“The Librarian of Saint-Malo” by Mario Escobar – A Literary Resistance

“The Librarian of Saint-Malo” by Mario Escobar (Header image)

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Mario Escobar has, on many occasions, managed to profoundly penetrate some of the more difficult and gut-wrenching topics in recent history, a feat he repeats once again with The Librarian of Saint-Malo. The story takes place in France, 1939, and follows Jocelyn, the titular librarian, as she tries to save the books and people of her beloved coastal village as it falls prey to Nazi occupation.

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“The Drifters” by James A. Michener – Lost in a Haze

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

James A. Michener has shown himself capable of penning profound novels over the course of his career, the kind to explore the human condition at depths few are capable of reaching. The Drifters is one of his best-known novels, telling the story of a young group of people in the 1960s who, by pure chance, all meet at a bar in Spain, and decide to travel the world on hedonistic and philosophical pursuits.

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“The Marriage Portrait” by Maggie O’Farrell – Duty of the Duchess

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Maggie O’Farrell is the kind of author who enjoys taking a deeper dive into history than most of her literary peers, a quality which shines through in her latest novel, The Marriage Portrait. It follows Lucrezia de’ Medici as she is thrust into a marriage with Alfonso II d’Este, barely out of girlhood. Largely alone and unprepared, she must learn to navigate the ruthless world of the Italian court with her very future hanging in the balance, depending on whether or not she can produce a heir for the duke.

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“Three Comrades” by Erich Maria Remarque – The Enduring Spirit of Friendship

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Erich Maria Remarque captured like none other the chaos of an uncertain daily life in Germany between the two World Wars, and Three Comrades is one of his more iconic works on the subject. The story follows three friends earning a meagre living through a garage they own, searching desperately for a meaning to their wasting lives amidst the upheavals which shook Germany in 1928… a meaning they might just find when a new comrade enters the fold.

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“The Girl in the Painting” by Tea Cooper – A Past Hidden in Brushstrokes

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Tea Cooper has been perfecting her craft as an author of historical fiction novels for over ten years now, and with The Girl in the Painting we see it all come together in brilliant fashion. The story follows a woman, Elizabeth Quinn, and her adopted daughter, Jane Piper, as they embark on a quest to discover long-hidden truths after the former of the two experiences a traumatic episode at a local exhibition.

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“The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles – No Plans for the Future

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Short Summary

Amor Towles has shown unequivocal talent for delivering sophisticated stories examining the human condition under unusual circumstances, and in his third novel, The Lincoln Highway, he places an eighteen-year-old boy under his microscope. Transporting us to 1954, the story follows ten days in the life of Emmett Watson, recently released from a juvenile work farm for involuntary manslaughter, now standing on the threshold of drastic personal changes.

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“The Mystery of Mrs. Christie” by Marie Benedict – A Vanished Star

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Marie Benedict has no shortage of experience introducing the twist of fiction into the realm of factual history, and in The Mystery of Mrs. Christie she puts it to good use in an attempt to shed some light on one of the most famous cases of unexplained disappearance. In December of 1926, the timeless author of mystery novels Agatha Christie disappeared for a period of eleven days, claiming total amnesia upon her return. The author attempts to reconstruct the events of those missing days with the help of both a fictional narrative and factual research.

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“The Prague Cemetery” by Umberto Eco – No Rest for the Jews

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Umberto Eco is an author who has earned the right to write just about anything he wishes, and one of his more recent novels, The Prague Cemetery, he has taken it upon himself to write about a complex subject, hardly explicable in a sentence. In short, it follows a man responsible for creating conspiracies and spinning webs of prejudice as he tries to recollect his past and the event which led him to lose his memory.

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“The Black Obelisk” by Erich Maria Remarque – Economics Dictate Values

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Erich Maria Remarque has managed to capture like few others the atmosphere of his era, and in The Black Obelisk he takes us to the heart of Germany after the First World War. It introduces us to Ludwig, a young veteran from the war, now working for a monument company, mostly selling stone markers to the loved ones of the recently-departed. With the historical inflation in his country only worsening by the hour, Ludwig tries to find a meaning for his life amidst a turbulent and collapsing society.

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“The Young Lions” by Irwin Shaw – Different Perspectives on Atrocity

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Irwin Shaw is one of the writers whose works have a defined place in history, chronicling a reality we can never afford to forget. The Young Lions is perhaps his best-known work, depicting the Second World War and its immense complexity through three different perspectives: an observant young Nazi, a weary American film producer, and a shy Jewish boy who just got married.

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“A Thousand Ships” by Natalie Haynes – The Lost Perspective

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Natalie Haynes has been exploring many venues of literature through the novels and books she has written, with her latest one, A Thousand Ships, taking us back to antiquity once again. Following the fall of Troy at the hands of the immortalized ruse by the Greeks, the book follows the stories of many women all affected in one way or another by the war and its resolution.

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“A Brightness Long Ago” by Guy Gavriel Kay – The Meeting Between Free Will and Fate

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Guy Gavriel Kay is without question one of the more prominent and outstanding speculative fiction authors writing today, and I think we can add A Brightness Long Ago to his list of successes. The story follows an old and powerful man, part of the ruling council in a fantasy version of Venice, as he remembers his rather turbulent youth, how he came to be where he is, as well as all the different men and women who shaped his fate.

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“Greenwood” by Michael Christie – Tracing the Tangled Roots of a Family

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Michael Christie began his career as an author in promising fashion, being nominated for awards left and right. In his second published novel, Greenwood, he attempts to make full use of his talents to tell the complicated story of a family across multiple generations. Taking us on a trip through time from 1908 to 2038, we meet the four pivotal members who through their actions, both purposeful and unwitting, dictated their family’s history.

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“The Book of Longings” by Sue Monk Kidd – The Rebellious Thorn

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Short Summary

Sue Monk Kidd has never run short on imagination in her books, and her latest work, The Book of Longings, yet again bears testament to this. Set in the first century during the Roman occupation of Israel, the novel borrows some elements from history to tell the story of Ana, who is determined to give a voice to the other silenced women of her times while trying to carve a most difficult path for her own fulfillment.

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“The King at the Edge of the World” by Arthur Phillips – What Does a Monarch Believe?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Short Summary

Arthur Phillips has really been exploring his abilities as an author by diving into different genres since his first novel, and in The King at the Edge of the World he transports us into the realm of historical fiction. Taking place in 1601, we follow a web of courtly intrigues anchored around the impending death of Queen Elizabeth I, the leading candidate to her succession King James VI, and Mahmoud Ezzedine, a Muslim physician who stayed behind from the Ottoman Empire’s last diplomatic visit.

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