Saturday, September 30, 2023

A dozen intriguing historical novels published in fall 2023

This is a post I'd meant to finish before now, but time got away from me. Below are twelve historical novels appearing in the fall 2023 season. The upside is many of these novels are out now, or will be soon, so if they intrigue you  as they did me  you can get your hands on them sooner rather than later.  Attractive cover designs, atypical settings, original plots... I plan to check them out!
Babylon by Michelle CameronMichelle Cameron's Babylon, her third historical novel, is a multigenerational saga focusing on one woman of the Judean people, Sarah, exiled from Jerusalem and held in captivity in Babylon in the sixth century BCE. I've enjoyed the author's previous two historicals, and this one promises a setting rarely covered in fiction. Wicked Son, September 2023. [see on Goodreads]

The Golden Gate by Amy ChuaAmy Chua's first novel is a historical thriller set in California's Bay Area during WWII, involving the backdrop to a Presidential candidate's assassination, a mystery involving a wealthy family, and the complex social and racial environment at the time. Minotaur, September 2023. [see on Goodreads]

The General and Julia by Jon Clinch
Ulysses S. Grant, America's 18th President, looks back on his eventful life, long marriage, and evolving moral code in this multifaceted literary novel, which I loved (review to come). Atria, November 2023. [see on Goodreads]

Anything but Yes by Joie Davidow
Joie Davidow's (see An Unofficial Marriage, 2021) latest novel is subtitled "A Novel of Anna Del Monte, Jewish Citizen of Rome, 1749." It relates the true story of Anna, a young Roman Jewish woman, who was held captive in a convent while being pressured to convert to Catholicism; she kept a diary of her experiences. Monkfish, October 2023. [see on Goodreads]

The Prospectors by Ariel DjanikianThe Yukon Gold Rush looms large in both timelines (19th century and 2015) about a young woman who sees her family become immensely wealthy from mining operations, and her 21st-century descendant, who seeks to right the wrongs her ancestors created by acknowledging the pain caused to the First Nations people a century earlier and establishing restitution.  William Morrow, October 2023. [see on Goodreads]

The Frozen River by Ariel LawhonMartha Ballard, a historical woman who kept a daily journal about her household duties and midwifery practice, narrates this entrancing tale of murder and the difficult quest for justice in late 18th-century Maine; review to come. Doubleday, November 2023. [see on Goodreads]

A Beautiful Rival by Gill PaulThe glamorous business rivals in Paul's latest atmospheric novel are cosmetic entrepreneurs Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden, millionaires determined to succeed and triumph over the other in their quest to enhance female beauty. William Morrow, September 2023. [see on Goodreads]

The Caretaker by Ron RashLiterary fiction set in early 1950s Appalachia, at the time of the Korean War, and focusing on the state of being an outsider in a small community, the demands of family, friendship, and love. Doubleday, September 2023. [see on Goodreads]

The Village Healer's Book of Cures by Jennifer Sherman RobertsA traditional healer, or "cunning woman," in a 17th-century English village channels her true power after her skills attract the negative attention of witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, and a man dies mysteriously.  This suspenseful historical novel has overtones of mystery and is written by an author with a PhD in Renaissance literature.  Lake Union, November 2023. [see on Goodreads]

Hazardous Spirits by Anbara Salam

Life for a young housewife in early 20th-century Scotland suddenly becomes more intriguing and uneasy when her husband tells her he can communicate with the spirit world.  Is it true?  Tin House, October 2023. [see on Goodreads]

Queen Hereafter by Isabelle SchulerYou might guess the subject of this biographical novel from the title: the bold and determined Gruoch, better known as Lady Macbeth, a historical woman from the 11th century. Harper Perennial, October 2023.  The UK title is Lady MacBethad. [See on Goodreads]

The Fraud by Zadie SmithZadie Smith's first historical novel centers on the nature of authenticity vs. pretense via the intertwined stories of real people and events from 19th-century Britain: Mrs. Eliza Touchet, longtime housekeeper to author William Harrison Ainsworth, and the infamous court case involving the "Tichborne claimant," in which a man purported to be the lost heir to a vast estate. Penguin Press, September 2023. [see on Goodreads]


  1. Katharine Ott7:38 AM

    It's always nice to browse through a list of book recommendations! Author Ariel Lawhon's name keeps showing up for me, I'll have to try one of hers. Thanks for the post!

    1. I've read her last three solo-authored novels. They get better and better!