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Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: January 2020 – Looking Ahead, Looking Back
Author Guest / January 15, 2020

The traditional character associated with the month of January was Janus, the Roman god portrayed as two heads looking in opposite directions, one forward and one back.  Often the New Year is a time of appraisal of what has worked—or not worked—in the year gone by as we set new goals for the year ahead. The theme of past events reinterpreted in the light of the present is a trope popularized by novelist Kate Morton and other best-selling authors.  So for this month that traditionally draws upon the past to make reflections about present and future, we’ll look at several works of historical fiction that pinball back and forth between the current day and significant events in the past. Perhaps because the dangers and privations of war create drama and reorder all of life’s priorities, the “then” portion of all these stories takes place in either the World War I or II era. We begin with LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb.  The novel is written as a series of letters, beginning in October 1914 and continuing throughout the war, between Evie Elliott, her brother Will, and his best friend Thomas Harding, interspersed with chapters featuring…

France, Fashion, And Fortitude
Author Guest , History / September 24, 2018

With Paris Fashion Week beginning September 24, lovers of style and all things French turn their eyes to the City of Lights. In addition to producing iconic clothing, France’s twists, turns and sometime abrupt societal changes—from monarchy to revolution to empire–have long inspired historical novelists. Moving chronologically, we start with MADAME TUSSAUD: A NOVEL by best-selling author Michelle Moran. Trained by a Swiss doctor she calls her uncle, Marie Grosholtz becomes a skilled artist in the sculpting of wax and an astute businesswoman who helps run the family firm, Salon de Cire, which displays wax portraits and tableaux of the foremost personalities in France. Although her family’s home is a meeting place for budding revolutionaries like Desmoulins, Marat and Robespierre, when the royal family, impressed by her artistry, invites her to become a tutor to Princess Elizabeth, she cannot refuse. But as she gets to know her student, the king, and the queen better, she finds herself balancing a fine line between sympathy for her royal employers and the increasingly strident demands of the reformers. And when reform becomes the madness of the Reign of Terror, she must put pragmatism before loyalty and do what is necessary to insure that…