Historical Fiction

Echo Mountain book cover

Echo Mountain

Lauren Wolk

jFICTION Wolk Lauren
Kids, Nature, Historical Fiction

When twelve-year-old Ellie and her family lose livelihood and move to a mountain cabin in 1934, she quickly learns to be an outdoors woman and, when needed, a healer.

Mari's picture

I loved this story, and it provides some pretty incredible perspective for kids in the modern age. Financially affected by the Great Depression, a family has no choice but to live off the land on a mountain. Ellie learns about her gift to heal when tragedy leaves her father gravely ill. Ellie uses the survivalist skills he taught her along with her own intuition to save her family and foster a community on the mountain. -Mari

The devil all the time book cover

The devil all the time

Donald Ray Pollock

FICTION Pollock, Donald Ray
Fiction, Historical Fiction

Mari's picture

This is another book I was sparked to read because I saw that it was a movie on Netflix. I watched about half an hour of the show, decided that I really liked it, and decided to stop watching and read the book first. I am so glad I did. The book was fantastic, disturbing and completely engrossing. Several characters' narratives make up this dark tale of the powers and dangers of religious devoutness, all leading up to the narrative of Arvin, an orphaned boy in rural Ohio that learns that has to battle with redemption. The book was much better than the movie, but I recommend both! -Mari

The Vanishing Half book cover

The Vanishing Half

Brit Bennett

FICTION Bennett Brit
Historical Fiction, Diverse Characters

"The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect? Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins. As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise"--

Mari's picture

My favorite fiction read of the summer. I read Nella Larsen's Passing in college, and it illuminated my white privilege in a historical context that I have never forgotten. This intriguing story follows a set of twin girls who were raised in a light-skinned black community, who ran away as teenagers to forge their own way in the world. One twin returns with a dark black child and the other is never heard from again, and it is revealed that she is passing, hiding her family history for the remainder of her life. By the next generation, the cousins paths are so very different, but by a twist of fate their paths cross and the mystery comes out. Such a great read that will stay in my mind for a long time. -Mari

The Book of Lost Friends  book cover

The Book of Lost Friends

Lisa Wingate

FICTION/Wingate Lisa
Historical Fiction

Louisiana, 1875: In the tumultuous aftermath of Reconstruction, three young women set off as unwilling companions on a perilous quest: Lavinia, the pampered heir to a now-destitute plantation; Juneau Jane, her illegitimate free-born Creole half-sister; and Hannie, Lavinia's former slave. Each carries private wounds and powerful secrets as they head for Texas, following dangerous roads rife with ruthless vigilantes and soldiers still fighting a war lost a decade before. For Lavinia and Juneau Jane, the journey is one of inheritance and financial desperation, but for Hannie, torn from her mother and eight siblings before slavery's end, the pilgrimage westward reignites an agonizing question: Could her long-lost family still be out there? Beyond the swamps lie the seemingly limitless frontiers of Texas and, improbably, hope. Louisiana, 1987: For first-year teacher Benedetta Silva, a subsidized job at a poor rural school seems like the ticket to canceling her hefty student debt--until she lands in a tiny, out-of-step Mississippi River town. Augustine, Louisiana, seems suspicious of new ideas and new people, and Benny can scarcely comprehend the lives of her poverty-stricken students. But amid the gnarled live oaks and run-down plantation homes lies the century-old history of three young women, a long-ago journey, and a hidden book that could change everything

Mari's picture

Added by Mari

Once upon a river : a novel book cover

Once upon a river : a novel

Diane Setterfield

FICTION Setterfi Diane
Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

On a dark midwinter's night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, a wounded stranger carries in the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later the girl stirs, and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Magic? As the days pass the child remains mute and unable to answer questions. Three families are keen to claim her: the wealthy mother of a kidnapped daughter missing for two years; a farming family sure it is their son's secret daughter; a parson's housekeeper, reminded of her younger sister. Each family has secrets, must be revealed before the girl's identity can be known. -- adapted from jacket

Mari's picture

A character-driven, magical realism story about a town trying to discover the truth after a seemingly dead young girl comes back to life hours after arriving at an ancient inn on the Thames. Beautifully written and full of mystery and folklore. -Mari

The night tiger book cover

The night tiger

Yangsze Choo

FICTION Choo Yangsze
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

A vivacious dance-hall girl in 1930s colonial Malaysia is drawn into unexpected danger by the discovery of a severed finger that is being sought by a young houseboy in order to protect his late master's soul.

Mari's picture

A strange story set in the 1930's that weaves in mythology and folklore of Malaysia and brings in to the question the existence of weretigers. -Mari

The silence of the girls : a novel book cover

The silence of the girls : a novel

Pat Barker

FICTION Barker Pat
Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"The Iliad, as experienced by the captured women living in the Greek camp in the final weeks of the Trojan War"--

Anne M's picture

If you love Madeline Miller's "Circe" or "The Song of Achilles," you should check out Pat Barker's "The Silence of the Girls." Like Miller, Pat Barker takes on the epics of Homer, re-imagining the story of "The Iliad" through the eyes of Briseis, Achilles' captured "war bride" at the heart of the spat between Achilles and Agamemnon. Barker's writing is effective. It is beautiful, yet distressing. I found myself having to shut the book, sit still for a few moments, and breathe. As you witness Briseis loose all sense of self as she lives with Achilles in the war camp, as she numbs herself to fear and anger, while everything she knows disappears in a moment, you begin to question what was actually heroic to the story we know. -Anne M

Mexican Gothic book cover

Mexican Gothic

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Read Woke, Historical Fiction, Horror, Suspense

"The acclaimed author of Gods of Jade and Shadow returns with a darkly enchanting reimagining of Gothic fantasy, in which a spirited young woman discovers the haunting secrets of a beautiful old mansion in 1950s Mexico"--

Casey's picture

Lovecraft, Machado, Hitchcock, Burroughs, Shelley, and Poe fans will delight in this slow-burn horror. Leave the lights on afterward, they may help with the lingering ghosts. -Casey

The mercies : a novel book cover

The mercies : a novel

Kiran Millwood Hargrave

FICTION Hargrave Kiran
Historical Fiction, LGBTQ+

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Forty fishermen, including Maren Magnusdatter's brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. The women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves. Three years later Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. His young Norwegian wife, Ursa, sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil. Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, but Absalom's iron rule threatening Vardø's very existence. -- adapted from jacket

Becky's picture

“The Mercies” is a stimulating account of life in a small Norwegian fishing village in the early 1600's. Kiran Hargrave cleverly weaves together historical elements of gender roles, religion, and witchcraft with a narrative strongly rooted in its setting and characters. -Becky

Boy, snow, bird book cover

Boy, snow, bird

Helen Oyeyemi

FICTION Oyeyemi Helen
Fiction, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction

"A reimagining of the Snow White story set in the United States during the 1950s and 1960s"--

Anne M's picture

Set in the 1950's, Boy flees her abusive home in New York City to a bucolic town in Massachusetts, settles in, and eventually marries into a well-established, respected family. The birth of Boy's daughter threatens this stability. Her husband's family was "passing" as white since they moved to the town from the South. Oyeyemi skillfully shows the surrealism of a society that determines who you are by what you look like. -Anne M