Like This? Try That: Books & TV Edition

12:54 PM Amanda Prahl 0 Comments

It's summer, and that means three things: scorching temperatures, high electric bills, and nothing to watch on TV besides trashy pseudo-reality. The Storyologist is here to help! Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading, whether on the beach, on the porch, or on the couch. So if you're really missing your favorite shows, take a look at the options below and find yourself a fantastic book to relax with!

If you're missing: Agent Carter
Try reading: The Time In Between by María Dueñas

Spy capers, a complex and capable heroine, gender politics, female friendships and gorgeous early/mid-century style. You don't need to wait until January to get your fix if this is your kind of story. Instead, pick up Dueñas's international bestseller. The tale is set during the Spanish Civil War as the pieces fall into place that will lead to World War II in only a few years. When we first meet Sira Quiroga, she is not quite a Peggy Carter, instead just a young, flighty, working-class romantic. But after a terrible turn of events leaves her stranded and alone, Sira turns to her skill as a seamstress to forge her own path and soon finds herself navigating in espionage and politics. Much like Agent Carter, romance is a factor but not in the forefront, and even the smallest of spy missions are filled to the brim with tension. Its strongest quality, however, is focusing on Sira's relationships with the various women who commission her gowns, and, most of all, the growth of Sira from a selfish and naive girl to a clever woman willing to take risks and take charge of her own destiny going forward. 

Bonus: If you find yourself wondering how the vivid world and characters of the novel would look on film, look no further than Hulu, where you can find a Spanish-language (subtitled in English) adaptation as a 17-episode series.

If you're missing: Downton Abbey

Try reading: The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

An unconventional love triangle set amidst the glittering aristocracy of nineteenth-century Europe, this book is sure to satisfy your taste for old-fashioned glamour and period romance. The novel follows three young people, all a little bit insecure, all more than a little ambitious in different ways: Charlotte, an intelligent heiress with the vision of an artist; Bay, a captain with horse-racing dreams but no money to support them; and Sisi, a brilliant woman stifled by her life and husband- who happens to be the Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria. It's easy to for Downton fans to find traces of Lady Mary in Sisi and of Lady Sybil in Charlotte. Although the love triangle plays a major part and connects these three characters and the people who surround them, it is, much like Downton, the story of young people trying to reconcile their dreams with a formal society that does not always understand.

Bonus: If you enjoy Goodwin's particular brand of period drama and still are longing for Downton, may I suggest her earlier novel, The American Heiress, in which a wealthy young American woman with a wildly ambitious mother ends up in England seeking to marry into the stuffy aristocracy. Oh, and the heiress's name is Cora. Even so, this heroine and her world are very different from the selfless Countess of Grantham and the warmth of Downton Abbey, yet still a deeply enjoyable tale.

If you're missing: Once Upon A Time

Try reading: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor

Fans of OUAT seeking a similar fractured-fairytale aesthetic will likely be pleased with Beddor's trilogy. Despite being stocked in the YA section (since its heroine is in her late teens/early adulthood), its sometimes humorous, often dark take on the trippy world of Wonderland appeals to any who love a good twist on a classic tale. In this retelling, Alyss is sent tumbling through a portal to Earth following a coup by her power-mad aunt Redd, and must find a way back home while combating a world that keeps telling her that her real life is only imagination. As in OUAT, magic here always comes with a price, and the dichotomy between reality and imagination, good and evil, is nowhere as clear-cut as these characters- more complicated, human takes on the figures we all know- would like it to be. 

I hope this trio of suggestions gives you something new to read! Want more suggestions? Leave me a comment and I'd be happy to make more recommendations!