The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday’s theme is something “schoolish” so I’ve chosen to pick my top historical fiction books for children. Generally, I’m rather choosy with my history book choices (even non-fiction), trying to avoid any books that are speculative or modernized or too coloured with the author’s opinions. With that in mind, here are my top picks, books that are well-researched and are able to transport the child back to the time of the novel and give them not only a good understanding, but a permanent connection with an event or person. These books are all excellent!
“Of course there was a Great House at Allington.”
Lily (Lilian), Bell (Isabella), and their mother, Mrs. Dale, live in a cottage on the estate of her brother-in-law, Squire Dale. The squire, their benefactor, is a stern implacable man who feels a responsibility to the family, yet does not exhibit affection or understanding towards them or their plight. In spite of the strained relations, the Dale women live a contented, happy life. However, their cousin, Bernard, one day brings his friend, Adolphus Crosbie home to visit and an attachment grows between him and Lily. Crosbie is a charming young man, without name or fortune, but with a charisma that captures Lily’s heart, despite his flaws of selfishness and worldliness. Does Crosbie love Lily? He certainly convinces himself that he does and as he proposes he anticipates a respectable dowry that he assumes will be bestowed upon Lily by Squire Dale. But assumptions can go awry and when Crosbie learns that Lily will be the benefactress of nothing but goodwill, her charms begin to diminish in his materialistic eyes. All attempts to convince himself that love will overcome practicalities fail and he is lured away by a daughter of an earl, Alexandrina deCourcy, of whom he once was an admirer. Weak and irresolute, Crosbie soon finds himself engaged to the girl despite his own misgivings and the threat of censure that he is certain to receive from various aspects of society.
“Winter! Who ever heard of such a name?”
Set during the great Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Shadow of the Moon follows the life of Winter, Condesa de Ballesteros who is the daughter of a Spanish nobleman and an English mother. Leaving India for England an orphan at the age of six, she is raised by her great-grandfather the Earl of Ware, but a match is made for her at the tender age of eleven to a man twenty years her senior, and at seventeen she prepares to leave for India escorted by Captain Alex Randall, the subordinate of her betrothed, Conway Barton, the Commissioner of the Lunjore district. From the beginning, Winter is attracted to Randall’s self-confident demeanour and somewhat brash independence, yet while she appreciates his care of her, she is also affronted at times by his behaviour and the two develop a mutual attraction that is complicated by circumstance and convention. Although Winter remembers her fiancé as a rather jovial pleasant figure who offers safety and security, Randall is convinced that once she sees the debauched, womanizing lout, nothing in the world would convince her to marry him.
“Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war, and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it.”
Ah, the lovely Landmark editions! Where would I be without them? I would have no idea the location of Thrace or Thessaly or Corinth, etc. and therefore have less of a concept of the complicated dynamics that influenced various states in their struggles to fit into the puzzle of Hellenistic supremacy!
Thucydides account of the war between Sparta and Athens falls just after the events recounted in Herodotus’ The Histories. Athens, high on her victory over the very powerful Xerxes, king of Persia, during the Persian Wars, is feeling rather self-important and she appears to be rushing around with her forces, conquering states here and subduing enemies there. And while Athens becomes more powerful, the Lacedaemonians of Sparta are left to conduct their somewhat mundane and traditional existence. But Athens’ power begins to worry them and while they were allies during the Persian Wars, this brotherhood appears to be heading towards a separation that could prove bloody as well as costly.
|Once Upon A Time (c. 1850)
I cannot believe where the time has gone. It’s passed by so quickly that my mind is spinning. Which is not good. Lately I’ve been thinking about balance in life, and how we find it. Is it only people who live in large cities who have this problem, as events and opportunities are much more accessible? Or do we all do it to ourselves and are “nuts,” as my scorekeeping liaison is fond of calling me? I have a feeling there are many answers to this question, all of them complex and none of them clear.