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Monday, September 26, 2016

Biographical Fiction Featuring American Men

            From colonial times to the twentieth century, here are some novels featuring the famous and the infamous.
            Benjamin Franklin’s Bastard: A Novel, written by Sally Cabot, is about William Franklin, the son of Benjamin. He is appointed Royal Governor of New Jersey by the British Crown. Problems arise when he doesn’t support the colonies’ fight for independence.
            Fates and Traitors: A Novel of John Wilkes Booth is written by Jennifer Chiaverini. It tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, as interpreted by the four women closest to him: his mother, sister, lover, and a Confederate widow.
            Tom & Lucky and (George & Cokey Flo): A Novel is written by C. Joseph Greaves. It is based on the 1936 trial of “Lucky” Luciano, who is being prosecuted by Thomas E. Dewey and defended by George Morton Levy. It portrays a corrupt criminal justice system.
            Paradise Sky, written by Joe R. Lansdale, is the story of Nat Love, an African-American cowboy who went by the nickname “Deadwood Dick”. He becomes an expert marksman, a Buffalo soldier, and a friend of Wild Bill Hickok.
            Sutton: A Novel is written by J.R. Moehringer. It is about Willie Sutton, well-known bank robber of the twentieth century. It includes his many escapades, jail escapes, and the final pardon of this very popular criminal.
            Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, written by Stephen O’Connor, describes the first years of the 37-year relationship between Jefferson and Hemings, when both were in Paris. It examines the conflict between Jefferson’s ideals and the institution of slavery.
            West of Sunset: A Novel is written by Stewart O’Nan. It describes the last three years of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life where, while his wife is institutionalized, he works as a Hollywood screenwriter and falls in love with gossip columnist Sheilah Graham.
            The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge, written by Michael Punke, also was made into a movie a few years ago. It is set in 1823, when fur trapper Hugh Glass is attacked by a grizzly bear and left for dead by the other trappers. But he survives and is driven by the desire for revenge to make his way back home across 3,000 miles.
            Snowbound is written by Richard S. Wheeler. It is the story of American explorer John Fremont who is trapped in the snowbound Colorado Mountains while searching for a railway route to the West along the 38th parallel.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Highlighting American Women through Fiction

            Readers who enjoy reading biographies of the famous also may enjoy novels based on their lives. Here is a selection.
            The Swans of Fifth Avenue: A Novel is written by Melanie Benjamin. It tells the story of socialite Babe Paley, who seemed to have it all. Her friends were “the beautiful people” during the 1950s and 1960s – Frank Sinatra, the Kennedys and more. She befriends writer Truman Capote, only to find her secrets ending up in his stories.
            Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule: A Novel is written by Jennifer Chiaverini, the author of several other biographical/historical novels. The main character is Julia Dent, a woman from Missouri who becomes the wife of the future Union general and American president Ulysses S. Grant. She brings her slave Jule into her marriage.  Over the years Jule eventually obtains her freedom and becomes a businesswoman.
            The Hamilton Affair: A Novel is written by Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman. This is the love story of Elizabeth Schuyler and Alexander Hamilton; from the American Revolution to Hamilton’s duel with Aaron Burr to Elizabeth’s life after Hamilton’s death.
            Under the Wide and Starry Sky, written by Nancy Horan, tells the story of American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne who, while travelling with her children in France, meets Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson, who is ten years her junior. A twenty year love affair ensues.
            Fever, written by Mary Beth Keane, tells the story of Mary Mallon, better known historically as “Typhoid Mary”. She is an immigrant from Ireland whose dreams of becoming a cook are dashed when she is discovered to be an asymptomatic carrier of Typhoid Fever.
             The Paris Wife: A Novel is written by Paula McLain. In the book, Hadley Richardson meets Ernest Hemingway who is on the cusp of becoming a famous writer. As his first wife she shares his successes and disappointments, until their marriage collapses.
            I Always Loved You: A Story of Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas is written by Robin Oliveira. American artist Mary Cassatt’s years of study in Paris ends with a rejection from the Paris Salon. Deeply disappointed, she then meets and falls in love with French artist Edgar Degas.

            Clara and Mr. Tiffany, written by Susan Vreeland, is the story of Clara Driscoll, the Women’s Division Head at Tiffany’s stained glass factory. She is the one who develops their famous stained glass lamp project and oversees its mass-production. Unfortunately she does not get recognition for it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September is Healthy Aging Month

Let these books help you as you work towards healthy aging.

            The Age Fix: a Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals How to Really Look 10 Years Younger is written by Anthony Youn, MD. For sixteen years he has researched how to maintain youthful skin using diet and skin care techniques, not invasive plastic surgery, using information from other plastic surgeons, dermatologists, dietitians, and makeup artists. Dr. Youn has been featured on several TV shows and in magazine and newspaper articles.

            Bio-Young: Get Younger at a Cellular and Hormonal Level is written by Roxy Dillon, a certified nutritionist who has developed a program using vitamins, natural oils, and healthy foods to rejuvenate cellular and hormonal functions. The reader gets step-by-step instructions on health repair using exercise, skin care, and nutrition.

            Disrupt Aging: a Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every Age is written by Jo Ann Jenkins, the chief executive of AARP and the former CEO of the Library of Congress. The book focuses on the social issues of aging – where to live, whether to work and/or volunteer, and finance – and the health issues. The stories of many seniors who are aging successfully are given. A resistance against ageism is encouraged.

            The Longevity Book: the Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time is written by Cameron Diaz. In this book, the actress and author of The Body Book, shares information on how the female body ages from her interviews with physicians, scientists, and nutritionists. Information is given on optimizing health through strengthening the body with food, exercise and rest, managing stress, and building a stronger brain.