Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New & upcoming historical novels in celebration of Women's History Month, part 1

March is widely known as Women's History Month.  In acknowledgment and celebration of the lives and accomplishments of women throughout history, I'm putting together several guides to new and upcoming historical novels by and about women.  To which one might respond: that's nice, but this blog already features women's stories a lot.  Very true!  However, because time doesn't permit me to read and review everything that catches my attention, I wanted to highlight a collection of titles that personally intrigued me.

Here are twelve initial selections, in order by author surname.  At least one more post in this series will be going online this month.  Please let me know of any other recommended titles in the comments. 



A young woman's life enclosed in a small cell within a village church in 13th-century England proves to be surprisingly intense and dramatic.  FSG, May.



She was fated to be known in myth and legend as Helen of Troy, but in this inspired retelling of her early life, Helen aims to flee her predestined life with the help of Theseus, the son of Poseidon. Lake Union, April.



The setting is 13th-century Bohemia, which is fabulous in itself, but also of interest is the storyline: a young woman, possibly with supernatural abilities, becomes the personal healer to King Ottakar while figuring out the mystery of her origins.  Pegasus, November.



The Australian author's first mainstream historical novel depicts Napoleonic France from the viewpoint of an English baronet's daughter who becomes an unwitting spy.  William Morrow, June 30.



The first novel in Courtney's Queens of the Conquest trilogy, which I've been highly anticipating, focuses on Edyth, the granddaughter of Lady Godiva, and her unexpected path to power during the last days of Saxon England.  Macmillan UK, May.


   

Curry's debut novel traces the life of Sai Jinhua, a late 19th-century courtesan who left a controversial legacy due to her role in influencing China's relationship with the West. Dutton, September.



Dallas, a favorite chronicler of western fiction about strong women, sets her newest novel in a small Colorado mining town in 1880, when a trusted midwife must defend herself against a murder charge.
St. Martin's, September 30.



Sensuality, decadence, and self-discovery as a young Italian woman in 1913 Buenos Aires disguises herself as a man to pursue her dream of playing the violin in a troupe of tango musicians.  Knopf, July.



A new novel from Sara Donati, who's been absent from the literary scene for a few years, is reason to celebrate in itself.  Here she continues her family saga with two young women, both physicians in 1880s New York, who are forced to make tough life decisions.  Berkley, September.



From the author of Queenmaker, Wisdom's Daughter, and Delilah, three compelling and historically authentic novels of biblical women, comes a re-interpretation of the ancient story of Vashti and Esther in the court of King Ahasuerus.  St. Martin's, September.


   

Subtitled "a novel of love and rebellion," this is the love story of Katharina von Bora, a nun in 16th-century Germany who fled her cloistered life, and Martin Luther, leader in the Protestant Reformation.  Hedlund is an acclaimed inspirational historical novelist.  WaterBrook, October.



Hoffman's literary novel recounts the little-known story of impressionist painter Camille Pissarro's mother, Rachel, a Jew growing up on the isle of St. Thomas in the early 19th century.  Simon & Schuster, August.

19 comments:

  1. OOOh. Thank you for this. As for possible suggestions, I haven't read them yet but am going to, soon: The Queen of Sparta by T.S. Chaudhry and Lady of the Eternal City by Kate Quinn. And we can't forget Mademoiselle Chanel. That's one tough cookie.

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    1. Great suggestions. I finished Kate Quinn's Empress of the Seven Hills over the weekend, since I'll be reviewing Lady of the Eternal City soon and wanted to get caught up with the story. Loved it. Some tough, ambitious women there.

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  2. Helen of Sparta is already available for free on Kindle First, if you have a Prime account.

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    1. Thanks for the heads-up. I should have caught that since I picked up Helen of Sparta for $1.99 on Kindle First the other day. Normally I crib off my husband's Prime account for shipping, but it means I don't get the Prime benefits for Kindle First. Not to complain about the $1.99, though, I'll take it!

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  3. Oh my gosh!! These all look like great picks, but I'm ESPECIALLY stoked about Helen of Sparta (new ancient fic! Yay!), The Chosen Queen, and Game of Queens. This is actually the first I've heard about Game of Queens and I eeped with joy when I saw it. A) I love India Edghill's books, and B) Esther and Vashti! Freaking awesome!!

    My first two novels from Lake Union come out this year, and would be of interest to people looking for women's historical fiction. Tidewater (about Pocahontas) gets re-released by Lake Union on May 19th, and Daughter of Sand and Stone, about Zenobia, comes out November 17th. I don't know yet whether the title of the Zenobia book will change before release date, but I do know that it's Zenobia, and it's November 17th. Plus I'll have plenty of indie releases this year, too.

    Thanks for the awesome post! Much to look forward to, here. Now I'm going to go mark my calendar and count down the days until Game of Queens is in my hands. :D

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    1. Cool, I'm glad you liked the post and found some titles to add to the TBR! I've been waiting on India's Vashti and Esther novel for a while and was glad to see it had a title and pub date (and a gorgeous cover).

      Thanks for mentioning your two upcoming historicals. It would be awesome if Lake Union kept the cover art for Tidewater, though I'll look forward to seeing what they come up with if it's different. The Zenobia book sounds fabulous. It's about time she had a new novel of her own.

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  4. These all look scrumptious. Will I live long enough?

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    1. I ask myself the same thing!

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  5. Another great list, Sarah, but the one that excited me the most was The Tide Watchers by Lisa Chaplin. The Napoleonic Wars is one of my favourite historical eras.

    One suggestion that comes to mind, though I have yet to read it, is The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki.

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    1. The fact that it shows the wars from a woman's viewpoint interests me a lot. So many novels about the period are military action-adventure.

      Thanks for the suggestion. The Accidental Empress has made it to bestseller lists recently in the US, which hopefully will give other historical novels about royalty a boost, too. I haven't read it yet either, although I read and enjoyed The Traitor's Wife last year.

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  6. Great list, thrilled to see Sara Donati has a new book coming out.

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    1. I need a refresh on the plotline and characters of the Wilderness series, but hopefully it will stand alone just fine, too. I started reading the series in the middle since I was assigned Queen of Swords for review, and jumped around a bit after that.

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  7. A great list there! I've heard really good things about "The Anchoress", which is on my TBR list.

    Btw, I found Paul Kingsnorth's "The Wake" rather a trial to read as the whole novel is written in sort of ersatz Old English. I wouldn't recommend it to any except those who enjoy literary fiction of the more challenging sort. Although you have to admire the cleverness involved in maintaining a credible alternative language, it can drive the reader to distraction!

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    1. I've read positive reviews of The Anchoress in Aussie newspapers, which makes me even more interested.

      And heh, thanks for your comments on The Wake. I had suspected it could fall into the "admirable but difficult" category. I'll read it if I get assigned it for review, but otherwise, maybe not.

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  8. The Napoleonic wars, with a female spy, and Pissarro's mother ... these go immediately on my historical France to-read list! Merci beaucoup, Sarah !

    And if you should feel inclined to do some reading in French some day -- amidst all your other reading -- the historical novels of Marie-Paul Armand, following the strong women through the generations of one family, are wonderful. Do you know them? Have a great, reading weekend!

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    1. Thanks for mentioning the novels of Marie-Paul Armand! I just checked them out on French Wikipedia, and they look right up my alley. The last time I read a full-length novel in French was about 25 years ago, so it would be a challenge, but I bet the process would get me up to speed pretty quickly.

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  9. Hi Sarah, Thanks for the great list! I see several titles I'm adding to my TBR list!

    My historical novel set in colonial Puerto Rico, A Decent Woman just came out on Amazon. Maybe from France to Puerto Rico? Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I'm off to order more books!

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    1. Hi, Eleanor! I bought a Kindle copy of A Decent Woman this past week, actually, and will be including it in part 2 of the gallery. Looking forward to reading it. Hope you're having a lovely weekend!

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