Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: Finding and Losing: Post-WWI Historical Fiction
Author Guest / October 21, 2021

In the years after World War I, cataclysmic changes in society were shifting traditional roles and expectations, with women demanding more independence and a greater say in determining their own futures.  This month’s selection of titles illuminates the unfolding of these changes through the lives of several determined women, both wholly fictional and fictionalized. In AT SUMMER’S END by Courtney Ellis, after winning a British Royal Legion art contest, painter Alberta Preston is determined to pursue an artistic career, despite her family who tries to push her into a conventional life of marriage and family.  When she receives an invitation from Julian Napier, Earl of Wakeford, to spend the summer painting at the family’s country home, Castle Braemore, she sees this as her chance to prove she can become a successful professional artist despite her gender. But the Great War has wrought serious changes upon the Napier family and their ancestral estate is near bankruptcy.  Disfigured by battle wounds, suffering from traumatic stress, the earl remains in his rooms, seeing no one but his widowed older sister Gwen.  Bertie makes alliances with Julian’s younger brother Roland, who actually runs the estate, his sister Cece, and gradually is able to work…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: A Search for Normalcy
Author Guest / January 20, 2021

As we turn the page from a miserable 2020 into what everyone hopes will be a much better 2021, we’ll look at fiction that involves people trying to rebuild their lives after the even-greater tragedy of World War I—which traumatized the world by adding the first global pandemic on top of an already-horrific war.  In settings varying from England to France to Italy, this month’s collection of stories demonstrates that nothing is stronger than the human spirit’s will to survive. We’ll begin in England with THE POPPY WIFE by Caroline Scott.  Three brothers, Harry, Will and Francis, head off to war, leaving behind family and Francis’s wife Edie.  Only Harry returns.  But while Will’s death is confirmed and Harry was present when Francis was wounded and was convinced the wound was mortal, Francis is only “presumed” to have been killed in action.  When Edie receives a photo of Francis that appears to have been recently taken, she’s convinced he must still be alive.  She enlists Harry, who is working in France for grieving families who hire him to photograph the gravestones of the men they’ve lost, to help her look for Francis. As the story moves back and forth between…