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Tag: historical fiction

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “The Story of the Lost Child”

There can be no doubt that Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels comprise one of the great literary masterpieces of the early 21st century. Even so, the end of this series left me numb, enervated to the point of apathy. It’s hard to tell if my reaction is the aberrant result of a desolate narrative’s collision with the very [...]

Review: Geraldine Brooks’s “Year of Wonders”

Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders is a fictionalized account of the 1665 plague outbreak in Eyam, England. Upon realizing its situation, this small but noble village decided to self-quarantine in an effort to stop the disease from spreading to other communities. With few verifiable details about exactly what occurred in the fourteen months the residents of Eyam [...]

Review: Gabriel García Márquez’s “Love in the Time of Cholera”

This is the third novel I’ve read by Gabriel García Márquez, and I won’t be surprised if it turns out to be the last. Love in the Time of Cholera is a beautifully-written book packed with a wealth of vibrant symbolism, but its thematic and interpersonal qualities are unmistakably corrupt. Márquez’s prose––expertly enlivened by Edith Grossman’s [...]

Review: Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”

“If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: In love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” (1) So begins Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale, which gripped me from the opening sentence and didn’t let go until I tore through the final pages. [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”

After a captivating but ultimately bitter encounter with Anna Karenina last year, I was worried that Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace would produce similar results. To my surprise and delight, however, War and Peace helped me finally understand why Tolstoy’s work occupies such an important position in literary history. Those determined enough to commit to this epic novel will discover a [...]

Review: Larry McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove”

Assuming that Larry McMurtry’s depiction can be trusted, the post-Civil War American frontier must have been a wild and treacherous place. In Lonesome Dove, McMurtry offers up a lively account of cowboy life that blends leather-booted realism with big-sky romanticism. This epic tale gave me lots to think about, even as it left me emotionally placid. This [...]

Review: Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”

“All successful books are alike; each failed book fails in its own way.” So reads my ungainly rehashing of one of literature’s most famous opening lines. It takes a fair bit of temerity and not a little arrogance to posit that one of the great works of literary history is a failure, but that is [...]

Review: Elena Ferrante’s “My Brilliant Friend”

I often hear readers of contemporary literature speak of Elena Ferrante in hushed, reverential tones, so I’ve been curious for a while now to see what all the fuss is about. The brilliance of My Brilliant Friend was so subtle and supple that it almost escaped my notice, but in the end I came around, and can [...]

Review: Peter Matthiessen’s “Shadow Country”

This book became known to me when a friend spoke of it with reverence during a long walk in the woods. I was immediately captivated by his description of an historical novel derived from Peter Matthiessen’s “Watson trilogy,” originally published in the 1990s. In 2008, Matthiessen published Shadow Country, the definitive fictional rendering of his decade-spanning obsession [...]

Review: Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote”

I read Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote more out of obligation than inspiration. For people who care about the history and possible futures of the novel, Don Quixote is impossible to ignore. So, aided by the encouragement of a close friend and Edith Grossman’s deft translation, I set out with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza on a journey so [...]