Great Fall Reads

by Kara

Days are getting shorter, maple trees are showing fall colors, and I'm spending more time reading during my evenings. It must be fall. Here's a list of books, mostly Biographical Fiction, I'm looking forward to reading this fall.

The masterpiece : a novel

Fiona Davis

FICTION Davis Fiona
Historical Fiction

"For the nearly nine million people who live in New York City, Grand Central Terminal is a crown jewel, a masterpiece of design. But for Clara Darden and Virginia Clay, it represents something quite different. For Clara, the terminal is the stepping stone to her future, which she is certain will shine as the brightly as the constellations on the main concourse ceiling. It is 1928, and twenty-five-year-old Clara is teaching at the lauded Grand Central School of Art. A talented illustrator, she has dreams of creating cover art for Vogue, but not even the prestige of the school can override the public's disdain for a "woman artist." Brash, fiery, confident, and single-minded--even while juggling the affections of two men, a wealthy would-be poet and a brilliant experimental painter--Clara is determined to achieve every creative success. But she and her bohemian friends have no idea that they'll soon be blindsided by the looming Great Depression, an insatiable monster with the power to destroy the entire art scene. Nearly fifty years later, in 1974, the terminal has declined almost as sharply as Virginia Clay's life. Full of grime and danger, from the smoke-blackened ceiling to the pickpockets and drug dealers who roam the floor, Grand Central is at the center of a fierce lawsuit: Is the once-grand building a landmark to be preserved, or a cancer to be demolished? For Virginia, it is simply her last resort"--

Kara's picture

I've always been fascinated by Grand Central Station in New York City. I've enjoyed Fiona Davis' other books so I'm looking forward to this Historical Fiction novel with Grand Central Station as the backdrop. -Kara

My dear Hamilton : a novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton

Stephanie Dray

FICTION Dray Stephani
Historical Fiction

"A general's daughter… Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington's penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she's captivated by the young officer's charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton's bastard birth and the uncertainties of war. A Founding Father's wife... But the union they create--in their marriage and the new nation--is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all--including the political treachery of America's first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness. The last surviving light of the Revolution… When a duel destroys Eliza's hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband's enemies to preserve Alexander's legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she's left with one last battle--to understand the flawed man she married and the imperfect union he could never have created without her…"--Dust jcket.

Kara's picture

I really enjoy Biographical Fiction. I'm looking forward to reading this story about Eliza Schuyler Hamilton, a "founding mother" and wife of Alexander Hamilton. -Kara

Varina : a novel

Charles Frazier

FICTION Frazier Charles
Historical Fiction

"Her marriage prospects limited, teenage Varina Howell agrees to wed the much-older widower Jefferson Davis, with whom she expects the secure life of a Mississippi landowner. Davis instead pursues a career in politics and is eventually appointed president of the Confederacy, placing Varina at the white-hot center of one of the darkest moments in American history"--

Kara's picture

I've tried to read Charles Frazier's "Cold Mountain" a number of times but couldn't get into the book. I am curious about how Frazier presents the story of Varina Howell and Jefferson Davis. -Kara

White houses : a novel

Amy Bloom

FICTION Bloom Amy
Historical Fiction

Lorena Hickok meets Eleanor Roosevelt in 1932 while reporting on Franklin Roosevelt's first presidential campaign. She is not instantly charmed by the idealistic, patrician Eleanor. As their connection deepens into intimacy, what begins as a powerful passion matures into a lasting love, and a life that Hick never expected to have. After she takes a job in the Roosevelt administration, promoting and protecting both Roosevelts, she comes to know Franklin not only as a great president but as a complicated rival and an irresistible friend, capable of changing lives even after his death.

Kara's picture

I'm just finishing listening to this wonderful book about Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. Tonya Cornelisse's narration is excellent. -Kara

The girls in the picture : a novel

Melanie Benjamin

FICTION Benjamin Melanie
Historical Fiction

A fascinating novel of the friendship and creative partnership between two of Hollywood's earliest female legends--screenwriter Frances Marion and superstar Mary Pickford--from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator's Wife It is 1914, and twenty-five-year-old Frances Marion has left her (second) husband and her Northern California home for the lure of Los Angeles, where she is determined to live independently as an artist. But the word on everyone's lips these days is "flickers"--the silent moving pictures enthralling theatergoers. Turn any corner in this burgeoning town and you'll find made-up actors running around, as a movie camera captures it all. In this fledgling industry, Frances finds her true calling: writing stories for this wondrous new medium. She also makes the acquaintance of actress Mary Pickford, whose signature golden curls and lively spirit have given her the title of America's Sweetheart. The two ambitious young women hit it off instantly, their kinship fomented by their mutual fever to create, to move audiences to a frenzy, to start a revolution. But their ambitions are challenged both by the men around them and the limitations imposed on their gender--and their astronomical success could come at a price. As Mary, the world's highest paid and most beloved actress, struggles to live her life under the spotlight, she also wonders if it is possible to find love, even with the dashing actor Douglas Fairbanks. Frances, too, longs to share her life with someone. As in any good Hollywood story, dramas will play out, personalities will clash, and even the deepest friendships might be shattered. With cameos from such notables as Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Rudolph Valentino, and Lillian Gish, The Girls in the Picture is, at its heart, a story of friendship and forgiveness. Melanie Benjamin perfectly captures the dawn of a glittering new era--its myths and icons, its possibilities and potential, and its seduction and heartbreak.

Kara's picture

I loved Melanie Benjamin's books "The Swans of Fifth Avenue" and "The Aviator's Wife." Her newest book is a coming-of-age Biographical Fiction about two female pioneers in the film industry - Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. I'm listening to the book and Kimberly Farr's narration is very good. -Kara

The great alone

Kristin Hannah

FICTION Hannah Kristin
Historical Fiction

Lenora Allbright is 13 when her father convinces her mother, Cora, to forgo their inauspicious existence in Seattle and move to Kaneq, AK. It's 1974, and the former Vietnam POW sees a better future away from the noise and nightmares that plague him. Having been left a homestead by a buddy who died in the war, Ernt is secure in his beliefs, but never was a family less prepared for the reality of Alaska, the long, cold winters and isolation. Locals want to help out, especially classmate Matthew Walker, who likes everything about Leni. Yet the harsh conditions bring out the worst in Ernt, whose paranoia takes over their lives and exacerbates what Leni sees as the toxic relationship between her parents. The Allbrights are as green as greenhorns can be, and even first love must endure unimaginable hardship and tragedy as the wilderness tries to claim more victims.

Kara's picture

This book is based on Kristin Hannah's personal experience when her family moved to Alaska when she was a child. -Kara

Undiscovered country : a novel inspired by the lives of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Kelly O'Connor McNees

FICTION Mcnees Kelly
Historical Fiction

"In 1932, New York City, top reporter Lorena "Hick" Hickok starts each day with a front page byline--and finishes it swigging bourbon and planning her next big scoop. But an assignment to cover FDR's campaign--and write a feature on his wife, Eleanor--turns Hick's hard-won independent life on its ear. Soon her work, and the secret entanglement with the new first lady, will take her from New York and Washington to Scotts Run, West Virginia, where impoverished coal miners' families wait in fear that the New Deal's promised hope will pass them by. Together, Eleanor and Hick imagine how the new town of Arthurdale could change the fate of hundreds of lives. But doing what is right does not come cheap, and Hick will pay in ways she never could have imagined. Undiscovered Country artfully mixes fact and fiction to portray the intense relationship between this unlikely pair. Inspired by the historical record, including the more than three thousand letters Hick and Eleanor exchanged over a span of thirty years, McNees tells this story through Hick's tough, tender, and unforgettable voice. A remarkable portrait of Depression-era America, this novel tells the poignant story of how a love that was forced to remain hidden nevertheless changed history"--Dust jacket.

Kara's picture

Another recent Biographical Fiction novel featuring Lorena Hickok and Eleanor Roosevelt. -Kara