[LOVE] Biographical Fiction

by on December 24th, 2017
[LOVE] Biographical Fiction Cover Image

I enjoy reading Historical Fiction and recently have come to appreciate the sub-genre “Biographical Fiction.”

According to Wikipedia, “Biographical fiction is a type of historical fiction that takes a historical individual and recreates elements of his or her life, while telling a fictional narrative, usually in the genres of film or the novel. The relationship between the biographical and the fictional may vary within different pieces of biographical fiction. It frequently includes selective information and self-censoring of the past. The characters are often real people or based on real people, but the need for “truthful” representation is less strict than in biography.”

I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold winter night than curled up with a good book that will sweep me away to another place and time. Biographical Fiction keeps my mind engaged and I often research facts and details of the person’s life while reading. More than once, learning about someone’s life has sent me on a trip to view their art or learn more about their life. Below is a list of some of my favorite Biographical Fiction novels. All are highly recommended.

Author/Title Description
Benjamin, Melanie

 Swans of Fifth Avenue

Melanie Benjamin’s novel features the relationship between Truman Capote and Babe Mortimer Paley with the backdrop of many upper class members of New York City society in the 1960’s. Reading the book made me want to read Breakfast at Tiffany’s!
Benjamin, Melanie

 The Aviator’s Wife

A memorable book about the life of Charles Lindbergh and his family told through the eyes of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Anne Morrow Lindbergh was the first woman to earn a first-class guider pilot license. She was also a writer and poet, best known for her novel, Gift from the Sea.
Boyle, T.C.

 The Women

Iowa Writer’s Workshop graduate T.C. Boyle writes an interesting story about architect Frank Lloyd Wright as told by a fictional narrator about the women Wright had relationships with during his lifetime. Boyle lives in the George C. Stewart house in Southern California, which was designed by Wright.
Davis, Fiona

 The Address

The Singer Sewing Machine company co-founder, Edward Clark, commissioned the building of The Dakota apartment building in 1880 as the first luxury apartment building and one of the first buildings on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The Dakota has been the home to many celebrities over the years, including John Lennon who was shot just outside in 1980. Davis’ story brings the building alive, hopping between fictional characters who live at The Dakota and their stories in the 1880’s and 1985.
Horan, Nancy

Loving Frank

Horan tells a compelling story about the lives of Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney. I didn’t know a lot about Wright or Cheney before I read the book, and an unexpected plot change sent me to Google and a bit of quick research about the real lives of Wright and Cheney (yes … it’s true). Fascination with the story also sent me on a road trip to Oak Park, IL where I toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and studio.
Horan, Nancy

Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Be ready to be swept away through time and travel in this fictional account of the life of Scottish Lawyer Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife Fanny Van de grift Osbourne. Through travel in Scotland, France, New York, Australia & Samoa and reflection on passion and illness, the story unfolds to help the reader understand the man who created both A Child’s Garden of Verse and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
McLain, Paula

Circling the Sun

An unforgettable story that transports readers to colonial Kenya in the 1920’s and a story based on the real life of aviator Beryl Markham. Markham, abandoned by her mother when a child and by her father when she was a teenager, struggles to find her path. Circling the Sun not only captures what made Beryl Markham famous (horse training and being the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic from east to west) but also chronicles her free-spirited childhood, adolescent struggles, happiness, insecurities, and heartbreaks.
McLain, Paula

The Paris Wife

The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a whirlwind courtship the couple marries and moves to Paris so Ernest can pursue his writing career. In Paris the couple is caught up in the fast paced social life and struggle with balance, identities, love and loyalty.
Moriarty, Laura

The Chaperone

Laura Moriarty’s newest novel is a hybrid story about the life of silent-film star Louise Brooks and fictionalized character Cora Carlisle. The story begins in 1922 when 36-year-old Cora Carlisle agrees to chaperone 15-year-old Louise Brooks for a summer in New York City dancing with the Denishawn School of Dance.  Readers learn Cora’s life, just like Louise Brooks’, is not what it appears and the story revolves around Cora’s path of self-discovery and quest for happiness.
Russell, Mary Doria

Dreamers of the Day

 

Midwesterner, schoolteacher, influenza epidemic survivor, and world traveler, Agnes Shanklin, witnesses the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference where world leaders, including Winston Churchill, T.E. Lawrence and Lady Gertrude Bell, make a plan to divide the Middle East into the countries of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan.
Vreeland, Susan

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

 

Because of this book, I went to New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places to see Tiffany Glass. This is the story of Clara Driscoll, who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and is possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps. Set with the turn-of-the-century New York City backdrop with issues such as the rise of labor unions, women in the workplace, and advances in technology.

Leave a Reply