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Staff Reviews: Historical Fiction

Check out these "" reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library! (For reviews in all genres, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews are also published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'The Boleyn Deceit'  by  Laura Andersen

"The Boleyn Deceit" by Laura Andersen

★★★★ In this sequel to “The Boleyn King,” Minuette, a lady in waiting to the future Elizabeth I, is caught between her love for Dominic Courtenay and William (the fictional King Henry IX of England), who becoming increasingly obsessed with her and wants to make her his queen.  Treasonous plots add a political undercurrent to the love triangle. Andersen...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Behold the Dreamers'  by  Imbolo Mbue

"Behold the Dreamers" by Imbolo Mbue

★★★★ For years, Jende Jonga dreamed of making a life for himself and his family in the United States. A native of Cameroon, Jende has been living and working in New York City on a temporary visa for three years when his wife, Neni, and six year-old son, Liomi, immigrate to Harlem to join him. It’s 2007, and a world of opportunity opens up for the Jongas while...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction, Diverse

'The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir'  by  Jennifer Ryan

"The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir" by Jennifer Ryan

★★★★ As the men are heading off to war in 1940, the small village of Chilbury is subject to the ramifications of encroaching war, but a free-spirited female professor of music decides (to the shock of many) that the village choir need not be a casualty and forms a ladies’ choir to take its place. Through journal entries, letters, and other written correspondence...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'I Love You, Michael Collins'  by  Lauren Baratz-Logsted

"I Love You, Michael Collins" by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

★★★★ With the impending historic walk on the moon, students in ten-year-old Mamie’s class are given the assignment to write to one of the U.S. astronauts on this mission. With all the other students picking Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, Mamie makes a split-second decision to pick Michael Collins, who will be staying with the ship. When school is out...

Audience: Children | Genre: Historical Fiction

'The Last Days of Pompeii'  by  Edward Bulwer-Lytton

"The Last Days of Pompeii" by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

★★★★ You may think you know the eventual outcome: everyone dies, right? There can’t be much suspense in that! But do they? The story’s climax takes place, as the title suggests, just days before Vesuvius erupts. By then, our heroes and villains are caught in a complex web of actions and counteractions ostensibly dealt out by Fate. The Last Days of Pompeii by...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'Girl Waits With Gun'  by  Amy Stewart

"Girl Waits With Gun" by Amy Stewart

★★★★★ Constance Kopp and her two sisters (Norma and Fluerette) live quiet, isolated lives on their small farm in New Jersey. Their peaceful life comes to an abrupt halt when their buggy is struck and overturned by an automobile while on a routine trip into Paterson. Constance, a tall and formidable woman, politely demands the contact information for the driver (...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Historical Fiction

'Jane Steele'  by  Lyndsay Faye

"Jane Steele" by Lyndsay Faye

★★★★★ At first glance, Jane Steele’s life mirrors that of the heroine of her favorite book, Jane Eyre. Both are orphaned, treated poorly by their extended relations, sent to oppressive boarding schools, and seek employment as a governess. (Don’t worry, Bronte fans. There’s a Mr. Rochester, albeit in the guise of a traumatized British doctor born and raised in...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'The Daylight Gate'  by  Jeanette Winterson

"The Daylight Gate" by Jeanette Winterson

★★★★★ It's the best time of year for a suspenseful, spooky story and Jeanette Winterson has just the book for you! "The Daylight Gate" is a fictionalized account of the Trial of the Pendle Witches. In short chapters, Winterson relates the story of Alice Nutter, former student of the great alchemist John Dee and wealthy widow, who is accused of witchcraft, along...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'The Summer Before the War'  by  Helen Simonson

"The Summer Before the War" by Helen Simonson

★★★★★ Beatrice Nash arrives in East Sussex late in the summer of 1914 as the newly hired Latin teacher for the school at Rye and the first woman appointed to the post. Lady Agatha advocated for the hiring of Beatrice, and she is prepared to do all in her power to ensure that Beatrice is a success. This may be a bit of a challenge since Beatrice does not fit the...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'A Night Divided'  by  Jennifer A. Nielsen

"A Night Divided" by Jennifer A. Nielsen

★★★★ Overnight, twelve-year-old Gerta’s world changed and her family was divided, forever it seemed. She woke up one August Sunday morning to a barbed-wire wall dividing East and West Berlin. Just a few days earlier, her father, a member of the Resistance movement, and brother Dominic became trapped on the other side of the wall after traveling to West Berlin a...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Paper Wishes'  by  Lois Sepahban

"Paper Wishes" by Lois Sepahban

★★★★ Ten-year-old Manami lives a carefree life combing Bainbridge Island, Washington with her beloved grandfather and dog Yujiin. But it’s 1942, and after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor they are forced by the U.S. government, along with other Japanese Americans, to live in a one room prison camp in the California desert. Worse yet, Yujiin is forced out of...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Salt to the Sea'  by  Ruta Sepetys

"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

★★★★★ Inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history, four characters from four different European homelands board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship in hopes of surviving World War II. The war has torn apart the lives of Joana and Emilia. Joana, a young nurse from Lithuania, is trying to reunite with her mother. Emilia, a Polish girl, is just trying to survive...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Listen to the Moon'  by  Michael Morpurgo

"Listen to the Moon" by Michael Morpurgo

★★★★★ Skipping school while out fishing with his father near the island of St. Helen's, Alfie and his father discover a half-starved, injured young girl who is barely alive on the small uninhabited island. Where she came from is a mystery since she is not speaking. His family cares for her, names her Lucy, and as their relationship grows and she becomes a part of...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat'  by  Emily Jenkins, Sophie Blackall

"A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat" by Emily Jenkins, Sophie Blackall

★★★★★ This is one of the best picture books that I have read in a long time! Just as the title suggests, the book follows one recipe for Blackberry Fool through different centuries and families. The recipe is generally made the same in each family, however, the technology used and family preparing the recipe are vastly different. Historically this book shows...

Audience: Children | Genre: Fiction, Picture Book, Historical Fiction

'The Lake House'  by  Kate Morton

"The Lake House" by Kate Morton

★★★★★ This astounding and captivating new novel from Kate Morton is utterly amazing. When detective Sadie Sparrows is forced to take a leave from work and stay with her grandfather in Cornwall, she stumbles upon an abandoned lake house standing beautiful and stagnant in time. When she finds out that the family left everything in place behind locked doors after...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction

'Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King's Court'  by  Marci Jefferson

"Enchantress of Paris: A Novel of the Sun King's Court" by Marci Jefferson

★★★★★ This novel follows Marie Mancini, the niece of a powerful cardinal in the court of French King Louis XIV. As Marie and Louis fall in love, she becomes the target of her uncle's wrath because her relationship with the king threatens to unravel his carefully laid political plans. Marie also has to contend with the king's mother and competition from her own...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Rebel Queen'  by  Michelle Moran

"Rebel Queen" by Michelle Moran

★★★★ Set in India during British occupation, this historical novel follows Sita, a young woman chosen to serve the queen of Jhansi, known as Rani Lakshmi. Sita is an intelligent and strong female character, devoted to her younger sister and her position to guard the queen as a member of the Durga Dal. Rani Lakshmi is eventually called the Rebel Queen after a...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'The Silver Witch'  by  Paula Brackston

"The Silver Witch" by Paula Brackston

★★★★ I couldn't help but immediately get sucked into the setting and characters in this novel. Set in Wales, a country I've always loved since visiting it in person, this beautiful landscape has many secrets. Tilda, a woman who just tragically lost her husband after they bought a lakeside cottage, feels an immediate affinity for the mysterious place. She vows to...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'The Dovekeepers'  by  Alice Hoffman

"The Dovekeepers" by Alice Hoffman

★★★★★ This is a beautiful tale of four extraordinary women struggling to survive as their people are sought out for extermination by the Roman Empire. In 70 C.E. nine hundred Jews fled for their lives and sought refuge in King Herod's stronghold at Masada. Yael, born of a dead mother and rejected by her father the assassin, must survive the dessert to take refuge...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Dear Hank Williams'  by  Kimberly Willis Holt

"Dear Hank Williams" by Kimberly Willis Holt

★★★★★ It’s the first day of school in September 1948 and Tate Ellerbee from Rippling Creek, Louisiana already has a school assignment—to find a pen pal and practice writing letters to a real person. She picks a relatively unknown country singer who she admires on the Louisiana Hayride radio show—Hank Williams. Through her wonderful letters to him we discover a...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'A Touch of Stardust'  by  Kate Alcott

"A Touch of Stardust" by Kate Alcott

★★★★★ Julie Crawford is fresh out of college and in a hurry to escape the pressures of life in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She dreams of becoming a screenwriter and decides to take her chances in Hollywood. She finds a job instead as an errand girl for one of the most notoriously temperamental producers in the city. As the studio begins filming what will become one of...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'Stella by Starlight'  by  Sharon M. Draper

"Stella by Starlight" by Sharon M. Draper

★★★★ It is midnight when 11 year-old Stella Mills and her eight year-old brother Jojo witness the burning of a cross by members of the Ku Klux Klan not far from their house. It’s 1932 in Bumblebee, North Carolina and news of the active Klan so close by means their parents need to alert all their African-American neighbors. Stella is practicing to be a good...

Audience: Children, Tweens | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'The Dressmaker'  by  Kate Alcott

"The Dressmaker" by Kate Alcott

★★★★★ Tess longs to escape a life of servitude. She knows that her talent should make her more than just a maid, but her beautiful dressmaking skills go unappreciated and unrewarded by her current employer. On impulse, she grabs her few belongings and runs for the docks where she has heard there are jobs available on a fancy new ship that is about to set sail....

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'The Paris Winter'  by  Imogen Robertson

"The Paris Winter" by Imogen Robertson

★★★★★ Set in Paris during the early 20th century, this novel is about art and intrigue. The central character is Maud Heighton, an Englishwoman studying painting at Lafond's Academie. To save herself from starvation during the harsh winter, Maud becomes a paid companion to a wealthy Frenchman's sister. However, the man and his sister are not who they appear to be...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

'All the Light We Cannot See'  by  Anthony Doerr

"All the Light We Cannot See" by Anthony Doerr

★★★★★ "All the Light We Cannot See" is a non-linear narrative centered on the stories of two children coming of age in WWII Europe. Marie-Laure, blind from the age of six, lives in Paris with her father, who is the principal locksmith for the National Museum of Natural History. At the age of 12, Marie-Laure and her father flee Paris as the Nazis advance. They...

Audience: Adults | Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

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