Friday, March 20, 2015

A gallery of new and recent historical novels by Australasian women writers


Now that I have a new sun porch, and thus more room for bookcases in the house, I've set aside one shelf for historical novels from Australasian authors and publishers.  Just because most are hard to find in this corner of the world – I don't let 10,000 miles stand between me and a book I want to read.

The margins on this blog are pretty narrow, so I also have a larger image of the shelf linked up.

Because they can be expensive to obtain in print, I get a fair number of these titles on Kindle, also.  I'm always interested in discovering new historical fiction writers and being transported via fiction to new locales.  I've also been following along with the Australian Women Writers' Challenge in an attempt to keep up with what's coming out and may join the challenge myself next year.

Which brings me around to the topic of the Historical Novel Society's first Australasian conference, which kicked off yesterday in Sydney.  This is a significant and very exciting undertaking, and I extend my congrats to the organizers for their hard work in pulling everything together.  I wish I was there in person and hope all attendees are having a wonderful time.

Since I've been celebrating Women's History Month here at the blog, this seems like a good time to showcase historical novels by Australasian women authors.  The books (15 in all) are set all over the place, and since there are a lot of them, I'm just giving brief notes on the settings of each.  For those like me who don't live in the region, I recommend Fishpond.com for print editions (they offer free shipping worldwide) and also suggest checking your local Amazon to see if Kindle editions are for sale.  

Also, since I don't have the opportunity to see these books in stores locally, there are going to be many titles I'm missing.  Please feel free to recommend others in the comments so we can all add them to our TBRs. 



The inner workings of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's White House, seen through the eyes of a teacher who gets a job with the First Lady.  Hachette Australia, July 2014.



A female brewer strives to make a go of her profession in medieval England.  Harlequin MIRA Australia, October 2014.


  

Third in Challinor's Convict Girls series, this is the story of three women determined to make new lives for themselves after being transported to Sydney Town in 1830.  HarperCollins Australia, November 2014.
 

This Victorian-set novel focuses on the disintegrating marriage of Sir George Grey: explorer, governor of South Australia, and later governor of New Zealand.  Random House New Zealand, forthcoming July 2015.



A dual-time saga set amidst the Australian goldfields in the 1860s and in the present, and featuring a young woman with paranormal abilities.  Harlequin MIRA Australia, March 2014; ebook out this month (with this cover).



Set in early 19th-century Germany, the story of Dortchen Wild, who fell in love with Wilhelm Grimm, one of the famous scholars who collected old fairy tales -- and Dortchen's many contributions to the Grimm brothers' endeavor. Random House Australia, March 2013.  A US edition of this book will be out in July, but here's the original Australian cover.



The latest entry in the mystery series involving Rowland Sinclair, artist and gentleman in pre-WWII Australia; secrets from his past may affect him personally.  Pantera Press, 2014.



A time-slip novel set in the beautiful Scottish borders region, set now and in medieval times. It's also newly out from Atria in the US (this is the original cover).  Simon & Schuster Australia, April 2015.



A love story between two unconventional people, set in Sydney during the Depression years.  Macmillan Australia, May 2014.



This saga traces the journeys of four individuals who "confront the complexity of being Moriori, Maori, and Pakeha" (of European descent) in 1880s New Zealand and a century later.  Vintage Books New Zealand, March 2014.



Martyn's home ground is medieval England, and her newest centers on two strong women from the Wars of the Roses:  Elysabeth Woodville, the future wife of Edward IV, and his cousin Kate Neville.  Harlequin MIRA Australia, August 2014.



An epic WWI-era saga involving three families living on the rural outskirts of Sydney.  Thanks to Yvonne from A Darn Good Read for alerting me to this book.  Harlequin MIRA Australia, March 2015.



Winner of the Australian/Vogel's Literary Award in 2014, this literary novel follows a Japanese doctor  as he's interned as an enemy alien in WWII Australia.  Allen & Unwin, April 2014.



Sawyer has written a number of well-received historical epics, but this is her first historical mystery, a police procedural set in the countryside of 18th-century France.  I believe this is self-published via Amazon, February 2015.


   

An Irish-Australian family saga in which secrets dating from WWI reverberate into the present.  Macmillan Australia, March 2015.

31 comments:

  1. Storey to say I've only read one of these, The Wild Girl, which is a wonderful novel. I recommend the same author's Bitter Greens, though I think you've read that one, and check out Sophie Masson's work - both she and Kate Forsyth are mostly writers if fantasy novels for children and teens, but within historical contexts, eg Kate Forsyth's The Puzzle Ring, with time travel to the era of Mary, Queen of Scots, and pretty much anything by Sophie Masson, who writes historical fantasy for children.

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    1. Thanks for the recommendations! I've read Bitter Greens and have been meaning to read Wild Girl for a while (bought it from the UK a while ago - gorgeous cover). I have a few of Sophie Masson's older novels around here, too, specifically her historical fantasy trilogy called the Lay Lines. Which I think are among her few novels for adult readers (haven't read any of her children's titles yet).

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    2. Interesting that you've only read Sophie's adult books as most of her fiction is for children or teens. :-) There are a number of them set in the Victorian era, including one alternative universe historical novel, The Hand Of Glory, set in an Australia colonised both by the English and French, so it's almost two countries. I love AU, because you really have to know your history to be able to fiddle with it. And the French really did do some exploring here. I believe that Louis XVI was asking about one of the French explorers, La Perouse, just before they cut his head off!

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    3. The reason is I don't read as much children's and teen fiction as I should. :) You're absolutely right, you have to know the history very well to diverge from it and explain what may have happened if events had happened differently. Coincidentally, I just finished a novel on La Perouse's expedition, Naomi Williams' Landfalls, though it's not out until August (I read from an early copy). It's excellent.

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    4. Well, La Perouse has a beach in Sydney named after him, anyway. Prettier than Bondi, IMO.

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  2. Voltaire and his mistress hung out at her husband's Chateau de Cirey in the 18th century - could Sawyer's book reference that episode?

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    1. Her notes on the book mention "Voltaire does make a contribution, as a kind of consultant detective," so yes, that appears to be right.

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  3. I've been wanting to read The Brewer's Tale for a while. Looks like it's only available by audible for now. I also want to read The Wild Girl. I read Bitter Greens and enjoyed it. Thanks for the other recommendations. I LOVE your lists.

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    1. Thanks! Brewer's Tale is one I've been looking forward to as well. There are so few medievals out there these days, especially with fictional characters. It's in stock at Fishpond ($25) if that helps.

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  4. The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman. Haven't read it yet but it's on my Kindle. Australian author. Pricey book. Released in 2013. It's about an aviatrix. The Insanity of Murder by Felicity Young, another AU author, is releasing this year too. It's the third in a series following a woman medical examiner in Victorian (?) times. And The President's Lunch is really very good. And hey, gave you an honorable mention today. :) http://wwwbookbabe.blogspot.com/2015/03/the-reading-radar-3212015.html#.VQ0XwY7F9K0

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    1. President's Lunch has been on the TBR much too long. I'll read it this spring or summer. Thanks for the other recs! I have another of Fiona Kidman's novels, The Book of Secrets, which was also expensive. Good to know Infinite Air is on Kindle, and wow, yes, it is pricey for a Kindle book, so I'll have to think carefully about that - or wait until you read it and can report back :) (I believe she's from NZ)

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    2. Thanks very much for the mention! I'll go check out your blog now to see what other interesting books you're listing.

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  5. Can I recommend Anna Romer, she wrote The Thornwood House which I loved. I got it through Fishpond also they offer great service to Canada. Thanks for that list Sarah, more to add to my tbr pile :)

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    1. Thanks, Margaret! I had bought Thornwood House based on some Goodreads recommendations - yours may have been one of them. I haven't read it yet but did get it from Fishpond. I love them! And they have Anna Romer's newest novel in stock too, which is tempting.

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  6. *sigh* Just when I have got my tbr pile under control, it's about to accumulate again.

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    1. TBRs are designed to grow and grow...

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  7. I am in awe of writers who are able to write about distant lands with accuracy. SO much research required. Throw in the historical element, and often SO much research that can only be done in a foreign language, to get the cultural elements just right. The Wild Girl and Murder at Cirey are now on my list. Thank you, as usual!

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    1. Hi Alex, good point about the foreign language research necessary for writing about many settings, especially if one wants to go back to the original sources.

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    2. As a matter of fact, Kate Forsyth says that she paid to get some German language stuff translated for her for The Wild Girl. I guess you can do this sort of stuff when you make your living from writing. :-) Some people actually travel wherever. I am so jealous of people who can do that for their research!

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    3. That's great - research like that can make the story feel that much more authentic. Not everyone will take the trouble to research documents in another language. And although I'm not a historical novelist, traveling for research sounds like a fabulous idea to me!

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  8. Thanks - a great list!

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    1. Thanks, happy you liked the list!

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  9. I loved Deborah Challinor's convict girls series. Eagerly awaiting the fourth book.
    I've also read some of Kaye Dobbie's books written under her pseudonym of Lilly Sommers. The Dark Dream is one of my favourites.
    Thank you for bringing another author to my attention - Cheryl Sawyer. She has quite a few books I'll be adding to my TBR pile.
    Currently in my TBR pile is The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader, a new Australian author.
    Another author that springs to mind is Deborah Burrows. Her latest is A Time of Secrets set in Melbourne during WWII. I've not read any of her books yet, but I'm sure they will find their way to my TBR pile.
    Thanks again for another great list of books - and thank you for the mention.

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    1. Hi Yvonne, not surprised you have so many great recommendations!

      Some years ago, I found a copy of Lilly Sommers' historical novel The Bond in a US remainder bookstore. I'd never heard of the author before but loved the story. As soon as I learned she also wrote as Kaye Dobbie, I ordered her latest book, and it's on the way to me via Fishpond (via the same order with Gallipoli Street which may or may not show up). I'll watch out for The Dark Dream, too.

      The Anchoress is a title I'm eagerly awaiting. It's published in the US in May.

      Thanks for recommending Deborah Burrows also - she's new to me.

      At the moment I'm reading Josephine Pennicott's Currawong Manor and enjoying it immensely, even more so than Poet's Cottage.

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    2. I've not read any books by Josephine Pennicott. Poet's Cottage and Currawong Manor sound like two great mysteries. I especially love the cover of Currawong Manor with the swing and the house in the misty background. Two more for my wish list. Thanks, Sarah.

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    3. I hope you like them both, Yvonne. Currawong Manor reminds me somewhat of Kate Morton's gothics, with its long-hidden family secrets and twisty plotline. I spent the entire day yesterday reading it! I hope Pennicott is working on a new one in the same vein.

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    4. What a lovely day you had yesterday. If these books are like Kate Morton's I'm sure to enjoy them.

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  10. Throughly enjoyed "The Wild Child" - really captures the dark, evocative nature of German mythology, with its strongly pagan roots overlaid with puritanical Protestantism. Possibly not for those who like their fairy stories filled with sweetness and light :)

    Haven't seen Isolde Martyn around for a long time (or perhaps just haven't been looking. I read nearly everything she wrote back in the day.

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    1. That sounds like my type of book! Kate Forsyth's next novel looks to be darker still - a retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in Nazi Germany.

      I had found a copy of Isolde Martyn's previous novel, Mistress to the Crown, in a charity shop in Durham, England, last September. I figured I'd never see it at home so snapped it up. It's about "Jane" Shore. You're right, though, there was a while when I didn't see any new releases from her either, although acc to her website, she has another Wars of the Roses novel called Devil in Ermine which is indie published.

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