This week’s lists was submitted by Brooke Daly, librarian at the Legislative Reference Library.
”The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver
Beautiful writing and an artful merging of the life of fictional character Harrison Shepherd with the lives of historical characters Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky make this book one of my favorites. Revealed posthumously through Shepherd’s notebooks the story gives a flesh and blood feel to the historical characters as it touches on Trotskyism, Stalinism, the Red scare and much more.
“Gardens in the Dunes” by Leslie Marmon Silko
I loved this compellingly told tale of a young Native American woman, Indigo, pulled between her own threatened culture and the overpowering tide of white culture in the late 19th century. When her family is scattered and her home destroyed, she is adopted by a well-meaning white couple, but never loses her desire to reunite with her sister. The story is much richer than I can convey in a short description.
“The Hummingbird’s Daughter” by Luis Alberto Urrea
Urrea spent 20 years researching his great-aunt Teresita’s life to create a striking fictionalized narrative of her miraculous powers as a healer, her family life, and her role in the Mexican Revolution as the “Saint of Cabora.” I love a story that blends the spiritual, the down-to-earth, the political. Her story continues in the sequel, “Queen of America.”
“Spies of the Balkans” by Alan Furst
Furst is famous for his impeccably researched, well written spy novels set in Europe just before and during WWII. “Spies” features the Greek policeman Constantine Zannis whose missions in the anti-Nazi underground drive the plot. What I enjoy about Furst’s novels, is that I always get a history lesson wrapped in a suspenseful plot carried out by fascinating characters.
“Gone to Soldiers” by Marge Piercy
I must confess, I love a great historical novel, and WWII is endlessly fascinating. This is one of my all-time favorites. Piercy chronicles the life-changing experiences of 10 characters, six women and four men, during the war. She writes masterfully about every aspect of the war — combat, resistance, refugees. Her characters are American, French, Jewish, female, male. But it is the personal stories of these characters that moves me. I don’t have a copy of this book at the moment because I keep giving them away.