Historical Fiction

Picture of a woman with only lower face shown, dressed in a 1950's style gown that is coral in color. The title is printed on the lower part of her full skirt, with an image of the skyline of the city of Havana on the very lower edge of her skirt.

Next Year in Havana

By Chanel Cleeton
4
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 21, 2020

The historical fiction novel Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton is a fascinating look into Cuba before and after Castro comes into power. The novel is told in split timelines with stories about two women in Cuba: one facing a revolution that would tear apart everything she knows, another facing a Cuba she has only heard about in family stories.


In Cuba 1958, Elisa Perez is a nineteen-year-old sugar heiress when she meets Pablo at a dinner party. Their chemistry is immediate and undeniable. It is love at first sight and the relationship is doomed from the start due to Elisa and Pablo

Oct 21, 2020

The year is 1957, and Spain has something to hide. Under fascist dictator General Franco’s tyrannical rule the only option is silence, and defiance comes with a hefty price —imprisonment, death, or worse. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Daniel Matheson, the rather spoiled son of a wealthy oil tycoon, journeys to Madrid with his parents, who are brokering a deal with Franco. However, through his photojournalism and the friendship of Ana, a maid at the hotel he is staying at, he realizes that there is a different side of Spain hidden under the image of sunny streets and luxurious accommodations presented

Girls Like Us by Randi Pink

Girls Like Us

4
Rated by Julia B.
Jul 24, 2020

As a teen invested in equal rights, I really enjoyed this book. I didn't know much history about this topic and because of that the most compelling aspect of the book is how it provided a new perspective. Lots of other teens like me will find this book informative and inspiring, and that is what makes it awesome. I also love books that have multiple POVs and make each person’s story come together in the end, and this book did a really good job with that. I think publishing novels like this one is really important to the current generation. We need books like this to empower us to do better

The Broken Girls

By Simone St. James
4
Rated by Hebah A.H.
Jul 6, 2020

One of the best things about working in a library is the regular opportunity to talk about books (and other media) with people. Often, I can provide a recommendation for something else to read or try in those conversations, but it isn’t always a one-way street. Sometimes, patrons put books on my radar that I overlooked, either because the cover or description didn’t grab me, or it’s just outside my usual genre preferences. One of these books was Simone St. James’s The Broken Girls.


As a story with a historical fiction subplot and an intrigued journalist starring in the other main plotline,

Jun 22, 2020

(I discuss the novel, but I have avoided spoilers as best as I can.)


George Eliot’s Middlemarch regularly ranks as one of the greatest Victorian, greatest British, greatest English-language, or just plain greatest novels of all time. It seems to fare better on critic lists than reader lists, but if it’s a list of 100, Middlemarch is usually on there. The first time I took special notice of it was about fifteen years ago when I saw this quote: “He distrusted her affection; and what loneliness is more lonely than distrust?” I remember making a mental note that maybe one day I should read the

Once Upon a River

By Diane Setterfield
5
Rated by Meghan F
Apr 29, 2020

Fairy tales are often dismissed as stories only for children, but I've never been able to stop reading them, even as an adult.  C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, "Some day you will be old enough to read fairy tales again."  These types of stories are ones I turn to again and again, whether they be new tales or the dark, Grimm originals.  I especially love historical novels that incorporate fairy tale elements - which is why I was so excited when I heard about the new book by Diane Setterfield.


Set in a small English town on the river Thames, the story centers around a local inn, The

Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry
5
Rated by Charles H
Apr 23, 2020

If you are a fan of the western genre, chances are you have heard of Lonesome Dove. Likewise, if you follow award winning books, you may have seen it on a list for its 1985 Spur Award or its 1986 Pulitzer Prize. Some of you may have even watched the CBS miniseries from 1989 starring Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones. Lonesome Dove is not an obscure novel and it has received a great deal of praise, but coming in at a whopping 843 pages it can be daunting to those of us more used to a book in the 200-250 page range. If you, like me, have been avoiding this read because you are scared of the time

Apr 1, 2020

The past two months of quarantine shutdown have been bizarre to say the least. Surprised by how hard it's been to focus on simple tasks and know how to deal with whatever each day might bring, I turned to another time in history where the whole world was under threat and people had to deal with a cloud of confusion that hung over everything--World War II. Obviously COVID-19 is not the same as WWII by any means, but I was inspired and encouraged to read the stories of how women in particular faced the challenges of such a world-impacting crisis.


I think my favorite book was A Woman of No

Outlander, Season 1, Volume 2

By Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
5
Rated by Becky C.
Dec 2, 2019

When my friends started raving about the TV series, Outlander, I was more, meh. It sounds a bit outlandish, frankly. A twenty-something combat nurse from England finishes her tour of duty in Nazi-occupied France during World War II. On vacation in the Scottish Highlands with a husband she barely knows, after having been separated for five years during the war, she gets sucked back in time to the 18th century. Great. Another military conflict. Only this time, being English, she's on the side of the occupier in occupied lands. She eventually falls in love with a hunky (and educated, and

The Secret History

By Donna Tartt
3
Rated by Megan K.
Oct 25, 2019

Donna Tartt  has been on my radar for quite awhile, and I finally picked up The Secret History at the recommendation of multiple coworkers. To be honest, I finished this novel over a week ago, and I am still unsure how I feel. I was unimpressed with much of the book, but something about it is still stuck in the back of my brain. The entire book is a psychological analysis of the six main characters before and after murdering their friend. Tartt opens the book with a prologue describing Bunny’s murder from the point of view of Richard, the narrator. The rest of the novel is then split up into

The Giver of Stars

By Moyes, Jojo
5
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 7, 2019

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes is historical fiction at its very best!  Set in 1939 Southern Kentucky, the lives of five strong female characters come together to form and operate the Packhorse Library, where they deliver by horseback, books, magazines and newspapers to those living in remote, rural areas.


One of the main characters, Alice, an Englishwoman, marries an American and is brought to Kentucky where she hopes to start a new, dazzling life with her husband. That is not to be the case.  Alice finds living with her husband and her father-in-law to be stifling and oppressive. Alice

Before We Were Yours

By Lisa Wingate
4
Rated by Kari E.
May 17, 2019

Before We Were Yours is a moving, fascinating portrayal of an upper class Southern family dealing with dementia care, cancer, secrets and a family in 1939 ripped apart just because they live on the river. Have your Kleenex ready and Google pulled up. This novel presents many topics to discuss for book groups.


Dual timelines tell the story of Avery Stafford digging into her Grandma Judy’s past. A woman named May Crandall approaches Avery at a nursing home event, confusing her for someone named Fern and slipping Avery’s bracelet off. When Avery returns the next day to retrieve the bracelet, a

The Harvey Way

By Carolyn Meyer
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Apr 8, 2019

In the late 1800s and early-mid 1900s, the Harvey Girls were considered to be elite hostesses and servers for entrepreneur and businessman Fred Harvey.  Harvey developed the concept of the ‘Harvey House’ dining areas along various railways across the United States, including the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe.  These hospitality restaurants worked in tandem with the railways in order to provide first class service to passengers and railroad employees.  Meals were served promptly on a strict schedule and all Harvey Girls were expected to follow a strict code of conduct that included a

Feb 7, 2019

The Terror is a fictionalized account of the real historical event known as Franklin's Lost Expedition. The expedition, a crew of 129 men split between two British Royal Navy ships, set out in 1845 to discover a new route through the Arctic for trade between England and China - a route deemed the "Northwest Passage." Over a year after the expedition initially set sail, both ships (HMS Erebus and HMS Terror) became trapped in thick ice off the northern coast of Canada. The crew, utterly isolated and unprepared, were left to fend off the unrelenting cold of the Arctic with few provisions and

Jan 2, 2019

With an impressive cast,


Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Dakota Johnson, Chris Hemsworth, and serious breakout star of 2018 contender, Cynthia Erivo


Bad Times at the El Royale  is the follow up to Drew Goddard's critically acclaimed directorial debut, The Cabin in the Woods...


   


   The El Royale Hotel was once a hot celebrity getaway, frequented by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.  Its days of glory are over, however, as a series of strangers check in to an otherwise empty hotel.  There's a priest (Bridges), a vacuum salesman (Hamm), a singer (Erivo), and a woman

Dec 21, 2018

This story is the legend of Sleepy Hollow from the point of view of the main female character, Katrina Van Tassel. Having grown up the only daughter to a wealthy farmer and doting mother, Katrina is strong in her opinions, desires and actions. While this strength of character gets Katrina into some mischief, it also allows her to follow her heart and find a deep love with the new school teacher, Ichabod Crane.


When Ichabod first arrives at Sleepy Hollow he stays with the Van Tassel family until he finds the first host family among his pupils. Katrina's father hires him quickly to be her

Dec 14, 2018

 


An Extraordinary Union is a historical romance set during the turbulent American Civil War. The heroine is spunky Elle Burns, a former slave with an eidetic memory who becomes a detective for the Union through the Loyal League, a society of freed and enslaved blacks with networks across the country to funnel intelligence to the North. Her latest assignment is to pose as a mute slave in Richmond, Virginia in the household of Confederate Senator Caffrey. The hero is Malcolm McCall, a Scottish born detective for Pinkerton, also assigned to gather intelligence from the Caffrey household

The Help

By Kathryn Stockett
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Dec 5, 2018

The Helpthe debut novel by Kathryn Stockett, published nearly ten years ago, has the remarkable ability to remain relevant in today’s polarized climate of questions and the search for truth and justice.  Here we meet three different women: Skeeter Phelan, Aibileen Clark, and Minny Jackson, all wanting to change the status quo without knowing how or when to start.  Set in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi, there is a strong divide between the races that results in violence and fear among the residents as the Civil Rights Movement continues throughout the nation.  The power struggle exists in the

The Little Stranger

By The Little Stranger
4
Rated by Sam S.
Dec 3, 2018

The Little Stranger follows Faraday, a respectable country doctor in post-World War II England who is called to assist the Ayres family—an aristocratic family whose once elegant home, Hundreds Hall, has fallen into disrepair as their power and wealth dwindle with the collapsing noble class. His patient, Roderick, lives there with his mother and sister as they all wage daily battles to prevent the inevitable loss of their formerly prosperous country estate. Roderick was wounded in the second World War and has never recovered—but his injuries are not all that plague him. The entire family is

Lincoln in the Bardo

By George Saunders
5
Rated by Chris K.
Oct 24, 2018

Strange, fascinating, moving, disturbing, challenging, poignant, and human. Oh, so very human.


Lincoln in the Bardo is a book that delves deep into the human condition and the particular human penchant for storytelling. It presents a myriad cast of characters, each obsessed with telling his or her own story to others. And to living it out, over and over. They are stuck in their stories. Limited by them. Blinded by them. Stories of regret, sorrow, and unfinished lives. Unhappy stories.


For the characters are ghosts. Or spirits or phantoms or souls or what you will. Trapped in a limbo of

Transcription

By Kate Atkinson
3
Rated by Heather B.
Oct 15, 2018

I am, in general, a huge fan of Kate Atkinson’s novels. I loved Life After Life, its sequel A God in Ruins, and all of the books in her Jackson Brodie series. That’s why it pains me to say I was a bit disappointed in Transcription.


Transcription tells the story of Juliet Armstrong, a young woman who is recruited by the British intelligence agency MI5 at the beginning of World War II. The main task she is charged with is transcribing the meetings among a group of British fascist sympathizers and supporters. As she is drawn further into the web of British spies and their targets, she’s left

Nefertiti

By Michelle Moran
4
Rated by Sam S.
Aug 27, 2018

Nefertiti follows the titular character through the eyes of her sister, Mutnodjmet, from their early life through Nefertiti's swift ascent to the throne as one of history’s most powerful women. Headstrong, cunning, and limitlessly ambitious – Nefertiti defies tradition to become Egypt's first female co-regents during one of its most tumultuous and unique periods, with Mutnodjmet as her near-constant, often reluctant companion and advisor. All the while, Mutnodjmet—a  thoughtful, intelligent young woman with a passion for healing and nature—yearns to find her own destiny, away from the courts

The Marriage Of Opposites

By Alice Hoffman
5
Rated by Stephanie S
Jul 31, 2018

I absolutely love this book and consider it one of my "top 10" favorites! I did not expect to like it when a friend lent me her copy to read, but it blew me away. 


Alice Hoffman's writing is so rich in detail that it's mesmerizing. The Marriage of Opposites is historical fiction set during the 19th century, based on the real life of Rachel Pomie', the mother of Camille Pissarro who became a famous artist and one of the fathers of impressionism. Most of the story is set on the island of St. Thomas, and then ultimately in Paris. Rachel Pomie' is a girl that does not like rules and is

The Handmaiden

By Park Chan-wook
5
Rated by Zachary C
Jun 8, 2018

The Handmaiden, a Korean film adaptation of the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, is the newest film from one of the most daring directors in cinema.


The plot follows a Korean woman hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress as part of a plot to defraud her of her wealth. It is a classic con, but is subject to a bevy of twists and turns, as the handmaiden develops feelings for her mark and everyone has their own designs on the situation.


Misdirection is accentuated as the movie replays many of the major plot points from alternating perspectives: the heiress, the handmaiden, and the con

Dunkirk (2017) DVD

By Christopher Nolan
3
Rated by Emily D.
Apr 27, 2018

The film Dunkirk tells a very important story. During the Second World War the British, French and other allied forces get surrounded at Dunkirk, a beach town in France. The limited Navy and Red-cross ships can't seem to make it back across the channel without being hit by German forces, and British fighter planes don't have the fuel capacity to be of much help. Overall, the situation is very grim. The British Navy commissions the use of any serviceable ship or boat to rescue the 300,000 some odd soldiers trapped at Dunkirk.


Now you are prepared to watch a movie that has virtually no

Mar 23, 2018

This book is based on the incredible true story of the Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus. She was taken from the Terrezin ghetto in Prague, and she is adjusting to life in the Nazi camp with her mother and father. And when the Jewish leader Fredy Hirsch asks her to protect the 8 precious books prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. This is the story of how she became the librarian of Auschwitz. This girl risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust despite constant danger every day.


This book is at times horrifying and joyful. It contains many

The Three Musketeers

By Alexandre Dumas
3
Rated by Debbie L.
Mar 21, 2018

The main character, d'Artagnan travels to Paris in hopes of joining the King's Musketeers, a task that takes a bit of time to accomplish. Upon his arrival, he befriends musketeers Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and thus begins a series of adventures. A great, satirical novel that expertly entwines plots and characters. It starts off a little slow, but once the plot groundwork is established, The Three Musketeers becomes an enjoyable, lively read. 

Assassin's Creed: Origins

By Ubisoft
4
Rated by Rachel C.
Mar 3, 2018

The latest in the Assassin's Creed juggernaut, Origins (available for PS4 and XBoxOne) is immediately striking due to the sheer amount of pretty.  The vast expanses of desert, the detail in the cities, the shining pyramids, the stars in the sky...this game is gorgeous.  Happily, it's more than just a pretty face!


The controls are a little bit smoother in this iteration, although you'll still have moments of climbing the wall right next to the ladder you were intending to use.  After this many games, I'm fairly certain that's a feature by now, not a bug.  The weapons/armor system reminds me

The Fortune Teller

By Gwendolyn Womack
3
Rated by Catherine G.
Feb 2, 2018

This is an interesting book about prophecy, antiquity, and crime, with just a tiny bit of romance. The story is about how Semele, an appraiser for a prestigious auction house in NY, finds a 2,000 year old manuscript that was written for her. Semele discovers this manuscript while cataloging items from a recently deceased private collector in Switzerland. The collector left her a handwritten note warning her not to tell anyone about the manuscript. She realizes there must be some connection between herself and the deceased collector even though they had never met. As Semele flies back to NY she