If 20th century historical fiction steeped in atmosphere is your reading thing– you know, the kind of story that leaves you unsure of where you are and the current year, then you’ll have countless titles to choose from this Spring.
Leading Men by Christopher Castellani
Illuminating one of the great love stories of the twentieth century – Tennessee Williams and his longtime partner Frank Merlo – Leading Men is a glittering novel of desire and ambition, set against the glamorous literary circles of 1950s Italy. In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives. Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film icon Anja Bloom, lives as a recluse in the present-day U.S., until a young man connected to the events of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams’s final play.
The Last Thing You Surrender by Leonard Pitts
An affluent white marine survives Pearl Harbor at the cost of a black messman’s life only to be sent, wracked with guilt, to the Pacific and taken prisoner by the Japanese. A young black woman, widowed by the same events at Pearl, finds unexpected opportunity and a dangerous friendship in a segregated Alabama shipyard feeding the war. A black man, who as a child saw his parents brutally lynched, is conscripted to fight Nazis for a country he despises and discovers a new kind of patriotism in the all-black 761st Tank Battalion. Set against a backdrop of violent racial conflict on both the front lines and the home front, The Last Thing You Surrender explores the powerful moral struggles of individuals from a divided nation. What does it take to change someone’s mind about race? What does it take for a country and a people to move forward, transformed?
American Duchess by Karen Harper
On a cold November day in 1895, a carriage approaches St Thomas Episcopal Church on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. Massive crowds surge forward, awaiting their glimpse of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt. Just 18, the beautiful bride has not only arrived late, but in tears, yet her marriage to the aloof Duke of Marlborough proceeds. Bullied into the wedding by her indomitable mother, Alva, Consuelo loves another. But a deal was made, trading some of the vast Vanderbilt wealth for a title and prestige, and Consuelo, bred to obey, realizes she must make the best of things. From the dawning of the opulent Gilded Age, to the battles of the Second World War, American Duchess is a riveting tale of one woman’s quest to attain independence—at any price.
More upcoming historical fiction to check out:
Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
The story of Vogue model turned renowned photographer Lee Miller, and her search to forge a new identity as an artist after a life spent as a muse in pre- and post-WWII Paris.
American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thorton (3/12/19)
Biographical fiction that tells the story of the bright and bold Alice Roosevelt, daughter of President Teddy Roosevelt.
The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey
Trio of Boston best friends head to wartorn Europe during WWII as members of the Red Cross Clubmobile girls.
The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins (5/21/19)
A servant and former slave is accused of murdering her employer and his wife in this historical thriller that moves from a Jamaican sugar plantation to the fetid streets of Georgian London.
The Huntress by Kate Quinn (2/26/19)
From the author of The Lilac Girls. Bold and fearless, Nina Markova joins the legendary Night Witches, an all-female night bomber regiment wreaking havoc on the invading Germans.
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner (3/19/19)
Fourteen year-old German American teen Elise Sontag’s life is changed forever when she and her family are placed in an internment camp during WWII.
Click here for a complete list of our favorite Spring 2019 historical fiction.
by: Kirby Lee, Head of Collection Management
We come across so many great reads in our work as librarians and we want to share them with all of our patrons! Check here for posts about the cool/interesting/timely titles that we want you to hear about!
2019 is going to be a big reading year for me. Authors I have been waiting YEARS for a new book from all seem to be publishing in 2019.
Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield (December 4, 2018)
Not technically 2019, but close enough! In Setterfield’s latest, a wounded stranger bursts into a small town tavern holding the lifeless body of a small child in his arms. Hours later, the girl stirs and returns to life. As the townspeople clamor to discover who the miracle girl is and where she belongs, a series of eerie mysteries unravel along the way.
After falling in love with Setterfield’s writing after her debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale, and being so disappointed with her follow-up Bellman and Black, I’m ready to dive headfirst into this novel, which promises to be a return to Setterfield’s strengths.
The River by Peter Heller (March 5, 2019)
I first discovered Peter Heller through reading his debut The Dog Stars for a book group discussion. Normally dystopian novels tend to drag for me, but The Dog Stars’ protagonist Hig’s fight to hang on to good in an abandoned world devoid of any good at all kept my attention rapt. The Dog Stars is one of those novels where the author thinks it’s cool to not use quotation marks, so if you have an issue with this as a reader (like me), I highly recommend the audiobook.
Back to The River- Heller tells a heart-pounding story of wilderness survival. Two adventure seeking best friends fight for survival on what was planned to be a leisurely canoe trip. Heller’s newest venture is part desperate nature adventure, part thriller, and sure to be a hit this Spring.
Little Faith by Nickolas Butler (March 5, 2019)
No author makes me nostalgic for the Midwest quite like Nickolas Butler. An amazing feat seeing as I have never set foot in the Midwest. The man loves his homeland. Butler creates a strong atmosphere, but his writing really comes through in the way he makes the reader feel about his characters. They are the kind of characters that stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. I come for the story, but stay for the characters. Judging by the early reviews, Little Faith is going to be his best one yet.
Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe (June 25, 2019)
I love stories where a character is researching someone in the past and the story switches between the two timelines. Katherine Howe’s The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (2009) is a prime example of this literary method. And it is fantastic. Howe does meticulous research on the historical detail in her novels, and it really shows in her writing.
After a hiatus from writing adult fiction, Howe returns with a sequel to her debut novel. Career academic Connie Goodwin turns to the past to uncover its secrets. It’s still too far from the release date for much on the plot, but definitely one to keep an eye out for.
The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (November 5, 2019 hopefully?)
FINALLY, a follow up to The New York Times bestseller The Night Circus. Erin Morgenstern is not going to be a one hit wonder! The Night Circus has been read over 3500 times across the state since its publication in 2011.
In The Starless Sea, graduate student Zachary Rawlins finds a strange book hidden in the stacks of the library (oh man, this is going to be AMAZING!) The story follows Zachary as he investigates the meaning of the book and the mysteries it leads to.
Apparently I have a thing for stars and bodies of water. All I need is Jonathan Tropper to stop writing for TV and to switch back to writing novels, and an eighth Harry Potter book and my reading life would be complete!
Other long-awaited follow-ups that are sure to be hits:
Light from Other Stars by Erika Swyler (author of The Book of Speculation)
Recursion by Blake Crouch (author of Dark Matter)
Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly (author of The Lilac Girls)
The Suspect by Fiona Barton (author of The Widow and The Child).
The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion (author of The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect).
Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (The premise of this novel just oozes cool- I have extremely high hopes.)