What I’m Reading Wednesday — Biographical Novels

7 Jul

This summer I am choosing to read biographical novels, specifically those that feature women as the main character. So far I have read 4 — The Engineer’s Wife, Code Name Helene, The Queen of Paris, and Circling The Sun. All the women, well-known or obscure, made a big difference in their world.

Why read biographical novels?

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a big fan of story. In the realm of biographical novels, I love to see how the author fleshes out the unknown aspects of a person’s life — conversations, thoughts, motivations. This was especially true in The Engineer’s Wife by Tracey Enerson Wood. The author took some liberties with the main character’s life and loves, but all in all I really enjoyed living in the 1800s through the eyes of a woman who wanted more than society dictated for her.

I also love how a novelist can add drama, suspense, and romance. Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon was a page-turner. Nancy Wake was really larger than life and Lawhon captures her well. Coco Chanel was the focus of The Queen of Paris by Pamela Binnings Ewen, and while I didn’t like her very much, Ewen’s portrayal of the fashion icon rang true.

Speaking of not liking the main character, that seems to be a pitfall for biographical novels. I appreciate the authors including all the warts. I don’t think the novels would have the same level of authenticity without them. I read The Traitor’s Wife by Allison Pataki some years ago, and knew that Peggy Shippen Arnold, the wife of the infamous Benedict Arnold, would not be a sympathetic character. It’s okay not to like the main character. Maybe it’s more fun that way! 😉

I have at least two more books on my biographical novel TBR list which should finish out my summer reading challenge — Fast Girls by Elise Hooper, a novel of three American women who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and The Only Woman in The Room by Marie Benedict, a novel of Heddy Lamar, movie star and scientist. I can’t wait to dig into these fascinating lives.

Do you like to read biographical novels?

7 Responses to “What I’m Reading Wednesday — Biographical Novels”

  1. Cindy Davis July 7, 2021 at 1:04 pm #

    I’m not sure I fully understand Biographical novels…I have never heard of any of these…

    • rbclibrary July 7, 2021 at 1:35 pm #

      They are novels that tell a real persons life in fictional form. The literary license authors take varies. In most cases research includes the person’s correspondence, memoirs, others recollections, etc.

      • Cindy Davis July 8, 2021 at 8:32 am #

        Very interesting, similar to Biblical fiction. I don’t think I have read one, although I do like Biblical fiction so I would probably enjoy it.

      • rbclibrary July 8, 2021 at 6:09 pm #

        Biblical fiction would definitely fit.

  2. WendyW July 7, 2021 at 7:50 pm #

    I don’t read many Biographical Novels, but I’d like to read more as I do enjoy them.

  3. Gretchen July 7, 2021 at 9:17 pm #

    I do like to read biographical novels occasionally. It is a great way to learn more about a person and sometimes easier to read than a biography 🙂,

  4. Carla July 7, 2021 at 10:48 pm #

    I have both the audiobook and ebook of The Only Woman in the Room and really need to get to it. Yes, I do like fictionalized autobiographies, because there is always a lot of truth to them and I learn about people I do not know much about.

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