Alternative histories are the theme on What to Read this week.
If you’re curious about reinvented narratives, pick up Missing Links and Secret Histories, which reimagines Nancy Drew’s past. For a new take on famous characters and people, try the first entry in Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes series or Paula McLain’s fictionalized account of Jazz Age Paris. Fans of historical fiction will appreciate a podcast on the genre’s popularity from The Guardian.
On Your Kindle
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, by Laurie R. King
The first entry in Laurie R. King’s long-running series features a new take on a much beloved character: an older, retired Sherlock Holmes, who spends his time studying science and cultivating bees. When he meets orphaned teenager Mary Russell, the two form an unlikely apprenticeship. When an old nemesis targets Holmes, however, will his tomboyish young assistant be able to help in time?
On Your Smartphone
“Secrets of the Universe: 5 Great SF and Fantasy Summer Reads,” by Annalee Newitz on NPR
If you’re a fan of fantasy and science fiction, you’ll appreciate this list of summer reads from NPR. Missing Links and Secret Histories, a collection with a Wikipedia theme, seems particularly intriguing to me. As Newitz says, “each chapter [of the book] is a 'missing' entry, detailing everything from the lost history of Nancy Drew's mother to the life of the independent, 19th-century female author who inspired Poe's 'Fall of the House of Usher.'"
On a Podcast
This podcast on historical fiction from the U.K. newspaper The Guardian examines the increasing popularity and prestige of historical fiction. A panel of novelists including Hillary Mantel, who writes a well-regarded and bestselling series of novels about Tudor and Elizabethan England, discusses the enduring appeal of revisiting real events in fiction.
The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain
I have earmarked The Paris Wife on my to-read list after hearing raves from friends; the novel centers on Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson and their struggles during his years as a poor, unknown writer in Paris. Hemingway fans will remember Hadley as the gentle young wife in his retrospective account of those years, A Moveable Feast (note: the real-life Hadley also appears in Julia Child’s memoirs of 1950s Paris). However, McLain’s fictional account of the Hemingways’ marriage is a much less idealized take on the mores and misbehavior of the Jazz Age.