Category Archives: Historical Fiction

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Kelly, J. (2009). The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. New York: Henry Holt and Company.


Calpurnia Virginia Tate, also known as Callie Vee, is the only girl, stuck smack dab in the middle of three older brothers and three younger brothers. She’s doing her best to be a 12- year-old in 1899 Texas. But when she starts spending time with Granddaddy, life starts to get exciting as she learns about science and the natural world.

This book is stunning, presenting complex issues like gender stereotypes and racism through the eyes of a 12-year-old, in a style that is reminiscent of Harper Lee’s Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird.

As she is coming of age, Callie Vee’s parents expect her to get married and become a housewife. But Callie resists this, asking why. In fact, the question of why pervades the text: why must Callie become a housewife? Why can’t Callie’s younger brother learn to cook? Why can’t Callie learn science? These nuanced questions makes this episodic historical fiction tale a complex story that still resonates today.

Children interested in nature or science will likely find this an enjoyable read. It will also be a hit for historical fiction fans.

Overall, this book is undoubtedly a 5 out of 5!


Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Grahame, A. (2012). Wentworth Hall. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Wentworth Hall

Set in 1912, Wentworth Hall tells the story of the Darlington family as they navigate the dawning of the new century and the decline of English aristocrats while hushing the whispers that the family has run out of money. Secrets fly throughout the house and are only exacerbated by the scandalous satires which begin to appear in the local newspaper.

This novel has a long list of characters, each with their share of drama. The story is told from multiple points of view, yet Grahame transitions between points effortlessly making it easy to read. While there are hints at drama and gossip, the hints may be too obvious, because the secrets were somewhat predictable.

The story, an upstairs-downstairs type, would appeal to viewers of Downton Abbey and anyone who loves historical fiction. If readers enjoyed this story, they would likely love Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series, which is filled with even more intrigue and juicy scandal.

Overall, I would give this book a 3 out of 5. It has the basic elements of a good story, but its predictability makes it fall short.