Happy Tuesday-after-the-long-weekend, Savvy Readers!
We’ve got our eye on some great recently-released and upcoming historical fiction! From some of my previous posts, it’s no surprise that historical fiction and strong female characters are at the top of my list… and that’s what today’s Top 10 is all about! Check out our favourite new historical fiction reads:
Goodnight from London by Jennifer Robson (April 11)
That’s right, Jennifer Robson is BACK! It’s 1940 and American journalist Ruby Sutton gets the career break she’s been waiting for: to report on the European war for Picture Weekly newsmagazine in London. She can’t wait for the opportunity to prove herself, and to start fresh in a country where no one knows her past. While most of Ruby’s new colleagues are welcoming, some resent her presence as an American and especially as a woman. Just as she starts to find her own way in her new home, the bombs fall. When she loses everything, Ruby hesitates to depend on the kindness of strangers and learns the true meaning of love and friendship.
Alexander VI, Lucrezia, Cesare Borgia, and Machiavelli… need I say more? It is 1502 and Rodrigo Borgia is on the papal throne as Alexander VI. His daughter Lucrezia is twenty-two, has thrice been married (yikes!), and is but a pawn in her father’s plans. Her brother, Cesare, has been learning about politics from none other than Niccolò Machiavelli. While the pope fights his old age and his son’s rebellious ways, Lucrezia must rise to the occasion and play the game to make a name for herself.
Dragon Springs Road by Janie Chang (January 10)
As an ancient imperial dynasty collapses in 1900s Shanghai, seven-year-old Jialing is abandoned by her mother. In exchange for room and board, Jialing begins work as a bond servant for the Yang family. Jialing soon learns that she is zazhong – Eurasian – and finds herself ostracized from both Chinese and Europeans. Guided by Fox, an animal spirit who has lived in the courtyard for hundreds of years, Jialing learns to overcome even the most challenging of circumstances. A story of fate, spirits, and affairs, Dragon Springs Road is one of my favourite historical fiction reads of all time.
A story of strong women set at the end of World War II, Jessica Shattuck’s The Women in the Castle has just climbed to the top of my TBR list. Widowed Marianne von Lingenfels returns to the castle of her husband’s ancestors after the defeat of Nazi Germany. The castle now in ruins, Marianne vows to keep the promise she made to her late husband’s comrades: to find and protect their wives in the event of their deaths. With these resisters’ widows and their children, Marianne assembles a makeshift family from the wreckage of her husband’s rebel movement. At first certain that their shared pain and circumstances will bring them together, Marianne soon discovers that these women and their secrets could crumble at any time. The women must band together and come to terms with their choices in order to move forward.
In 1800s Sweden, a priest, a law enforcement officer, and a local settler have been slaughtered. The murderer, one of the indigenous Sami people, refuses to talk. The Minister of Justice sends his geologist son-in-law to investigate, along with the Minister’s disgraced daughter. The two unlikely companions trek out of the city and into the wild landscape of north Sweden under the insomnia-inducing light of the midnight sun. What they discover about the murders – and about themselves – will redefine the world around them.
If you thought I’d eventually stop talking about this book, you thought wrong! The Lonely Hearts Hotel is my absolute favourite historical fiction novel, and definitely the best book I’ve read so far in 2017. Rose and Pierrot are abandoned in a Montreal orphanage in 1914. They grow up to be best friends (and maybe a little in love) and plan the most elaborate circus show the world has ever seen. They are separated as teenagers and do whatever it takes to survive. 1930s Montreal is not exactly a hotbed for success, and drugs, prostitution, and theft are just the beginning. When Rose and Pierrot reunite and finally enact the circus show of their dreams, the underworld of Montreal will never be the same.
Secret Sisters by Joy Callaway (July 11)
College sophomore Beth Carrington is the only woman in her physician’s program in 1881. She faces constant pressure from her professors and peers who urge her to pursue a more “fitting” (read: feminine) field of study, like the secretarial program. Beth, however, knows her worth and will not settle for anything less than her medical degree. She also knows she can’t do it alone, so she starts a secret, off-limits sorority called Beta Xi Beta. Women’s organizations are not permitted, so Beth enlists the help of influential senior Grant Richardson, Iota Gamma fraternity president and friend of the Whitsitt family who owns the college. Beth quickly learns who she can and cannot trust, and her quest to establish her sorority uncovers deep secrets about the college and its members.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: females are strong as hell.
Susanna Moodie’s true story of survival is an integral part of Canada’s national mythology. Susanna and her husband are on the edge of poverty, and she agrees to leave her growing career behind to follow him to the backwoods of Canada. John Moodie has a weakness for get-rich-quick schemes, and is mostly absent, leaving Susanna to fend for herself in their cabin in the wilderness. Cecily Ross writes a fictional portrait of the sister, wife, mother, and woman who prevailed and made the land her own.
The Long Drop by Denise Mina (May 23)
True crime meets historical fiction: in 1958 Glasgow, Peter Manuel broke into the Watt family home and murdered three members of the Watt family. William Watt, the father, was arrested and suspected of the murder, but was released after the police found insubstantial evidence against him. Watt made it known that he would pay for information into the murders and soon got a call from Peter Manuel offering to help. Here’s where the fiction comes in: no one knows what happened that night, but Manuel was soon arrested on another murder charge and represented himself in the trial of the century. The Long Drop is a reimagining of the night that Manuel and Watt spent together, combined with the transcript of the real trial. I don’t know about you, but I need some closure—even if it’s fictional—and I NEED to read this ASAP.
And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer (in paperback May 3)
Weaving between 1783, 1945, and 2010, this exceptional book centres around a piece of music by J.S. Bach. In 1945, American soldier Henry Sachs steals an old music manuscript from an abandoned mansion. In 2010, Henry’s niece Susanna discovers the manuscript and is determined to discover its validity and return it to its rightful owner. Rewinding back to 1783, renowned musician Sara Itzig Levy conceals the manuscript of an anti-Semitic cantata by J.S. Bach, a gift from her piano teacher who is Bach’s son. The cantata and its disturbing message will haunt Sara, Henry, and Susanna for the rest of their lives, and each struggle with the heavy decision of whether or not to share it.
I can’t wait to get my hands on these great new historical fiction reads, especially Jennifer Robson’s newest book! While you wait for the upcoming books to go on sale, take a peek at some of the newly-released ones and let us know what you think!
Which historical fiction reads are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader.
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