I was in a Washington D.C. bookstore at the end of a wonderful sightseeing trip to The National Air and Space Museum, looking for a paperback to read on the plane ride home. I found Melanie Benjamin’s The Aviator’s Wife. Perfect, I thought. I already know quite a bit about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and I just saw the Spirit of St. Louis at the museum. This probably won’t take long to read and if I happen to leave it on the plane, it’s no big loss. (Not like leaving your Kindle!). Being a bit of a history snob, I thought a Historical Novel couldn’t have much more than entertainment value. I was completely wrong. It took more than a plane trip to read. When I got home, I found myself going to the computer to get more information about that period in world history. Since historical fiction raises the question how much is historical fact and how much of this book is fiction, the author’s notes on that topic are very important. Ms. Benjamin’s notes were great!
After reading the book, I had to know more about Lindbergh, so I re-read A. Scott Berg’s Lindbergh. I read it when it first came out during the dark ages (1998). While I read it to compare some of the points of history between the two books, reading one after the other was just fun.
At a holiday party, someone recommended another historical novel, Stevenson’s Treasure, by Mark Wiederanders. This is a story about part of Robert Louis Stevenson’s life. I was aware of Stevenson’s Treasure Island, but I regarded him as an author of boys’ adventures stories. I knew he had spent some time in the Monterey-Salinas area, and I had lived in that area for several years. On top of that 100 year-old coincidence was the fact that the author apparently lives not too far from me. That was it. I was sold. I had to read that book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I found myself checking the historical references, just as I had for The Aviator’s Wife, and they were wonderfully accurate.
I decided I really didn’t know enough about Robert Louis Stevenson, so I tackled a biography written by G.K. Chesterton. I say tackled because G.K. Chesterton (1874-1935) is anything but an easy read. It was not a biography in the typical, linear sense, but more of a literary and social commentary. It gave me a further context for understanding Stevenson and the chance to read a brilliant, if confusing author.
I went on a treasure hunt of my own and had fun on the way.