Friday, January 1, 2016

Theresa Kaminski

Theresa Kaminski is Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where she teaches courses in American women’s history. She is the author of Citizen of Empire: Ethel Thomas Herold, An American in the Philippines and Prisoners in Paradise: American Women in the Wartime South Pacific. Her new book is Angels of the Underground: The American Women who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II.

Recently I asked the author about what she was ready. Kaminski's reply:
I adore historical fiction, and I’m usually reading two novels at once (one upstairs, one down). I envy the license novelists have with characters and plot, and marvel at their inventiveness with time period and setting. Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins, the tender, melancholy story of World War II veteran Teddy Todd, is a sublime example. It’s a knockout follow-up to Life After Life, which, like A God in Ruins, makes such astonishing use of 20th century history. That book is already on my list of all-time great novels, along with Ian McEwan’s Atonement--just as jaw-dropping ingenious.

A couple of splendid mystery series had new entries in 2015. I never miss the latest installment of Maisie Dobbs’s adventures, and I ignored everything else in my life to read A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear. Maisie worked as a nurse in France during World War I and after returning home to England, started a career as a private investigator. Winspear perfectly captures society and politics in the interwar period, and after more than ten years, manages to keep Maisie a fresh, complex character. The mother and son writing team known as Charles Todd sets their novels in the same time and place. They feature Inspector Ian Rutledge, a man literally haunted by his World War I service, now struggling to reestablish his professional and personal lives in the postwar world. A Fine Summer’s Day refreshes the series by moving back in time, providing a portrait of the man Rutledge was before the horrors of the trenches.

All of these novels resonate with me as both a reader and a writer because of the care with which they depict the long-term, lingering effects of war. This is a timeless, universal subject, and a source of endless fascination to me.
Learn more about Angels of the Underground at the Oxford University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Angels of the Underground.

--Marshal Zeringue