Historical Fiction

Blood water paint book cover

Blood water paint

Joy McCullough

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Mccullou Joy
Young Adult, Poetry, Historical Fiction

In Renaissance Italy, Artemisia Gentileschi endures the subjugation of women that allows her father to take credit for her extraordinary paintings, rape and the ensuing trial, and torture, buoyed by her deceased mother's stories of strong women of the Bible.

Amanda's picture

A lovely novel in verse, telling the story of the incredible painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Everybody should know her name. Her story is heartbreaking and difficult, but it's worth sticking with. -Amanda

Frog music : a novel book cover

Frog music : a novel

Emma Donoghue

FICTION Donoghue Emma
Historical Fiction

"Emma Donoghue's explosive new novel, based on an unsolved murder in 1876 San Francisco. Summer of 1876: San Francisco is in the fierce grip of a record-breaking heatwave and a smallpox epidemic. Through the window of a railroad saloon, a young woman called Jenny Bonnet is shot dead. The survivor, her friend Blanche Beunon, is a French burlesque dancer. Over the next three days, she will risk everything to bring Jenny's murderer to justice--if he doesn't track her down first. The story Blanche struggles to piece together is one of free-love bohemians, desperate paupers and arrogant millionaires; of jealous men, icy women and damaged children. It's the secret life of Jenny herself, a notorious character who breaks the law every morning by getting dressed: a charmer as slippery as the frogs she hunts. In thrilling, cinematic style, FROG MUSIC digs up a long-forgotten, never-solved crime. Full of songs that migrated across the world, Emma Donoghue's lyrical tale of love and bloodshed among lowlifes captures the pulse of a boomtown like no other"--

Anne M's picture

Set during a heatwave in 1876 San Francisco, Blanche, a French emigre, burlesque dancer, lady of the night, and new mother must deal with an inconvenient question put forth by what seems now an inconvenient friend. The question, "do you trust the person caring for your child?," sets forth a series of terrible incidents ultimately leading to Blanche's friend's death. Who is the murderer? Donoghue's book is packed with action, free-love (and not so free-love), a vibrant, growing city, and interesting characters. A good book for the summer. -Anne M

LOVE AND RUIN. book cover

LOVE AND RUIN.

PAULA MCLAIN

FICTION/McLain, Paula
Historical Fiction

Kara's picture

The author of two of my favorite books (The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun) return to the subject of Ernest Hemingway with a biographical fiction title about Heminway's wife, Martha Gellhorn, Gellhorn is considered one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century. -Kara

The remains of the day book cover

The remains of the day

Kazuo Ishiguro

FICTION Ishiguro, Kazuo
Historical Fiction, Fiction

The novel's narrator, Stevens, is a perfect English butler who tries to give his narrow existence form and meaning through the self-effacing, almost mystical practice of his profession. In a career that spans the second World War, Stevens is oblivious of the real life that goes on around him -- oblivious, for instance, of the fact that his aristocrat employer is a Nazi sympathizer. Still, there are even larger matters at stake in this heartbreaking, pitch-perfect novel -- namely, Stevens' own ability to allow some bit of life-affirming love into his tightly repressed existence.

Jason's picture

Added by Jason

Manhattan Beach : a novel book cover

Manhattan Beach : a novel

Jennifer Egan

FICTION Egan Jennifer
Historical Fiction

"The long-awaited, daring, and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished. Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a spectacular novel by one of the greatest writers of our time"--

Anne M's picture

This book is very different from "A Visit from the Goon Squad." I guess it is much more straightforward in narrative elements and how the plot unravels. However, there is a happening here: in the language, in the emotional struggles of the characters, in the changing society of America in World War II. I loved this book--reveled in every page turned. -Anne M

The duchess deal : girl meets duke book cover

The duchess deal : girl meets duke

Tessa Dare

FICTION Dare Tessa
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance

The Duke of Ashbury needs a wife. Emma Gladstone, a vicar's daughter turned seamstress, will do. They both have terms for the marriage, but will they be able to stop from falling in love?

Amanda's picture

I cannot overstate my love for this book. It's sweet, funny, whacky, and so much more. Fabulous characters, wonderful writing. It's got a marriage of convenience, well-developed characters, awesome female friendship, ridiculous pet names, superheroes, feminism, politics, body acceptance, a heroine who stubbornly insists on making clothing out of drapes, etc. etc. and many more delightful things. I read it in a matter of hours and stayed up late to finish it. Totally worth it. -Amanda

Carnegie's Maid book cover

Carnegie's Maid

Marie Benedict

FICTION Benedict Marie
Historical Fiction

"Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She's not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh's grandest households. She's a poor farmer's daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home. If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady's maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills she doesn't have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can't let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future -- and her family's."--

Kara's picture

In 1901 Andrew Carnegie was the world's richest man. He retired that year and set out to give all of his money away. On March 14, 1902 he gave $25,000 to Iowa City to build a public library. In 1903 he gave an additional $10,000 to Iowa City Public Library. He invested money in many causes he believed in including libraries, scientific research, world peace and others. Why did he become a philanthropist? In Carnegie's Maid, author Marie Benedict brings Andrew Carnegie alive and speculates about a person who may have influenced Carnegie and encouraged him to invest in others. -Kara

The pillars of the earth book cover

The pillars of the earth

Ken Follett

FICTION Follett, Ken
Historical Fiction

Heidi L's picture

It's been more than ten years since I read this novel, but I thoroughly enjoyed it then. I still remember some of the detail about building a cathedral, especially the incredible amount of time it took to finish such a structure, the dangers inherent in the work, and the remarkable vision and skills of the craftsmen who built these enormous and beautiful buildings. -Heidi L

Jane Steele : a confession book cover

Jane Steele : a confession

Lyndsay Faye

FICTION Faye Lyndsay
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery

"A reimagining of Jane Eyre as a gutsy, heroic serial killer, from the author whose work The New York Times described as "riveting" and The Wall Street Journal called "thrilling.""--

Amanda's picture

Jane Eyre is one of my absolute favorite books, and this retelling didn't disappoint! The prose reads like a 19th-century novel without being too archaic, and I loved the characters so much. I also enjoyed learning more about the Anglo-Sikh Wars and the Sikh religion. If you love classics, and especially if Jane Eyre is your jam, you will LOVE this! -Amanda

Chains book cover

Chains

Laurie Halse Anderson

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Anderson, Laurie Halse
Historical Fiction, Kids

After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Anne W's picture

Middle-grade historical fiction about the life of a young slave in New York City during the Revolutionary War. Isabel struggles to control her own destiny, protect her younger sister, and ultimately fight for her own freedom while the country fights for its freedom as well. -Anne W