Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Use If Teaching Historical Fiction
August 25, 2015
Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish in which they select a topic every week, and the rest of us get to make Top Ten lists based on that topic. This week’s topic: Top Ten Books That Would Be On Your Syllabus If You Taught X 101 (examples: YA fantasy 101, feminist literature 101, magic in YA 101, classic YA lit 101, world-building 101). I love historical fiction, particularly historical fiction that is based on the lives of real people who often live in the shadows of someone famous. Below are the books that I’d use if teaching Historical Fiction Based on Real Life Individuals.
Books I’ve Read and Loved:
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain – I loved this book, and Ernest Hemingway has been on my to-read list ever since I read it (I just haven’t gotten a chance to get to him yet). I learned so much about Hemingway’s first wife Hadley and their often tumultuous relationship.
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen – I absolutely love Rosen’s writing, and I cannot imagine not using her writing in my teaching. This book focuses on the affair between Marshall Field and Delia Spencer, and how their lives and relationships progress through time.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan – I learned a great deal about Frank Lloyd Wright in this novel, particularly his affair with Mamah Borthwick Cheney, which was scandalous in so many ways considering the time period in which it occurred.
Freud’s Mistress by Karen Mack and Jennifer Kaufman – Although this book frustrated me at moments, it is a great portrayal of what the relationship between Sigmund Freud and his sister-in-law looked like. If you want lots of dirt on the life of Freud, this book will definitely intrigue you.
Dollface by Renee Rosen – Another book by Rosen because she is absolutely my favorite historical fiction author. If you like novels set in the 1920’s that include details on the lives of famous gangsters, then this book is a can’t miss.
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin – This novel will forever change how you view Charles Lindbergh. The focus is on his way Anne Morrow Lindbergh and how she adapts to her life, becoming a strong and independent woman. Benjamin had me seeking out more books on Anne after reading this one. She was a fascinating woman who lived an interesting life.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler – This isn’t one of my favorite historical fiction books, but I did learn a great deal about Zelda Fitzgerald and her life with her famous husband Scott. It was interesting reading about the relationship between Fitzgerald and Hemingway as well.
Books That I Want to Read:
Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – True confessions time – I had a weird obssession with Thomas Jefferson in grade school. I can’t explain why I was so fascinated, but I was. Last fall, I met Brubaker and knew that I had to read this book. It focuses on the children that Jefferson had with his slave Sally Hemings. I’m surprised I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I’m hoping to soon!
Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier – Considering my love of historical fiction, I’m surprised I haven’t read anything by Chevalier yet! This novel deals with the artist Vermeer and the development of his relationship with his 16 year old slave (I’m noticing a trend with historical fiction books that deal with adultery….interesting). This is a time period that I’ve read little about, and I’d like to learn more about his infamous portrait.
Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiavernini – Another well known author of historical fiction that I have yet to read. I am so intrigued by this particular novel, and I’m totally interested in learning more about Mary Todd Lincoln and her unlikely friendship with her seamstress.
What other books would you include in a class on historical fiction that is based on real life individuals?