Sunday, October 18, 2015

New and forthcoming historical novels: intriguing book titles

We've often discussed cover art here, specifically the techniques that publishers use to attract readers to historical novels.  Today I'm turning my attention to book titles.  Authors, editors, and marketing professionals spend a lot of time deciding on what books should be called.  It's not uncommon for titles to be changed between the time of manuscript submission and final publication, either. 

Here are 12 new and upcoming books with titles that caught my attention and made me curious about what's inside.  Which historical novels have the most memorable titles as far as you're concerned?



The King of Rock and Roll?  Guess again. The 6th volume in Gary Corby's historical mystery series set in the ancient Greek world moves over to Egypt in the company of not-yet-famous historian Herodotus.  Soho Crime, May 2016.



An intriguing title for this biographical novel about the controversial founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, who sacrificed much to champion women's sexual equality.  Harper, March 2016.



The subtitle reveals this novel's subject: a young woman of Renaissance Italy who was pushed into prominence and notoriety due to her status as the Pope's daughter.  Ballantine, February 2016.



A debut novel spanning 70 years, and focusing on a love triangle between an American couple a rabbi and his wife and a German refugee.  HarperPerennial, February 2016.



Hite's third novel set on Black Mountain in western North Carolina is a story of women, family heritage, and ghosts set between the Depression and the 1960s.  Mercer University Press, September 2015.



Alice James, sister to William and Henry, shares her family's wit and appetite for gossip.  By 1889, she's bedridden with an unknown illness but still manages to stay involved in events of the day. Counterpoint, September 2015.



Fans of King's long-running suspense series about Sherlock Holmes and his partner Mary Russell may feel nervous after reading this novel's title.  Bantam, April 2016.



A terrific title (and stark, creepy cover) for McCrumb's newest Ballad Novel, centering on a female sheriff in rural Tennessee during the Depression and based on a famous public execution.  Atria, May 2016.



This literary multi-period novel links a modern-day Czech historian with an anarchist from '20s Europe who attempted to assassinate a prominent businessman.  Bellevue Literary Press, May 2016.



The first book in Robb's new mystery series, set in 14th-century York, stars a young widow who runs a guesthouse which is occasionally used for illicit purposes.  Pegasus, May 2016.



Romano-Lax's third novel delves into the ambitious personalities and behaviorist research of two prominent early 20th-century psychologists and their controversial studies of children.  Expect to be enlightened and disturbed.  Soho, March 2016.



St. James is known for her post-WWI English ghost stories. The heroine of her fifth book is a young widow who slowly uncovers her late husband's dark secrets.  NAL, April 2016.

12 comments:

  1. Good looking list. The Service of the Dead stands out to me. I adore that time period, and the whole young widow/guest house thing is enticing.

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    1. I agree - York is a marvelous city to visit, and I enjoy seeing medieval novels set outside London.

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  2. There are some very intriguing books on that list. I'm looking forward to The Vatican Princess as I recently read my first C.W. Gortner book, The Last Queen, and loved it.

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    1. I'm looking forward to his take on Lucrezia Borgia. My favorite of his, though, is the recent novel about Coco Chanel.

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  3. You asked about memorable titles - high on the list is "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society" by Shaffer & Barrows, also a middle grade story of a Pennsylvania community set up as a refuge for Marie Antoinette, "Waiting for the Queen," by Higgins, and also "Bath Tangle" by Heyer. I really enjoyed all three stories, different as they are.

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    1. I agree, Guernsey is a memorable title and book. I loved it. The other two you mentioned are also great choices for titles. Both make me curious about what the books are about.

      So many historical novel titles today seem like they're drawn from a formula, one designed to pull female readers in from the get-go, so when titles are more unique, they stand out. These days, I wonder if a publisher could get away with using an evocative but non-specific title like "Gone with the Wind" for a book. More likely, that memorable title would have been discarded in favor of one that's more feminine-sounding, like "Daughter of Tara." :)

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    2. It would be an interesting study to look at title trends over the years. Mostly editors' choices I guess, so THEY are looking at the trends too!

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    3. I agree, that would be an interesting study! I've also got access to a database that provides authors' (or agents') original titles for their books, which would make a good topic for a future post.

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  4. The Feldman book seems perfectly timed given the current attacks in Texas and D.C. on Planned Parenthood.

    More power to her.

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    1. Totally agree with you there.

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  5. Always love your different themed posts on new releases. Looking for to CW Gortner's new one. He writes with such feeling, since reading The Last Queen it took me so long to warm up to King Ferdinand again.

    Have you read Simone St. James previous books? She is one that I keep meaning to try. Interesting covers.

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    1. Just one so far - I've read and enjoyed An Inquiry Into Love and Death. Very creepy and atmospheric. Her books have great covers.

      Thanks, glad you like these posts!

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