Literary Elements-the Adult Summer Reading Program started on June 16th and we are looking forward to a summer of delicious reads. Each week we will offer some reading suggestions from different genres to add to your summertime reading list.
First up is historical fiction. Rich stories set in the past have always been a favorite of mine and here are a few titles set in America’s past that I can highly recommend:
Let’s start on the Eastern seaboard in the 1660 with Caleb’s Crossing (2011) by award winning author, Geraldine Brooks. This selection is based on the true story of the first Native American man to attend and graduate from Harvard College. Through a clandestine friendship between a minister’s daughter and the brilliant young son of a Wampanoag tribal chieftain, Brooks captures the wild, yet beautiful nature of early Massachusetts and the relationships between our harsh Calvinistic forefathers and the native tribes in what is now known as Martha’s Vineyard.
A novel that depicts a later time and different place, The Known World (2009) by Edward P. Jones is set during America’s pre-Civil War era. In this Pulitzer Prize winning book, Jones creates a compelling novel based on a much ignored fact in our country’s history. This is a story about the world of Henry Townsend, a freed black man who becomes a successful small plantation owner and slave holder. It is an account of a world that is corroding both within and without as tensions grow between North and South. Through the creation of unforgettable characters, Young presents a luminous story of the complexities of lives of freed and enslaved men, blacks, whites and Indians under the system of slavery.
Our next suggestion is The Son (2013) by Philipp Meyer. The Son is an absolutely mesmerizing multigenerational account of the rise of one extraordinary Texas family starting with brutal Indian raids in the 1850s through to the oil and gas boom of the late 1990s. It is an irresistible saga about family, money and power and when published, the novel gained lofty comparisons to books by Michener, Ferber and Cormac McCarthy. If you like historical fiction on a panoramic scale, this is a great choice.
Let's turn to the Northwest:
A Sudden Country by Karen Fisher, won the Washington State Book Award for fiction in 2006. Fisher took over 10 years to write this vivid novel which is based on the events of the 1847 Oregon migration. Two memorable characters, one a trapper from Hudson’s Bay, the other a reluctant mother and immigrant from the Midwest, propel this tale of survival and courage in a nineteenth-century world populated with trappers, traders, immigrants and Native Americans. Fisher’s research and attention to historic detail bring this world to life in this award winning book. Extra bonus: there is some romance involved.