Historical fiction continues to shine a light on untold stories and deliver fresh perspectives on past events. Here are ten titles spanning centuries and continents, intertwining mystery and romance, and centering the fierce women who have certainly left their mark.
Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward
A poignant reimagining of American slavery following Annis as she navigates plantations and slave markets across the South. Through vivid memories and lyrical stories, Annis finds peace within herself and takes readers on a beautiful yet harrowing journey.
Homeward by Angela Jackson Brown
An emotionally captivating historical fiction novel set in Parson, Georgia in 1965. Rose Perkins Bourdon is forced to return to Parsons to regain some semblance of normal but this is easier said than done. Her life is completely different – tragedy strikes her husband in the war overseas and she is pregnant with a child that is not his. Searching for purpose, Rose becomes involved with the Civil Rights Movement and evolves into the woman she always knew she’d become.
The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper
The Butterfly Collector is a dual perspective historical mystery transitioning between Theodora Breckenridge in 1868 Morpeth and Verity Binks in 1922 Sydney.
Theodora prefers solitude after losing her parents and brother at sea. She has found solace in nature illustration and when she discovers a butterfly that has never been captured her aspirations of notoriety are within reach that is until her son goes missing.
Verity receives an anonymous package with a beautiful butterfly costume and invitation to the Sydney Artist Masquerade Ball. At the ball, Verity agrees to write the history of the Treadwell Foundation, an institution for young mothers and children. Her research quickly leads to something nefarious when she uncovers a 50 year old mystery.
The Woman with a Purple Heart by Diane Hanks
Inspired by the life of Lieutenant Annie Fox, Chief Nurse of Hickam Hospital in Honolulu during World War II, comes a remarkable novel following a tenacious main character whose patriotism is challenged when she witnesses discrimination against Japanese Americans.
The Woman at the Wheel by Penny Haw
An awe-inspiring novel based on Bertha Benz, wife of Carl Benz, follows a young woman determined to prove the advantages of being a woman in a male dominated world. She falls in love with Carl Benz and fiercely supports his dream of building a horseless carriage and is willing to risk everything to see this through. This novel lauds Bertha’s resilience and amplifies the pivotal role women have played throughout history.
Last Night at the Hollywood Canteen by Sarah James
A riveting historical mystery seat in 1943 Hollywood following murder mystery playwright, Annie Laurence. When loathed film critic, Fiona Farris, is found dead, Annie determines that anyone could be the killer but can she investigate without putting a target on her back?
The Other Princess by Denny S. Bryce
An insightful novel following Sarah Forbes Bonetta, a kidnapped African princess, and a “gift” for Queen Victoria. Sarah learns to navigate the royal world but longs for answers about her royal identity and family she was ripped away from.
One Blood by Denene Millner
An endearing multigenerational saga spanning three generations, One Blood explores the consequences of bad decisions,well kept secrets, and ambitious women. Grace moves up North after her grandmother passes. She is quickly propelled into high society with her Aunt Hattie but after a brief entanglement Grace becomes pregnant and her child is given up for adoption. Delores a.k.a Lolo weaves intricate stories of a well to do life but her secrets begin to unravel forcing her to do whatever it takes to regain control. Lolo’s daughter, Rae discovers she is adopted and is determined to get answers. This novel explores womanhood, motherhood and healing generational trauma.
The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng
An entertaining novel with dual perspectives following Lesly Hamlyn and “Willie” Somerset Maugham is filled with scandal, love, friendship and revolution. Lesly and her husband are living at Cassowary House on the Straits Settlement of Penang and Willie and his secretary arrive for a visit. It soon becomes clear that both pairs are leading lives of deception and the slightest utterance would have rippling effects.
A Traitor in Whitewall by Julia Kelly
This blend of historical fiction and mystery follows Evelyne Redfern, a young orphan from a high profile family who seeks excitement outside of her mystery novels and otherwise mundane life. Her wishes are answered when she bumps into Mr. Fletcher, one of her estranged father’s friends, connects Evelyn with a job as a secretary in Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s cabinet war rooms. Evelyn’s happiness vanishes when one of the other secretaries is murdered. Feeling rather equipped from her all mystery novels, Evelyn begins investigating the murder herself but her efforts are stalled when she learns there is a mole selling government secrets to Britain’s enemies.
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