A Baker's Dozen of Historical Fiction NOT set in WWII

Historical fiction readers, we know that it seems like there is a whole lot of historical fiction set in World War II and there is.   Nothing wrong with that, but if you are looking for some historical fiction from other eras and parts of the world, we have you covered!  Hanna and Rebecca offer some of their historical fiction favorites for you to enjoy.

A Ballad of Love and Glory by Reyna Grande

As a historical fiction reader, it is always a pleasure to read about a topic and time period that is unfamiliar.  " A Ballad of Love and Glory" fits the bill nicely. If you have never read about the Irish contingency that fought in the Mexican American War, this is the book for you!

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

"Beasts of a Little Land" is a sweeping, encompassing story of Korean occupation by Japan and its fight for independence during the 20th century.   With this as a backdrop, an amazing and enthralling story of Jade, Lotus, HanChoi, and JungHo winds through the years with their paths crossing and crisscrossing  and their lives forever altered by circumstances beyond their control.  The historical background alone was well written and brought to life events foreign to many of us.  Seamlessly layered with the stories of the main characters, this book was a pleasure to read and one that I look forward to sharing.

Sister Stardust by Jane Green

Historical fiction taken in a new direction.  1960s London, the British invasion, and the splendor and textures of Marrakesh.  Follow Claire as she ventures into a world totally foreign (in so many ways) to her.  While this is Claire's journey, this is really the story of Talitha (and tangentally) Paul Getty.  And it is glorious.  The sounds and textures of London in the 1960s, and the sheer immersive nature of Claire's time in Marrakesh makes this a piece of historical fiction that you will not soon forget.

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Debut author Jenny Tinghui Zhang's story of China and the US in the 19th century is eye opening, beautiful, brave, sad, and empowering.  Her exploration of main character Daiyu's reinvention of herself (to himself) in order to survive the events of their life places the stories of Chinese immigrants in a whole new light.  Force by gender and circumstance to adapt in order to survive, Diayu's story is an integral part of the American Experience and one that should be talked about more often.   A goodly portion of this takes place in Idaho!

Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese

I listened to Hester via Libro.fm and loved the book.  I was originally a little hesitant but that quickly went away once the story began to unwind.  Hester is the fictionalized story of the woman who inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne's Hester Prynn in The Scarlet Letter.  But this story is so much more than that.  It is the story of a woman who embraces her life, destiny, and supernatural powers and creates a life that she lives on her terms.  It is beautiful and inspiring and just a great all around story.

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow

Summer 1995: Ten-year-old Joan, her mother, and her younger sister flee her father's explosive temper and seek refuge at her mother's ancestral home in Memphis. Unfolding over seventy years through a chorus of unforgettable voices that move back and forth in time, Memphis paints an indelible portrait of inheritance, celebrating the full complexity of what we pass down, in a family and as a country: brutality and justice, faith and forgiveness, sacrifice and love.

A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

A Thousand Ships transports the reader back in time to the Trojan War, but in such an intriguing way.  Rather than the women playing "bit parts" in the story, Natalie Hayes puts them front and center relegating the "heroes" of the past to the back burner.  Her brilliant format weaves together smaller stories and experiences of ordinary women and women famous to the Iliad and the Odyssey in a way that is refreshing and enlightening.  Hayes' story telling fleshes out these women in a way that is insightful and worthy of so much more conversation than they have received in the past.  Hayes' narration of the audiobook is brilliant and imminently engaging. 

Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse brings history to life in this richly told and well imagined story of the French wars of religion in the 1560’s. Minou and Piet are relatable, fully conceived individuals whose paths kept intersecting. The demonstration of tolerance in a time of great upheaval and discord was a breath of fresh air in today’s fraught climes. I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

Vienna, 1914. Lucius is a twenty-two-year-old medical student when World War I explodes across Europe. Enraptured by romantic tales of battlefield surgery, he enlists, expecting a position at a well-organized field hospital. From the gilded ballrooms of Imperial Vienna to the frozen forests of the Eastern Front; from hardscrabble operating rooms to battlefields thundering with Cossack cavalry, The Winter Soldier is the story of war and medicine, of family, of finding love in the sweeping tides of history, and finally, of the mistakes we make, and the precious opportunities to atone.

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

Not many books and writers have the ability to transport the reader through place and time, but this is definitely one of them.  All of the descriptors create a vortex that spins the reader through time to the 1970s and do it well.  The story and characters are fully fleshed, very complicated and a true wonder to 14 year old Mary  Jane (who in and of herself is an amazing character).  Laugh out loud funny, touching, and genuine joy.  This book is about a summer of love, just not the kind that you expect.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book is a throwback to the old gothic horrors with a modern midcentury twist reminiscent of Daphne DeMaurier.  And it is done well complete with creepy old house, questionable tenants, unexplainable circumstances, and a few twists that really caught me by surprise.  

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Everyone knows Helen and Achilles and Hector and Odysseus. But most forget about Briseis - Achilles’s war prize. Pat Barker brings to vivid life the hardships, heartaches, and struggles that the Trojan slave women faced in the Greek war camp during the Trojan War. 

Whiskey When We're Dry by John Larison

In the spring of 1885, seventeen-year-old Jessilyn Harney finds herself orphaned and alone on her family's homestead. Desperate to fend off starvation and predatory neighbors, she cuts off her hair, binds her chest, saddles her beloved mare, and sets off across the mountains to find her outlaw brother Noah and bring him home. A talented sharpshooter herself, Jess's quest lands her in the employ of the territory's violent, capricious Governor, whose militia is also hunting Noah--dead or alive.