100 books like An Unofficial Marriage

By Joie Davidow,

Here are 100 books that An Unofficial Marriage fans have personally recommended if you like An Unofficial Marriage. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Queens of Song

Hilary Poriss Author Of Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville

From my list on nineteenth-century divas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with opera history as an undergraduate exchange student in Vienna and went on to pursue my passion in graduate school. Rather than writing about opera composers and their music, I chose the unusual path of studying famous singers from the nineteenth century, especially the prima donnas who exerted extraordinary authority over composers, theater directors, and spectators. In my books and articles, I focus on the power of divas to thrill audiences and to shape the musical culture of which they are an integral part. The books I am recommending explore the lives and careers of some of the most fascinating prima donnas of the nineteenth century.

Hilary's book list on nineteenth-century divas

Hilary Poriss Why did Hilary love this book?

First published in 1864, Queens of Song is one of the earliest group biographies of famous divas of the operatic stage. Beginning with chapters on prima donnas who lived during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Creathorne Clayton moves quickly to the nineteenth century, focusing on powerful divas like Giuditta Pasta, Henrietta Sontag, and Giulia Grisi. Renowned for their talents and beloved by audiences worldwide, these divas often wielded outsized influence on the composers who wrote music for them and the impresarios who hired them. The individual chapters are short, but they are each surprisingly comprehensive, providing a full and vivid picture of the lives and accomplishments of these memorable, and often very demanding, artists. 

By Ellen Creathorne Clayton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Queens of Song as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of Maria Malibran: Diva of the Romantic Age

Hilary Poriss Author Of Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville

From my list on nineteenth-century divas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with opera history as an undergraduate exchange student in Vienna and went on to pursue my passion in graduate school. Rather than writing about opera composers and their music, I chose the unusual path of studying famous singers from the nineteenth century, especially the prima donnas who exerted extraordinary authority over composers, theater directors, and spectators. In my books and articles, I focus on the power of divas to thrill audiences and to shape the musical culture of which they are an integral part. The books I am recommending explore the lives and careers of some of the most fascinating prima donnas of the nineteenth century.

Hilary's book list on nineteenth-century divas

Hilary Poriss Why did Hilary love this book?

Few nineteenth-century celebrities were as fascinating as Maria Malibran (1808-1836). She made her debut at London’s King’s Theatre at the ripe age of seventeen, and then blazed a trail across Europe and New York City, becoming one of the most in-demand and beloved prima donnas of her day. But, as April FitzLyon compellingly illustrates, Malibran’s life was anything but perfect. Her father, the famous tenor Manuel Garcia, may have abused her as a child, and her first husband, Eugene Malibran, went bankrupt shortly following their wedding. Most disturbing was her premature death at the age of 28, the result of overwork and a gory horse-riding accident. This biography presents a devastating account of the pressures, pains, and glories inherent in leading the life of a superstar during the first half of the nineteenth century.

By April Fitzlyon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Maria Malibran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book


Book cover of Female Singers on the French Stage, 1830-1848

Hilary Poriss Author Of Gioachino Rossini's The Barber of Seville

From my list on nineteenth-century divas.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with opera history as an undergraduate exchange student in Vienna and went on to pursue my passion in graduate school. Rather than writing about opera composers and their music, I chose the unusual path of studying famous singers from the nineteenth century, especially the prima donnas who exerted extraordinary authority over composers, theater directors, and spectators. In my books and articles, I focus on the power of divas to thrill audiences and to shape the musical culture of which they are an integral part. The books I am recommending explore the lives and careers of some of the most fascinating prima donnas of the nineteenth century.

Hilary's book list on nineteenth-century divas

Hilary Poriss Why did Hilary love this book?

Through a dazzling collection of sources that include letters, contracts, memoirs, biographies, newspaper reviews, and fictional stories about the figure of the cantatrice, Kimberly White’s French Singers on the French Stage is a brilliant account of the various stages of singers’ lives in nineteenth-century France, beginning with their births and following them up to and past their retirements. In between, she describes their training at the Paris Conservatoire, debuts, marriages, benefits, and scores of other important issues that they grappled with throughout their careers. I do not know of any other work in the field of prima donna or opera studies that is at once as thorough and as lucidly written—it is a page-turner from beginning to end.

By Kimberly White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Female Singers on the French Stage, 1830-1848 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The study of singers' art has emerged as a prominent area of inquiry within musicology in recent years. Female Singers on the French Stage, 1830-1848 shifts the focus from the artwork onstage to the labour that went on behind the scenes. Through extensive analysis of primary source documents, Kimberly White explores the profession of singing, operatic culture, and the representation of female performers on the French stage between 1830 and 1848, and reveals new perspectives on the social, economic, and cultural status of these women. The book attempts to reconstruct and clarify contemporary practices of the singer at work, including…


Book cover of The Queen of the Night

Caitlin Horrocks Author Of The Vexations

From my list on featuring classical music.

Why am I passionate about this?

I learned to read music at about the same time I learned to read words. I grew up taking piano lessons, studying almost entirely classical pieces that came weighted with history: everything I ever played had been played better by someone else. I still enjoyed my attempts, but realized that the relationship I had with those notes was not the one I wanted to have with words, which I felt drawn to assemble into my own arrangements, my own stories. So, as a weirdo who’s been thinking about interpretation and creation since childhood, I love books that delve into the challenges and emotional complexities of making music.

Caitlin's book list on featuring classical music

Caitlin Horrocks Why did Caitlin love this book?

To portray the title character in Bizet’s Carmen is only one of the many transformations American orphan Lilliet Berne’s life requires, both on and offstage, as she ascends to opera stardom in late 19th century Paris. In this immersive novel, the clothes are as richly described as the music, and the music is described with not only sincere emotion but attention to realities and absurdities: Bizet’s early death leads to greatly improved ticket sales, for example. In Chee’s haunting first novel Edinburgh, he made choral music shimmer with both beauty and horror. The Queen of the Night is very different in setting, time, and sweeping sense of adventure, but shares Chee’s ability to movingly explore acts of survival and reinvention.

By Alexander Chee,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Queen of the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recommended by The Observer . . .

'One doesn't so much read it, as one is bewitched by it. Epic, gorgeous, haunting' HANYA YANAGIHARA, author of A Little Life

When it begins, it begins as an opera should begin: in a palace, at a ball, in an encounter with a stranger, who you discover has your fate in his hands . . .

She is Lilliet Berne. And she is the soprano.

1882. One warm autumn evening in Paris, Lilliet is finally offered an original role, though it comes at a price. The part is based on her deepest secret.…


Book cover of Birdsong

Deborah Carr Author Of The Poppy Sisters

From my list on World War One that live rent free in my head.

Why am I passionate about this?

I discovered my passion for the First World War when researching my great-grandfather’s service history in the cavalry. I also write historical fiction with several of my books being set during the First World War and have spent thousands of hours over the past twenty years researching different aspects of this period, both from the point of view of the V.A.D.s, wounded soldiers, medical staff treating them, as well as grieving families. The stories I’ve come across never fail to haunt me and I can’t imagine I’ll ever tire of wanting to discover more about the people who survived these experiences, or stop needing to write books about them.

Deborah's book list on World War One that live rent free in my head

Deborah Carr Why did Deborah love this book?

A brilliant, shocking read but one I’ve read several times, and each time I read it the claustrophobic feeling of being trapped underground leaves me feeling breathless.

Although graphic in places, this is a beautifully written novel that I know I’ll return to time and again. As an author of World War One fiction, I aim to bring a sense of how it felt to be my characters and this book achieves that perfectly as far as I’m concerned.

By Sebastian Faulks,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Birdsong as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER • A mesmerising story of love and war spanning three generations and the unimaginable gulf between the First World War and the 1990s

In this "overpowering and beautiful novel" (The New Yorker), the young Englishman Stephen Wraysford passes through a tempestuous love affair with Isabelle Azaire in France and enters the dark, surreal world beneath the trenches of No Man's Land. Sebastian Faulks creates a world of fiction that is as tragic as A Farewell to Arms and as sensuous as The English Patient, crafted from the ruins of war and the indestructibility of love.


Book cover of Beauty: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast

Charlotte Brothers Author Of Creatures of Habit

From my list on romance with quirky heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have always had a fondness for the quirky heroine because I find her so relatable! As a child, I was overly sensitive and obsessed with animals. I liked to read and draw, but was dreadful at organized sports, and for the most part I didn't feel as if I fit in with the expected social norms of my peers. The quirky heroines in books and literature comforted me, and showed me that first, I wasn't alone, and second, that I could find love and acceptance in a world with which I often felt out-of-step.

Charlotte's book list on romance with quirky heroines

Charlotte Brothers Why did Charlotte love this book?

Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast which gives us a practical, irregular heroine who redefines beauty. I’ve reread this book multiple times because the magical setting, colorful descriptions, and character development are heartwarming and unique. This is a story of transcendent love between two people (some more human than others!) who come to know each other's thoughts and quirks thoroughly—and to love each other for them. 

By Robin McKinley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Beauty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

When the family business collapses, Beauty and her two sisters are forced to leave the city and begin a new life in the countryside. However, when their father accepts hospitality from the elusive and magical Beast, he is forced to make a terrible promise - to send one daughter to the Beast's castle, with no guarantee that she will be seen again. Beauty accepts the challenge, and there begins an extraordinary story of magic and love that overcomes all boundaries. This is another spellbinding and emotional tale embroidered around a fairytale from Robin McKinley, an award-winning American author.


Book cover of Sex in an Old Regime City: Young Workers and Intimacy in France, 1660-1789

Kathleen Wellman Author Of Queens and Mistresses of Renaissance France

From my list on women in early modern France.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a historian of early modern France and a professor at Southern Methodist University, I have taken students to Paris on a study abroad program for more than twenty summers. Students were invariably intrigued by the relationship of Henry II, Catherine de Medici, and Diane de Poitiers. The young prince married Catherine de Medici at the age of fourteen but the thirty-six-year-old Diane de Poitiers became his mistress when he was sixteen and remained so for the rest of his life. The complexities of that relationship and the significance of both women led me to conclude that the history of the Renaissance could be told through the lives of the queens and mistresses.

Kathleen's book list on women in early modern France

Kathleen Wellman Why did Kathleen love this book?

This book brings to light the intimate relationships of ordinary young men and women as opposed to those of powerful, public women. While royal women endured contemporary surveillance of their sexuality, pregnancies, and childbirths, the intimate lives of ordinary women must be wrested from archival records. Harwick’s exploration of legal records concerning unmarried pregnant women reveals the various range of strategies they adopted as well as the extensive support, both emotional and financial, they received from their community—clergy, lawyers, midwives, parents, etc.—to the benefit of both mother and child. Such support may well have reduced child abandonment and infanticide.

Hardwick not only challenges the standard notion of a sexual double standard applied to the detriment of women but also documents the mobilization of an early modern city not to punish unmarried women who faced expected pregnancies but to offer sympathetic aid.

By Julie Hardwick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sex in an Old Regime City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Our ideas about the long histories of young couples' relationships and women's efforts to manage their reproductive health are often premised on the notion of a powerful sexual double standard.

In Sex in an Old Regime City, Julie Hardwick offers a major reframing of the history of young people's intimacy. Based on legal records from the city of Lyon, Hardwick uncovers the relationships of young workers before marriage and after pregnancy occurred, even if marriage did not follow, and finds that communities treated these occurrences without stigmatizing or moralizing. She finds a hidden world of strategies young couples enacted when…


Book cover of Beautiful Bastard

Emma Perle Author Of Much Ado About Benedict

From my list on romance to make your toes curl and your heart race.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a British writer and avid reader of a wide range of genres who’d harbored a life-long ambition to be an author. It wasn’t until I became addicted to seductive romance that I found my own writing flow. I love books that have the power to transport you. Indulging in an adult ideal for a few minutes (or hours) in a day, when your body reacts viscerally to the words on a page, makes you swoon, your cheeks flush and your heart race is my reading and writing heaven. I hope you will experience the same delicious escapism in my book choices as I have. 

Emma's book list on romance to make your toes curl and your heart race

Emma Perle Why did Emma love this book?

This was my first steamy romance read, the one that got me hooked on erotic romance and still one of my favorites. From the moment Bennett’s hand landed on Chloe’s thigh in the boardroom my pulse spiked and didn’t stop racing until the last page. Bennett and Chloe’s chemistry is a masterclass, enemies to lovers hot.  

By Christina Lauren,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Beautiful Bastard as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chloe Mills is intelligent, hardworking, moments away from her MBA and starting a successful career. The only thing standing in her way is her boss, Bennett Ryan. He's exacting, blunt, inconsiderate and... completely gorgeous - a beautiful bastard. She's determined to ignore him, do the best job she can, and move on to her bright future. Bennett has been trying to ignore his gorgeous, infuriating assistant for months. He's never been one for a workplace dalliance, especially not with one of his employees. But Chloe is so tempting he's willing to bend the rules - or smash them, if it…


Book cover of Three Little Things

Joy Neal Kidney Author Of Leora's Early Years: Guthrie County Roots

From my list on family history.

Why am I passionate about this?

As the fourth “oldest daughter” in my motherline, and my interest in genealogy and family history, my trajectory was set decades ago to become the keeper of the family letters, telegrams, photos, pilot logbooks, and stories. After researching what happened to the three brothers lost during WWII, I also have casualty, missions reports, and more. Before publishing the first book, I had bylines in newspapers and magazines, and I’ve blogged regularly for several years. Because of the wealth of historic photos and stories, I began history Facebook pages for three Iowa counties, as well as one for cousins to share memories and photos. If you enjoy family stories, you’ll enjoy the books on this list.

Joy's book list on family history

Joy Neal Kidney Why did Joy love this book?

Set during World War I and inspired by letters of the author’s grandparents, this delightful novel is filled with a fetching cast of characters and borne along by the author’s entertaining sense of humor. The narration reminds us that many folks were suspicious of people with German ancestry during the war, even though they were American citizens and even using the common term “gesundheit,” and that children of German immigrants were drafted to fight against their parents’ former countrymen.

Young Iowa men were trained into soldiering, where there were still rivalries—some about girls back home, some about German sympathies—and sent across to fight the Kaiser’s troops in France. Some didn’t return home, some came back with broken bodies. There is a compelling scene with wounded veterans in a local hospital, at least one scarred on the inside and fighting his own private battle.

This winsome story also carries themes of…

By Patti Stockdale,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Three Little Things as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ "I fell in love with Aron and Hattie!" - Debbie Macomber ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"A well-drawn cast of supporting characters creates a strong sense of community, and colorful colloquialisms ("whip-thin and homely as a cow pie") add flavor. Lovers of G-rated historical romance will be charmed by the earnest, emotionally vulnernable connection between these young lovers." - Publisher's Weekly
One forbidden love. Two broken hearts. Three little things.
Hattie Waltz should forget the troubled neighbor leaving for boot camp in 1917. He forgot about her ages ago. It had always been the Waltzs…


Book cover of Paris is Always a Good Idea

Ann Claire Author Of A Cyclist's Guide to Crime & Croissants

From my list on reading trip to France.

Why am I passionate about this?

Until recently, my lovely in-laws kept a home in southern France near where my father-in-law grew up. Their hilltop village was everything my summer-in-France fantasies could imagine: red-tile roofs, overflowing flower boxes, croissants on every corner (or at least four), bustling markets, and palm trees framing a snowcapped peak. Downsizing in their eighties meant selling the house, but some of my fondest memories will always reside there. This summer most of my travels will take place from my garden in Colorado. I plan to trek the world through books. These are some of my favorite reads for an armchair trip to France through romance, mysteries, exploration, and cooking.  

Ann's book list on reading trip to France

Ann Claire Why did Ann love this book?

The title says it all—Paris is always a good idea! My now-husband romantically invited me to meet him in Paris, way back when, so it’s a special place for me. So is this book, which is a fun, emotional story about love, wanderlust, and finding one’s self.

Chelsea Martin threw herself into work to cope with her mother’s death. Seven years later, her father announces he’ll remarry, prompting Chelsea to examine her own life. She plans a trip to Europe to retrace the last time she remembers being happy.

I adore Chelsea for her bravery and this book for transporting me to gorgeous places, from Paris to Ireland and a vineyard in Italy. 

By Jenn Mckinlay,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Paris is Always a Good Idea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of Popsugar’s Best New Books for Summer 2020

A thirty-year-old woman retraces her gap year through Ireland, France, and Italy to find love—and herself—in this hilarious and heartfelt novel.

It's been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong postcollege European adventure. Since then, she's lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea's thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful moneymaker is unquestioned.

When her introverted mathematician father…


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