Historical fiction: time travel without the jet lag

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 13, 2020

By Abby Hardison

Rowan Public Library

Successful historical fiction authors deeply research the time periods they write about, and the smallest details such as clothing and dialogue specific to that time can make it feel like you have magically traveled in time and space and witnessed history first hand.

A common theme in historical fiction is following a person, or a family through time, whether it’s a month, a year or a century. Another common method is to show a place as people move through it over time.

Authors Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White just released their title, “All the Ways We Say Goodbye,” on Jan. 14. This is the story of three generations of women in different decades revolving around the famous Ritz Hotel in Paris, from 1914 to 1964. With such a fascinating time in history and the decadent setting of the Paris Ritz, this is an adventure many will be sure to relish.

For an even more exotic adventure, award-winning and bestselling Chilean author Isabele Allende has a new book out as of Jan. 21, “A Long Petal of the Sea.” This epic tale starts with refugees of the Spanish Civil War fleeing to France, then moves to a rescue ship chartered by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

The 1973 coup d’etat, the rise of the oppressive Pinochet regime and other real events in the history of Chile are the backdrop for this story, but Allende is an internationally acclaimed author for a reason, and she wraps this true history in rich characters and a moving plot.

For a story a little closer to home, journalist Burt Solomon has given us the historical thriller based on true events: “The Attempted Murder of Teddy Roosevelt,” released Dec. 3, 2019. In Massachusetts in 1902, less than a year into Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency,  his carriage was struck by a trolley, killing his bodyguard. Teddy was thrown clear, but the question was whether the incident was a freak accident or an assassination attempt. Roosevelt crosses paths with many of the big names of his age as he and his Secretary of State John Hay seek the truth behind the incident.

The delight of stepping into the stories of the past can not only teach us more about the events of human history, but can also remind us that even though  daily experience was very different from our own, the feelings and motivations are often universal.

Historical fiction encourages us to explore the question we often ask ourselves: “What if I was alive then? What would it be like?” And the best part is we can explore it without having to give up our internet access, modern medicine or safety.

If you are interested in more historical fiction titles, just let us know. We have several staff members who love this genre and they can suggest lots of titles for you. Happy time traveling!

Scavenger Hunt — Love Birds: Headquarters and South, through Feb. 29. Can you find these love birds hidden throughout the children’s room? Complete the challenge and get a prize! For more information, call 704-216-8234 (HQ) or 704-216-7728 (South).

Scavenger Hunt — Shelf Esteem: East Branch, through Feb. 29. Explore our shelves! You may see books you have never noticed before in this scavenger hunt. This hunt will run through February 29. Complete the clue sheet and be entered into a raffle contest for a literary-themed prize. Call 704-216-7842 for more information.

Job Readiness on the Go: East, today, 2-4 p.m. A Career Connections Specialist from Goodwill will be onsite to provide Job Readiness on the Go, which consists of successfully completing employment applications online and on paper, creating a resume, learning interviewing skills, and completing assessments to help select a career based on your personality and skills. Call 704-216-8259 for more information.

Also Feb. 20, 2-4 p.m., at South.

Bright Star Touring Theatre: “Let It Shine: The American Civil Rights Movement 1955-1968” headquarters, Feb. 19, 6:30 p.m. and Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m. Join RPL for this powerful and accessible family production that celebrates the American Civil Rights movement. The show features inspiring performances and the songs of the Civil Rights era.

Triple Threat Dance Company will open each performance with a tribute dance.

This hour-long, family-friendly program is open to the public and best suited for ages 8 to adult. Doors open at 6 pm. For more details call 704-216-8245.

Sensory Storytime: Feb. 14, 10:30 a.m., headquarters. Attendees will experience storytime through tactile stimulation as they touch, see, smell and hear different interactive elements. Low lighting and low music will also be used. This 30-minute storytime involves books, songs and movement and is designed for those with autism and/or sensory challenges. All ages and those of all abilities are welcome. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For questions or to make accessibility arrangements, call 704-216-8234.

Exploration with Aida: Valentine’s Day, headquarters, Feb. 15, 11 a.m. Make Valentine’s Day-themed crafts. This program is designed for ages 10 and under and will be held in the Children’s Room. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more information, contact Aida at 704-216-8234.

Baby-Toddler Tea Party: South, Feb. 19, 10:30 a.m. This special Baby-Toddler storytime guarantees fun for every child! Refreshments will be served. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. Questions? Call 704-216-7729.

Char’s Stars: Bird feeders, Feb. 22, 11 a.m. Children will make bird feeders for our tiny feathered friends using natural resources. Enjoy watching your bird feeder as the birds enjoy their tasty treat during these cold, wintry days. A responsible caretaker (age 16+) must accompany children 8 and under. For more information, call Charlene at  704-216-8234.

Chocolate Fest: Feb. 18, 4-5 p.m., headquarters; Feb. 20, 4-5 p.m., East. Celebrate all things chocolate with games, snacks and crafts. This program is designed for teens in sixth through 12th grade. Questions? Call 704-216-8229.

Genealogy Workshop: African-American Heritage, headquarters, Feb. 22, 10 a.m. Co-hosted by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County and the Edith M. Clark History Room of RPL, this program is free and open to the public. Registration encouraged. To register, call Gretchen at 704-216-8232.

Displays: Headquarters, Diversity in Aviation presented by Dolly Griffin, display presented by Meals on Wheels and World War I: Lessons and Legacies, presented by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition of American History; East, Sherlock Holmes display presented by Cathy Woods; South, Corriher-Lipe Middle School Art presented by Lynn Haynes.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.