Feature Image Credit: @thats_what_she_read
I love looking ahead to summer and discovering what books will be coming out. I particularly enjoy focusing on historical fiction, and for summer 2021, I found 11 titles that I cannot wait to read. While I try to choose titles from various time periods, there continue to be a plethora of engaging and inspiring untold stories set during or around World War 2 (particularly about brave, often unknown women), due to the depth and breadth of the war, and this list is chock full of them! 2021 is a fabulous year for historical fiction—and be sure to check out our 10 Best Historical Fiction Mystery series and Most Anticipated Historical Fiction of 2021.
The Bookseller’s Secret by Michelle Gable
Told in a dual timeline format, The Bookseller’s Secret focuses on real-life author Nancy Mitford, of the infamous Mitford sisters, and a fictional, long-missing wartime manuscript that she allegedly penned in the middle of the London Blitz while working at the Heywood Hill bookshop. The Bookseller’s Secret brings to life the legendary author during a lesser-known period of her life, and will appeal to book lovers by combining a book shop setting and a hunt for a lost manuscript written by a historical legend.
The Collector’s Daughter by Gill Paul
The Collector’s Daughter follows Lady Evelyn Herbert, daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, the only female present at the opening of Pharoah Tutankhamun’s tomb in November 1922 and the first person to enter the tomb in over 3000 years. Fifty years later, an Egyptian academic shows up, with an agenda of her own, to interview Lady Herbert about what really happened when the tomb was discovered.
In All Good Faith by Liza Nash Taylor
Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, two women’s stories unfold as the impact of the financial crash of 1929 leads to a lengthy economic downturn. Their stories intersect in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1932 when one of them attends the Bonus March, a march by over twenty thousand veterans who were seeking to be paid their bonuses early for their role in the Great War. Filled with historical detail, In All Good Faith relays the tale of the incredible strength and resilience of two women determined to survive and thrive during a difficult time in U.S. history.
The Last Debutantes by Georgie Blalock
On the cusp of World War 2, Valerie de Vere Cole, daughter of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, is a English debutante participating in one of the last debutante seasons. Understanding that her world is about to dramatically change, Valerie struggles to overcome her own personal issues while also navigating an increasingly stressful political environment. The Last Debutantes is a glimpse into a sparkling and glamorous era on the cusp of a seismic shift.
The Last Green Valley by Mark Sullivan
Beneath the Scarlet Sky author Mark Sullivan returns with another epic World War 2 story, based on the true story of the Martel family, a Ukrainian family who ended up in Montana after a long and harrowing journey to escape Stalin and Hitler’s brutal regimes. Based on his interviews with sons Bob and Walter Martel (now in their eighties), a trip retracing the route the family took and other research, Sullivan brings to life another little-known tale of perseverance and bravery in the face of incredible hardship.
The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
During the Gilded Age, a battle to reign supreme in the newspaper industry rages between William Randolph Heart and Joseph Pulitzer. When Hearst learns about a Cuban woman named Evangelina Cisneros who is unfairly thrown in a Cuban jail, he plasters her image all over the front pages of his paper. Grace Harrington, a woman working for Hearst, works with others to free Evangelina, but when Cuban citizens are forced into camps, the mission to free Evangelina becomes increasingly more difficult. In The Most Beautiful Girl in Cuba, Cleeton provides another glimpse into Cuba’s fascinating history.
Radar Girls by Sara Ackerman
Set in Hawaii following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Radar Girls highlights the important role the real Women’s Air Raid Defense (WARD) played during World War 2. A top secret program, WARD employed women (for the first time in a war zone) to monitor unknown planes flying in the Pacific and to guide pilots onto the completely dark airstrips in Hawaii. Ackerman’s latest book ensures that this group of unsung women who bravely contributed to history will not be forgotten.
The Show Girl by Nicola Harrison
Harrison brings New York City during the Roaring Twenties to life through the eyes of a Ziegfield Girl. From the early 1900s to the mid-1930s, the Ziegfield Follies reigned supreme as a popular American extravaganza and subsequently permanently altered the way Broadway musicals were performed. In The Show Girl, Midwesterner Olive McCormick becomes a Ziegfield Girl who must balance her love for her job with the desire to forge her own path forward.
Silent Winds, Dry Seas by Vinod Busjeet
Vishnu Bhushan lives on the island nation of Mauritius, a country still under British colonial rule in the 1950s. Silent Winds, Dry Seas charts Vishnu’s first twenty years as he comes of age on the island, learning more about his family’s troubled history while wishing to escape his home and move abroad. Busjeet portrays Vishnu’s individual struggles against the backdrop of the island’s rich culture and its people as they struggle under imperial rule and begin the process of fighting for independence.
Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson
Debut author Kaia Alderson’s book is inspired by the true story of the women of the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion (the Six Triple Eight), the only all-Black battalion of the Women’s Army Corp during World War 2. Tasked with crossing the Atlantic to ensure U.S. servicemen received word from their families during the war, these brave women not only dealt with the regular dangers of war, but they also had to contend with racial injustice and those who wanted them to fail.
The Woman with the Blue Star by Pam Jenoff
Another inspiring World War 2 novel, The Woman with the Blue Star is based on true stories of Jewish people in Poland living in city sewers during the war to avoid being sent to concentration camps. In Krakow, Poland, two women from very different backgrounds, one living in a sewer and the other who discovers her horrific situation, forge a friendship in extraordinary circumstances and find themselves tested by the horrors of war. This book is a testament to the power of human connection and an incredible tale of survival against the odds.
Want more 2021 book recs? Check out some of our other lists!
- The Best Beach Reads of Summer 2021
- 2021 Most anticipated LGBTQIA+ fiction releases
- Our most anticipated 2021 summer fiction
- Most Anticipated 2021 Summer Thrillers for your Beach Bag
- Most anticipated historical fiction books of 2021
- The 12 most anticipated YA books of summer 2021
- Most anticipated poetry collections of 2021
- Most anticipated romance books of 2021