Historical Fiction

Death at Greenway : a novel book cover

Death at Greenway : a novel

Lori Rader-Day

MYSTERY Rader-Day, Lori
Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction

"Bridey Kelly has come to Greenway House-the beloved holiday home of Agatha Christie-in disgrace. A terrible mistake at St. Prisca's Hospital in London has led to her dismissal as a nurse trainee, and her only chance for redemption is a position in the countryside caring for children evacuated to safety from the Blitz. Greenway is a beautiful home full of riddles: wondrous curios not to be touched, restrictions on rooms not to be entered, and a generous library, filled with books about murder. The biggest mystery might be the other nurse, Gigi, who is like no one Bridey has ever met. Chasing ten young children through the winding paths of the estate grounds might have soothed Bridey's anxieties and grief-if Greenway were not situated so near the English Channel and the rising aggressions of the war. When a body washes ashore near the estate, Bridey is horrified to realize this is not a victim of war, but of a brutal killing. As the local villagers look among themselves, Bridey and Gigi discover they each harbor dangerous secrets about what has led them to Greenway. With a mystery writer's home as their unsettling backdrop, the young women must unravel the truth before their safe haven becomes a place of death ... "--

Candice's picture

This is a great book to get cozy with, taking place in none other than Agatha Christie's vacation home! That link sets the tone, a nice, clipped-accented British mystery set during the WWII bombings of London. Strong, winning heroines abound, with the well-meaning but troubled Bridey, the mysterious and sophisticated Gigi, and a host of others who serve as reminders of just how much women picked up the slack during the war, and various ways they also suffered. The relocation of children to the countryside--to protect them from the falling bombs--allows the book's characters to shelter in what should be a more idyllic location, but the sadness, death, and mystery follow them there, in more ways than one. Particularly poignant is the mother who keeps her child in London with her, with unforeseen consequences. -Candice

Haven : a novel book cover

Haven : a novel

Emma Donoghue

FICTION Donoghue Emma
Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

In this beautiful story of adventure and survival from the New York Times bestselling author of Room, three men vow to leave the world behind them as they set out in a small boat for an island their leader has seen in a dream, with only faith to guide them. In seventh-century Ireland, a scholar and priest called Artt has a dream telling him to leave the sinful world behind. Taking two monks--young Trian and old Cormac--he rows down the river Shannon in search of an isolated spot on which to found a monastery. Drifting out into the Atlantic, the three men find an impossibly steep, bare island inhabited by tens of thousands of birds, and claim it for God. In such a place, what will survival mean?

Anne M's picture

Emma Donoghue returns to her isolation theme as in "Room." Set in the Middle Ages in Ireland, three monks leave their monastery to find a renewed settlement in service to God. They settle on a desolate island filled only with birds, little else to eat, and no shelter. How to proceed is up to debate amongst the three. Are bodily needs like food and shelter necessary if they devote themselves fully to God? The situtation is tense and often dire as they get to know each other more fully through adversity. -Anne M

Mercury Pictures presents : a novel book cover

Mercury Pictures presents : a novel

Anthony Marra

FICTION Marra Anthony
Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

"When we first meet Maria Lagana, she's rewriting scripts at Mercury Pictures, a failing Hollywood studio known for its schlock. Maria's job is to re-craft dialogue and action to circumvent the censors, a skill she's mysteriously adept at. Born in Italy, as a teenager Maria witnessed Mussolini's censors arrest her father, an event that will destroy her family and burden Maria with questions of guilt and responsibility she will carry with her throughout this wondrous, far-reaching novel. Like many before her, Maria has come to Hollywood to outrun her past. Despite its cheap production values and factory-approach to making movies, Mercury Pictures is a nexus of refugees and emigres, each struggling to reinvent themselves in the land of celluloid. There's Artie, the studio boss, a man of many toupees who barely escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe; there's Anna, a set designer, who ran afoul of Hitler; and there's Eddie Lu, a struggling actor and Maria's boyfriend, who despite being born in Los Angeles encounters the worst of America's xenophobia. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, everything changes for Maria and her world, forcing her come to terms with her father's fate--and her own"--

Anne M's picture

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Rarely does a book come along that pulls at my heartstrings; Marra knows how to capture emotional heft. This novel is funny, it is sad, it makes you feel angry, but also hopeful. When I finished, I wanted to return and start rereading from the beginning again. -Anne M

The good left undone : a novel book cover

The good left undone : a novel

Adriana Trigiani

FICTION Trigiani Adriana
Historical Fiction, Fiction

"From present day Viareggio to Glasgow during World War II, a multigenerational sweeping tale of love lost, family secrets, and reconciliation over decades from New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani"--

Anne M's picture

"The Good Left Undone" is sweeping--a story crossing three generations covering a century. Trigiani is at her best in this novel. She really cares for her characters and this love shines through. That doesn't mean there isn't heartbreak or cruelty or tragedy in this novel. There is plenty of it--it covers mid-20th Century Europe. But Trigiani allows growth and healing to take place. To spin a quote from Edna Ferber's "So Big" mentioned in this very novel, Trigiani shows her characters living. -Anne M

Last call at the Nightingale book cover

Last call at the Nightingale

Katharine Schellman

MYSTERY Schellma Katharin
Historical Fiction, Mystery

"New York, 1924. Vivian Kelly's days are filled with drudgery, from the tenement lodging she shares with her sister to the dress shop where she sews for hours every day. But at night, she escapes to The Nightingale, an underground dance hall where illegal liquor flows and the band plays the Charleston with reckless excitement. With a bartender willing to slip her a free glass of champagne and friends who know the owner, Vivian can lose herself in the music. No one asks where she came from or how much money she has. No one bats an eye if she flirts with men or women as long as she can keep up on the dance floor. At The Nightingale, Vivian forgets the dangers of Prohibition-era New York and finds a place that feels like home. But then she discovers a body behind the club, and those dangers come knocking. Caught in a police raid at the Nightingale, Vivian discovers that the dead man wasn't the nameless bootlegger he first appeared. With too many people assuming she knows more about the crime than she does, Vivian finds herself caught between the dangers of the New York's underground and the world of the city's wealthy and careless, where money can hide any sin and the lives of the poor are considered disposable... including Vivian's own"--

Anne M's picture

Set during the height of Prohibition, Vivian Kelly, an Irish orphan seamstress loves going to the Nightingale bar to dance and have a few drinks. It is her place and her friends place; she belongs. But all of this is threatened when a body is found in the alley. Vivian finds herself on a quest to save the Nightingale by solving the mystery even if it is best not to get involved. If you are looking for a breezy read this summer, this book is for you. Fans of Amy Stewart's Kopp Sisters mystery series will enjoy this one too. -Anne M

Horse book cover

Horse

Geraldine Brooks

FICTION Brooks Geraldin
Historical Fiction

"A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history Kentucky, 1850. Jarrett, an enslaved groom, and a bay foal forge a bond of understanding that will carry the horse to record-setting victories across the South. As the nation erupts in civil war, an itinerant young artist who has made his name painting the racehorse takes up arms for the Union. On a perilous night, he reunites with the stallion and his groom, very far from the glamor of any racetrack. New York City, 1954. Martha Jackson, a gallery owner celebrated for taking risks on edgy contemporary painters, becomes obsessed with a 19th equestrian oil painting of mysterious provenance. Washington, DC, 2019. Jess, a Smithsonian scientist from Australia, and Theo, a Nigerian-American art historian, find themselves unexpectedly drawn to one another through their shared interest in the horse - one studying the stallion's bones for clues to his power and endurance, the other uncovering the lost history of the unsung Black horsemen who were critical to his racing success. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred, Lexington, who became America's greatest stud sire, Horse is a gripping, multi-layered reckoning with the legacy of enslavement and racism in America"--

Anne M's picture

I enjoyed Geraldine Brooks’ “Horse.” It read fast, I suppose like it’s main subject, one of the greatest racehorses in US history, Lexington. I loved the central idea: what parts of our history seem so important at the time they occur, then forgotten and discarded, only to be found with new meaning. This story centers on a discarded painting of a horse and some equine bones in a Smithsonian storage facility. From that idea, people, places, events are vividly captured on the page: this horse is important in so many different ways. The novel recreates the relationship between Jarrett, an enslaved horse trainer and Lexington, as well as those who come into contact with the painting of Jarret. There was something disjointed and uneven about the narrative, especially the interplay between the past and present. While Jarrett’s story in the 1850’s and 1860’s was deeply rich, the other characters seemed like afterthoughts, there only to make the connection from the past to the present. Perhaps that is the point. Brooks is trying to draw attention to and bring to life through fiction an individual that was unnoted and forgotten but central to racing history. I’ll be thinking more about this at length, which is all I ask of a book. -Anne M

Trust book cover

Trust

Hernán Díaz

FICTION Diaz Hernan
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"An award-winning writer of absorbing, sophisticated fiction delivers a stylish and propulsive novel rooted in early 20th century New York, about wealth and talent, trust and intimacy, truth and perception. In glamorous 1920s New York City, two characters of sophisticated taste come together. One is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; the other, the brilliant daughter of penniless aristocrats. Steeped in affluence and grandeur, their marriage excites gossip and allows a continued ascent -- all at a moment when the country is undergoing a great transformation. This is the story at the center of Harold Vanner's novel Bonds, which everyone in 1938 New York seems to have read. But it isn't the only version. Provocative, propulsive, and repeatedly surprising, Hernan Diaz's TRUST puts the story of these characters into conversation with the "the truth"-and in tension with the life and perspective of an outsider immersed in the mystery of a competing account. The result is an overarching novel that becomes more exhilarating and profound with each new layer and revelation, engaging the reader in a treasure hunt for the truth that confronts the reality-warping gravitational pull of money, and how power often manipulates facts"--

Anne M's picture

What a book! There are many books that use the differing perspectives of a storyline, but I’ve never read anything quite like this. “Trust” is divided into essentially four different books about a marriage between a wealthy financier and an heiress philanthropist. Set in New York during the 1920’s and 1930’s, the first book is a fictional account of the marriage culminating in the aftermath of the 1929 crash and the wife’s treatment for mental illness. The context of this fiction is that it is widely read throughout New York and everyone knows who the book is about. The second part of “Trust” is the autobiography of Andrew Bevel, a response to the novel to clear his name and explain his own financial genius as well as his contributions to the country. Then there is the third part of the novel, a memoir by Ida Partenza, Andrew Bevel’s ghostwriter, who provides a completely different insight into the Wall Street tycoon. Lastly, we have the diaries of Mildred Bevel. Nothing aligns. Nothing adds up. Small details are threaded throughout but are so distorted, they only bear little resemblance from narrative to narrative. It is so compelling, so well written, and such an important narrative about the concept of truth. -Anne M

Black cloud rising : a novel book cover

Black cloud rising : a novel

David Wright Faladé

FICTION Wright Falade David
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

By fall of 1863, Union forces had taken control of Tidewater Virginia and established a toehold in eastern North Carolina, including along the Outer Banks. Thousands of freed slaves and runaways flooded the Union lines, but Confederate irregulars still roamed the region. In December, the newly formed African Brigade, a unit of these former slaves led by General Edward Augustus Wild-a one-armed, impassioned abolitionist-set out from Portsmouth to hunt down the rebel guerillas and extinguish the threat. From this little-known historical episode comes Black Cloud Rising, a dramatic, moving account of these soldiers-men who only weeks earlier had been enslaved, but were now Union infantrymen setting out to fight their former owners. At the heart of the narrative is Sergeant Richard Etheridge, the son of a slave and her master, raised with some privileges but constantly reminded of his place. Deeply conflicted about his past, Richard is eager to show himself to be a credit to his race. As the African Brigade conducts raids through the areas occupied by the Confederate Partisan Rangers, he and his comrades recognize that they are fighting for more than territory. Wild's mission is to prove that his troops can be trusted as soldiers in combat. And because many of the men have fled from the very plantations in their path, each raid is also an opportunity to free loved ones left behind. For Richard, this means the possibility of reuniting with Fanny, the woman he hopes to marry one day. With powerful depictions of the bonds formed between fighting men and heartrending scenes of sacrifice and courage, Black Cloud Rising offers a compelling and nuanced portrait of enslaved men and women crossing the threshold to freedom.

Anne M's picture

David Wright Faladé's deeply intimate portrait of Sergeant Richard Etheridge's experience in the Union Army as part of the African brigade. Newly freed, Sergeant Etheridge's mission, as well as his company's, is to face familiar territory and people as the Union tries to ensure its stronghold in North Carolina by removing rebel guerrilla fighters and their sympathizers. Etheridge's position there is complex--he is out to prove himself. He desires to be seen as a son by his paternal father, his former owner, as worthy as his other half-siblings. He desires to be seen as a brave soldier to his commanding officers in the Army as they speak about abolition but don't fully see their soldiers as equals. He also wants to be seen as his cousin Patrick's contemporary, a family member, a friend. Etheridge's desires of self-worth radically change through his experience fighting in North Carolina. It is a coming-of-age tale as Etheridge finds meaning in his life and this experience as well as learning to let go. It is a fantastic novel. If you are a fan of Geraldine Brooks or Nathan Harris, this novel will appeal to you. -Anne M

Violeta : a novel book cover

Violeta : a novel

Isabel Allende

FICTION Allende Isabel
Historical Fiction

Violeta comes into the world in 1920, the first girl in a family of five boisterous sons. The ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth. As the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known, Violeta's family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. She tells her story in the form of a letter, recounting devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy. Her life will be shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women's rights, the rise and fall of tyrants, and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics.

Becky's picture

In a novel spanning one hundred years and bookended by pandemics, Isabel Allende writes of class, political and gender tensions in the life story of Violeta. For fans of historical fiction and interesting protagonists, this is worth checking out! -Becky

Interview with the Vampire book cover

Interview with the Vampire

Anne Rice


Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Horror

The Vampire Chronicles, Book 1 The spellbinding classic that started it all, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author “A magnificent, compulsively readable thriller . . . Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth—the education of the vampire.”—Chicago Tribune Here are the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly sensual, this is a novel of mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force—a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses. It is a novel only Anne Rice could write.

Alexander A's picture

Added by Alexander A