Historical Fiction

A single thread book cover

A single thread

Tracy Chevalier

FICTION Chevalie Tracy
Historical Fiction

1932. After the Great War took both her beloved brother and her fiancé, Violet Speedwell has become a "surplus woman," one of a generation doomed to a life of spinsterhood after the war killed so many young men. Yet Violet cannot reconcile herself to a life spent caring for her grieving, embittered mother. After countless meals of boiled eggs and dry toast, she saves enough to move out of her mother's place and into the town of Winchester, home to one of England's grandest cathedrals. There, Violet is drawn into a society of broderers--women who embroider kneelers for the Cathedral, carrying on a centuries-long tradition of bringing comfort to worshippers. Violet finds support and community in the group, fulfillment in the work they create, and even a growing friendship with the vivacious Gilda. But when forces threaten her new independence and another war appears on the horizon, Violet must fight to put down roots in a place where women aren't expected to grow.

Anne M's picture

This is a splendid book and I know right off the bat, my explanation won't do it justice. Set in England between the wars, A Single Thread follows Violet Speedwell, a woman (approaching 40--her mother's tragedy, not Violet's) who feels lost, but finds meaning in embroidery. But it is more than that. It is also about finding kindred spirits and understanding through each other's art. It is about loss and finding support. Tracy Chevalier's books are always wonderful and this is no exception. A patron recommended this to me and for that I am grateful. -Anne M

Planet earth is blue book cover

Planet earth is blue

Nicole Panteleakos

jFICTION Panteleakos, Nicole
Historical Fiction

Autistic and nearly nonverbal, twelve-year-old Nova is happy in her new foster home and school, but eagerly anticipates the 1986 Challenger launch, for which her sister, Bridget, promised to return.

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Al Capone does my shirts book cover

Al Capone does my shirts

Gennifer Choldenko

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Choldenko, Gennifer
Historical Fiction

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.

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The war that saved my life book cover

The war that saved my life

Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

jFICTION Bradley Kimberly
Historical Fiction

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

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Pachinko book cover

Pachinko

Min Jin Lee

FICTION Lee Min
Fiction, Historical Fiction

"A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone. PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity"--

Jason's picture

Terrific historical detail, an engaging story, and compelling characters. -Jason

Utopia Avenue book cover

Utopia Avenue

David Mitchell


Fiction, Historical Fiction

Soho, London, 1967. Folk-rock-psychedelic quartet Utopia Avenue is formed. Guitarist Jasper de Zoet, a shy, half-Dutch public-school musical prodigy, was hearing voices long before he dropped acid. Keyboardist Elf Holloway must defy the prejudices of her bank manager father, her housewife mother, and her age to forge her own career. Bassist Dean Moss cannot, will not, spend his life on the factory floor like everyone else in Gravesend. Band manager Levon Frankland--gay, Jewish, and Canadian--is not unduly burdened by conscience. The drummer is a drummer. Over two years and two albums, Utopia Avenue navigates the dark end of the Sixties: its parties, drugs and egos, political change and personal tragedy; and the trials of life as a working band in London, the provinces, European capitals and, finally, the promised land of America. What is art? What is fame? What is music? How can the whole be more than the sum of its parts? Can idealism change the world? How does your youth shape your life? This is the story of Utopia Avenue. Not everyone lives to the end.

Jason's picture

A decent historical fiction novel from one of my favorite writers. Engaging characters with lots of cameos from classic rock heroes, nothing monumental here but solid writing and pretty fun. -Jason

The pull of the stars : a novel book cover

The pull of the stars : a novel

Emma Donoghue

FICTION Donoghue Emma
Historical Fiction

"In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have fallen sick are quarantined into a separate ward to keep the plague at bay. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders, a woman doctor who is a rumored Rebel, and a teenage girl, Bridie, procured by the nuns from their orphanage as an extra set of hands. At first, this Bridie seems unschooled in life, she makes up a bed with only the rubber mat and savors the weak tea and barely edible porridge from the hospital kitchen. But in the intensity of this ward, over three brutal days, Julia and the women come together in unexpected ways."--Publisher.

Anne M's picture

Emma Donoghue is one of my current favorite writers. Her books always resonate with me and "The Pull of the Stars" is no exception. Set in a maternity ward for expectant mothers with influenza (...in 1918...in Ireland), Donoghue again takes on grim, almost impossible circumstances with characters who try to manage and do their best. Enter Nurse Julia Power. She works long days, does everything in her power to help her patients, and goes home to her brother, who hasn't spoken since returning from the war front. On the eve of her 30th birthday, overworked and lonely Julia meets Bridie, an eager young helper from one of the church orphanages, and Doctor Kathleen Lynn, an Irish rebel doctor with new ideas on how to help women give birth. Over the next three days, Nurse Power has the best days, and worst, of her life. -Anne M

Dactyl Hill Squad book cover

Dactyl Hill Squad

Daniel José Older

jFICTION Older Daniel
Fiction, Adventure, Historical Fiction

It is the summer of 1863, and as the Civil War rages between dinosaur-mounted armies down south, and a tense New York City seems on the brink of exploding into riots, Magdalys Roca and the other children at the Colored Orphan Asylum are trying to survive; but when she receives a letter telling her that her brother Montez was wounded, Magdalys knows that somehow she must reach him--and just possibly her ability to communicate telepathically with dinosaurs may come in handy.

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The wind called my name book cover

The wind called my name

Mary Louise Sanchez

jFICTION Sanchez Mary
Fiction, Historical Fiction

When ten-year-old Margaríta Sandoval's family moves to Wyoming during the Great Depression, she faces racism, homesickness, and the possibility that her grandmother's land in New Mexico may be lost.--

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