Friday, May 6, 2011

Read Alike: Diana Gabaldon

Diana Gabaldon is a storyteller with an epic adventure to share, and the first person narration puts the reader right in the middle of the action. Beginning with Outlander, Claire Randall walks into a stone circle in post WWII Scotland and steps into 18th century Scotland. In the band of outlawed Scots that rescues Claire from a would-be ravisher is one Jamie Fraser, who is the first really to befriend the several years older Claire. Politics and circumstances force Claire and Jamie into marriage. Friendship ripens into a strong, sensual, passionate love between the couple that endures and grows despite long separations, marriage to others, terrible events, both personal and political. Here is Gabaldon's appeal to many readers of Romance, not a happy-ever-after story, but the deep, abiding love between two strong characters.

Next is the significant appeal of the Outlander series to readers of Historical Fiction. Over seven books and several thousand pages, Jamie and Claire live, love, try to prevent historical disaster -- and then try to survive it in Jacobean Scotland, Holland, France, the West Indies, and Colonial North Carolina. Gabaldon’s solid, strong, well-researched history, anthropology, sociology, and science are woven smoothly into an eminently readable series that is approaching "saga" status. The series began with Jamie and Claire Fraser, but more and more includes the younger generation. The Outlander series will appeal to those who enjoy time travel fantasy and historical romance.


Dorothy Dunnett: Two historical series, the Lymond Chronicles and House of Niccolo

Both of these series demonstrate commanding knowledge of 15th-and 16th-century art, culture, and politics. They depict how one's character shapes one's destiny; and the inherent pitfalls of rising to power from humble origins. Multi-layered plots match her characters' complexity: small details may have far-reaching effects. Start with: Game of Kings in the Lymond Chronicles or Niccolo Rising in the House of Niccolo series.

George R. R. Martin: Song of Ice and Fire series (Read a Staff Review of this series here).

Evolving, dark, and compelling medieval-tinged worlds are a backdrop for characters that are driven by relentless love, honor, greed, power, devotion, and revenge. Martin brings unflinching realism to his plotting: beloved characters are as likely to die sudden, accidental deaths as to fall in a long-foreshadowed battle. Intrigue, nobility, and betrayal are recurrent themes played out in fantastic guise. Despite some novels' somber tone and sheer length, his simple language, rapid-fire action, and brilliant plots reward prolonged attention. Start with: A Game of Thrones.

Possession: a Romance by A.S. Byatt

Roland Mitchell is a research assistant obsessed with the Victorian poet, Randolph Henry Ash. When he discovers two of Randolph's letters written to an anonymous woman, he embarks on a detective mission that brings him to Maud Bailey, a fellow academic with literary obsessions of her own. The pair uncovers letters, journals, and poems, and follows an exhilarating trail that threatens to unhinge everything they've ever thought about life and Literature. What emerges is an extraordinary novel about the intersection of passion and ideas.

Timeline by Michael Crichton

Not since Jurassic Park has Michael Crichton given us such a magnificent adventure. Here, he combines a science of the future, the emerging field of quantum technology, with the complex realities of the medieval past. In a heart-stopping narrative, Timeline carries us into a realm of unexpected suspense and danger, overturning our most basic ideas of what is possible.

Into The Wilderness by Sarah Donati

Elizabeth Middleton moves from her comfortable home in England to the wilderness of eighteenth-century upstate New York where her judge father, rules the domain. Independent in spirit, she is appalled at her father's plans to marry her off to a rich doctor. Enter Nathaniel Bonner of the broad shoulders, flowing locks, and dangling earring. He is the son of Hawkeye, who is the adopted son of Chingachgook, and a multifaceted romantic hero passionate about family and his home on a mountain called Hidden Wolf.

Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Legendary warrior and lover Hawk meets his match when beautiful and headstrong Adrienne de Simone is whisked back in time by a vengeful fairy from modern-day Seattle into the arms of the arrogant sixteenth-century Scottish rogue. Also try Moning’s other Highlander novels.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

This debut novel is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

By the Nobel Prize winner Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago is an epic set during the Russian Revolution as well as a love story. A poet and surgeon, husband and lover finds his life disrupted by war. It alters the lives of many, including Tonya, the gentle woman he marries and Lara, the woman he cannot forget.

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

Ever since his beloved Aimee was killed in a car accident, Ross Wakeman has deliberately put himself at risk, hoping to die. When nothing works, or brings him any closer to Aimee, he moves in with his sister, Shelby, in Comtosook, Vermont. As chance would have it, strange phenomena are plaguing the town, and Ross is drawn into an investigation of a piece of land that local Abenaki Indians claim is an old burial ground. In the process, he meets lovely Lia Beaumont, who has some mysterious connection to sinister goings-on 70 years before.

Time And Again by Nora Roberts

After twenty-third century time traveler Caleb Hornblower crash-lands in our present, he relies on Liberty Stone to help him survive; and Jacob Hornblower heads back into the past to rescue his stranded brother, only to find himself falling for Sunbeam Stone.

The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton

A real historical figure, Elizabeth married into the family of Governor John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In those times of hardship, famine, and Indian attacks, many believed that the only way to prosper was through the strong, bigoted, and theocratic government that John Winthrop favored. Defying the government and her family, Elizabeth befriends famous heretic Anne Hutchinson, challenges an army captain, and dares to love a man. Through Elizabeth's three marriages, struggles with her passionate beliefs, and countless rebellions, a powerful tale of fortitude, humiliation, and ultimate triumph shines through.

Please stop by the Recommendations Desk on the first floor, check out NoveList Plus on the library's website, or visit W. 11th & Bluff next week for more reading suggestions. Or submit a Personal Recommendations request, and we'll create a reading list just for you!

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