Category Archives: Books

Cold Mountain (Novel, 1997)

As a lover of historical fiction and costume dramas, I’m constantly wishing someone would ask me what my favorite (aka most fascinating, most culturally interesting) time period is so we could get into a lively discussion about Victorian England versus the High Middle Ages versus early colonial New England or whatever. But alas, people are dull and boring and never ask me this.

If they did, they’d learn I have a thing with the American Civil War. I’m not sure if this is because I read Gone with the Wind at an impressionable age (12) or because I really like the over-the-top fashion madness that is the crinoline hoopskirt, but something about a country divided, the north versus south culture clash, and a four-year, nightmarish war intrigues me. And it’s also incredible to me that the whole Confederate business still has a hold on many Americans — like the people who drive around with Confederate flags on their trucks, even outside the South. What the hell?

So really it was  just a matter of time before I got my hands on Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, which is set in the rural South during the Civil War. It’s one of my favorite historical fiction novels and one of my favorite novels, period. It does take a while to get through and the pacing is slow, I’ll admit. Think of it like slow-cooked barbecue: takes a long time to make, but the payoff is worth it.

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond (1958)

“On a morning in mid-April, 1687, the brigantine Dolphin left the open sea, sailed briskly across the Sound to the wide mouth of the Connecticut River and into Saybrook Harbor. Kit Tyler had been on the forecastle since daybreak, standing close to the rail, staring hungrily at the first sight of land for five weeks.” — first lines of The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

I suppose it’s fitting that a blog about historical fiction in print and film begins with The Witch of Blackbird Pond, the book that started me on the genre when I was ten. In it, Kit Tyler moves from sunny, carefree Barbados to live with solemn, sober Puritan relatives in cold, dreary Connecticut. Bummer. She feels out of place and lonely until she befriends a Quaker woman named Hannah, an outcast who lives on the edge of the meadows near town. After illness strikes the village, Hannah and then Kit are accused of witchcraft. Dun dun dun…will she be acquitted? Or will this be a prequel to the Salem Witch Trials (scheduled to occur five years later in 1692)?

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