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In the First Circle

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To Marry An English Lord by Gail MacColl & Carol McD. Wallace

To Marry An English Lord

From Goodreads: “From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than 100 American heiresses invaded Britannia and swapped dollars for titles–just like Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, the first of the Downton Abbey characters Julian Fellowes was inspired to create after reading To Marry An English Lord. Filled with vivid personalities, gossipy anecdotes, grand houses, and a wealth of period details–plus photographs, illustrations, quotes, and the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette–To Marry An English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible.”

The stories of some of these women are fascinating.  There were the three Jerome sisters who all married into the Peerage – Jenny Jerome more famously known as the mother of Winston Churchill.  Even Princess Diana’s great grandmother was one of these American heiresses.

Parts of this book are terrific.  I enjoyed some of the stories of the women, and the explanations about social etiquette of the day.  But huge sections read like a society column – except the names really meant nothing to me.  I’ve seen the excellent film version of Edith Wharton’s Buccaneers – which is based on some of these heiresses.   I’d like to read that novel, and seek out a few others on the same subject.

3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1989
403 pages

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Lafayette by Marc Leepson

Lafayette

From Goodreads:  “The Marquis de Lafayette is an icon of American—and French—history. Lafayette’s life story is the stuff of legend. Born into an aristocratic French family of warriors, made lieutenant in the French Royal Guard at age 14, and married into the royal family at 16, he traveled to the colonies at his own expense to fight in the American Revolution. By age 20, he was embraced by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who became his life-long friends. Here, historian Marc Leepson delivers an insightful account of the great general, whose love of liberty and passionate devotion to American and French independence shines in the pages of history.”

This little book reads like an adventure novel!  The Marquis de Lafayette led such an amazing life and deserves his place in American history.  I highly recommend this one!

5 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2011
224 pages

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The Stolen Crown by Susan Higgenbotham

The Stolen Crown

The story of the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville King Edward IV, seen through the eyes of her sister Katherine Woodville, makes for unique telling of the War of the Roses.  I enjoyed this one, especially after reading The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory.

4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2010
384 pages

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The Boys From Brazil by Ira Levin

The Boys From Brazil

For decades after World War II, former Nazis were hunted for the purpose of bringing them to justice.  Many were found in South America.  Author Ira Levin took this setting and catapulted it into a unique mystery.  What if Dr. Mengele and other Nazis, hiding out in South America, concocted a scheme to bring another Hitler into the world?

Levin’s novel was definitely a page turner, although the premise wasn’t very believable to me.

3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1976
288 pages

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San Miguel by T.C. Boyle

San Miguel

From Goodreads:  “On a tiny, desolate, windswept island off the coast of Southern California, two families, one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s, come to start new lives and pursue dreams of self-reliance and freedom. Their extraordinary stories, full of struggle and hope, are the subject of T. C. Boyle’s haunting new novel.”

I highly recommend this one for historical fiction lovers.  I loved Boyle’s haunting imagery, his well-developed characters, and a terrific story set on a lonely island in the Pacific.

4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012
357 pages

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Theodore Boone by John Grisham

Kid Lawyer

Kid Lawyer: Theodore Boone #1
This series was written for kids, but it has Grisham’s touch.

Theo Boone in the seventh grade. He’s a law junkie; both his parents are lawyers. Theo knows everyone at the courthouse. He also makes friends in school by dispensing legal advice. One classmate tells him something he can’t believe, which involves him in a Grisham-level legal thriller. The book ends with a cliffhanger.
Grisham’s writing voice seems different, is this the editor writing it down to the level of sixth grader?

B-
273 pages

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