Historical fiction doesn’t usually sit on my reading pile, but ‘word of mouth’ great books certainly do and it is due to the latter that I found myself recently devouring not just one but two historical fiction trilogies.
‘These is My Words’ is inspired by author Nancy Turner’s family memoirs of her great grandmother Sarah Prine, an astonishing, wilful and unforgettable pioneering woman who seeks a living in the harsh, untamed lands of the Arizona Territory circa late 1800’s. She encounters love too briefly and loss too often, wrestles against nature’s wrath and must deal with unpredictable neighbours. From the oral tales of her great-grandmother Turner has created three volumes which recount the trials and triumphs of Sarah Prine’s memorable life, reminding us of the oft forgotten dreams, challenges and incredible tales of survival of those who came before us.
So ‘Sarah Prine’ is finished but the experience of one courageous woman left a taste for more, so after reading a chance review we (my book buddy and I) decide on the Josephine B trilogy. Here was a chance to read about a significant period in French history through the eyes of a woman I knew little about – and what an exceptional woman and colourful life to discover.
From humble island roots growing up on a plantation in Martinique, more familiar with village superstition than the courts and noble families of Paris; it is only the forbidden predictions of a Voodoo witchdoctor that hint at the majestic life that awaits Rose Tacher (Josephine Bonaparte).
Written as a collection of journal entries, Sandra Gulland has created a series that sweeps you through the late 1700’s and early 1800’s of Republican and Monarchist France as opinion and favourability flip flop between the two, and it appears as though no one can make up their mind whether indeed it will be a Republic, an Empire or a combination of both.
Each book is as good as, if not better than its precedent and the astonishing amount of research that went into the series and the compassion with which Gulland handles her characters leaves them well etched in your mind.
These is My Words, Sarah’s Quilt, A Star Garden by Nancy E Turner
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B, Tales of Passion- Tales of Woe, The Last Great Dance on Earth by Sandra Gulland