As we wait for the real summer days to arrive, here are a few popular historical fiction series on DVD to enjoy. All are available free from your library!
"Poldark," produced by the BBC and PBS Masterpiece, is addictive. Captain Poldark returns from the American Revolutionary War to his father’s ailing copper mines. Armed only with his integrity, each crisis requires a gallop across the rugged Cornish cliffs on his black charger. Haughty Elizabeth holds his heart, and Demelza’s hair reflects her varying circumstances. The peasants are grubby, the bankers dastardly, and the doctor fresh faced. If tricorn hats and smoldering honor are your thing, then enjoy! Look out for the scene in the hay field … not since Darcy emerged from the lake in 1995 have we enjoyed quite such a moment.
"Outlander" jumps from the end of World War II back to 1743 Scotland and the Jacobite Rebellion, with feisty nurse Claire Randall having a very odd experience at some standing stones. Although this involves time travel, it’s not science fiction-y, and the premise is surprisingly easy to accept as the story gallops along. If you have Scottish ancestors, you might like this one. But be warned, there’s bawdy clan humor, adult scenes, and it’s shockingly violent in places. Certainly not one to put on when the kids are around! Mamby pamby Englishwoman that I am, I kept my finger on the fast-forward button.
"The White Queen" is based on Philippa Gregory’s historical novel series. Beginning in 1464, it spans the War of the Roses — the battle between the Houses of Lancaster and York. Think Richard III (king in the 1480s, killed in battle in 1485, his body was recently dug up in a Leicester parking lot), princes in the tower, and so forth. Told through the powerful characters of Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort, and Ann Neville, this tumultuous period beats Henry VIII’s matrimonial dramas hands down. If you enjoyed "The Tudors" TV series, you are in for a treat! The story is a combination of grown up fairytale, witchcraft, treachery, female rivalry, medieval finery, and, unlike "Game of Thrones," is based on real history.
Incidentally, if "The White Queen" sparks your curiosity about British history, I recommend David Starkey’s TV series "Monarchy" from Channel 4 — I think episode 7, "The Crown Imperial," covers the War of the Roses — but the whole series is a great education.
Top requested books
1. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens
2. “Summer of ‘69” by Elin Hilderbrand
3. “Redemption” by David Baldacci
4. “The 18th Abduction” by James Patterson
5. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover
6. “Someone Knows” by Lisa Scottoline
7. “Run Away” by Harlan Coben
8. “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides
9. “Neon Prey” by John Sandford
10. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama
Top requested movies
1. “Green Book”
2. “Outlander, Season 4”
3. “Captain Marvel”
4. “The Upside”
5. “On the Basis of Sex”
6. “Isn’t it Romantic?”
7. “Cold Pursuit”
8. “Game of Thrones, season 8”
9. “The Mule”
10. “Mary Poppins Returns”
MONDAY — 5:30-7 p.m., Conversation Class – for English Language Learners.
TUESDAY — 1-2 p.m., Afternoon Book Group! New members are welcome, this month’s selection is “Ahab’s Wife” by Sena Jeter Naslund; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen Conspiracy Theorists Anonymous – Come with a conspiracy you’d like to research! We’ll talk about how plausible our theories are, learn where to find answers, and what kinds of tricks get in the way of the truth; 5-7 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Open House – Last season, they were the state champions in the FIRST Tech Challenge competition, where they built and coded their own robots. Drop in to meet the team, and hear about their experiences! 5-7:30 p.m., Experience VR – a special night of guided virtual reality experiences and gaming for adults in our Makerspace; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Group! – a friendly knitting, crochet, needlework, and yarn craft club; 6-6:45 p.m., Meditation Group – all ages and experience levels welcome! 6-7:30 p.m., Renaissance Toastmasters – meets twice a month to share stories and get comfortable speaking in front of an audience.
WEDNESDAY — 2:30-6 p.m., Father’s Day Fabrication – drop by our Makerspace to craft a Father’s Day present; 4-5:30 p.m., Swampabots Practice – kids ages 9-12 can practice building and coding with lego robots; 5:30-7 p.m., Conversation Class – for English Language Learners; 6:30-7:30 p.m., Dave Marchetti @ the Library (ages 5-12) – Dave discusses how to appreciate and respect reptiles and small animals and which animals make good pets, and allows the audience to handle and interact with a number of small creatures.
THURSDAY — 10-11:30 a.m., Conversation Class – A free class for English Language Learners; 10:15-11 a.m., Toddler Painting (birth-4 years) – a short story time followed by a group painting class. Each toddler will have their own easel and paper and the paint is nontoxic. Class will be near the fountain in Wilcox Park! 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – All ages and experience levels are welcome, no sign-up required; 6-7:30 p.m., Dementia Family Caregiver Support Group -- A trained former caregiver will be facilitating all group sessions. The groups will be a safe space to discuss the unique challenges of caregiving; 6-7:30 p.m., Adult S.A.G.A. meeting -- a discussion and support group for adults about LGBTQ+ stories and issues in books, movies, TV shows, and more; 6-7:30 p.m., Tech Topics—Artificial Intelligence – What makes AI such a desirable thing, and what might it really look like when we get a chance to experience it? If you’ve ever been curious about what people mean when they bring up the topic, stop by and see if we can help explain it.
FRIDAY — 9 a.m.-12 p.m., World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – join us for a walk and community conversation; 10:15-11 a.m., Stories Sign & Craft (3+) – a popular story and craft, along with simple, useful signs; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen Book Club – Share what you’ve been reading lately and get to take home a free book! Snacks provided; 4-5:45 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics.
SATURDAY — 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Adult Writers Workshop – A group-led prose writing workshop; 1-2:30 p.m., Dungeons and Dragons (Teen Led Program) – No prior experience with the game is necessary—registration is required; 7-10 p.m., Movies in the Park! This month’s feature is Guardians of the Galaxy (begins at sundown).
Jules Belanger is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.