Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Shirley: A Novel by Susan Scarf Merrell

Synopsis: A young couple spends a year at Bennington College living with gothic writer Shirley Jackson and her philandering husband. Review: George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? have nothing on Shirley and Stanley, in real life (as chronicled in the wonderful biography Private Demons), and Shirley: A Novel delivers every ounce of…

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The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Synopsis: Time travel makes a vicious serial killer unstoppable, but when one of his “shining girls” survives, the paradoxes in her case send her looking in the right direction, even as the killer grows more disorganized and deadly. Review: The Shining Girls is, quite simply, a great crime story with time travel element that probably…

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Quintessence by David Walton

Synopsis: In an alternate version of Europe during the pre-Elizabethan years, with the Inquisition raging in Spain, an alchemist and a scientist and a headstrong girl bonded to a magical creature travel to the edge of the world to find quintessence, a substance that can unlock the powers of the universe. Review: Quintessence was great…

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein

Synopsis: When her plane goes down in Nazi occupied France, a teenage Scottish spy known only as Verity has just one chance to write her confession before her captors send her off to a concentration camp. Review: Code Name Verity was the best read I have had all year. No contest. (Well, maybe The Devil…

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Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims by Clyde Robert Bulla

Synopsis: The story of Squanto, the Native American who helped the pilgrims and journeyed to England. Review: I read Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims, aloud to my almost 5-year-old, and I have to say I’m a little obsessed. First of all, I was prepared to stop if it veered into anything offensive, like a noble…

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The Casting by Joyce Shor Johnson

Synopsis: In 4th Century Ireland, Robyn yearns to become a bronze caster, but family pressures and outside forces threaten to keep her from achieving her dream. Review: The Casting was a well-written story with a strong female protagonist that will definitely appeal to middle grade readers. My inner 12-year-old kind of fell in love with…

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The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Synopsis: A present-day murder case in a fundamentalist Mormon enclave told alongside the story of Ann Eliza Young’s escape from Brigham Young’s polygamous harem. Review: I think the fact that I kept falling asleep while listening to The 19th Wife says it all–I was so primed to love this book, given my obsession with the…

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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Synopsis: Against the backdrop of a dreamlike traveling circus, two magicians pit their powers against each other in a battle royale complicated by the transcendent love growing in spite of the rigid constraints of the game. Review: I had low-ish expectations for The Night Circus. I couldn’t wrap my brain around the weird plot description,…

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The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

Synopsis: New York City in 1938 is all martinis and heartbreak for smart girl Katey Kontent and her impossibly sexy best friend Evie Ross, as they navigate the tricky waters of the uptown social scene. Review: I was utterly captivated by The Rules of Civility, from the tone to the characters to the plot to…

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