historical fiction.

We turned to complete historical fiction for our second book, Ciao Bella, which takes place in Northern Italy in the summer after WWII, and decided for our third novel to return to the Italian Renaissance, which allowed us to both build upon the research we had already started and have Raphael return as a minor character. So we began The Wolves of St. Peter’s, which originally had no wolves but did have a painting.

During our initial research, we had become fascinated with paintings of the Madonna and Child.  Almost everyone in Renaissance Italy lucky enough to have a roof over their head had one under said roof. So artists - both famous and forgotten to history - churned them out, making frequent use of prostitutes and courtesans for their Madonna models. That certainly made us wonder. Did these women’s lives change after they were painted as the Mother of God? Did they think differently? How did they feel about the painting? Did the owner of the Madonna ever think about them? Did they ever meet them - or even fall in love with them? So this idea - a prostitute as a Madonna model - gave us our victim.

Next, we needed our detective. Writing again about Raphael meant not only delving into the papacy of Pope Julius II but also into Michelangelo, who was just getting started on the Sistine Chapel ceiling (and, as we describe in Wolves, having a hell of a time with it.) From known facts, such as conveyed in Ross King’s wonderful Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling, we discovered that in Michelangelo’s household was a houseboy whose name was never recorded – that was the basis for our “investigator” Francesco, whom we transformed from a boy of ten to a twenty-year-old humanist lawyer forced to flee Florence in disgrace.   

Steven Pinker’s brilliant book The Better Angels of Our Nature answered a great deal for us on the general
violence at the time as well as the nature of women’s lives, especially when it came to issues of reproduction, the fate of unwanted babies, and the casual approach to infanticide. That helped us shape Francesco’s lover, Susanna.

From reading Benvenuto Cellini – a contemporary and whose version of events should be taken with a grain of salt – we gained another vantage point on the era. For instance, everyone carried a dagger and thought nothing of using it. Cellini even wrote an account of raising the dead with a necromancer (to be taken with a bucket of salt), which inspired the scene where the skeptical Francesco takes Susanna to see a necromancer at the Coliseum. Janice saw this as a perfect opportunity to prove Gina wrong when she offhandly remarked that we would never write about zombies!

Peter Partner’s Renaissance Rome also gave us a good image of Rome at the time, a cobbled-together, ramshackle series of structures that blurred the idea of inside and outside, where one morning a homeowner might wake up and not be able to use his front door because someone had built a cowshed against it (at which point no doubt the daggers would come out).

Sometimes key details were quite serendipitously discovered. The actual starving wolves that descend from the hills and terrify the Romans came from a Google search. While Janice was hoping to learn more about Romulus and Remus, the mythical founding fathers of Rome who had been raised by wolves, she instead came across a New York Times article from the early 1900s that said starving wolves had entered Rome after a harsh winter. Much later, we came across another account of this happening in the 16th century. Finally - our wolves! And from that also came our title, which alludes to wolves both real and metaphorical.

As a rule, we avoided reading other historical novels from our time period and setting, since we didn’t want to unconsciously absorb other people’s stories. Still, other works had their influences, often from unexpected places, and Wolves does owe something to Polanski’s Chinatown – “This is Rome, Francesco.”

From all this research, we then built our story. The key was to fully absorb our findings so that when we sat down to write, we entered and lived in our characters’ world, so that the world was described fully from their point of view rather than ours. We also wanted the story to emerge from the specific setting and period, not just plop a plot into any old historical milieu.

It helped too that we’ve both been to Rome. Unless you’ve stood in the Coliseum, it is hard to fully appreciate its size. The same with the splendor of the Vatican, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Michelangelo’s ceiling. We could envision the world through our characters’ eyes, from how long it took to walk from here to there to what they would have seen along the way (although it’s true that Rome has changed a lot in 500 years – the square where Michelangelo had his workshop was long ago consumed by St. Peter’s Square). Our next novel takes Francesco to Venice, and having spent time there this past winter will allow us to enrich that story’s setting and backdrop, too.

So, although we started out as accidental historical novelists, we are now quite deliberate about it. We greatly enjoy writing novels set in the past, based upon real events, and supported by intensive research - and that’s what we plan to do for a long time to come.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: The Wolves of St. Peter's by Gina Buonaguro & Janice Kirk

Publisher: Harper Collins Canada
Pages: 288
Received: Received a copy from Harper Collins Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: April 23, 2013
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca

Goodreads Synopsis:

A suspenseful, intoxicating mystery of art, young love and betrayal, set amid the glory and corruption of Renaissance Rome.

When young Francesco Angeli sees a golden-haired woman being pulled from the Tiber on a rainy Rome morning, he is shocked to realize that he knows her. It is 1508, and Francesco is a reluctant houseboy to Michelangelo, who is at work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Francesco prefers the company of the urbane Raphael and the artistic circle that gathers at the home of Imperia, who operates a brothel in the shadow of the Vatican while the all-powerful Pope Julius II turns a blind eye. The woman in the river is one of Imperia’s ladies, and against his will, Francesco becomes involved in the search for the truth about her death.

Meanwhile, rising waters flood the city’s streets, turning Romans into refugees and the Coliseum into an emergency refuge, and hungry wolves descend from the hills to stalk the city like ghosts. As Francesco follows the deepening mystery from the backstreets to the pope’s inner sanctum, he begins to realize that danger and corruption may lurk behind the most beautiful of facades.

My Review:

A historical fiction book that takes place in Rome during Renaissance times, this is all that was going through my head when this book was recommended to me. I will always love books set in Italy, it's always such an amazing place for a story. I was also interested to see how two authors would come together to tell this story (I don't read a lot  of co-authored books), and I have to say that I could not tell where there was a change of writing.

I felt that this book went by really quick, the book opens up with Francesco witnessing a body being pulled from the Tiber, and he realizes that he recognizes this woman. He works hard towards figuring out who would want to kill her and for what. What was really interesting is that when the mystery is finally revealed to the readers, you realize hints were dropped throughout the novel. I think the authors did a great job of having you look over here while something else was going on somewhere else.

There is a lot that goes on in this book, Francesco slowly learns about himself while solving this mystery of who killed the woman. But there is also a great romance story hidden in everything else going on, and then of course some of the interesting friends Francesco has made during his time in Rome. I loved those the most, it was great seeing the male bonding happening and how Francesco wanted to help his friends and what some of those friends would do for him.

Both of these authors did a great job with the setting, I could picture every little bit of Rome and could imagine how the town looked and where the characters were going. Reading this book really made me want to go to Rome and experience it (even though I know it is so different now). This story is told around Michelangelo and his work on the Sistine Chapel, which I loved when there were scenes with him, he was such an interesting and complicated character, and by the end you really come to love him and his crazy ways.

It's nice to see two authors get together and collaborate on a story, I feel like this book was such a success and I am excited to go through some of their older titles. These two did a beautiful job of recreating Renaissance Rome for readers and really brought the characters to life.

For more information on Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk and THE WOLVES OF ST. PETER you can check it out on the Harper Collins Canada website.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Interview with Tanis Rideout

Today in honour of Canadian Historical Fiction Month I have the lovely Tanis Rideout here to talk about her book ABOVE ALL THINGS (review here) and what went into making this story possible. Welcome Tanis!

Photo taken from Queens University website (Nikki Mills photo)

Why did you choose to write historical fiction?

I’m not sure that I chose to write historical fiction, in so much as the story, the character of George in particular grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. I had to write about the story and him to get it out of my head, I think.

That having been said I love reading historical fiction – plunging in to different eras. I love history in general, so I find it’s a different way to get at an era or at its people. I don’t think it’s all I’ll ever write, but I think I’ll always be drawn to it.

What drew you specifically to George Mallory and his climb of Mount Everest?

I saw a clip of some of the original film footage of the early expeditions years ago while working at an outdoor equipment store. I was struck by the image – a massive white cliff, these tiny men in black and white with their enormous packs and outdated and rather unsuitable clothing! I started to read everything I could get my hands on.

I was stunned by the sheer ambition and scope of those early attempts and how insane it all seemed. And then as I started to read specifically about George I was star struck. I fell in love. He was so charismatic, so good looking. Perhaps one of the last great English gentlemen explorers.
The story raised so many questions for me. I had to write it.

How much research went into writing this story?

I researched a lot. I love research. If I could just do research I think I’d be very happy! I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on about Everest, about the physiology of high altitude and cold, about George and Sandy.

And then I was lucky enough to go to England and get a chance to read letters and documents in the archives at Cambridge and the Royal Geographical Society. At some point in time though, you have to walk away from the research and tell the story that is there, that is, hopefully, coming alive on the pages in front of you.

Did you find it difficult writing many perspectives?

I found it difficult at different times. Interestingly, I thought Ruth would be the easy one to write – but she ended up being the most difficult, I think – perhaps because of the smallness of her world, her story, when contrasted with George and Sandy’s. But perspective is part of what is so interesting about story telling. And I knew I wanted to hear Ruth’s version of George – I knew it would be different than everyone else’s. I quite enjoyed being able to go back and forth from one to the other. Sometimes scenes got shifted from one person to another, just because it allowed the reader to understand so much more.

Who was your favourite character to write? Who was the most difficult?

This changed over time. As I mentioned – I thought Ruth would be easy when I started, I thought I had more inherently in common with her than I did with George or Sandy. But when I got down to it, she was a challenge. Once I found her voice though, her landscape, she became easier.
Sandy moved in and out of the book a few times – but in the end I think he really found his own footing and I quite enjoyed being in his shoes for a while.
And George – well, as I said, I loved him. Though I think perhaps that waned through the writing.

TANIS RIDEOUT received her MFA from the University of Guelph-Humber, and she has been a finalist for the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers and the CBC Literary Awards. In 2006, she was named Poet Laureate for Lake Ontario by Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and joined Gord Downie on a tour to promote environmental justice on the lake. Sometimes referred to as the Poet Laureate of CanRock, Tanis joined Sarah Harmer’s I Love the Escarpment Tour to read a commissioned poem. She was born in Belgium, grew up in Bermuda and in Kingston, Ontario, and now lives in Toronto.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Canadian Historical Fiction Review: Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Publisher: McLelland & Stewart
Pages: 368
Received: Received a copy from Random House of Canada in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: February 12, 2013 (Originally June 2012)
Buy From Amazon.ca / Buy From Chapters.ca /
Buy From BookDepository.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Paris Wife meets Into Thin Air in this breathtaking novel of love and obsession, which tells the story of George Mallory’s legendary attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest – and of the remarkable woman he left behind to await news of his fate.

A captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction, Above All Things moves seamlessly between the epic story of Mallory’s final expedition and a moving account of a day in the life of his wife, Ruth. Through George’s perspective, and that of the newest member of the climbing team, Sandy Irvine, we get an astonishing picture of the terrible risks taken by the men on the treacherous terrain of the Himalaya. But it is through Ruth’s eyes that a complex portrait of a marriage emerges, one forged on the eve of the First World War, shadowed by its losses, and haunted by the ever-present possibility that George might not come home. Drawing on years of research, this powerful and beautifully written novel is a timeless story of desire, redemption, and the lengths we are willing to go for honour, glory, and love.

My Review:

What a story Tanis has given readers with ABOVE ALL THINGS, I really enjoyed where she went with this story, and appreciate the amount of work it must have taken her to research what happened to George Mallory. The way Tanis brought to life the story of George and Ruth was beautiful, enchanting, and very emotional. This is the story of love and the power to be strong being the one left behind.

I really loved how Tanis chose to write the story in many different perspectives, she chose to show how this mountain affected so many different people. Each person has a different thought about what their experiences with this mountain will be like. Readers see how the mountain takes over George's life and how all he thinks about is being able to get to the top so that he can go home and be with his family, without having to think about something that could have been. The we have Sandy Irvine, who is the newest member of the team. He believes that he will be part of history and yet he continually gets left behind while the more experienced climbers trudge ahead.

Ruth's story really affected me during my reading of this book. As much as I know George and Sandy had a difficult journey, so did Ruth. She was the one who had to sit and wait for her husband and explain to her children why he kept leaving again and again. I loved the emotion brought out in this book as we follow Ruth`s struggles to be on her own and watch her husband continually leave to pursue this very difficult task of climbing Mount Everest.

Tanis Rideout has an interesting story, that you can tell as you delve deeper took a lot of time and effort to research everything that happened. Her characters are very realistic and their emotions pour out of the pages of this book, and readers really get to see how not achieving one's goal can really affect their lives. The characters all go after what they believe in and are willing to risk everything for that one taste of success.


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