historical fiction

by Helen Humphreys

Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong, Jack Higgins’ The Eagle Has Landed, Farley Mowat’s And No Birds Sang, Kevin Powers’ The Yellow Birds—authors writing about war have been succumbing to the temptation to Put a Bird On It long before the Portlandia skit. And the tendency doesn’t apply just to books. Birdsong is an important element in Olivier Messaien’s “Quartet for the End of Time” (the inspiration for Johanna Skibsrud’s recent novel of the same name), written when the French composer was held prisoner by the Nazis during the Second World War. Read more…

by P. S. DUFFY

Though a number of women have written novels about the First World War, including Rebecca West, Virginia Woolf, Dorothy Sayers and, more recently, Pat Barker in both her Regeneration trilogy and a pair of later novels, Life Class and Toby’s Room (its title a nod to Woolf’s Jacob’s Room), most have focused on the hurdles faced by shellshocked soldiers returning home. P. S. Duffy’s ambitious first novel, which divides its time between the Western Front circa 1917 and the fictional hamlet of Snag Harbour, Nova Scotia, distinguishes itself by venturing, literally, into the trenches and staging some of its most powerful moments there. Read more…

By Robert Hough

Robert Hough returns to historical fiction for his fourth novel, a cautionary tale set in Corazón de la Fuente, a Mexican border town where the dust of revolution has not quite settled. The plot involves the historical figure John Romulus Brinkley, an American doctor of dubious credentials famous for a controversial impotence treatment that involved injecting men with an extract derived from goat testicles. Eager to harness the power of radio to promote his practice, Brinkley became one of the first to circumvent U.S. broadcast regulations by using a so-called “border blaster” – a tower built in Mexico with a signal so powerful some said it could be heard as far away as Russia. Read more…