By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd
Take a step back in time and lose yourself in a fabulous work of historical fiction. For many, historical fiction is a literary indulgence that allows readers to leave woes behind and delve into a world that looks nothing like present day. However, it is not uncommon to notice themes that mirror current times. Check out these titles and then carve out some uninterrupted time, make a cup of tea or your favorite beverage and escape to another place and time and enjoy one or more of these selections.
The French House by Helen Fripp
A weathered and worn house tucked in the vineyards of Reims, France is the setting for this captivating piece of historical fiction. Nicole Clicquot’s husband has died, but she is determined to keep her home and provide for her daughter. Rumor has it that her husband left this earth with a secret that disgraces Nicole and her reputation. Read to find out what she does and if she can turn all around.
The Only Woman in the Room: A Novel by Marie Benedict
This novel is based on the amazing true story of a glamorous icon and scientist. Her beauty saved her from the Nazi party and led her to marry an Austrian arms dealer. From her position, she learned more about the Third Reich’s plans than she or anyone else would imagine. She also held close the secret that she was a scientist. This book is touted as “a masterpiece that celebrates the many women in science that history has overlooked.”
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Brilliant and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gilead has written another amazing work with Lila. This unforgettable story follows the eponymous character. After roaming the countryside and living hand to mouth with a young drifter, she is homeless and alone. She finds herself in small-town Iowa and ends up becoming the wife of a minister. Lila struggles to make sense of her childhood as she settles into her new life. This title is also an Oprah’s Book Club pick.
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
This highly rated title is called “an extraordinary novel… a triumph of insight and storytelling” by the Associated Press. The story is set in the first century and focuses on a woman named Ana who finds her destiny and voice. Ana is brilliant and daring, living before her time in many respects. She was raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee and expected to marry an old widower. However, all that changes when young Ana encounters Jesus of Nazareth. The story is rooted in history as told in the Bible. It will leave readers cheering for Ana and hoping all women would be more like Ana — finding the strength and fortitude to realize their own passion and potential.
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain
This book is a New York Times bestseller, and an Andrew Carnegie Medal finalist. It was named one of the best books of the year by multiple media outlets including Booklist, The Washington Post, BookPage and Town & Country. In addition, it has received thousands of five-star reviews. The story begins with the first slave ship in 1619 and takes readers through the four-hundred-year journey of African Americans to 2019. Writers tell the history through various perspectives: eyes of ordinary people, places, laws, objects and historical icons. This powerful novel is written by ninety writers, each of whom write about a five-year period of the four hundred years. This novel will make you think about our history and encourages you to think differently about our future.
The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin
Readers who are fans of the Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series will love this novel. It takes a deep dive into the challenging life of homesteaders in the 19th century. The story centers around a blizzard the weekend of January 12, 1888 in the Great Plains. It was so severe it killed between 200 and 500 people. Based on the oral history of survivors, the story follows schoolteachers Raina and Gerda Olsen who were responsible for a full classroom of children and did all they could to help keep them alive. The children had not worn winter coats to school since the weather had been mild when they left home that morning. The fuel in the classroom ran out, forcing the duo to make hard choices. This is a story of courage, children who grew up too soon and the toil of building life in an undeveloped territory.
Find other Historical Fiction suggestions and plenty of other book ideas in our previous Book Nook blogs here!
Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at mindfulmom.wordpress.com and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.
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