Historical Fiction

The luxe book cover

The luxe

Anna Godbersen

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Godbersen, Anna
Historical Fiction, Young Adult

In Manhattan in 1899, five teens of different social classes lead dangerously scandalous lives, despite the strict rules of society and the best-laid plans of parents and others.

Callie's picture

Beautiful dresses, deceptive suitors, and high-society galas...what more could you need? -Callie

Delayed rays of a star : a novel book cover

Delayed rays of a star : a novel

Amanda Lee Koe

FICTION Lee Amanda
Historical Fiction

"At a chance encounter at a Berlin soirée in 1928, the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt captures three very different women together in one frame: up-and-coming German actress Marlene Dietrich, who would wend her way into Hollywood as one of its lasting icons; Anna May Wong, the world's first Chinese American star, playing for bit parts while dreaming of breaking away from her father's modest laundry; and Leni Riefenstahl, whose work as a director would first make her famous--then, infamous. From this curious point of intersection, Delayed Rays of a Star lets loose the trajectories of these women's lives. From Weimar Berlin to LA's Chinatown, from a seaside resort in East Germany to a luxury apartment on the Champs-Élysée, the different settings they inhabit are as richly textured as the roles they play: siren, muse, predator, or lover, each one a carefully calibrated performance. And in the orbit of each star live secondary players--a Chinese immigrant housemaid, a German soldier on leave from North Africa, a pompous Hollywood director--whose voices and viewpoints reveal the legacy each woman left in her own time, as well as in ours. Amanda Lee Koe's playful, wry prose guides the reader dexterously around murky questions of ego, persona, complicity, desire, and difference. Intimate and raw, Delayed Rays of a Star is a visceral depiction of womanhood--its particular hungers, its calculations, and its eventual betrayals--and announces a bold new literary voice"--

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Added by Becky

Augustown book cover

Augustown

Kei Miller

FICTION Miller Kei
Historical Fiction

"In the wake of Marlon James's Man Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings, Augustown--set in the backlands of Jamaica--is a magical and haunting novel of one woman's struggle to rise above the brutal vicissitudes of history, race, class, collective memory, violence, and myth. Ma Taffy may be blind but she sees everything. So when her great-nephew Kaia comes home from school in tears, what she senses sends a deep fear running through her. While they wait for his mama to come home from work, Ma Taffy recalls the story of the flying preacherman and a great thing that did not happen. A poor suburban sprawl in the Jamaican heartland, Augustown is a place where many things that should happen don't, and plenty of things that shouldn't happen do. For the story of Kaia leads back to another momentous day in Jamaican history, the birth of the Rastafari and the desire for a better life"--

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Added by Becky

The book woman of Troublesome Creek book cover

The book woman of Troublesome Creek

Kim Michele Richardson

FICTION Richards Kim
Historical Fiction

1936. Tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. She joins Roosevelt's Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a traveling librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky. Along her route, Cussy faces doubters at every turn, but is determined to bring the joy of books to the hardscrabble Kentuckians. -- adapted from back cover

Mari's picture

I was surprised no one on staff had recommended this already! Set during the Great Depression, Cussy Mary is last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry, and is treated as an outcast. She joins the Roosevelt's Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a traveling librarian, riding her Mule in the mountains to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Troublesome Creek. I loved the historical components of the story, it gives you a real insight of the devastating poverty of the people living in Appalachia. -Mari

The Watsons go to Birmingham-- 1963 book cover

The Watsons go to Birmingham-- 1963

Christopher Paul Curtis

jFICTION Curtis, Christopher Paul
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Humor, Kids

The ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.

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You will laugh out loud again and again until the end, when you'll cry. A family from Michigan goes to visit relatives down South in Birmingham for the summer. Ten year old Kenny, the protagonist, has a wonderful voice and spirit. -Anne W

Midnight without a moon book cover

Midnight without a moon

Linda Williams Jackson

jFICTION Jackson Linda
Fiction, Historical Fiction, Kids

Rose Lee Carter, a thirteen-year-old African-American girl, dreams of life beyond the Mississippi cotton fields during the summer of 1955, but when Emmett Till is murdered and his killers are unjustly acquitted, Rose is torn between seeking her destiny outside of Mississippi or staying and being a part of an important movement.

Anne W's picture

It's summer in Mississippi in 1955 and one town over from where Rose Lee Carter lives with her grandparents, a boy named Emmett Till is murdered. Unrest begins to build, and Rose Lee is forced to question everything she's ever known and decide whether to join a dangerous movement for change in the South. Complex, multilayered characters dealing with wider social change as well as family events. -Anne W

When you reach me book cover

When you reach me

Rebecca Stead

YOUNG ADULT FICTION Stead, Rebecca
Kids, Fiction, Adventure, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery

As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1980s television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of a series of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

Anne W's picture

Mix of sci-fi, mystery, and historical fiction (set in the 1970s), a middle-school girl must investigate the source of mysterious notes that appear in her personal belongings and, she realizes, predict the future. Time travel! -Anne W

The poisonwood Bible book cover

The poisonwood Bible

Barbara Kingsolver

FICTION Kingsolver, Barbara
Historical Fiction

"The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them all they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it―from garden seeds to Scripture―is calamitously transformed on African soil. This tale of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction, over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa, is set against history's most dramatic political parables." (Amazon Summary)

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This is a difficult, but important story that evaluates multiple post-colonial attitudes through the lenses of a missionary wife and her four daughters. It provides such an interesting portrait of a family and of a village in the Belgian Congo (beginning in 1959), and delves deeply into issues of culture, politics and human experience. -Becky

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell book cover

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Susanna Clarke

SCIENCE FICTION Clarke, Susanna
Fantasy, Historical Fiction

"English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory. But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French. All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington's army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange's heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear." (Goodreads)

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At around 800 pages in length, I was a bit daunted by my choice in reading this novel. But, after watching the BBC series based on Clarke's book and having it recommended to me by my brother, I was determined to give it a try. This story was a great fit for me because it combines my love of fantasy, England and historical fiction. I especially liked the striking differences between Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and enjoyed watching their relationship to one another and magic evolve. -Becky

The nightingale book cover

The nightingale

Kristin Hannah

FICTION Hannah Kristin
Historical Fiction

"Viann and Isabelle have always been close despite their differences. Younger, bolder sister Isabelle lives in Paris while Viann lives a quiet and content life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. When World War II strikes and Antoine is sent off to fight, Viann and Isabelle's father sends Isabelle to help her older sister cope. As the war progresses, it's not only the sisters' relationship that is tested, but also their strength and their individual senses of right and wrong. With life as they know it changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Viann and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions. Vivid and exquiste in its illumination of a time and place that was filled with great monstrosities, but also great humanity and strength, Kristin Hannah's novel will provoke thought and discussion that will have readers talking long after they turn the last page"--

Becky's picture

This is a story that highlights the endurance, courage and strength of women. I worked through the book rather quickly, absorbed in the plot and determined to find out how it would all end. An opening quote in the novel suggests that "In love we find out who we want to be; In war we find out who we are..." this statement was revealed in an interesting development in each of the two sisters. -Becky