Past Tense

What’s in an Oral History?

Hi historical fiction fans!

A breeze is in the air, I’ve hung dried oranges above the fireplace, and I keep wearing clothes that are decidedly too warm for the continued heat. Can you tell I’m really ready for autumn? I’m just done with the heat, y’all. I want hot drinks and cardigans and leaves crunching under my feet when I go out on walks with my dog. And by gosh, I’m gonna act like it’s fall whether or not the weather currently reflects it. Who’s with me?!

Bookish Goods

Etsy So Many Books Mug

So Many Books… So Little Time Mug

Can you ever have enough bookish mugs? I don’t think so. $20.

New Releases

The Last Dreamwalker Book Cover

The Last Dreamwalker by Rita Woods (September 20, 2022)

After the passing of her mother, Layla learns that the strange and vivid dreams she’s experienced all her life are an inheritance from her Gullah Geechee family. Layla is a dreamwalker; she can inhabit and influence the dreams of others. But along with this gift come dark memories and terrifying enemies connected to her family’s past. The Last Dreamwalker combines magical realism with Gulla Gechee history to create a fascinating and unforgettable story.

An Indiscreet Princess Book Cover

An Indiscreet Princess by Georgie Blalock (September 27, 2022)

Among the royals, there is always a rebel. And in Queen Victoria’s time, it was Princess Louise. The fourth daughter of the queen, Louise sees royal life as a cage rather than a fairy tale. And when she escapes the palace to attend the National Art Training School, she scandalizes the public by sculpting nude models and falling madly in love with a famed sculptor. But will she be able to resist the hold of royal life forever or will duty draw her back to the life she hated?

For a more comprehensive list, check out our New Books newsletter!

Riot Recommendations

Oral histories usually refers to a compiled collection of interviews used to create a snapshot of a time, place, or event. But they don’t always have to be nonfiction. Even if I was confused the first time I read Daisy Jones and the Six Googling whether the band was real, you don’t have to be. Check out these three fictional oral histories full of colorful characters and dramatic events.

The Final Revival of Opal and Nev Book Cover

The Last Revival of Opal and Neve by

In the 1970s, iconic interracial rock duo Opal and Neville Charles become a sensation. But one bold, antiracist protest and the violent repercussions that follow tear the duo apart just as Opal is reaching her peak. Years later, their attempt at a reunion is still haunted by the past, and as music journalist S. Sunny Shelton curates an oral history of her idols, she discovers there’s far more to the story than anyone has uncovered before.

Daisy Jones and the Six Book Cover

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Another oral history about a fictional musical group, Daisy Jones and the Six follows the tumultuous rise and fall of a 1970s rock band. Their story is the stuff of legend, and everyone knows how a producer realized the only thing that could make hot new singer Daisy Jones and upcoming band the Six even bigger is bringing them together. But what they don’t know is why the band broke up at the height of their success. Until now, that is.

The Savage Detectives Book Cover

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer

Told through the eyes of the people whose paths they crossed is the story of two realist poets — Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima — and their search for the vanished poet Cesárea Tinajero that turned into a life on the run after a violent showdown in the Sonora desert. Funnily enough it’s also set in the 1970s. The seventies are clearly a hot setting for fictional oral histories.

That’s it for now, folx! Stay subscribed for more stories of yesteryear.

If you want to talk books (historical or otherwise), you can find me @rachelsbrittain on Instagram, Goodreads, Litsy, and occasionally Twitter.

Right now I’m reading Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (I know how did it take me this long to get around to it??) What about you?