If any author can bring the historical Western back into fashion, Dan Simmons can. I've yet to read any of his historicals, but I was an avid SF reader way back when. His Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion (it's impossible to read the first without the second) are amazing, and Song of Kali is both powerful and chilling. Black Hills, his newest epic, interweaves the stories of Sioux warrior Paha Sapa and General Custer with a thread of the supernatural. And what an awesome cover. Reagan Arthur/Little Brown US, February; Quercus UK, April.
A re-interpretation of the life of the notorious Catherine de Medici, Queen of France, told in her own intimate voice. I have an ARC in hand and plan to get to it as soon as possible; I'll be posting an interview with the author (my good friend Christopher Gortner of Historical Boys) around the publication date. Ballantine, May 25; also Hodder & Stoughton, May 27.
In Scotland in 1692, just after the horrific Massacre at Glencoe, a woman named Corrag is condemned for her involvement and accused of witchcraft and murder. As she lives out her final days in prison, an Irish Jacobite comes to interview her, resulting in the blossoming of a surprising friendship. Fourth Estate, March.
A war-torn romantic epic set in Japan of 1868, following the defeat of the last Shogun. It takes place in the Yoshiwara, the famous pleasure quarter of Tokyo. I haven't yet read her earlier novel The Last Concubine though it's sitting on the bookshelf next to me; can anyone report back on it? Bantam UK, April.
Mary Sharratt always lyrically brings to life the hidden stories and underlying strengths of historical women. Her latest novel delves into the truth about the notorious Pendle witches, centering on a family of cunning women accused of witchcraft in early 17th-century Lancashire. I read an ARC over the holiday break, and it was excellent. I'll be conducting an interview with Mary later this spring. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April.
In a departure from her Lady Julia Grey series of whimsical and adventurous Victorian mysteries, Raybourn follows her new heroine, young Scottish novelist Theodora Lestrange, to faraway Transylvania in 1858 (cue creepy music). An ARC is reportedly on the way. MIRA, March.
The story of Mahelt, strong-willed eldest daughter of William Marshal, caught in a heartbreaking battle when King John sets out to subdue her father-in-law's family. Check out the front and back covers on the author's website; I like the dark, dramatic look as well as the font used (I'm a sucker for historical fonts). Sphere, May.
So many great-sounding historical novels are coming out next month, and my TBR can't keep up with them all. (I really should be reading instead of blogging. And I really should be reading instead of watching The Bachelor as I type this.) After seeing the description of this one, and seeing the starred review in PW, I nonetheless asked my Historical Novels Review co-editor Ellen if she could request a copy for review for me. I'll have to fit it into my schedule somewhere. It's a religious-themed historical mystery set in Prague's Jewish ghetto in 1592. Morrow, Jan. 26.
I visited the Alcott family home, Orchard House, several times while growing up and remember it well, and of course, I was a fan of Little Women. It's not surprising that so many readers want to know more about its creator. The recent biography and documentary have both spurred greater interest in the life of this enigmatic woman, and in her debut novel, Chicago writer McNees imagines a New Hampshire summer that changes the life and outlook of 22-year-old Louisa. Putnam/Amy Einhorn, April.
There are two novels here which I noted back when their publishing deal was arranged; this is one of them. As Publishers Marketplace noted (in a lengthier excerpt) in March 2009: Set in the mid-19th century, My Name is Mary Sutter follows a remarkable young midwife from Albany, New York whose hope of becoming a surgeon far exceeds what her family, physicians, and medical schools of her time are willing to accept, prompting her to travel to Washington, DC to work in the Civil War hospitals. Viking, May.
A debut historical mystery set in late 18th-century Ireland, featuring rebellious English governess Mary Wollstonecraft as protagonist. I hadn't been familiar with Wollstonecraft's time in Ireland before reading this novel's premise and am looking forward to reading more. Nancy Means Wright will be guest blogging in mid-March about her heroine. Perseverance Press, April.
India-born novelist Sundaresan's fourth epic, next in a series following The Feast of Roses, will bring to light the story of two Mughal princesses, Jahanara and Roshanara, fighting for power and respect in 17th-century India's royal court. If you've read John Shors's Beneath a Marble Sky, you'll probably want to read this new take on Jahanara's story as well. Atria, March.
Many of us have been reading about The Stolen Crown's journey from idea to manuscript to publication via Susan's blog. A novel of the Wars of the Roses, it will follow how Katherine Woodville's life transforms after her older sister, Elizabeth, secretly marries Edward IV of England. I don't expect to see any spell-casting (or much of Melusine) in this one. Sourcebooks, March.
Tiger Hills made a splash in the publishing world when it reportedly received the largest advance Penguin India ever paid for a debut novel (seven figures), so expectations are high. It's being described as a cross between an Indian Thorn Birds and Gone With the Wind, a multi-generational epic set on an Indian coffee plantation between 1878 and World War II. Mandanna, born in India, is an equity professional based in New York. Grand Central purchased US rights for publication in 2011, and the UK edition will be out this April 29th from Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
When I posted about this deal in April '08, I mentioned it would be on my TBR as soon as it appeared. I didn't have to wait that long, though. I was pleased to be offered a manuscript copy last fall and enjoyed it immensely. Watermark centers on a mute young woman's journey to discover her literary voice, pulling readers into a corner of the Middle Ages not often seen: 14th-century Narbonne, a city where fear and suspicion mingle with memories of southern France's troubadour past. Avon A, April.