Historical Fiction

The women of Troy : a novel book cover

The women of Troy : a novel

Pat Barker

FICTION Barker Pat
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"Troy has fallen and the victorious Greeks are eager to return home with the spoils of an endless war--including the women of Troy themselves. They await a fair wind for the Aegean; it does not come, because the gods are offended. The body of King Priam lies unburied and desecrated, and so the victors remain in suspension, camped in the shadows of the city they destroyed as the coalition that held them together begins to unravel. Old feuds resurface and new suspicions and rivalries begin to fester. Largely unnoticed by her captors, the one time Trojan queen Briseis, formerly Achilles's slave, now belonging to his companion Alcimus, quietly takes in these developments. She forges alliances when she can, with Priam's aged wife the defiant Hecuba and with the disgraced soothsayer Calchas, all the while shrewdly seeking her path to revenge."--Jacket flap.

Anne M's picture

There are so many books coming out right now reimagining the Greek myths, poetry, and plays that it definitely has become its own genre. I'm perfectly happy with this and have indulged in many over the last few years. But I am moved by Pat Barker's novels the most. Her fiction has a humanity about it: well written, focused on characters and their relationships to others, lush in description. The second novel following the character of Briseis, Barker often writes in trilogies. I hope this means there will be a third. -Anne M

The great mistake book cover

The great mistake

Jonathan Lee

FICTION Lee Jonathan
Historical Fiction, Fiction

"From the acclaimed author of High Dive comes an enveloping, exultant novel of New York City at the turn of the twentieth century, a story of one man's rise to fame and fortune, and his murder in a case of mistaken identity. On Friday the 13th of November, 1903, a famous man was killed on Park Avenue in broad daylight by a stranger. It was neither a political act nor a crime of passion. It was a mistake. The victim was Andrew Haswell Green, the "Father of Greater New York," who shaped the city as we know it. Without him there would be no Central Park, no Metropolitan Museum of Art, no Museum of Natural History, no New York Public Library. His influence was everywhere, yet he died alone, misunderstood, feeling that his whole life might have been, after all, a great mistake. A work of tremendous depth and piercing emotion, The Great Mistake is a portrait of a self-made man--farm boy to urban visionary; the reimagining of a murder investigation that shook the city; and the moving story of a singular individual who found the world closed off to him, and, in spite of all odds, enlarged it"--

Anne M's picture

How does Andrew Haswell Green, such an important, consequential New York City figure find himself a murder victim due to mistaken identify at the age of 83? Jonathan Lee's fictional treatment of the life and times of Green explores how this puzzling, unfathomable murder takes place as well as Green's extraordinary rise to New York prominence from humble farm-boy roots. Green has a somewhat traditional American "pick yourself up from your bootstraps" life story, but it is much more complicated than that. And we know from the beginning where it ends.If you are looking for a book with a "sense of place," to be taken to the chaotic, hustle of the streets of late 19th Century New York, "The Great Mistake" will take you there. -Anne M

The things they carried book cover

The things they carried

Tim O'Brien

FICTION O'Brien, Tim
Historical Fiction

Casey's picture

This is perhaps my favorite O'Brien and one that I have revisited more than once. Sincere, heartbreaking, and unapologetically real, if you have yet to read any of Tim O'Brien's works, I would suggest starting here. -Casey

The four winds book cover

The four winds

Kristin Hannah

FICTION Hannah Kristin
Fiction, Historical Fiction

"Texas, 1921. A time of abundance. The Great War is over, the bounty of the land is plentiful, and America is on the brink of a new and optimistic era. But for Elsa Wolcott, deemed too old to marry in a time when marriage is a woman's only option, the future seems bleak. Until the night she meets Rafe Martinelli and decides to change the direction of her life. With her reputation in ruin, there is only one respectable choice: marriage to a man she barely knows. By 1934, the world has changed; millions are out of work and drought has devastated the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as crops fail and water dries up and the earth cracks open. Dust storms roll relentlessly across the plains. Everything on the Martinelli farm is dying, including Elsa's tenuous marriage; each day is a desperate battle against nature and a fight to keep her children alive. In this uncertain and perilous time, Elsa - like so many of her neighbors - must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or leave it behind and go west, to California, in search of a better life for her family."--Provided by publisher.

Mari's picture

An intriguing historical fiction that demonstrates the total devastation of farmland in the dust bowl, the hardships suffered by the people of the Great Plains, the poverty and disadvantages endured by migrant workers escaping the dust bowl and heading to California in the depression era of the 1930s. A lot of the political unrest and action may resonate for readers of this time as we see some parallels between the depression and our current challenges during a pandemic. -Mari

All the ways we said goodbye : a novel of the Ritz Paris book cover

All the ways we said goodbye : a novel of the Ritz Paris

Beatriz Williams

FICTION Williams Beatriz
Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery

An heiress, a resistance fighter, and a widow are all joined by one legendary hotel: the Ritz in Paris.

Angie's picture

This isn’t just a historic romance, it’s a multi-generational mystery, set in the Ritz Paris, and spanning World War I, World War II, and the late 1960s. At the center of the story are three women: Aurelie, the young demoiselles de Courcelles surviving World War I; Daisy, a quiet housewife married to an odious Nazi sympathizer; and Babs, a recent widow who receives an interesting letter in the mail about a famous French spy. At first glance, these women don’t seem at all connected, but they are brought together by a talisman and the iconic Ritz Paris. Charming characters, amazing settings, and so much culture make this a great read! -Angie

The rose garden book cover

The rose garden

Susanna Kearsley

FICTION Kearsley Susanna
Fantasy, Historical Fiction

When Eva Ward moves to an old house on the Cornish coast, she discovers hidden pathways, mysterious voices, and ghosts of the past.

Brian's picture

Added by Brian

Pachinko book cover


Min Jin Lee

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"--

Heidi K's picture

OK, OK...so this isn't the newest book and many have already heard about it or even actually read it by now. But, I need to add this as a recommendation at this time to encourage everyone who still has this in their to-read pile. Perhaps you, like me, have been a bit intimidated by the size of the novel. I had no idea how fast reading this would go once I started it! It's one of those books I look for moments to read bits and pieces of, and can't wait to go back to. So if you're still waiting to read Pachinko, like I was: What are you waiting for? This is the perfect saga to whisk you away from your reality this winter. -Heidi K

The Birchbark House  book cover

The Birchbark House

jFICTION/Erdrich, Louise
Read Woke, Diverse Characters, Historical Fiction

Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847.

Casey's picture

Guilty confession: the first time I listened to this book was on a trip and we didn't finish it. Not because it isn't lovely! I remember enjoying it so much that I'm excited to pick it up in its physical format and start this one from the top. -Casey

Hamnet book cover


Maggie O'Farrell

Historical Fiction, Fiction

"A thrilling departure: a short, piercing, deeply moving novel about the death of Shakespeare's 11 year old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in 15th century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play. England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman--a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague. A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down--a magnificent departure from one of our most gifted novelists"--

Anne M's picture

This was my favorite book of the year. Maggie O'Farrell beautifully writes about the loss of a child and its impact on a family, specifically the loss of Hamnet, the young son of William Shakespeare. It was incredibly written. Descriptions are vivid. Characters become familiar. The story well-paced. It was one of those books where I kept wanting to listen--I would dutifully find more chores to do, run another mile, and organize my house just to keep listening. It is a novel that will stay with me. -Anne M

The women in black : a novel book cover

The women in black : a novel

Madeleine St. John

FICTION St. John, Madeleine
Fiction, Historical Fiction

"The women in black, so named for the black frocks they wear while working at an upscale department store called Goode's, are run off their feet selling ladies' cocktail dresses during the busy season. But in Sydney in the 1950s, there's always time to pursue other goals... Patty, in her mid-thirties, has been working at Goode's for years. She's married to Frank, who eats a steak for dinner every night, watches a few minutes of TV, and then turns in, leaving Patty to her own thoughts. She wants a baby, but Frank is always too tired for that kind of thing. Sweet Fay wants to settle down with a nice man, but somehow nice men don't see her as marriage material. The glamorous Magda runs the high-end gowns department. A Slovenian émigré who met her Hungarian husband in a refugee camp, Magda is clever and cultured. She finds the Australians to be unfashionable, and dreams of opening her own boutique one day. Lisa, a teenager awaiting the results of her final exams, takes a job at Goode's for the holidays. She wants to go to university and secretly dreams of being a poet, but her father objects to both notions. Magda takes Lisa under her wing, and by the time the last marked-down dress has been sold, all of their lives will be forever changed" --

Anne M's picture

Looking for a light and funny read? Set in an Australian 1950's department store during the holiday season, Madeleine St. John's "The Women in Black" is delightful. You'll meet Lisa, Patty, Fay, and Magda--all at different points in their lives--all with different hopes and dreams--as they work during the busiest time of the year. Christmas does not play a major part in this book other than it being a specific time and adding additional stress both at work and at home. What is important here is the relationships of the women, the changes they experience...and of course, the department store. -Anne M