Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A visual preview of the summer season in historical fiction

The area where I live in Illinois has suddenly become very green, and warm, and the spring semester's almost over.  It feels like summer's almost here at last. If you're like me, your mind's been turning not just towards vacations and barbecues but also summer's crop of historical novels. Here are 12 books set to be released between May and August this year that looked especially enticing, and which have settings spanning four continents. The books themselves are published in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. This time, too, I remembered to add the Goodreads links!

The Ohio River, 1838: A young seamstress becomes enmeshed in secrets and deception when she's blackmailed into participating in the Underground Railroad. Touchstone, June 20; note that the UK title is The Floating Theatre. [see on Goodreads]

A multi-period novel, set in 1884 and a century later, about two women, a host of secrets, and the elegant New York City apartment residence known as The Dakota. Dutton, August 1.  [see on Goodreads]

Forsyth, an Australian author, has recently specialized in re-imaginings of classic fairy tales, which are presented in a well-researched historical milieu. Her latest novel sets "Sleeping Beauty" amid the circle of pre-Raphaelite artists in Victorian times. Vintage Australia, July 3. [see on Goodreads]

Described as reminiscent of Possession and People of the Book, Kadish's newest novel tells the intertwined stories of women from two centuries: a Dutch immigrant serving as a scribe for a blind rabbi in Restoration London, and a modern historian specializing in Jewish history. HMH, June 6th. [see on Goodreads]

A sprawling story of politics, culture, and heritage focusing on the Ugandan people, beginning in 1750 and following a man's descendants as they try to evade a curse affecting their bloodline. Transit, May 16. [see on Goodreads, which also has reviews of the original edition, from Kenya.]

Part of McCrumb's Ballad series, set in the Appalachian region, fictionalizes the events behind the Greenbrier Ghost in late 19th-century West Virginia, happenings which have passed into American folklore. Atria, September 12. [see on Goodreads]

This second novel in the Kate Clifford mystery series is set in 1399 in York, England, a city on the brink of civil war. Meanwhile, Kate's mother shocks people by returning to town soon after her husband's mysterious death. Pegasus, June 6. [see on Goodreads]

Ross's debut novel fictionalizes the life of one of Canada's best-known pioneers and early memoirists, Englishwoman Susanna Moodie, in the Canadian wilderness of the 1830s. HarperAvenue, May. [see on Goodreads]

This novel of WWII begins in a Texas internment camp, where a Japanese diplomat's daughter first meets and falls in love with a young German-American man whose parents were unjustly imprisoned. The story later moves to Japan and the war in the Pacific. Washington Square, July 11. [see on Goodreads]

This family saga, the author's second novel after Daughter of Australia, follows a German immigrant family as they move from Pittsburgh to a farm in rural Pennsylvania in the early 20th century. Kensington, June 27. [see on Goodreads]

I enjoyed Wells' previous historical novel (The Wife's Tale) so much that I'm eagerly awaiting this new novel, a multi-period Gothic about an abandoned old house, WWII espionage, and a woman investigating her grandmother's hidden past. Penguin Australia, May 1st. [see on Goodreads]

First in a new mystery series set in the colony of Singapore in 1936, this novel features a young Chinese woman who turns sleuth after murder visits the country's Governor House.  Constable, June 1. [see on Goodreads]


  1. Lots of great books here, Sarah. The Traitor's Girl and Beneath the Apple Leaves are already on my wish list. Just added the rest. Thanks for the Goodreads links, too.

    1. I really like the cover of Beneath the Apple Leaves, too - that and the title make the story seem very homey and appealing.

      Glad you liked the list! I'd always meant to add Goodreads links to these lists but got too wrapped up in writing the descriptions and forgot until now.

  2. Just shared with my fiction class!

    1. Very cool, thanks! Maybe they'll be enticed to put some of these on their TBRs...

  3. Ooh! Great list! Particularly looking forward to Kate Forsyth's book - love her writing and the Pre-Raphaelites.

    1. Same here, and I'm hoping it will be available outside of Australia eventually!