The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Publisher: Viking BFYR
Published: April 2016
Genre: young adult, historical fiction
Summary: Dolssa is a young gentlewoman with uncanny gifts, on the run from an obsessed friar determined to burn her as a heretic for the passion she refuses to tame. Botille is a wily and charismatic peasant, a matchmaker running a tavern with her two sisters in a tiny seaside town. When the matchmaker finds the mystic near death by a riverside, Botille takes Dolssa in and discovers the girl’s extraordinary healing power. But as the vengeful Friar Lucien hunts down his heretic, the two girls find themselves putting an entire village at the mercy of murderers.
Mini Review: I did not like the writing, but the history is cool. I love historical fiction, and I was excited to read a novel set in the medieval period — which isn’t common or popular in YA. I appreciated the author’s notes in the back about the period — the persecution of “good men” and “good women” in the Provence area in particular after the Crusades, all the back-pedaling from the Church, life and times for women of this era — but I did not enjoy the narrative as a whole. I was more interested in the historical context and information in the back than I was in the story itself.
This qualifies as book 2 of 16 in my TBR challenge.
Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
Publisher: Random House Audio
Published: April 2012
Genre: historical fiction, mystery
Summary: London, 1940: Winston Churchill has just been sworn in, war rages across the Channel, and the threat of a Blitz looms larger by the day. But none of this deters Maggie Hope. She graduated at the top of her college class and possesses all the skills of the finest minds in British intelligence, but her gender qualifies her only to be the newest typist at No. 10 Downing Street. Her indefatigable spirit and remarkable gifts for codebreaking, though, rival those of even the highest men in government, and Maggie finds that working for the prime minister affords her a level of clearance she could never have imagined – and opportunities she will not let pass.
Mini Review: I was genuinely surprised at how much more historical fiction it was than mystery — I was expecting something with a bit more heart-pounding moments or detective work — but that does not mean I didn’t enjoy the listen! Maggie’s spunk, fierce feminism, and determination saved the day multiple times in many ways. Those men at Downing Street could really learn a thing or two from her. I’m curious to see what happens next in this series.
This qualifies as book 1 of 5 in my fun library books challenge.