Historical Fiction

Cover of THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda

By Isabel Cañas
0
Rated by Gregg W.
May 10, 2022

Hello and welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a look at a new release in the publishing world that will hopefully be a welcome addition to your holds lists.


Today marks the debut of THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas, a dark, glittering gem of a debut novel that's already drawing comparisons to Daphne du Maurier's REBECCA by way of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's MEXICAN GOTHIC. This novel, a gothic suspense thriller with hints of the supernatural, is delightfully atmospheric and perfect for those who like thrills and chills that tiptoe up to the line to horror bet never actually crosses that line

May 3, 2022

Hello and welcome to this week's #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a closer look at a title that makes its debut to the publishing world - and our patron's holds lists!


Jennifer Saint's novel ARIADNE was a powerful word-of-mouth hit last year - the novel from the point of view of a princess of Crete who helps hero Theseus find his way through a maze in the basement of her father's palace - was both a crowd-pleaser and a great book club pick for those looking to dig a little deeper into the character from Greek mythology. Saint is back with a similar novel, this time not only looking at

Mar 16, 2022

What do you do when calamity strikes the world yet again? How do you handle the confusion of trying to unravel the news? As someone who works at a library, perhaps it’s not surprising that I turn to...the library. What book or film can I find that connects me to someone’s story so I can more clearly see and hear the events from those involved. 


In recent years, I've needed the library a lot! To better understand the Black experience in America, some helpful reads for me have been “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi, “A Black Women’s History of the

Cover for The Once and Future Witches with floral background

The Once and Future Witches

By Alix E. Harrow
5
Rated by Tiffany R
Dec 15, 2021

“Witchcraft isn’t one thing but many things, all the ways and words women have found to wreak their wills on the world.”


“A witch is just a woman who wants too much”.


The Once and Future Witches is a deftly told historical feminist fantasy novel about three sister witches who help bring witching back into the world. The story unfolds alongside the late 1800s suffragette movement, and the women's movement soon turns into the witch's movement as the ways of witching slowly spread through town, and women reclaim the power they lost to time.


The novel is rich with historical details but

Picture of stormy sky with black/purple clouds on top of a dry dusty landscape in west Texas. Title is in white, all capital letters across the clouds.

Valentine

By Wetmore, Elizabeth
4
Rated by Lisa H
Nov 8, 2021

Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore is a hauntingly powerful, and beautiful debut novel set in Odessa, Texas in 1976. Wetmore has created four main characters with deep narratives, and all intertwined in ways that make the reader truly understand them in various ways. The detailed characterizations help to draw an accurate divide between age, class and race in west Texas in the mid-1970’s.


The story takes an emotional toll, right from the start when Gloria Ramirez, a fourteen-year-old Hispanic girl, who projects a tough-girl image, is attacked and raped after getting into a stranger’s truck. So

We Were the Lucky Ones cover. Man and woman sit on bench with their backs facing us.

We Were the Lucky Ones

By Georgia Hunter
5
Rated by Kari E.
Apr 30, 2021

What a book. What a story. What a family. The Kurcs are a Polish family who will not let the cruelty and dehumanizing Nazi and Soviet rule crush their spirit.  


We see babies born, weddings, and a family desperately wishing they were all together again. They feel lucky just to be with one another.  We follow the lives of the Kurc families’ five children through the war.  


Addy moved to France to finish his studies and stayed after finding a job. Now, he cannot return to Poland because there is no safe way to get there and he doesn’t have the right paperwork. His one hopeful thought is

Book Cover

Deacon King Kong

By James McBride
5
Rated by Chris K.
Feb 2, 2021

Deacon King Kong is a sort of love letter to a few blocks of New York City projects in 1969, and to the endearing cast of colorful characters brimming with personality. McBride has a magical touch bringing to life the adage everyone has a story. His descriptions are vivid, engrossing, and entertaining, giving both people and setting depth and truth. His dialogue, as well. It's a hard setting full of people living hard, flawed lives. McBride never ducks the grit and grime, violence and suffering, yet still manages to find some measure of joy and an abundance of humor. He paints a breathing

The Right Sort of Man book cover. Woman with back to camera looking down a sunny street

The Right Sort of Man

By Allison Montclair
5
Rated by Kari E.
Dec 7, 2020

Gwendolyn Bainbridge and Iris Sparks attend a mutual friend’s wedding and hit it off immediately, both taking credit for the match. After a lovely lunch the pair decide to go into business together opening The Right Sort Marriage Bureau in Mayfair, London in 1946. Their services are much sought after and their pairings have lead to many happy marriages so far. They both have the ability to size people up and get a clear reading of personalities and secrets being withheld. 


Iris doesn’t talk about her training and time spent during the War. But she’s got a lot of particular skills useful for

Picture of a woman with only lower face shown, dressed in a 1950's style gown that is coral in color. The title is printed on the lower part of her full skirt, with an image of the skyline of the city of Havana on the very lower edge of her skirt.

Next Year in Havana

By Chanel Cleeton
4
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 21, 2020

The historical fiction novel Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is a fascinating look into Cuba before and after Castro comes into power. The novel is told in split timelines with stories about two women in Cuba: one facing a revolution that would tear apart everything she knows, another facing a Cuba she has only heard about in family stories.


In Cuba 1958, Elisa Perez is a nineteen-year-old sugar heiress when she meets Pablo at a dinner party. Their chemistry is immediate and undeniable. It is love at first sight and the relationship is doomed from the start due to Elisa and Pablo

The Broken Girls

By Simone St. James
4
Rated by Hebah A.H.
Jul 6, 2020

One of the best things about working in a library is the regular opportunity to talk about books (and other media) with people. Often, I can provide a recommendation for something else to read or try in those conversations, but it isn’t always a one-way street. Sometimes, patrons put books on my radar that I overlooked, either because the cover or description didn’t grab me, or it’s just outside my usual genre preferences. One of these books was Simone St. James’s The Broken Girls.


As a story with a historical fiction subplot and an intrigued journalist starring in the other main plotline,

Once Upon a River

By Diane Setterfield
5
Rated by Meghan F
Apr 29, 2020

Fairy tales are often dismissed as stories only for children, but I've never been able to stop reading them, even as an adult.  C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, "Some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again."  These types of stories are ones I turn to again and again, whether they be new tales or the dark, Grimm originals.  I especially love historical novels that incorporate fairy tale elements - which is why I was so excited when I heard about the new book by Diane Setterfield.


Set in a small English town on the river Thames, the story centers around a local inn, The

Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry
5
Rated by Charles H
Apr 23, 2020

If you are a fan of the western genre, chances are you have heard of Lonesome Dove. Likewise, if you follow award winning books, you may have seen it on a list for its 1985 Spur Award or its 1986 Pulitzer Prize. Some of you may have even watched the CBS miniseries from 1989 starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. Lonesome Dove is not an obscure novel and it has received a great deal of praise, but coming in at a whopping 843 pages it can be daunting to those of us more used to a book in the 200-250 page range. If you, like me, have been avoiding this read because you are scared of the time

Apr 1, 2020

The past two months of quarantine shutdown have been bizarre to say the least. Surprised by how hard it's been to focus on simple tasks and know how to deal with whatever each day might bring, I turned to another time in history where the whole world was under threat and people had to deal with a cloud of confusion that hung over everything--World War II. Obviously COVID-19 is not the same as WWII by any means, but I was inspired and encouraged to read the stories of how women in particular faced the challenges of such a world-impacting crisis.


I think my favorite book was A Woman of No

Outlander, Season 1, Volume 2

By Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
5
Rated by Becky C.
Dec 2, 2019

When my friends started raving about the TV series, Outlander, I was more, meh. It sounds a bit outlandish, frankly. A twenty-something combat nurse from England finishes her tour of duty in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. On vacation in the Scottish Highlands with a husband she barely knows, after having been separated for five years during the war, she gets sucked back in time to the 18th century. Great. Another military conflict. Only this time, being English, she's on the side of the occupier in occupied lands. She eventually falls in love with a hunky (and educated, and

The Secret History

By Donna Tartt
3
Rated by Megan K.
Oct 25, 2019

Donna Tartt  has been on my radar for quite awhile, and I finally picked up The Secret History at the recommendation of multiple coworkers. To be honest, I finished this novel over a week ago, and I am still unsure how I feel. I was unimpressed with much of the book, but something about it is still stuck in the back of my brain. The entire book is a psychological analysis of the six main characters before and after murdering their friend. Tartt opens the book with a prologue describing Bunny’s murder from the point of view of Richard, the narrator. The rest of the novel is then split up into

The Giver of Stars

By Moyes, Jojo
5
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 7, 2019

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is historical fiction at its very best!  Set in 1939 Southern Kentucky, the lives of five strong female characters come together to form and operate the Packhorse Library, where they deliver by horseback, books, magazines and newspapers to those living in remote, rural areas.


One of the main characters, Alice, an Englishwoman, marries an American and is brought to Kentucky where she hopes to start a new, dazzling life with her husband. That is not to be the case.  Alice finds living with her husband and her father-in-law to be stifling and oppressive. Alice

Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate
4
Rated by Kari E.
May 17, 2019

Before We Were Yours is a moving, fascinating portrayal of an upper class Southern family dealing with dementia care, cancer, secrets and a family in 1939 ripped apart just because they live on the river. Have your Kleenex ready and Google pulled up. This novel presents many topics to discuss for book groups.


Dual timelines tell the story of Avery Stafford digging into her Grandma Judy’s past. A woman named May Crandall approaches Avery at a nursing home event, confusing her for someone named Fern and slipping Avery’s bracelet off. When Avery returns the next day to retrieve the bracelet, a

The Harvey Way

By Carolyn Meyer
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Apr 8, 2019

In the late 1800s and early-mid 1900s, the Harvey Girls were considered to be elite hostesses and servers for entrepreneur and businessman Fred Harvey.  Harvey developed the concept of the ‘Harvey House’ dining areas along various railways across the United States, including the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe.  These hospitality restaurants worked in tandem with the railways in order to provide first class service to passengers and railroad employees.  Meals were served promptly on a strict schedule and all Harvey Girls were expected to follow a strict code of conduct that included a

Feb 7, 2019

The Terror is a fictionalized account of the real historical event known as Franklin's Lost Expedition. The expedition, a crew of 129 men split between two British Royal Navy ships, set out in 1845 to discover a new route through the Arctic for trade between England and China - a route deemed the "Northwest Passage." Over a year after the expedition initially set sail, both ships (HMS Erebus and HMS Terror) became trapped in thick ice off the northern coast of Canada. The crew, utterly isolated and unprepared, were left to fend off the unrelenting cold of the Arctic with few provisions and

Jan 2, 2019

With an impressive cast,


Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, and serious breakout star of 2018 contender, Cynthia Erivo


Bad Times at the El Royale  is the follow up to Drew Goddard's critically acclaimed directorial debut, The Cabin in the Woods...


   


   The El Royale Hotel was once a hot celebrity getaway, frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.  Its days of glory are over, however, as a series of strangers check in to an otherwise empty hotel.  There's a priest (Bridges), a vacuum salesman (Hamm), a singer (Erivo), and a woman (Johnson

Dec 21, 2018

This story is the legend of Sleepy Hollow from the point of view of the main female character, Katrina Van Tassel. Having grown up the only daughter to a wealthy farmer and doting mother, Katrina is strong in her opinions, desires and actions. While this strength of character gets Katrina into some mischief, it also allows her to follow her heart and find a deep love with the new school teacher, Ichabod Crane.


When Ichabod first arrives at Sleepy Hollow he stays with the Van Tassel family until he finds the first host family among his pupils. Katrina's father hires him quickly to be her

Dec 14, 2018

 


An Extraordinary Union is a historical romance set during the turbulent American Civil War. The heroine is spunky Elle Burns, a former slave with an eidetic memory who becomes a detective for the Union through the Loyal League, a society of freed and enslaved blacks with networks across the country to funnel intelligence to the North. Her latest assignment is to pose as a mute slave in Richmond, Virginia in the household of Confederate Senator Caffrey. The hero is Malcolm McCall, a Scottish born detective for Pinkerton, also assigned to gather intelligence from the Caffrey household

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Dec 5, 2018

The Helpthe debut novel by Kathryn Stockett, published nearly ten years ago, has the remarkable ability to remain relevant in today’s polarized climate of questions and the search for truth and justice.  Here we meet three different women: Skeeter Phelan, Aibileen Clark, and Minny Jackson, all wanting to change the status quo without knowing how or when to start.  Set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, there is a strong divide between the races that results in violence and fear among the residents as the Civil Rights Movement continues throughout the nation.  The power struggle exists in the

The Little Stranger

By The Little Stranger
4
Rated by Sam S.
Dec 3, 2018

The Little Stranger follows Faraday, a respectable country doctor in post-World War II England who is called to assist the Ayres family—an aristocratic family whose once elegant home, Hundreds Hall, has fallen into disrepair as their power and wealth dwindle with the collapsing noble class. His patient, Roderick, lives there with his mother and sister as they all wage daily battles to prevent the inevitable loss of their formerly prosperous country estate. Roderick was wounded in the second World War and has never recovered—but his injuries are not all that plague him. The entire family is

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders
5
Rated by Chris K.
Oct 24, 2018

Strange, fascinating, moving, disturbing, challenging, poignant, and human. Oh, so very human.


Lincoln in the Bardo is a book that delves deep into the human condition and the particular human penchant for storytelling. It presents a myriad cast of characters, each obsessed with telling his or her own story to others. And to living it out, over and over. They are stuck in their stories. Limited by them. Blinded by them. Stories of regret, sorrow, and unfinished lives. Unhappy stories.


For the characters are ghosts. Or spirits or phantoms or souls or what you will. Trapped in a limbo of

Transcription

By Kate Atkinson
3
Rated by Heather B.
Oct 15, 2018

I am, in general, a huge fan of Kate Atkinson’s novels. I loved Life After Life, its sequel A God in Ruins, and all of the books in her Jackson Brodie series. That’s why it pains me to say I was a bit disappointed in Transcription.


Transcription tells the story of Juliet Armstrong, a young woman who is recruited by the British intelligence agency MI5 at the beginning of World War II. The main task she is charged with is transcribing the meetings among a group of British fascist sympathizers and supporters. As she is drawn further into the web of British spies and their targets, she’s left

Nefertiti

By Michelle Moran
4
Rated by Sam S.
Aug 27, 2018

Nefertiti follows the titular character through the eyes of her sister, Mutnodjmet, from their early life through Nefertiti's swift ascent to the throne as one of history’s most powerful women. Headstrong, cunning, and limitlessly ambitious – Nefertiti defies tradition to become Egypt's first female co-regents during one of its most tumultuous and unique periods, with Mutnodjmet as her near-constant, often reluctant companion and advisor. All the while, Mutnodjmet—a  thoughtful, intelligent young woman with a passion for healing and nature—yearns to find her own destiny, away from the courts

The Marriage Of Opposites

By Alice Hoffman
5
Rated by Stephanie S
Jul 31, 2018

I absolutely love this book and consider it one of my "top 10" favorites! I did not expect to like it when a friend lent me her copy to read, but it blew me away. 


Alice Hoffman's writing is so rich in detail that it's mesmerizing. The Marriage of Opposites is historical fiction set during the 19th century, based on the real life of Rachel Pomie', the mother of Camille Pissarro who became a famous artist and one of the fathers of impressionism. Most of the story is set on the island of St. Thomas, and then ultimately in Paris. Rachel Pomie' is a girl that does not like rules and is