The Fiery Cross

The Fiery Cross (Outlander, #5)The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another meandering entry in the Outlander saga. What it lacks in plot, it makes up for with interesting characters, lots of period detail, and some hair-raising adventures. I’d rank this one only a little behind the first and third in the series. Why is it that the odd numbers in a series tend to be better? That was definitely true of the Harry Potter series, too…

Book description from Amazon:
1771: the Colony of North Carolina stands in an uneasy balance, with the rich, colonial aristocracy on one side and the struggling pioneers of the backcountry on the other. Between them stands Jamie Fraser, a man of honour, a man of worth. Exiled from his beloved Scotland, he is at last possessed of the land he has longed for. By his side his extraordinary wife, Claire, a woman out of time and out of place, blessed with the uneasy gift of the knowledge of what is to come. In the past, that knowledge has brought both danger and deliverance to Jamie and Claire. Now it could be a flickering torch that will light their way through the perilous years ahead – or might ignite a conflagration that will leave their lives in ashes. “The Fiery Cross” is by turns poignant, page-turning, meticulous in its historical detail and searingly passionate.

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Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little WomenLouisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women by Harriet Reisen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved it! Learned a lot. Laughed a lot.

Book description from Amazon:
A vivid, energetic account of the life of Louisa May Alcott, whose work has delighted millions of readers

Louisa May Alcott portrays a writer as worthy of interest in her own right as her most famous character, Jo March, and addresses all aspects of Alcott’s life: the effect of her father’s self-indulgent utopian schemes; her family’s chronic economic difficulties and frequent uprootings; her experience as a nurse in the Civil War; the loss of her health and frequent recourse to opiates in search of relief from migraines, insomnia, and symptomatic pain. Stories and details culled from Alcott’s journals; her equally rich letters to family, friends, publishers, and admiring readers; and the correspondence, journals, and recollections of her family, friends, and famous contemporaries provide the basis for this lively account of the author’s classic rags-to-riches tale.

Alcott would become the equivalent of a multimillionaire in her lifetime based on the astounding sales of her books, leaving contemporaries like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Henry James in the dust. This biography explores Alcott’s life in the context of her works, all of which are to some extent autobiographical. A fresh, modern take on this remarkable and prolific writer, who secretly authored pulp fiction, harbored radical abolitionist views, and completed heroic service as a Civil War nurse, Louisa May Alcott is in the end also the story of how the all-time beloved American classic Little Women came to be. This revelatory portrait will present the popular author as she was and as she has never been seen before.