Martin's Must-Reads

Review of The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

May 1947, Southampton.  “The first person I met in England was a hallucination.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must-Reads" and those are the first lines in one of my latest favorite historical novels. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn has parallel narratives. One of Charlie,  a young unwed pregnant woman who, on her way to Switzerland to take care of what her mother calls her “little problem,” detours to follow leads to the whereabouts of her lost cousin.

Have you ever found a random photo or feather or ticket in a borrowed  book and stopped to wonder if there was a story behind it? 

I’m Betty Martin with Martin’s Must Reads and if you have, then you must read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.

It’s a novel based on the fact of an ancient copy of the Haggadah, a Jewish text that lays out the order of the Passover Seder. This is an extremely precious, illuminated manuscript originally from medieval Spain.

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

Anthony Peardew has been collecting lost things for forty years, ever since he lost the St. Teresa medal that his wife-to-be gave him right before she died. Every day he goes for a walk, picks up lost items, brings them back to his study, and labels them.

“In as strong a photograph as any taken of the brothers together, they sit side by side on the back porch steps of the Wright family home.  The year was 1909, the peak of their fame. Wilbur, with a long poker face, looks off to one side, as though his mind were on other things, which it most likely was. Orville gazes straight at the camera, one leg crossed nonchalantly over the other.”

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those words, plus the photograph, begin David McCullough’s book The Wright Brothers.

In 2001, Geraldine Brooks, one of my favorite authors, published her first novel Year of Wonders. She wrote it after coming across an intriguing finger post in England pointing to the Plague Village.

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and Brooks’ book Year of Wonders is an historical novel about the English village, Eyam, during the plague year 1666. The plague arrives in their small village via a bolt of cloth from London.

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