Friday, April 18, 2014

My summer and fall historical fiction picks, part 1

A heads-up that this will be a very self-centered post!  Here are ten books, published between now and this fall, that are on my personal wishlist.  I had a hard time limiting this down, so I'll be posting a second set of ten later on.  While nearly all of them are written by women, they offer much more diversity in terms of historical milieu.

Thanks to the generosity of the publishers and authors, copies of half of these titles are either here or on the way, meaning that reviews will be posted in due course.



A novel about a real-life woman from early American history?  I'm there.  I'm already hearing excellent things about this story recounting Mary Rowlandson's capture by Indians in 1676 Massachusetts and her subsequent difficulties returning to her old life.   NAL, July.  [see on Goodreads]



A brilliant evocation of late medieval Germany.  I was astonished to discover that this story about the creation of the Gutenberg Bible in 15th-century Mainz was based on real characters and events and wondered why it hadn't been told in fiction before.  (This is the only one of the ten I've read so far.)  Harper, September.  [see on Goodreads]



The paths of a blind French girl and a German boy collide and intertwine in occupied Paris.  I've been hearing so many superlatives about the author's compelling, generous storytelling that I have to add it to the list.  Scribner, May.  [see on Goodreads]



Because I loved the author's Flint (reviewed here in 2009), I was excited to see she had a new novel in the works. In this literary adventure, a young woman takes to the Spice Road in the 13th century to search for her storyteller grandfather.  Honno Welsh Women's Press, August.  [not on Goodreads yet]



A debut novel that follows several generations of a family living in coastal North Carolina around the time of the Revolution.  It's an unusual perspective on a familiar war, and since I already gravitate towards literary sagas, this looks right up my alley.  Harper, August.  [see on Goodreads]



Fiction about the women in Genghis Khan's life; set in late 12th-century Mongolia.  Kudos to the author and publisher for continuing to take on the stories of important women from non-Western history.  NAL, November.  [See on Goodreads]



One of the author's specialties is Anglo-Saxon England, and here she interprets the life of Acha of Deira, a young woman married off into a harsh, unfamiliar land in the early 7th century. Since I'd enjoyed her previous A Swarming of Bees, a mystery set at the time of the Synod of Whitby, The Tribute Bride was a natural choice for the TBR.  Acorn Digital Press, April.  [see on Goodreads]



The life of Dorothy Richardson, lover of H.G. Wells, and an important 20th-century British writer in her own right.  What a breathtaking cover!  Not only do I want to read more about this unconventional woman's life, I want to hang the jacket art on my wall.  Thomas Dunne, October.  [see on Goodreads]



A recent Bryn Mawr grad gets drawn into learning more about the mysterious aunt whose existence was erased from their family history.  Romance, secrets, and a setting that sweeps from WWI-era Germany to NYC in the Swinging Sixties; it looks like the perfect read for summer vacation.  Putnam, May.  [see on Goodreads]



You can always count on Barbara Wood for skillful storytelling, adventurous women, and out-of-the-ordinary settings.  Her latest takes place in Honolulu in the early 19th century and focuses on the female half of a young missionary couple.  Turner, September.  [see on Goodreads]

29 comments:

  1. Some great looking titles there! Like you, I'll be tempted by another adult novel by Thesea Tomlinson, though to be honest I did feel that "Swarming of Bees" could have been considered more YA/Adult crossover rather than straight adult fiction.

    Gutenberg has been the subject of fiction before. Blake Morrison wrote an autobiographical novel in 1984 called "The Justification of Johann Gutenberg", which was reissued around 2002. It received mixed reviews at the time, but I can't comment because I've never got round to reading it myself :)

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    1. I agree that Swarming of Bees would work well as a YA/adult crossover. I'll be reviewing the new one shortly; Acha's story isn't one I'm very familiar with, so I'm looking forward to it. And on the subject of other Anglo-Saxon fiction, I still have to read Nicola Griffith's Hild...

      Thanks for mentioning Blake Morrison's novel - actually, I have a copy of the reissue and had almost forgotten it. So I suppose I should clarify: This new one is really the story of Peter Schoeffer (his apprentice, per the title) and so it has a somewhat different emphasis and spin! It also goes into more detail on printing techniques.

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  2. Great list! Just added several of these to my Goodreads. I'm getting more and more into historical fiction and finding it's a genre I'm enjoying very much. These look wonderful. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Melissa, glad you liked the post! I've just started including Goodreads links and will hopefully remember to add them in future posts, too. That's great you're getting more into reading historicals. What have been your favorites so far?

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  3. Ooh, ooh! Lots here I want to read! Thanks, Sarah.

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    1. Hi Gillian, thanks for your comments on the list - I hope I have time to read them all!

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  4. Another book list to bookmark - thank you! I'm especially interested in the first book, "Flight of the Sparrow," because I have a young girl in my family tree who was kidnapped by Indians in upstate New York. Fascinating stuff - thanks!

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    1. Wow, what a startling family story. I'm hoping the book lives up to expectations!

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  5. Not a clinker in the bunch. They are now all on my own TBR pile. Not much writing will get done this summer/fall.

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    1. I'm going to be spending a lot of time writing reviews, I think! I tend to take on too much and then find myself in a time crunch :)

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  6. Oh this is awesome! Thanks so much for posting. I found two that immediately hit my wishlist. You rock.

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    1. Cool - glad you found some that look good. And thanks!

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  7. I'm very excited for Flight of the Sparrow, since I'm fascinated by that early period of American history. I wasn't aware of The Story of Land and Sea or The Lodger yet - so glad you pointed those out! I'm always looking out for NC fiction, and H.G. Wells is one of my favorite authors.

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    1. Story of Land and Sea is on Edelweiss now, if you use that system. Both Wells and Richardson are authors I'm not as familiar with as I should be. Hopefully I can snag an ARC of The Lodger once it's out!

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  8. Thank you for this list. I found 3 right away that interest me.

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    1. Excellent, glad to hear it!

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  9. Love this, I needed some new recommendations and now I have them.

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    1. A few of these (Gutenberg's Apprentice, Tribute Bride, and Storyteller's Granddaughter) will be out in the UK, so you may be able to find them locally. The second half of the list, which I'm still putting together, should have even more of them.

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  10. Anonymous11:35 AM

    They all sound wonderful! I'm especially looking forward to Barbara Wood's and Anthony Doerr's books. Can't wait for
    Part ll!

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    1. I should have it up in the next week or so!

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  11. This is a nice list and made me note a few I actually would consider reading!

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    1. Glad to hear it :) I've added your blog to my Bloglovin list and look forward to visiting often!

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  12. I am drawn to The Tiger of Queens by Stephanie Thornton. Another time and culture that is not just embroidery on our well-known English time periods - though they are wonderful - I need to connect with the Asian world history and see how we connect. I think, in general, we only know crude parodies of those cultures. Here's hoping we learn more in this book!

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    1. Another novel I could recommend along the same lines is Pamela Sargent's Ruler of the Sky, which centered on Genghis Khan but the action is seen through the eyes of the women around him - his mother and a number of his wives. It was dense, as I recall, but rewarding as well as educational.

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  13. Sarah, I saw something today and wanted to pass the word on to you and didn't know how else to do it besides leave a comment on here. Sapphire Skies (a book we chatted about on my blog, Book Babe just the other day) is on sale on Kindle for 1.99. I apologize for commenting here, but that's a fabulous deal and I didn't have your email addy. I thought of you as soon as I saw it on Amazon, after I got done kicking myself repeatedly for having spent 9.99 when I pre-ordered it. LOL Have a fabulous day.

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    1. Hi Tara, thank you so much for letting me know! I was online when your comment arrived so just went on Amazon and snagged a Kindle copy. From your review, it sounded like it was worth the $9.99, and I was prepared to pay it, but $1.99 is way too good to pass up!

      I was just looking around at other titles in the "Also Bought" section, too, out of curiosity (and to see if any other good deals were around, because I'm greedy :). The Kindle prices are so variable! For example, I bought Fiona McIntosh's The Tailor's Girl (which I hope to write up at some point) two weeks ago for $9.99 and now it's gone way up in price. It's still easier than ordering a print copy from Australia, though.

      Thanks again!!

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    2. Oh, I know! Those print copies...it costs more to ship than the book itself. I'm glad you snagged it!

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  14. I am marking the Smith and Brown books as "to read." I love those eras of American history. Thank you for the recommendations.

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    1. I love the earlier periods in American history too - wish there were more novels set back then!

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