Feature Image Credit: @thebookishroo
2022 is going to be a banner year for historical fiction, and I am really looking forward to the plethora of books coming out. For this roundup, I chose ten literary historical fiction titles to highlight: the stories span the globe and the decades of the 20th century and include books about two bookstores, a prominent Black Hotel in 1920s Los Angeles, European royalty, a courageous group of nurses in the Philippines and more. 2022 will be an exciting year for historical fiction – be sure not to miss our separate list of best historical fiction books coming in 2022!
Antoinette’s Sister by Diana Giovinazzo (January 11, 2022)
While everyone knows Marie Antoinette, her sister Queen Charlotte of Naples is less renowned. The ninth daughter and sixteenth child of Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the formidable Hapsburg ruler, Maria Carolina Charlotte is groomed from birth to extend her family’s power and influence through marriage. When her older sister Josepha dies, Charlotte is forced to marry King Ferdinand IV of Naples, a simple and easily influenced individual, and she finds herself thrust into the role of Queen of Naples amidst power struggles, economic turmoil and political uprisings.
The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher (January 11, 2022)
Paris’ Shakespeare and Company remains one of the most famous and recognizable bookstores in the world today. In its early years, the store was a second home to authors such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, and when Joyce’s book Ulysses is banned in the 1920s, store owner Sylvia Beach agrees to publish it under the Shakespeare and Company name. The Paris Bookseller brings to life this influential woman and her struggles to honor her love of literature following her decision to publish Ulysses and the financial crises that the Great Depression brings.
The Last Grand Duchess by Bryn Turnbull (February 1, 2022)
Grand Duchess Olga Romanov was the oldest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, and The Last Grand Duchess tells her lesser-known story. Brought up at the glittering Alexander Palace, Olga and her sisters are sheltered from the world around them. When war breaks out, the sisters work as nurses tending to Russian officers; but tensions in Russia begin to build as a revolution threatens to topple three centuries of Romanov rule.
The Next Ship Home by Heather Webb (February 8, 2022)
Ellis Island served as the arrival point into the United States for immigrants in the early 1900s. In The Next Ship Home, two women, one arriving at Ellis Island from Italy and one working on the island, band together to fight the corruption prevalent at the immigration processing center. Inspired by true events, the novel shines a light on how difficult it was to come to the United States and the prejudices and exclusion many immigrants faced.
The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers (March 1, 2022)
Myers’ debut novel follows a young seamstress who unearths terrible secrets that a local tobacco company is hiding from its consumers. A recent arrival to 1946 Bright Leaf North Carolina, Maddie Sykes is enthralled by the wives of the tobacco executives who run the town and lead seemingly perfect lives. But when Maddie uncovers some dark truths about the tobacco company’s products, she must decide if unveiling the harm being done by the company is worth upending the lives of the tobacco women and the rest of the townspeople who depend on the company for their livelihood.
Angels of the Pacific by Elise Hooper (March 8, 2022)
Set in the Philippines during World War, Angels of the Pacific focuses on the Angels of Bataan, a group of U.S. Army and Navy nurses who courageously endured four years in the Santo Tomas Internment Camp after the Japanese Imperial Army invaded the Philippines. Hooper also highlights the role that Filipinas played in the resistance, working to thwart the Japanese invaders.
Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu (March 15, 2022)
This multi-generational tale begins in 1938 China when a mother and her son must flee the rapidly approaching Japanese Imperial Army. The one solace amid the hardship is their beautifully illustrated scroll containing ancient fables; this manuscript provides them hope as they are forced to move from place to place. Spanning decades and continents, Peach Blossom Spring reveals that one’s past is never quite forgotten and that physically leaving a place does not erase the mental scars.
The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey (March 29, 2022)
A wedding veil with connections to the Vanderbilt family ties four generations of women together in this dual timeline tale. In 1914, Edith Vanderbilt struggles to maintain the enormous Biltmore Estate following her husband’s unexpected death. As she tries to prepare her daughter Cornelia to inherit the beautiful property, Cornelia decides she may want to pursue her own dreams. In the present-day story, Julia Baxter is having second thoughts about her wedding and flees to the Virgin Islands to ponder her options while her grandmother Babs is having her own relationship crisis. When Julia and Babs learn the origins of their heirloom wedding veil, their lives and family history are forever altered.
In the Face of the Sun by Denny S. Bryce (April 26, 2022)
In this dual timeline narrative set in 1928 and 1964, Bryce follows two women, Daisy Washington and Frankie Saunders. In 1928, Daisy spends her time at the newly-built Hotel Somerville chronicling behind-the-scenes Hollywood scandals and monitoring the African-American elite who frequent the Somerville until she reveals secrets that threaten her own safety. In 1964, Frankie is pregnant and anxious to leave an abusive relationship; with her aunt Daisy, the two head out on a road trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. As the two women fight to remedy their past mistakes and relationships, they also work to solve a mystery from 1920s Hollywood.
Bloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner (May 17, 2022)
In 1950s London, Bloomsbury Books, a bookstore that sells new and rare books and that has existed for over a century, is run by men and guided by the general manager’s 51 rules. But following World War 2, three strong women working at the store strive to modernize the store’s ways and chart their own paths in a male-dominated world. Interacting with literary greats such as Daphne de Maurier, Ellen Doubleday, Peggy Guggenheim and more, these three women push the boundaries of the early 1950s.