Monday, October 18, 2021

A visual preview of the winter 2022 season in historical fiction

Here's my latest seasonal preview of forthcoming historical novels, covering books to be published between January and March next year. I'm featuring 15 titles of personal interest (and I'll be lucky to have time to read them all!), and have aimed to include a range of settings and time periods. They're listed in alpha order by author surname. Will you be adding any to your TBR piles also?  Links below go to the books' Goodreads pages.

Kianna Alexander's Carolina Built (Gallery, Feb.) is biographical fiction about Josephine Leary, a woman born into enslavement who achieved huge success in the business world as a real estate developer in late 19th-early 20th-century North Carolina. Another American-set historical is Leah Angstman's Out Front the Following Sea (Regal House, Jan.), which follows a young woman accused of witchcraft in 17th-century New England. Yonder by Jabari Asim (Simon & Schuster, Jan.), called "The Water Dancer meets The Prophets" by the publisher, takes place on a plantation in the Southern states in the mid-19th century.

Karen Brooks always incorporates intriguing settings and plots, and her latest, The Good Wife of Bath (William Morrow, Jan.; already out in Australia) retells Chaucer's classic story of pilgrimage from the title character's viewpoint.  Danielle Daniel's Daughters of the Deer (Random House Canada, Mar.) has been on my list ever since I saw the publishing deal reported in Publishers Marketplace. Set in New France in the 1600s, it focuses on a Algonquin woman who agrees to marry a French settler in an alliance to save her people. Interestingly, Agatha Christie (and her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926) has been the subject of several novels of late. Nina de Gramont's The Christie Affair (St. Martin's, Feb.) delves into the mystery from the perspective of Christie's husband's mistress. Lots of buzz for this one.

Basing her first novel on the true story of Queen Victoria's Yoruba goddaughter Sarah Forbes Bonetta, Anni Domingo's Breaking the Maafa Chain (Pegasus, Feb.; already out in the UK from Jacaranda Books) traces the separate journeys of two African sisters from their homeland to England and America, countries which have different views on slavery in the mid-19th century.  Melissa Fu's debut Peach Blossom Spring (Little, Brown, Mar.) promises to be a moving saga of about three generations of a family in China and America beginning in the 1930s.  A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande (Atria, Mar.) is described as a "sweeping historical saga," which the title emphasizes; it centers on the unexpected love story between a Mexican healer and an Irish immigrant during the Mexican American War.

Stephen Harrigan is an excellent prose stylist (his Remember Ben Clayton is a favorite of mine), and his upcoming novel The Leopard Is Loose (Knopf, Feb.), set in 1952 Oklahoma, shows the tumult of the postwar era through a child's eyes. Skipping over the Atlantic to England just after the Black Death, Peter Manseau's The Maiden of All Our Desires (Arcade, Feb.) plunges into the dramas of faith and flesh within a community of nuns. Louisa Morgan's The Secret History of Witches was a word-of-mouth hit, and her newest, The Great Witch of Brittany (Redhook, Feb.) is a prequel beginning in 18th-century Brittany that reveals the backstory of the powerful clan's magical matriarch, Ursule Orchière.

The wide-ranging, glamorous, hard-working 20th-century life of cereal heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post is depicted in Allison Pataki's The Magnificent Lies of Marjorie Post (Ballantine, Feb.)  Eva Stachniak, who most recently chronicled the life of Polish dancer-choreographer Bronislava Nijinska, moves to 18th-century France with The School of Mirrors (William Morrow/Doubleday Canada, Feb.), about the young women selected as potential mistresses for Louis XV. Lastly, The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull (MIRA, Feb.) reveals the inner life of Romanov grand duchess Olga, eldest daughter of Nicholas and Alexandra.


  1. From that stack I think I'd start with "The Magnificent Lies of Marjorie Post," I'm always interested in marketing and how companies came to be and her interaction with that world would be good to read about. The book after that, about a Louis XV mistress, could be similar to one I recently finished, "Our Lady of the Potatoes" by Duncan Sprott - an interesting look at the times and a hard book to track down! Thanks for the list.

    1. I haven't read Our Lady of the Potatoes (interesting title!) but will add it to my list to check out. Thanks!