Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Few New Recommendations

If you are looking for something new to read or gift, here are a few suggestions

For fans of historical fiction:


David Ebershoff's   19th Wife will intrigue fans of "Big Love," as it tells the story of Brigham Young's young wife (#19) and at the same time has a contemporary plot featuring a "closed" community where present day polygamists (think Warren Jeffs here)  practice their beliefs.  Well written and a fascinating  jaunt through the history of the Church of Latter Day Saints and the impact of polygamy on families - especially the women
 and children.

 by Heather Terrell 

Were the Chinese the first to circumnavigate the globe? Did the emperor send ships under the famous Admiral Zheng to explore, map and  bring riches  back to  him? This is the fictional tale of a young mapmaker and his long journey... a tale worthy of Marco Polo. It's also a history of China in the 1420's, the Forbidden City, the world of palace intrigue, and a young man's gift to his family of his manhood and happiness so he may enter the gates of the Forbidden City, learn  mapmaking and  navigational skills. As a eunuch his status, salary, etc. elevate his family  although he has lost the woman he loved.

While this story alone would make the book -- there is much more. In the present day a young woman owns a  rather unique company that  negotiates and retrieves stolen artifacts, art, etc.  A request to find a Chinese map from the 1400's stolen from an archaeological dig  is rather unusual since the person who is paying her has not told her the full truth about the very unique map. Seems everyone wants it too so now we have a little suspense and danger.

And that is why there is a third story taking place in the book that traces the story of the  Portugese explorer most school age children can name with ease because he was the one  who first circumnavigated the globe --- Vasco deGama. In the late 1400's he made this trip under Portugal's banner but this books speculates that he had a secret -  the Chinese map that made his trip possible. Perhaps our teachers were wrong? 

Characters both historical and imaginary paint portraits of times and places so real that you can t hear the waves, taste the salt and visualize the map.  Chances are you won't be able to put it down for long and you'll be caught up in each of the three stories and how they tie together. Great read .