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Bruce Holsinger Books In Order

Publication Order of John Gower Books

A Burnable Book (2014)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Invention of Fire (2015)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Music, Body, and Desire in Medieval Culture (2001)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Marxist Premodern (2004)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Premodern Condition (2005)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Neomedievalism, Neoconservatism, and the War on Terror (2007)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Gifted School (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Bruce Holsinger is an American author of crime and historical mystery books best known John Gower Historical Thriller series. He is also a lecturer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville where he teaches medieval literature. His John Gower series is set in medieval London featuring John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer.

His standalone novel The Gifted School is set in a fictionalized town where pressure parenting is the rule of the game. According to an interview published in National Public Radio website, the fictional town is loosely based on Boulder, Colorado which is where he taught for several years and where his children were born. Additionally, Bruce has authored nonfiction books on medieval culture and literature and won a Guggenheim Fellowship.

A Burnable Book

The first book in John Gower series opens up with the murder of a young woman and the theft of Burnable book which contains accurate prophecies about the deaths of England monarchs, including the current king.

The primary plot focuses on the search for the stolen prophecy book written during the reign of King William the Conqueror. The book contains thirteen death prophecies, and the last prediction is about the current monarch. At the beginning, the prophecy book falls in the hands of Agnes, a prostitute. She requests her sister and her friend to help her figure out what to do with it. On the other hand, Geoffrey Chaucer recruits his friend John Gower to help him find the stolen book. But it soon becomes clear that Chaucer isn’t the only one interested in the book and bit by bit every prophecy leading to the monarch’s death is fulfilled.

The main plot is augmented by a complex web of several subplots including the story an ambitious mercenary, a young girl from Spain and John and Rykeners mission to rescue Gerald from a deadly guardianship. Holsinger’s characterization is well developed with believable character interactions.
The author gives the reader a glimpse in the life of royal members and other members of the elite class. But for most of the story, the reader is deeply immersed into the lives of those who survive to live in the harsh world. The 14th century is brought to life with vivid details of everyday living. The creative author use of language provides a real medieval ambiance, with a few Middle English words blended into the story, but not so many as to make it difficult for the reader to decrypt.

Historical fiction authors have an artistic license to furnish or alter some details of history to create a more captivating story. But there is one rule that governs them all; the threads of history must always remain intact if their work is to be categorized under the historical fiction genre. When real ancient people or figures as used as characters, they, therefore, must remain unchanged (must retain their historical traits). However, when not much is known about a historical person, the authors are allowed to add details aimed to recreate the person to they may have been. Bruce Holsinger did a fantastic job in recreating Rykener’s character, which very little is known.

The Gifted School

The best books are ones about different themes: love, tragedies, transformation, and more. But did you know that great books can also be about badly behaved parents? For example, we have dishonest parents in Miracle Creek by Angie Kim and law-breaking parents as seen in Margot Hunt’s book, For Better and Worse. And now we have the ambitious, competitive, and downright dirty parents of The Gifted School, a story of cheating and lying parents determined to do whatever it takes to make their children succeed.

You may find the character in this book unlikable, but they all act with good intentions. The story follows five different families whose lives take a twisted turn when a mysterious school for the gifted opens up in their town. Despite knowing very little about the administration, teachers, or curriculum, these families compete to send their kids to the highly selective academy. Soon siblings turn against siblings, friends against friends, and the once serene community becomes a hotbed of deception and relentless competition.

The Gifted School is an exciting read about a group of parents that are nearly destroyed by their ambitions and competitiveness when a school for gifted kids opens in their community. Rose is the main character of the novel. She is a respected scientist, pediatric neurologist, and also a medical doctor. In her job, Rose thinks about children’s brain and their development, and at home, she feels much about her daughter’s intelligence. She has three best friends- one of them is a stay at home mother Samantha Zellar, who comes from a wealthy family making her the queen bee and model privilege of their group. The second is Azra, who owns a vintage store downtown. She is divorced and has two twin sons who are famous soccer players. The last of the four friends is Lauren, a widow living with her two children Tessa and Xander. She’s just from rehab and vlogs with her friends.

Rose jeopardizes her career and some of her closest friends to get her daughter enrolled in the Gifted School. Through Rose, the author can explore the tight relationship between parenting, friendship, and the conflicts the two always present. The kids in the gifted academy are intensely worried, and one of their greatest fears is what their parents would think of them. They work hard to succeed because their parent wants to see them succeed. The novel opens up in a dark, suspenseful scene where one of the kids is subjected to an IQ test. The gifted school seems like a perfect opportunity, and the parents are excited. They are passionate about the school’s small class sizes, and they are eager to see what the next big thing their children can get might be. But the big question is, are the kids excited about the school? Are they happy about the IQ tests?

This novel has the nosy, gossipy-neighbor feel of Big Little Lies and Desperate Housewives. The only difference is that the parents in the story are keeping secrets about their children test scores and not murder. Overall this is a good summer read, giving the reader a glimpse in the world of elite’ school education.

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