Emily’s Ghost by Denise Giardina
Self disclosure—I haven’t read very many classics and was not familiar with the Brontë sister’s books or story. (Gasp!) I think historical fiction may become an addiction. Emily’s character leapt from the page and sprinted across the moors. Her story offers a glimpse into her options as a woman in 1830’s Yorkshire countryside; her father’s dedication and love of his family; the intimate connection of sisters; and the healing power of imagination. Emily’s declaration upon her sister’s criticism of her character Heathcliff, “I am Heathcliff!” was shocking, authentically heart wrenching and true to Emily’s heart and soul. If you’re already a Brontë fan you must delve into Emily’s Ghost. I think she would be honored to have her story told so gorgeously.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Don’t skip it because its an Oprah selection and has received excessive attention (and is being made into a movie, but isn’t the book always better?) The Secret Life of Bees is one of my all-time keepers whereas The Mermaid Chair was a struggle to finish, so I was skeptical. Then I began Sarah and Handful’s stories and was captured, truly. It’s so much more than a book about the horrors of slavery; it’s a childhood story of utter helplessness no matter your station in life and yet hope thrives in letters learned in a book and stitches sown into a quilt. It’s an adult’s story of women’s rights, abolition, finding your voice, and of course love. The Grimke sister’s passion and perseverance know no bounds. Handful’s mauma painted this image for her, “There was a time in Africa the people could fly…she say they flew over the clouds. She say they flew like blackbirds.”
Ahab’s Wife or the Star Gazer by Sena Jeter Naslund
Wow. This is an epic novel. This story brims over and cannot be contained. It’s a literary classic or should be. An epic novel about an epic novel—how novel is that!? Una’s vividly detailed life from her Kentucky hearth and zealot father to a Nantucket beach cottage surrounded by dear friends is lavishly illustrated with nineteenth century language that caresses and provokes. Melville might have been left speechless methinks! Una sets out to conquer the sea in a man’s world and makes unique and lasting friendships on her adventures. Holds a treasured place on my bookshelf.