Saturday, March 31, 2018

12 intriguing upcoming historical novels for my 12th blogiversary and Women's History Month

It's the last day of March, so I'm getting this in under the wire. Reading the Past turned twelve last week, and I've been too busy with library work to post about it until now.  In acknowledgment, and in celebration of Women's History Month, here are a dozen new and upcoming historical novels by women that are on my wishlist.

In 14th-century London, an illuminated Book of Hours is commissioned, deeply affecting the lives, hopes, and ambitions of three people. Medieval-set novels are few and far between these days, and I'm looking forward to this one.  HarperCollins Australia, April. [see on Goodreads]

Again, coincidentally, a novel revolving around three people's lives - but this time set in coastal Scotland during WWII, as friendships are formed among different social classes, and people reinvent themselves in wartime. HarperCollins UK, April.  [see on Goodreads]

In the late 15th century, a wealthy man drowns in an isolated Somerset village, the cause unknown, and the village priest is pressured to figure out the cause, and the possible perpetrator. This sounds like a worthwhile combination of literary fiction and mystery, set in a quiet place where much is happening beneath the surface. Jonathan Cape, March. [see on Goodreads]

A new Kearsley novel is something to celebrate. Bellewether (which I have a hard time remembering how to spell) centers on a forbidden romance set during wartime in 18th-century North America. Sourcebooks, Aug. [see on Goodreads]

Kim's debut was The Calligrapher's Daughter, set over several decades in early 20th-century Korea. Her second novel moves ahead in time and follows two sisters separated by the Korean War. The blurb mentions it was inspired by a true story. HMH, November. [see on Goodreads]

McMahon's novels are classified as literary fiction, but the ones I've read also have a strong suspense/mystery thread.  Her latest is about three women, two world wars, resistance, and the legacy of betrayal. W&N, June. [see on Goodreads]

Anne O'Brien has written many novels about notable Englishwomen whose lives went unremarked by history, as well as others more well-known. Her latest focuses on Elizabeth Mortimer, a member of the Plantagenet clan of medieval England, who married Harry "Hotspur" Percy, Duke of Northumberland. HQ, May. [see on Goodreads]

This new novel promises an original combination of settings: 1930s Brazil, Rio, and Hollywood during its Golden Age. It focuses on the unlikely friendship/rivalry between two ambitious, musically talented women. Riverhead, August. [see on Goodreads]

I'd enjoyed Riordan's Fiercombe Manor, published when "house" sagas were highly popular. Her latest is a Gothic suspense novel set in wartime Cornwall. Michael Joseph, March. [see on Goodreads]

Rizzuto's new literary historical novel is a saga focusing on twin sisters in 1950s-60s Hawaii, their mother, and a betrayal that changes their lives; the blurb says it's set against an "epic sweep of history," moving from WWII Japan to 1970s NYC.  Grand Central, May. [see on Goodreads]

Roy's novel examines mid-20th-century India through the stories of a man who uncovers his artist mother's itinerant life through India and Bali, as he searches for the reasons she left her family behind. MacLehose, June. [see on Goodreads]

Though best known in the US for her novel Please Look After Mom, South Korean writer Shin's novel about a Korean orphan and court dancer who falls in love with a French diplomat during the Belle Epoque was written first; it's based on a true story. Pegasus, Aug.  [see on Goodreads]


  1. Twelve years of superlative reviews and reporting, Sarah! You have my congratulations and admiration.

    As for these books, at least a half-dozen look appetizing to me, but the boffins at the Seattle Public Library seem not to know about them. Sigh.

    1. Thanks, Larry!

      SPL's lack of info on some of the titles may have to do with the fact that not all have US publishers yet. Hopefully that will change at some point in the future.

  2. Congratulations on your 12th blogiversary!
    Lots of great titles here. Eagerly awaiting Book of Colours, Bellewether (I also need to keep checking the spelling), The Stranger and The Hour of Separation. The Restless Sea (always excited by debut novels, The Western Wind and Queen of the North look good too. I've not read any of Anne O'Brien's books although I've been meaning to for ages.

    1. Thanks, Yvonne!
      Of Anne O'Brien's novels, I especially liked The King's Sister, although found it slow moving at times. 14th-century England isn't a common setting for historical fiction.

  3. I look forward to your posts every month....enjoyed a number of terrific reads, as a result, as well as acquired an appreciation of cover art. Thanks for all you do!

    1. Thanks, Laurie, I really appreciate your comments - glad you've found some good reads here!

  4. Happy blogoversary! The medieval mysteries look interesting to me, especially The Book of Colors.

    1. Thank you! I plan to get myself a copy of that book as soon as I can find it for sale for US readers.