historical fiction

Jul 24, 2013

Two librarians from the Johnson County Library, Christine Peterson and Gregg Winsor, discuss Bernard Cornwell's novel "1356" and some other favorites from the historical fiction genre. Listen to the discussion, or check out the books they discussed here.

May 7, 2011

      This is a book of a great imaginative writing.  It tells the story of a suspicious death of a famous world astrophysicist, Thom Bergmann, who was on the brink of proving the existence of extraordinary civilizations.  After his death, the only proofs of his findings are saved on a flash drive worn as a necklace by his wife Lucy.  She is later contacted by an anthropologist, who asks her to retrieve and deliver a case which contains rare historical documents, a codex, revealing reinterpretations of the Book of Geneses, which will bring a resolution and peace to religions disagreements to

May 21, 2011

Steven King and I agree that Scott Snyder has written a wonderful, fresh take on vampires.  Steve liked it so much that he asked – yes, asked! – if he could contribute.  Together, Snyder and King, along with illustrator Rafael Albuquerque, have written a vampire series that is bloody and scary and beautifully depicted.  It’s got fangs and claws and only a vary little bit of kissing.  It also has flappers and cowboys.  Awesome, huh?

The parallel story lines tell of a new breed of American Vampires, hearty and defiant.  Skinner Sweet, the first of these vampires, is a Wild West outlaw.  His

Jul 5, 2017

Having read many books with Anne Boleyn as either a periphery or main character, Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession offers a very different take on this notorious woman. In this second novel of the Six Tudor Queens series, Alison Weir paints Anne Boleyn in an almost sympathetic light. Where she is generally seen as a conniving, cold and adulterous woman, Weir shows her as a woman shaped by the events of her upbringing and pushed to her limits by the pursuit of a king who always gets his way, and the promise of being Queen.

The second and perhaps most well known of King Henry VIII's wives, Anne

Buddha by Deepak Chopra

Rated by Sandra S.
May 19, 2011

Buddha by Deepak Chopra

Once again, Chopra brings to life an historic figure of faith, giving us a view of the humanity, the struggles and the triumphs of Buddha. It is a fascinating story of Prince Siddhartha, who takes on the monk’s life as Gautama, and eventually becomes Buddha, the enlightened one. We become acquainted with the key individuals in Buddha’s life - his father, King Suddhodana; his wife, Yashodhara; their son, Rahula; his archenemy, Devadatta; and his close friend, Channa.

I enjoyed the story – was entertained and learned some things – what I love about historical fiction!

Aug 10, 2011

Set in the 1640’s on Martha’s Vineyard – called only “The Island” at that time – this is a work of fiction based on the real life story of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, a member of the Wopanaak tribe and the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University, a college originally intended to educate “the savages.”  The story is told by Bethia, daughter of missionaries who purchased land on the island from Caleb’s tribe.  Bethia recounts her friendship with Caleb beginning in the wilds near her home where they taught each other about their respective cultures and became as close as brother and

May 28, 2010

Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

staff-pick.jpgIn Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet, Stephanie Cowell renders a poignant picture of the artist’s life with his first great love, the alluring Camille Doncieux, who became his favorite and most frequently painted model. The story begins in Le Havre, France, as Monet tries to break away from the ties of his father to pursue his dream of painting. After moving to Paris, his life is enriched by the friendships of other artists, who would come to be known as the “Impressionists”. Into this world of a struggling but determined artist

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rated by Bethany T.
Aug 20, 2012

It’s been 24 hours since I’ve finished Code Name Verity, and I am still staring at a wall, recovering.

We first meet our heroine as a prisoner of war in Occupied France, writing down everything she knows about the Allied War Effort to hand over to the Nazis.  She is beaten and starved and in mental anguish over the probable death of her best friend, Maddie, the pilot who crash-landed their plane into France.  But despite the bruises and burns, our narrator is full of spirit and defiance and refuses to let her captors have anything without a struggle—even as she collaborates, she piques and

Conspirata by Robert Harris

Rated by Lisa L
Mar 16, 2010

ConspirataConspirata by Robert Harris is a work of historical fiction set in ancient Rome. A sequel to Harris’ novel Imperium, Conspirata continues the story of the life of the great orator and politician Cicero. The book begins in the year 63 B.C., when Cicero was elected consul of Rome. This was the year that he defeated the Cataline conspiracy, saving Rome from what would have been a ruinous civil war, and he appeared to be at the peak of prestige. But such things never last, especially when one has made an enemy of one of the greatest political minds of his generation: Julius Caesar.


Jun 29, 2011

Having enjoyed the first three season's of Showtimes "The Tudors", I was anxious to view this fourth and final season.  In this final season, we meet King Henry VIII's last two wives, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr, who are played beautifully by Tamzin Merchant and Joely Richardson, respectively.  The entire season is comprised of only 10 episodes.  The first five episodes deal with King Henry's affair and marriage to the very young and morally questionable Katherine Howard and his difficulties with his northern subjects, the Scots.  The second five episodes show his subsequent marriage

Jul 19, 2012

Despite the Colley family remaining neutral during the Civil War, the Missouri Union Militia sets fire to their home, leaving young Adair with only her two sisters. Together the three set out to navigate war-torn Missouri – an environment so inhospitable it makes Armageddon seem manageable. Adair is brave and intelligent, but the threats that surround her create an unbeatable monster. Once separated from her sisters, she’s sent to prison in St. Louis on charges of treason. Author Paulette Jiles dramatizes this little known piece of the Civil War – that women were held captive – with bold

Nov 28, 2015

Thomas Hardy, an English author, spun a classic and spectacular tale of love in his novel, Far From the Madding Crowd. Adapted for the screen by David Nicholls and starring Carey Mulligan (The Great Gatsby), Matthias Schoenaerts (Rust and Bone), and Tom Sturridge (Waiting Forever), the movie stands on its own with this convincing cast of actors. In the beginning of the film, the protagonist Bathsheba Everdene, convinces us she is too independent to need a husband or to be courted by a man. Her first suitor is Gabriel Oak, who is hard not to like with his chivalrous characteristics and the

May 31, 2013

Historical Fiction is set in the past, either before the author’s birth or at least 50 years in the past. The main characters are generally fictional but the settings are usually real and attempt to accurately capture the history, manners and social conditions of the times. Attention to historical facts and detail is imperative.

Get reading some of our favorite essential picks from the Historical Fiction genre »

Follow along with us on Facebook this month for an in-depth introduction to the Historical Fiction genre. Each month we’re suggesting books, posting quizzes and infographics, and

Oct 25, 2011

Imperium is the first of a planned trilogy about the life and times of the great Roman orator and politician Cicero.  Imperium (“the power of life and death as vested by the state in an individual”) takes place from 79 B.C. to 64 B.C.  The story is narrated long after Cicero’s death by Tiro, Cicero’s slave, personal secretary, and confidant for 36 years.  Tiro developed a method of shorthand to record his master’s continuous flow of words and thoughts.  Tiro begins the story as he approaches 100 years of age and no longer fears repercussion for recording a tale of political intrigue.  He

Oct 25, 2010

butterflies.GIFIn the Time of the Butterflies was recommended to me by several of my Latino patrons. Since it sounded like a very interesting book, I decided to make it a Fall book group selection for the Edgerton Book Ends in order to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as well as in honor of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (November 25), declared by the United Nations as a tribute to the Mirabal sisters (the Butterflies) and their fight for freedom.

In In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez introduces American readers to the story of the Mirabal sisters, Dominican

Nov 1, 2010

Juliet by Anne FortierJuliet is both a modern and historical retelling of Shakespeare’s classic tale, “Romeo and Juliet”. The story weaves back and forth between a present-day Juliet searching for a family inheritance in Italy and a 14th-century Giulietta defying a family feud to be with her Romeo. The later is supposed to be the real inspiration for Shakespeare’s classic story, set in Siena instead of Verona. You don’t have to be a fan of Shakespeare to enjoy this debut novel; a love story, historical fiction, tragedy, mystery, and thriller all rolled into one enjoyable novel.

Sep 15, 2011

Moon over Manifest won the 2011 Newberry award. That was enough reason for me to read it, but I quite enjoyed it and want to offer a few more reasons.

It is set in Kansas. The town, Manifest, if fictional, but is based on family stories and memories of a real Kansas town that the author’s grandparents lived in. It’s set in both 1917 and 1936 – very interesting times, what with WWI and the Great Depression. It deals with overcoming hardship and finding your place in the world. These are broad themes, and therefore applicable to… everyone. I always enjoy stories about coming together in the face

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Rated by Pam W.
Dec 16, 2010

MUDBOUND  is Hillary Jordan’s award winning debut novel. This riveting novel won the Bellwether prize which was founded and is fully funded by the renowned author,  Barbara Kingsolver.  The intent of this award is to promote literature of social responsibility.  This is one of Ms. Kingsolver's comments about Mudbound  from an NPR interview:  “I love the voices of the novel. I love that you understand everybody, even though everyone isn't right, and in the long run some people are very wrong.  But you begin by feeling their own perspective, and you have some sympathy for every character.”   

Jun 14, 2011

Nothing will deter persistent, inquisitive Mary Sutter from realizing her dream of becoming a surgeon. Already a skilled midwife but with no immediate prospect of being apprenticed as a surgeon, Mary leaves home to nurse the wounded at the outbreak of the Civil War. Not even the horrendous and life-threatening unsanitary conditions of the Union hospitals, the suffering of the maimed and dying, or the urgent pleas from her family to come home will sway Mary from her goal. Mary is no beauty, but her competent, compassionate nature earns her the love and admiration of the young men in her care

Apr 22, 2011

          In Mystic Warriors, the third of the Mystic Indian series, the sacred white buffalo robe has been stolen from the Lakota people.  Buffalo Dreamer, a holy woman, knows that much misery will befall them from such a loss, but even she wasn’t prepared for what was to come.

          As the white man advances deeper and deeper into Indian territory to settle and to hunt the buffalo for sport, the Lakota become more and more defensive.  Promises of food and clothing are made while cavalry descend on peaceful camps to kill with no regard for innocent women and children.  Rising Eagle

Mar 4, 2012

In Ordinary Heroes,   retired newpaperman Stewart Dubinsky has discovered a packet of wartime letters his late father wrote to a former fiancé.  He learned of his father’s court-martial and imprisonment and was determined to learn more about this man who remained distant to him in life.  As he pieced together events provided by his father’s former defense attorney and from a memoir his father wrote in prison, he began to reconstruct the terrible events and agonizing choices his father faced on the battlefield.  Stewart gains not only a better and surprising understanding of both of his parents

Dec 5, 2012

QB VII is a work of historical fiction that was written in 1970 and that takes place from the 1940’s to 1967. QB VII is a courthouse in London where a good portion of the book takes place. Before getting to the trial, the story follows the lives of Dr. Adam Kelno, a Polish doctor who was in the infamous Jadwiga Concentration Camp during World War II, and Abraham Cady, an American author who wrote about the Holocaust. Both men are haunted by their pasts.

Through the course of the book we are given glimpses into different parts of the world during the first half of the twentieth century


By Jim Crace
Rated by Megan C.
Apr 15, 2014

An unconventional telling of Jesus' forty days in the wilderness, Quarantine grips the reader in a mysterious world of deception and dream. We follow six characters' sojourn in the desert: a merchant and his wife, a wealthy but barren Jewish woman, an elderly Jewish man suffering from a tumor, a madman from the east, a philosophical young Greek, and Jesus the Galilean. It is a believable work of historical fiction with a twist of suspense. At the end the reader is left to interpret the meaning of events.

Crace's writing holds nothing back, exposing his characters' raw and unflattering

Jun 29, 2010

staffpick.jpgOn the beaches near Lyme Regis, England, young Mary Anning and middle-class spinster Elizabeth Philpot stepped into the early 19th-century world of fossil hunting, a time when fossils challenged established views of God’s creation but excited the scientific community. Mary endlessly searched for these curiosities, not only because she had the “eye” (a remarkable ability to find them), but to sell them to keep her family out of the poorhouse. Elizabeth searched for fossils as a hobby and for the “seductive thrill of finding unexpected treasure”. During their pursuits, Mary and Elizabeth became


By Donnelly, Jennifer
Rated by Katie S.
May 7, 2016

At 18, Andi Alpers has lost her will to live. Her brother Truman has died, her father has deserted the family and is putting her mother in a mental hospital. In Paris, where her father is working on a project on King Louis-Charles, Andi vows to make their three-week visit a misery. But when she finds a journal that might hold the missing key to Louis-Charles history, she completely forgets about everything, including her senior thesis, and focuses instead on solving the mystery of his death.

Rewind to the 18th century, where King Louis-Charles is imprisoned after his father and mother -

Mar 11, 2013

How far would you go to know the truth about your father? When orphan Carver Young discovers a letter written by his father, he becomes caught up in the hunt for a notorious killer who just may hold the keys to his past. Receiving help from friends, a famous Pinkerton detective, and even Theodore Roosevelt himself, Carver will discover that perhaps it is better to leave the past buried.

I love a good mystery and this story is just that. Set in the turn-of-the-century New York, Ripper is a fun and exciting mystery tale that seems to have it all: chases, intrigue, the crazy mentor, roof-top

May 25, 2011

Shanghai Girls tells the story of two sisters, Pearl and May. They were known as "beautiful girls", meaning that they posed for artists who used the paintings for "beautiful girl" posters, calendars and various advertisements. The girls lived what was, to them, an enchanted life. Until one day their world was turned upside down by their father informing them that he had arranged marriages for them both. They were to marry brothers who were Chinese but lived in America, specifically, Los Angelos. This was definitely not the future the two forward looking sisters had envisioned for themselves

Oct 25, 2016

I suffered through this book! (I know what you're thinking, "Why? Life is too short to read books you don't like! Yada yada . . . .") Well I finished it because I had to lead the discussion at book club. (Spoiler! I'm the only one who finished it! Everyone else quit.)

Allan Karlson climbs out the widow because he doesn't want to go to his 100th birthday party. He then manages to steal 50 thousand dollars and forms a group of unlikely friends (which includes an elephant.) They precede to run and hide from both a police detective and the criminal gang he stole from. Through mostly good luck

Apr 17, 2013

Never growing beyond two feet and eight inches, Mercy Lavinia "Vinnie" Bump spent much of her life hidden by her parents. However, when she impressed legendary showman P.T. Barnum, she suddenly became the world's most unlikely celebrity. In this fictional autobiography, Vinnie recounts her life, her travels with Barnum, and her wedding to co-worker and fellow tiny superstar, General Tom Thumb, and much, much more. This tiny woman lived a huge life.

Jun 23, 2011

The Beekeeper’s Apprentice is startlingly good. It is the first book in a series that features a retired Sherlock Holmes and his young, female apprentice. Mary Russell is about fifteen years old when she stumbles upon Holmes in the English countryside. She is feisty, with a whip-quick intelligence, and she naturally falls into the role of protégé. Time and training pass pretty idyllically, until Russell and Holmes are called in to solve a kidnapping. This involves costumes, heroics, and some Holmes-style deductions. There is also a destructive, mastermind villain who knows Holms and predicts