48 New Historical Fiction Books To Read This Summer

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If you are a fan of historical fiction, you know how exciting it is to be transported to a completely new era, one you’ve probably only seen on TV or in movies. I love reading historical fiction because it allows me to create my own world through words, live in that era for a few hours, and experience a range of emotions—pain, sadness, happiness, and sometimes heartbreak. We are only halfway through 2024, which means you still have plenty of time to delve into engrossing historical fiction set in different time periods. I’m excited to share a list of books that span eras from 412 BCE to the 1980s and are set in various countries.

Glorious Exploits by Ferdia Lennon

Set in : 412 BCE

Set during the Peloponnesian War on Sicily, Glorious Exploits follows Lampo and Gelon, two potters who, amidst Athenian prisoners in a quarry, decide to stage Euripides’ “Medea” to pass time. What begins as a playful distraction evolves into a series of events that underscore the transformative power of art in times of conflict.

On the island of Sicily amid the Peloponnesian War, the Syracusans have figured out what to do with the surviving Athenians who had the gall to invade their city: they’ve herded the sorry prisoners of war into a rock quarry and left them to rot. Looking for a way to pass the time, Lampo and Gelon, two unemployed potters with a soft spot for poetry and drink, head down into the quarry to feed the Athenians if, and only if, they can manage a few choice lines from their great playwright Euripides. Before long, the two mates hatch a plan to direct a full-blown production of Medea. After all, you can hate the people but love their art. But as opening night approaches, what started as a lark quickly sets in motion a series of extraordinary events, and our wayward heroes begin to realize that staging a play can be as dangerous as fighting a war, with all sorts of risks to life, limb, and friendship.

Told in a contemporary Irish voice and as riotously funny as it is deeply moving, Glorious Exploits is an unforgettable ode to the power of art in a time of war, brotherhood in a time of enmity, and human will throughout the ages.


The Glassmaker by Tracy Chevalier

Set in : 1486

I​​n Renaissance Venice, Orsola Rosso, daughter of a famed glassblower, defies tradition to master her family’s craft secretly. Tracy Chevalier’s novel spans centuries, tracing the Rosso family’s journey through plague, war, and societal change, anchored by their enduring legacy in glassmaking. Against the backdrop of Venice’s opulence and challenges, Chevalier explores themes of creativity, resilience, and the enduring power of art.

From the bestselling historical novelist, a rich, transporting story that follows a family of glassmakers from the height of Renaissance-era Italy to present day.

It is 1486 and Venice is a wealthy, opulent center for trade. Orsola Rosso is the eldest daughter in a family of glassblowers in Murano, the island revered for the craft. As a woman, she is not meant to work with glass—but she has the hands for it, the heart, and a vision. When her father dies, she teaches herself to make beads in secret, and her work supports the Rosso family fortunes.

Skipping like a stone through the centuries, in a Venice where time moves as slowly as molten glass, we follow Orsola and her family as they live through creative triumph and heartbreaking loss, from a plague devastating Venice to Continental soldiers stripping its palazzos bare, from the domination of Murano and its maestros to the transformation of the city of trade into a city of tourists. In every era, the Rosso women ensure that their work, and their bonds, endure.

Chevalier is a master of her own craft, and The Glassmaker is as inventive as it is spellbinding: a mesmerizing portrait of a woman, a family, and a city that are as everlasting as their glass.


You Dreamed of Empires by Álvaro Enrigue

Set in : 1519

You Dreamed of Empires imagines Hernán Cortés’ arrival in Tenochtitlan, portraying the clash of civilizations through vivid characters like Cortés, Moctezuma, and their interpreters. Álvaro Enrigue’s novel blends the historical detail with a provocative narrative that challenges traditional perspectives on this pivotal moment in history.

One morning in 1519, conquistador Hernán Cortés entered the city of Tenochtitlan – today’s Mexico City. Later that day, he would meet the emperor Moctezuma in a collision of two worlds, two empires, two languages, two possible futures.

Cortés was accompanied by his nine captains, his troops, and his two translators: Friar Aguilar, a taciturn, former slave, and Malinalli, a strategic, former princess. Greeted at a ceremonial welcome meal by the steely princess Atotoxli, sister and wife of Moctezuma, the Spanish nearly bungle their entrance to the city. As they await their meeting with Moctezuma – who is at a political, spiritual, and physical crossroads, and relies on hallucinogens to get himself through the day and in quest for any kind of answer from the gods – the Spanish are ensconced in the labyrinthine palace. Soon, one of Cortés’s captains, Jazmín Caldera, overwhelmed by the grandeur of the city, begins to question the ease with which they were welcomed into the city, and wonders at the risks of getting out alive, much less conquering the empire.

You Dreamed of Empires brings to life Tenochtitlan at its height, and reimagines its destiny. The incomparably original Alvaro Enrigue sets afire the moment of conquest and turns it into a moment of revolution, a restitutive, fantastical counter-attack, in a novel so electric and so unique that it feels like a dream.


The Tower by Flora Carr

Set in : 1567

Set in 1567 Scotland, The Tower reimagines Mary, Queen of Scots’ captivity in Lochleven Castle. Flora Carr’s debut novel explores Mary’s resilience and her relationships with loyal women who plot her escape amidst political intrigue and personal turmoil, offering a feminist perspective on a turbulent period in Scottish history.

A bold, feminist debut novel, reimagining Mary, Queen of Scots’s darkest hour, when she was held hostage in a remote Scottish castle with a handful of loyal women while plotting a daring escape to reclaim her country and her freedom.

Scotland, 1567. A pregnant Mary, Queen of Scots is dragged out of her palace by rebel lords and imprisoned in the isolated Lochleven Castle, an ancient fortress surrounded by a vast lake. Her infant son and heir, James, has been captured by her enemies. 

Accompanying Mary are two inconspicuous serving observant, ambitious Jane and romantic, quick-tempered Cuckoo, who endeavor to keep their mercurial mistress company while sharing the space of a claustrophobic room over the course of their eleven-month forced stay. Their hosts want them dead. They’ll settle for Mary’s abdication.

After Mary reluctantly surrenders her throne, her closest friend, the reserved, devoted Lady Seton, is permitted to join the captive women. Against the odds, as they hatch a perilous getaway plan, the four women form a bond that transcends class and religion, and for Jane and Seton, becomes something even deeper. At the center of it all is Mary–calculating, charming, brave, and unbowed. Flora Carr’s thrilling, feverish debut is a celebration of resilience, a meditation on the meaning of power, and a testament to the unshakeable strength of female friendship, starring one of history’s most charismatic leaders.


The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye by Briony Cameron

Set in : 1655

The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye tells the tale of Jacquotte, a woman of color rising to power as a pirate captain in 17th-century Santo Domingo. Briony Cameron weaves a gripping narrative of adventure, love, and betrayal against the backdrop of Caribbean piracy

This epic, dazzling tale based on true events illuminates a woman of color’s rise to power as one of the few purported female pirate captains to sail the Caribbean, and the forbidden love story that will shape the course of history.

In the tumultuous town of Yáquimo, Santo Domingo, Jacquotte Delahaye is an unknown but up-and-coming shipwright. Her dreams are bold but her ambitions are bound by the confines of her life with her self-seeking French father. When her way of life and the delicate balance of power in the town are threatened, she is forced to flee her home and become a woman on the run along with a motley crew of refugees, including a mysterious young woman named Teresa.

Jacquotte and her band become indentured servants to the infamous Blackhand, a ruthless pirate captain who rules his ship with an iron fist. As they struggle to survive his brutality, Jacquotte finds herself unable to resist Teresa despite their differences. When Blackhand hatches a dangerous scheme to steal a Portuguese shipment of jewels, Jacquotte must rely on her wits, resourcefulness, and friends to survive. But she discovers there is a grander, darker scheme of treachery at play, and she ultimately must decide what price she is willing to pay to secure a better future for them all.

An unforgettable tale told in three parts, The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye is a thrilling, buccaneering escapade filled with siege and battle, and is also a tender exploration of friendship, love, and the search for freedom and home.


The Phoenix Bride by Natasha Siegel

Set in : 1666

Against the backdrop of 1666 London ravaged by plague and fire, The Phoenix Bride follows Cecilia Thorowgood, a young widow trapped in her sister’s house, and her forbidden love for David Mendes, a Jewish physician.

A passionate tale of plague, fire, and forbidden love in seventeenth-century London from the acclaimed author of Solomon’s Crown

1666. It is a year after plague has devastated England. Young widow Cecilia Thorowgood is a prisoner, trapped and isolated within the cavernous London townhouse of her older sister. At the mercy of a legion of doctors who fail to cure her grief with their impatient scalpels, Cecilia shows no signs of improvement. Soon, her sister makes a decision borne of she hires a new physician, someone known for more unusual methods. But he is a foreigner. A Jew. And despite his attempts to save Cecilia, he knows he cannot quell the storm of grief that rages within her. There is no easy cure for melancholy.

David Mendes fled Portugal to seek a new life in London, where he could practice his faith openly and leave the past behind. Still reeling from the loss of his beloved friend, struggling with his religion and his past, David finds himself in this foreign land, free and safe, but incapable of happiness—caring not even for himself, but only for his ailing father. The security he has found in London threatens to disappear when he meets Cecilia, and he finds himself torn between his duty to medicine and the beating of his own heart. He is the only one who can see her pain; the glimmers of light she emits, even in her gloom, are enough to make him believe once more in love.

Facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, David and Cecilia must endure prejudice, heartbreak, and calamity before they can be together. A Great Fire is coming—and with the city in flames around them, love has never felt so impossible.


The Instrumentalist by Harriet Constable

Set in : 1704

The Instrumentalist portrays Anna Maria della Pietà, an orphan in 18th-century Venice who becomes a prodigy under Antonio Vivaldi’s tutelage. This book is about ambition, talent, and the challenges she faces in a male-dominated world of music.

A stunning debut novel of music, intoxication, and betrayal inspired by the true story of Anna Maria della Pietà, a Venetian orphan and violin prodigy who studied under Antonio Vivaldi and ultimately became his star musician—and his biggest muse.

Anna Maria della Pietà was destined to drown in one of Venice’s canals. Instead, she became the greatest violinist of the 18th century.

Anna Maria has only known life inside the Pietà, an orphanage for children born of prostitutes. But the girls of the Pietà are lucky in a most babies born of their station were drowned in the city’s canals. And despite the strict rules, the girls are given singing and music lessons from an early age. The most promising musicians have the chance to escape the fate of the forced marriage to anyone who will have them.

Anna Maria is determined to be the best violinist there is—and whatever Anna Maria sets out to do, she achieves. After all, the stakes for Anna could not be higher. But it is 1704 and she is a girl. The pursuit of her ambition will test everything she holds dear, especially when it becomes clear that her instructor, Antonio Vivaldi, will teach Anna everything he knows—but not without taking something in return.

From the opulent palaces of Venice to its mud-licked canals, The Instrumentalist is a portrait of opportunities dangled only to be snatched away. It is the story of one woman’s irrepressible ambition and rise to the top. And it is the story of the orphans of Venice who overcame destitution and abuse to make music, and whose contributions to some of the most important works of classical music, including “The Four Seasons,” have been overlooked for too long.


All the World Beside by Garrard Conley

Set in : 1730

All the World Beside unfolds in Puritan New England, where Reverend Nathaniel Whitfield and physician Arthur Lyman navigate a passionate, forbidden love amidst religious fervor and societal expectations.

An electrifying, deeply moving novel about the love story between two men in Puritan New England

Cana, a utopian vision of 18th-century Puritan New England. To the outside world, Reverend Nathaniel Whitfield and his family stand as godly pillars of their small-town community, drawing Christians from across the New World into their fold. One such Christian, physician Arthur Lyman, discovers in the minister’s words a love so captivating it transcends language.

As the bond between these two men grows increasingly passionate, their families must contend with a tangled web of secrets, lies, and judgments that threaten to destroy them in this world and the next. And when the religious ecstasies of the Great Awakening begin to take hold, igniting a new era of zealotry, Nathaniel and Arthur search for a path out of an impossible situation, imagining a future for themselves that has no name. Their wives and children must do the same, looking beyond the known world for a new kind of wilderness, both physical and spiritual.


The Painter’s Daughters by Emily Howes

Set in : the late 1700s

The Painter’s Daughters follows Peggy and Molly Gainsborough, daughters of the renowned painter Thomas Gainsborough, navigating love, madness, and sisterly devotion in 18th-century England. Emily Howes’ novel explores the complexities of family dynamics, societal expectations, and the challenges faced by women striving for independence and identity in the shadow of fame.

Peggy and Molly Gainsborough—the daughters of one of England’s most famous portrait artists of the 1700s and the frequent subject of his work—are best friends. They spy on their father as he paints, rankle their mother as she manages the household, and run barefoot through the muddy fields that surround their home. But there is another reason they are from a young age, Molly periodically experiences bouts of mental confusion, even forgetting who she is, and Peggy instinctively knows she must help cover up her sister’s condition.

When the family moves to Bath, it’s not so easy to hide Molly’s slip-ups. There, the sisters are thrown into the whirlwind of polite society, where the codes of behavior are crystal clear. Molly dreams of a normal life but slides deeper and more publicly into her delusions. By now, Peggy knows the shadow of an asylum looms for women like Molly, and she goes to greater lengths to protect her sister’s secret.

A tense and tender examination of the blurred lines between protection and control, The Painter’s Daughters is a searing portrait of the real girls behind the canvas. Emily Howes’s debut is a stunning exploration of devotion, control, and individuality; it is a love song to sisterhood, to the many hues of life, and to being looked at but never really seen.


The Book of Thorns by Hester Fox

Set in : 1815

Stranded and penniless in France after a failed escape from her cruel uncle, Cornelia Shaw reluctantly joins Napoleon’s Grande Armée due to her remarkable healing abilities using herbal mixtures. Amidst the tumult of war leading to Waterloo, Cornelia’s life takes a mystical turn when flowers reveal a startling revelation: a girl who bears a striking resemblance to Cornelia herself, hinting at a long-lost sister.

Penniless and stranded in France after a bid to escape her cruel uncle goes awry, Cornelia Shaw is far from the Parisian life of leisure she imagined. Desperate and out of options, she allows herself to be recruited to Napoleon’s Grande Armée. As a naturalist, her mysterious ability to heal any wound with herbal mixtures invites awe amongst the soldiers…and suspicion. For behind Cornelia’s vast knowledge of the natural world is a secret she keeps hidden—the flowers speak to her through a mystical connection she has felt since childhood. One that her mother taught her to heed, before she disappeared.

As Napoleon’s army descends on Waterloo, the flowers sing to her of a startling revelation: a girl who bears a striking resemblance to Cornelia. A girl she almost remembers—her sister, lost long ago, who seems to share the same gifts. Determined to reunite with Lijsbeth despite being on opposite sides of the war, Cornelia is drawn into a whirlwind of betrayal, secrets, and lies. Brought together by fate and magic at the peak of the war, the sisters must uncover the key to the source of the power that connects them as accusations of witchcraft swirl and threaten to destroy their very lives.


Finding Margaret Fuller by Allison Pataki

Set in : 1836

In 1836 Massachusetts, Margaret Fuller, a fearless and intellectually gifted woman, accepts Ralph Waldo Emerson’s invitation into the circle of Transcendentalists. Her presence becomes pivotal in the lives of Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau, influencing their literary and philosophical pursuits.

Young, brazen, beautiful, and unapologetically brilliant, Margaret Fuller accepts an invitation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, the celebrated “Sage of Concord,” to meet his coterie of enlightened friends shaping a nation in the throes of its own self-discovery. By the end of her stay, she will become “the radiant genius and fiery heart” of the Transcendentalists, a role model to young Louisa May Alcott, an inspiration to Nathaniel Hawthorne and his scandalous Scarlet Letter, a friend to Henry David Thoreau as he ventures into the woods of Walden Pond . . . and a muse to Emerson himself. But Margaret craves more than poetry and interpersonal drama, and she finds her restless soul in need of new challenges and adventure.

When the legendary Horace Greeley offers an assignment in Europe, Margaret again makes history as the first female foreign news correspondent, mingling with luminaries like Frederic Chopin, Walt Whitman, George Sand, and more. But it is in Rome where she finds a world of passion, romance, and revolution, taking a Roman count as a lover—and sparking an international scandal. Evolving yet again into the roles of mother and countess, Margaret enters a new fight for Italy’s unification.

With a star-studded cast and epic sweep of historical events, this is a story of an inspiring trailblazer, a woman who loved big and lived even bigger—a fierce adventurer who transcended the rigid roles ascribed to women, and changed history for millions, all on her own terms.


All We Were Promised by Ashton Lattimore

Set in : 1837

Charlotte, having escaped slavery on a Southern plantation, finds herself in Philadelphia in 1837, where freedom feels tenuous and incomplete. Concealing her true identity alongside her white-passing father, Charlotte befriends Nell, an aspiring abolitionist from a prominent Black family. Their fragile peace is shattered when Evie, a friend from Charlotte’s plantation days, arrives seeking refuge from her former mistress. As they navigate the volatile atmosphere of race riots and abolitionist activism in Philadelphia, Charlotte and Nell face the perilous task of rescuing Evie while grappling with the societal and personal consequences of their choices.

Philadelphia, 1837. After Charlotte escaped from the crumbling White Oaks plantation down South, she’d expected freedom to feel different from her former life as an enslaved housemaid. After all, Philadelphia is supposed to be the birthplace of American liberty. Instead, she’s locked away playing servant to her white-passing father, as they both attempt to hide their identities from slavecatchers who would destroy their new lives.

Longing to break away, Charlotte befriends Nell, a budding abolitionist from one of Philadelphia’s wealthiest Black families. Just as Charlotte starts to envision a future, a familiar face from her past reappears: Evie, her friend from White Oaks, has been brought to the city by the plantation mistress, and she’s desperate to escape. But as Charlotte and Nell conspire to rescue her, in a city engulfed by race riots and attacks on abolitionists, they soon discover that fighting for Evie’s freedom may cost them their own.


Clear by Carys Davies

Set in : the 1840s

Set in the 1840s during the Scottish Clearances, Clear follows John, an impoverished Scottish minister tasked with evicting Ivar, the last inhabitant of a remote island off Scotland’s coast. Against his wife Mary’s wishes, John embarks on the mission, only to meet Ivar after a near-fatal accident. Despite their initial language barrier, they form an unexpected bond as John learns about Ivar’s solitary existence and deep connection to the island’s wildlife.

John, an impoverished Scottish minister, has accepted a job evicting the lone remaining occupant of an island north of Scotland—Ivar, who has been living alone for decades, with only the animals and the sea for company. Though his wife, Mary, has serious misgivings about the errand, he decides to go anyway, setting in motion a chain of events that neither he nor Mary could have predicted.

Shortly after John reaches the island, he falls down a cliff and is found, unconscious and badly injured, by Ivar who takes him home and tends to his wounds. The two men do not speak a common language, but as John builds a dictionary of Ivar’s world, they learn to communicate and, as Ivar sees himself for the first time in decades reflected through the eyes of another person, they build a fragile, unusual connection.

Unfolding in the 1840s in the final stages of the infamous Scottish Clearances—which saw whole communities of the rural poor driven off the land in a relentless program of forced evictions—this singular, beautiful, deeply surprising novel explores the differences and connections between us, the way history shapes our deepest convictions, and how the human spirit can survive despite all odds. Moving and unpredictable, sensitive and spellbinding, Clear is a profound and pleasurable read.


Butcher by Joyce Carol Oates

Set in : 1840s–1850s

Based on historical documents, Butcher delves into the harrowing career of Dr. Silas Weir, known as the “Father of Gyno-Psychiatry.” Humiliated by a failed procedure, Weir retreats to the New Jersey Asylum for Female Lunatics, where he gains notoriety for his unorthodox treatments on neglected women. Obsessed with a young Irish indentured servant named Brigit, Weir’s ambitions spiral into dark experimentation and personal downfall.

In this harrowing story based on authentic historical documents, we follow the career of Dr. Silas Weir, “The Father of Gyno-Psychiatry,” as he ascends from professional anonymity to national renown. Humiliated by a disastrous procedure, Weir is forced to take a position at the New Jersey Asylum for Female Lunatics, where he reigns. There, he is allowed to continue his practice, unchecked for decades, making a name for himself by focusing on women who have been neglected by the state—women he subjects to the most grotesque modes of experimentation. As he begins to establish himself as a pioneer of 19th-century surgery, Weir’s ambition is fueled by his obsessive fascination with a young Irish indentured servant named Brigit, who becomes not only Weir’s primary experimental subject, but also the agent of his destruction.

Narrated by Silas Weir’s eldest son, who has repudiated his father’s brutal legacy, Butcher is a unique blend of fiction and fact, a nightmare voyage through the darkest regions of the American psyche conjoined, in its startling conclusion, with unexpected romance. Once again, Joyce Carol Oates has written a spellbinding novel confirming her position as one of our celebrated American visionaries of the imagination.


The American Daughters by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Set in : 1851

This gripping is a historical novel follows Ady, a young girl enslaved in New Orleans. She and her mother are inseparable Her favroite past time is listening her mother’ stories and star gazing at night. When they get separated, devastated Ady finds solace at the Mockingbird Inn, where she meets Lenore, a free Black woman. Lenore introduces Ady to The Daughters, a secret group of spies fighting the Confederates.

A gripping historical novel about a spirited young girl who joins a sisterhood of Black women working together to undermine the Confederates—from the award-winning author of We Cast a Shadow

The American Daughters follows Ady, a curious, sharp-witted girl who is enslaved alongside her mother, Sanite to a businessman in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Sanite and her mother Ady are an inseparable duo—taking walks along the river, working together in the fields and spending nights looking up at the stars, dreaming. Ady’s favorite pastime is listening to Sanite’s stories of her families’ origins, their fierce and rebellious nature, and the everlasting love that strengthens their bond.

When mother and daughter are separated, Ady is left hopeless and unmoored, until she stumbles into the Mockingbird Inn and meets Lenore, a free Black woman with whom she becomes fast friends. Lenore invites Ady to join a clandestine society of spies called The Daughters. With the courage instilled in her by Sanite—and help from these strong women—Ady learns how to choose herself. So begins her journey toward liberation and imagining a new future. The American Daughters is a novel of hope and triumph that reminds us what is possible when a community bands together to fight for their right to live free.


James by Percival Everett

Set in : 1861

James reimagines the classic American novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the perspective of Jim, an enslaved man who escapes his fate of being sold by hiding on Jackson Island. There, he forms an unlikely alliance with Huck Finn, who has faked his own death to escape his abusive father. Together, they embark on a perilous journey down the Mississippi River, encountering challenges that test their courage and humanity.

A brilliant, action-packed reimagining of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn , both harrowing and ferociously funny, told from the enslaved Jim’s point of view.

When the enslaved Jim overhears that he is about to be sold to a man in New Orleans, separated from his wife and daughter forever, he decides to hide on nearby Jackson Island until he can formulate a plan. Meanwhile, Huck Finn has faked his own death to escape his violent father, recently returned to town. As all readers of American literature know, thus begins the dangerous and transcendent journey by raft down the Mississippi River toward the elusive and too-often-unreliable promise of the Free States and beyond.

While many narrative set pieces of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn remain in place (floods and storms, stumbling across both unexpected death and unexpected treasure in the myriad stopping points along the river’s banks, encountering the scam artists posing as the Duke and Dauphin…), Jim’s agency, intelligence and compassion are shown in a radically new light.


Wandering Stars by Tommy Orange

Set in : 1864 & 2018

Wandering Stars spans multiple generations and locations, starting with Star, a young survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 Colorado. Taken to Fort Marion Prison Castle, Star is forced to assimilate into mainstream American culture under harsh conditions. Generations later in Oakland, California, Orvil Red Feather navigates the aftermath of a school shooting while grappling with his Cheyenne heritage and the trauma passed down through his family.

Colorado, 1864. Star, a young survivor of the Sand Creek Massacre, is brought to the Fort Marion Prison Castle, where he is forced to learn English and practice Christianity by Richard Henry Pratt, an evangelical prison guard who will go on to found the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, an institution dedicated to the eradication of Native history, culture, and identity. A generation later, Star’s son, Charles, is sent to the school, where he is brutalized by the man who was once his father’s jailer. Under Pratt’s harsh treatment, Charles clings to moments he shares with a young fellow student, Opal Viola, as the two envision a future away from the institutional violence that follows their bloodlines.

Oakland, 2018. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield is barely holding her family together after the shooting that nearly took the life of her nephew Orvil. From the moment he awakens in his hospital bed, Orvil begins compulsively googling school shootings on YouTube. He also becomes emotionally reliant on the prescription medications meant to ease his physical trauma. His younger brother, Lony, suffering from PTSD, is struggling to make sense of the carnage he witnessed at the shooting by secretly cutting himself and enacting blood rituals that he hopes will connect him to his Cheyenne heritage. Opal is equally adrift, experimenting with Ceremony and peyote, searching for a way to heal her wounded family.

Extending his constellation of narratives into the past and future, Tommy Orange once again delivers a story that is by turns shattering and wondrous, a book piercing in its poetry, sorrow, and rage—a masterful follow-up to his already-classic first novel, and a devastating indictment of America’s war on its own people.


Bunyan and Henry: Or, the Beautiful Destiny by Mark Cecil

Set in : the late 1800s

Bunyan and Henry breathes new life into American folklore by pairing Paul Bunyan, the legendary lumberjack, with John Henry, the steel-driving man, in an epic quest against industrialization and injustice. Set against the backdrop of a changing America, Bunyan, down on his luck and burdened by debts, joins forces with Henry, a fugitive seeking freedom from a rigged prison system.

A large-hearted reimagining of beloved all-American legends, this epic debut novel brings men of myth Paul Bunyan and John Henry alive like never before, teaming up for an adventure quest with deeper interrogations of race, class, and industrialization.

Paul Bunyan—legendary larger-than-life American lumberjack—is a man down on his luck. With a load of family debts on his broad back, he ekes out a miserable miner’s life in Lump Town, a bleak hamlet controlled by famed industrialist El Boffo. When Bunyan’s wife Lucette falls ill with a disease caused by the toxic mineral Lump, he embarks on a quest to save her. His only guide: the Chilali—a mysterious creature who speaks only in questions.

Bunyan’s path leads to The Windy City—and to John Henry. Henry is not yet the “steel-drivin’” man known to folklore, but a fugitive on the run from a rigged, racist prison system. As Bunyan and Henry strive to reunite with the families they love, they must work together to solve riddles, forge weapons, brawl with a behemoth, and confront at every turn the relentless, duplicitous El Boffo.

A richly imaginative reinvention of myth, Bunyan and Henry is at once a timeless quest, a fresh origin story, and an urgent modern fable that wrestles with the two sides of the American dream—its wild idealism and cruel underbelly—to inspire the awakening of the folk hero in us all.


The Bullet Swallower by Elizabeth Gonzalez James

Set in : 1895/1964

The Bullet Swallower unfolds across two timelines, linking the lives of Antonio Sonoro in 1895 and his grandson Jaime in 1964 Mexico. In 1895, Antonio, a desperate man facing drought and poverty in Dorado, embarks on a dangerous mission to rob a train, leading to tragic consequences that haunt his family for generations.

In 1895, Antonio Sonoro is the latest in a long line of ruthless men. He’s good with his gun and is drawn to trouble but he’s also out of money and out of options. A drought has ravaged the town of Dorado, Mexico, where he lives with his wife and children, and so when he hears about a train laden with gold and other treasures, he sets off for Houston to rob it—with his younger brother Hugo in tow. But when the heist goes awry and Hugo is killed by the Texas Rangers, Antonio finds himself launched into a quest for revenge that endangers not only his life and his family, but his eternal soul.

In 1964, Jaime Sonoro is Mexico’s most renowned actor and singer. But his comfortable life is disrupted when he discovers a book that purports to tell the entire history of his family beginning with Cain and Abel. In its ancient pages, Jaime learns about the multitude of horrific crimes committed by his ancestors. And when the same mysterious figure from Antonio’s timeline shows up in Mexico City, Jaime realizes that he may be the one who has to pay for his ancestors’ crimes, unless he can discover the true story of his grandfather Antonio, the legendary bandido El Tragabalas, The Bullet Swallower.

A family saga that’s epic in scope and magical in its blood, and based loosely on the author’s own great-grandfather, The Bullet Swallower tackles border politics, intergenerational trauma, and the legacies of racism and colonialism in a lush setting and stunning prose that asks who pays for the sins of our ancestors, and whether it is possible to be better than our forebears.


The Library Thief by Kuchenga Shenjé

Set in : 1896

The Library Thief transports you into Victorian England, where Florence, a skilled bookbinder, finds herself embroiled in a mystery at Lord Belfield’s estate. Tasked with restoring a valuable collection of rare books, Florence uncovers secrets that unravel the aristocratic facade, including the mysterious disappearance of Lord Belfield’s wife.

A strikingly original and absorbing mystery about a white-passing bookbinder in Victorian England and the secrets lurking on the estate where we she works, for fans of Fingersmith and The Confessions of Frannie Langton

The library is under lock and key. But its secrets can’t be contained.

1896. After he brought her home from Jamaica as a baby, Florence’s father had her hair hot-combed to make her look like the other girls. But as a young woman, Florence is not so easy to tame—and when she brings scandal to his door, the bookbinder throws her onto the streets of Manchester.

Intercepting her father’s latest commission, Florence talks her way into the remote, forbidding Rose Hall to restore its collection of rare books. Lord Francis Belfield’s library is old and full of secrets—but none so intriguing as the whispers about his late wife.

Then one night, the library is broken into. Strangely, all the priceless tomes remain untouched. Florence is puzzled, until she discovers a half-burned book in the fireplace. She realizes with horror that someone has found and set fire to the secret diary of Lord Belfield’s wife–which may hold the clue to her fate…

Evocative, arresting and tightly plotted, The Library Thief is at once a propulsive Gothic mystery and a striking exploration of race, gender and self-discovery in Victorian England.


American Daughters by Piper Huguley

Set in : 1901–1930

American Daughters”chronicles the friendship between Portia Washington, daughter of Booker T. Washington, and Alice Roosevelt, daughter of Teddy Roosevelt, spanning the tumultuous early 20th century in America. Portia, committed to her father’s vision of Black empowerment through education at Tuskegee Institute, navigates societal expectations and personal challenges, including a controlling marriage. Alice, rebellious and politically astute, challenges conventions as she supports her father’s presidency and advocates for women’s rights.

In the vein of America’s First Daughter , Piper Huguley’s historical novel delves into the remarkable friendship of Portia Washington and Alice Roosevelt, the daughters of educator Booker T. Washington and President Teddy Roosevelt.

At the turn of the twentieth century, in a time of great change, two women—separated by societal status and culture but bound by their expected roles as the daughters of famed statesmen—forged a lifelong friendship.  Portia Washington’s father Booker T. Washington was a former slave who spent his life championing the education and empowerment of Black Americans through the Tuskegee Institute and his political connections. Dedicated to her father’s values, Portia contributed by teaching and performing spirituals and classical music.

But a marriage to a controlling and jealous husband made fulfilling her dreams much more difficult.  When Theodore Roosevelt assumed the presidency, his eldest daughter Alice Roosevelt joined him in the White House. To try to win her father’s approval, she eagerly jumped in to help him succeed, but Alice’s political savvy and nonconformist behavior alienated as well as intrigued his opponents and allies. When she married a congressman, she carved out her own agendas and continued espousing women’s rights and progressive causes. 

Brought together in the wake of their fathers’ friendship, these bright and fascinating women helped each other struggle through marriages, pregnancies, and political upheaval, supporting each other throughout their lives.  

A provocative historical novel and revealing portrait, Piper Huguley’s American Daughters vividly brings to life two passionate and vital women who nurtured a friendship that transcended politics and race over a century ago. 


The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn

Set in : 1906

The Phoenix Crown by Janie Chang and Kate Quinn tells the story of two women, Gemma and Suling, whose lives intersect in early 20th century San Francisco. Gemma is a struggling soprano, while Suling is an embroideress from Chinatown trying to escape an arranged marriage. Their paths cross through Henry Thornton, a railroad magnate with a collection of Chinese antiques, including the legendary Phoenix Crown. When a devastating earthquake hits San Francisco, Thornton disappears, leaving behind a mystery. Five years later, the Phoenix Crown reappears at a Paris costume ball, bringing Gemma and Suling together once more in a quest for justice

From bestselling authors Janie Chang and Kate Quinn, a thrilling and unforgettable narrative about the intertwined lives of two wronged women, spanning from the chaos of the San Francisco earthquake to the glittering palaces of Versailles.

San Francisco, 1906. In a city bustling with newly minted millionaires and scheming upstarts, two very different women hope to change their fortunes: Gemma, a golden-haired, silver-voiced soprano whose career desperately needs rekindling, and Suling, a petite and resolute Chinatown embroideress who is determined to escape an arranged marriage. Their paths cross when they are drawn into the orbit of Henry Thornton, a charming railroad magnate whose extraordinary collection of Chinese antiques includes the fabled Phoenix Crown, a legendary relic of Beijing’s fallen Summer Palace.

His patronage offers Gemma and Suling the chance of a lifetime, but their lives are thrown into turmoil when a devastating earthquake rips San Francisco apart and Thornton disappears, leaving behind a mystery reaching further than anyone could have imagined . . . until the Phoenix Crown reappears five years later at a sumptuous Paris costume ball, drawing Gemma and Suling together in one last desperate quest for justice.


The Great Divide by Cristina Henríquez

Set in : 1907

The Great Divide explores the construction of the Panama Canal through the intersecting lives of Francisco, a local fisherman dismayed by foreign intrusion, and Ada, a determined teenager from Barbados seeking work to save her sister’s life. Their paths cross in the Panama Canal Zone, where they confront personal and societal challenges amidst the turmoil of one of history’s greatest engineering feats.

An epic novel of the construction of the Panama Canal, casting light on the unsung people who lived, loved, and labored there.

It is said that the canal will be the greatest feat of engineering in history. But first, it must be built. For Francisco, a local fisherman who resents the foreign powers clamoring for a slice of his country, nothing is more upsetting than the decision of his son, Omar, to work as a digger in the excavation zone. But for Omar, whose upbringing was quiet and lonely, this job offers a chance to finally find connection.

Ada Bunting is a bold sixteen-year-old from Barbados who arrives in Panama as a stowaway alongside thousands of other West Indians seeking work. Alone and with no resources, she is determined to find a job that will earn enough money for her ailing sister’s surgery. When she sees a young man—Omar—who has collapsed after a grueling shift, she is the only one who rushes to his aid.

John Oswald has dedicated his life to scientific research and has journeyed to Panama in single-minded pursuit of one goal: eliminating malaria. But now, his wife, Marian, has fallen ill herself, and when he witnesses Ada’s bravery and compassion, he hires her on the spot as a caregiver. This fateful decision sets in motion a sweeping tale of ambition, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Searing and empathetic, The Great Divide explores the intersecting lives of activists, fishmongers, laborers, journalists, neighbors, doctors, and soothsayers—those rarely acknowledged by history even as they carved out its course.


Shelterwood by Lisa Wingate

Set in : 1909/1990

Shelterwood intertwines the stories of Olive Augusta Radley in 1909 Oklahoma and Valerie Boren O’dell in 1990 at Horsethief Trail National Park, both navigating landscapes scarred by greed and exploitation. Olive, an eleven-year-old protecting two Choctaw girls from exploitation, and Val, a ranger uncovering buried histories and present-day mysteries, confront the legacies of injustice and environmental destruction in their respective eras.

Oklahoma, 1909. Eleven-year-old Olive Augusta Radley knows that her stepfather doesn’t have good intentions toward the two Choctaw girls boarded in their home as wards. When the older girl disappears, Ollie flees to the woods, taking six-year-old Nessa with her. Together they begin a perilous journey to the rugged Winding Stair Mountains, the notorious territory of outlaws, treasure hunters, and desperate men. Along the way, Ollie and Nessa form an unlikely band with others like themselves, struggling to stay one step ahead of those who seek to exploit them . . . or worse.

Oklahoma, 1990. Law Enforcement Ranger Valerie Boren O’dell arrives at Horsethief Trail National Park seeking a quiet place to balance a career and single parenthood. But no sooner has Valerie reported for duty than she’s faced with local controversy over the park’s opening, a teenage hiker gone missing from one of the trails, and the long-hidden burial site of three children deep in a cave. Val’s quest to uncover the truth wins an ally among the neighboring Choctaw Tribal Police but soon collides with old secrets and the tragic and deadly history of the land itself.


The House on Biscayne Bay by Chanel Cleeton

Set in : 1918 & 1940

Chanel Cleeton’s novel explores the lives of two women whose lives are intertwine in a Miami mansion haunted by secrets and scandals from the past. After the Great War, Robert and Anna Barnes build a grand estate that hides dark mysteries. Years later, Carmen Acosta visits the mansion following her parents’ deaths, only to find herself in danger as she uncovers the mansion’s treacherous legacy.

As death stalks a gothic mansion in Miami, the lives of two women intertwine as the past and present collide in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s atmospheric new novel.

With the Great War finally behind them, thousands of civilians and business moguls alike flock to South Florida with their sights set on making a fortune. When wealthy industrialist Robert Barnes and his wife, Anna, build Marbrisa, a glamorous estate on Biscayne Bay, they become the toast of the newly burgeoning society. Anna and Robert appear to have it all, but in a town like Miami, appearances can be deceiving, and one scandal can change everything.

Years later following the tragic death of her parents in Havana, Carmen Acosta journeys to Marbrisa, the grand home of her estranged older sister, Carolina, and her husband, Asher Wyatt. On the surface, the gilded estate looks like paradise, but Carmen quickly learns that nothing at Marbrisa is as it seems. The house has a treacherous legacy, and Carmen’s own life is soon in jeopardy . . . unless she can unravel the secrets buried beneath the mansion’s facade and stop history from repeating itself.


Rednecks by Taylor Brown

Set in : 1920

Rednecks tells the largely forgotten history of the West Virginia Mine Wars of 1920–1921, exploring the tumultuous events through the lives of Doc Moo, a Lebanese-American doctor, and Frank Hugham, a Black World War I veteran and coal miner.

Rednecks is a tour de force, big canvas historical novel that dramatizes the 1920 to 1921 events of the West Virginia Mine Wars—from the Matewan Massacre through the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest armed conflict on American soil since the Civil War, when some one million rounds were fired, bombs were dropped on Appalachia, and the term “redneck” would come to have an unexpected origin story.

Brimming with the high stakes drama of America’s buried history, Rednecks tells a powerful story of rebellion against oppression. In a land where the coal companies use violence and intimidation to keep miners from organizing, “Doc Moo” Muhanna, a Lebanese-American doctor (inspired by the author’s own great-grandfather), toils amid the blood and injustice of the mining camps.

When Frank Hugham, a Black World War One veteran and coal miner, takes dramatic steps to lead a miners’ revolt with a band of fellow veterans, Doc Moo risks his life and career to treat sick and wounded miners, while Frank’s grandmother, Beulah, fights her own battle to save her home and grandson. Real-life historical figures burn bright among the hills: the fiery Mother Jones, an Irish-born labor organizer once known as “The Most Dangerous Woman in America,” struggles to maintain the ear of the miners (“her boys”) amid the tide of rebellion, while the sharp-shooting police chief “Smilin” Sid Hatfield dares to stand up to the “gun thugs” of the coal companies, becoming a folk hero of the mine wars.


Burma Sahib by Paul Theroux

Set in : 1921

Burma Sahib explores the formative years of Eric Blair, later known as George Orwell, during his service as a British police officer in colonial Burma. Paul Theroux delves into Blair’s encounters with colonialism, racial tensions, and moral dilemmas, as he navigates his role in enforcing British authority while grappling with his own identity and beliefs.

From the acclaimed author of The Mosquito Coast  and  The Bad Angel Brothers  comes a riveting new novel exploring one of English literature’s most beloved and controversial figures—George Orwell—and the early years as an officer in colonial Burma that transformed him from Eric Blair, the British Raj policeman, into Orwell the anticolonial writer.

At age nineteen, young Eton graduate Eric Blair set sail for India, dreading the assignment ahead. Along with several other young conscripts, he would be trained for three years as a servant of the British Empire, overseeing the local policemen in Burma. Navigating the social, racial, and class politics of his fellow British at the same time as he learned the local languages and struggled to control his men would prove difficult enough.

But doing all of this while grappling with his own self-worth, his sense that he was not cut out for this, is soon overwhelming for the young Blair. Eventually, his clashes with his superiors, and the drama that unfolds in this hot, beautiful land, will change him forever.


The Mayor of Maxwell Street by Avery Cunningham

Set in : 1921

The Mayor of Maxwell Street by Avery Cunningham will take you to 1920s Chicago, a city brimming with societal tensions. Nelly Sawyer, daughter of a wealthy Kentucky horse breeder, steps into prominence following her brother’s unexpected death. Beyond society’s expectations, Nelly covertly reports for the Chicago Defender, uncovering the struggles of Black Americans under Jim Crow.

The year is 1921, and America is burning. A fire of vice and virtue rages on every shore with Chicago at its beating heart.

Twenty-year-old Nelly Sawyer is the daughter of the alleged “wealthiest Negro in America,” a Kentucky horse breeder whose wealth and prestige catapults his family to the heights of the exclusive, elite Black society. After the unexpected death of her brother—the family’s presumed heir—Nelly goes from being virtually unknown to a premier debutante overnight. But Nelly has aspirations beyond society influence and marriage. For the past year, she has worked undercover as an investigative journalist for the Chicago Defender , sharing the achievements and tribulations of everyday Black people living in the shadow of Jim Crow. Now, her latest assignment thrusts her into the den of a dangerous vice the so-called Mayor of Maxwell Street.

When Nelly’s and Jay’s paths cross, she recruits him to help expose the Mayor and bring about a lasting change in a corrupted city. Trapped between the monolith of Jim Crow, the inflexible world of the Black upper class, and the violence of Prohibition-era Chicago, Jay and Nelly work together and stoke the flames of a love worth fighting for. And yet, as with all things in America, there is a price to be paid. What risk is Nelly willing to take for a young man willing to risk it all? 

Debut author Avery Cunningham’s stunning novel is at once an epic love story, a riveting historical drama, and a brilliant exploration of Black society and perseverance when the ‘20s first began to roar.


The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson by Ellen Baker

Set in : 1924 & 2015

Cecily Larson, abandoned by her mother at a Chicago orphanage in 1924, finds solace in a circus where she grows up. In 2015, now elderly, a DNA test reveals long-hidden family secrets, forcing Cecily and her descendants to confront their identities and relationships.

In 1924, four-year-old Cecily Larson’s mother reluctantly drops her off at an orphanage in Chicago, promising to be back once she’s made enough money to support both Cecily and herself. But she never returns, and shortly after high-spirited Cecily turns seven, she is sold to a traveling circus to perform as the “little sister” to glamorous bareback rider Isabelle DuMonde. With Isabelle and the rest of the circus, Cecily finally feels she’s found the family she craves. But as the years go by, the cracks in her little world begin to show. And when teenage Cecily meets and falls in love with a young roustabout named Lucky, she finds her life thrown onto an entirely unexpected—and dangerous—course.

In 2015, Cecily is now 94 and living a quiet life in Minnesota, with her daughter, granddaughter, and great-grandson. But when her family decides to surprise her with an at-home DNA test, the unexpected results not only bring to light the tragic love story that Cecily has kept hidden for decades but also throw into question everything about the family she’s raised and claimed as her own for nearly seventy years. Cecily and everyone in her life must now decide who they really are and what family—and forgiveness—really mean.

Sweeping through a long period of contemporary history, The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson is an immersive, compelling, and entertaining family drama centered around one remarkable woman and her determination to survive.


The Storm We Made by Vanessa Chan

Set in : 1935 & 1945

In WWII Malaya, Cecily Alcantara’s family faces peril as her son disappears and her daughter risks becoming a comfort woman. Cecily’s past as a spy for the Japanese brings danger to her doorstep, threatening to unravel her family.

A novel about a Malayan mother who becomes an unlikely spy for the invading Japanese forces during WWII—and the shocking consequences that rain upon her community and family.

Malaya, 1945. Cecily Alcantara’s family is in terrible danger: her fifteen-year-old son, Abel, has disappeared, and her youngest daughter, Jasmin, is confined in a basement to prevent being pressed into service at the comfort stations. Her eldest daughter Jujube, who works at a tea house frequented by drunk Japanese soldiers, becomes angrier by the day.

Cecily knows two things: that this is all her fault; and that her family must never learn the truth.

A decade prior, Cecily had been desperate to be more than a housewife to a low-level bureaucrat in British-colonized Malaya. A chance meeting with the charismatic General Fuijwara lured her into a life of espionage, pursuing dreams of an “Asia for Asians.” Instead, Cecily helped usher in an even more brutal occupation by the Japanese. Ten years later as the war reaches its apex, her actions have caught up with her. Now her family is on the brink of destruction—and she will do anything to save them.


The Underground Library by Jennifer Ryan

Set in : 1940

Amidst the London Blitz, deputy librarian Juliet Lansdown strives to revitalize Bethnal Green Library. Katie seeks solace after losing her beau in war, and Sofie, a Jewish refugee, finds refuge there. When bombs destroy the library, they relocate to an Underground station, determined to preserve their community.

When the Blitz imperils the heart of a London neighborhood, three young women must use their fighting spirit to save the community’s beloved library in this heartwarming novel from the author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir

When new deputy librarian, Juliet Lansdown, finds that Bethnal Green Library isn’t the bustling hub she’s expecting, she becomes determined to breathe life back into it. But can she show the men in charge that a woman is up to the task of running it, especially when a confrontation with her past threatens to derail her?

Katie Upwood is thrilled to be working at the library, although she’s only there until she heads off to university in the fall. But after the death of her beau on the front line and amid tumultuous family strife, she finds herself harboring a life-changing secret with no one to turn to for help.

Sofie Baumann, a young Jewish refugee, came to London on a domestic service visa only to find herself working as a maid for a man who treats her abominably. She escapes to the library every chance she can, finding friendship in the literary community and aid in finding her sister, who is still trying to flee occupied Europe.

When a slew of bombs destroy the library, Juliet relocates the stacks to the local Underground station where the city’s residents shelter nightly, determined to lend out stories that will keep spirits up. But tragedy after tragedy threatens to unmoor the women and sever the ties of their community. Will Juliet, Kate, and Sofie be able to overcome their own troubles to save the library? Or will the beating heart of their neighborhood be lost forever?


Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

Set in : 1948

In 1948 China, Hai and her sisters face persecution during the Communist revolution. Abandoned by their family, they embark on a perilous journey across Asia, seeking freedom and confronting the turbulent changes of a nation in upheaval.

An instant USA Today Bestseller!

A propulsive, extraordinary novel about a mother and her daughters’ harrowing escape to Taiwan as the Communist revolution sweeps through China, by debut author Eve J. Chung, based on her family story

Daughters are the Ang family’s curse.

In 1948, civil war ravages the Chinese countryside, but in rural Shandong, the wealthy, landowning Angs are more concerned with their lack of an heir. Hai is the eldest of four girls and spends her days looking after her sisters. Headstrong Di, who is just a year younger, learns to hide in plain sight, and their mother—abused by the family for failing to birth a boy—finds her own small acts of rebellion in the kitchen. As the Communist army closes in on their town, the rest of the prosperous household flees, leaving behind the girls and their mother because they view them as useless mouths to feed.

Without an Ang male to punish, the land-seizing cadres choose Hai, as the eldest child, to stand trial for her family’s crimes. She barely survives their brutality. Realizing the worst is yet to come, the women plan their escape. Starving and penniless but resourceful, they forge travel permits and embark on a thousand-mile journey to confront the family that abandoned them.

From the countryside to the bustling city of Qingdao, and onward to British Hong Kong and eventually Taiwan, they witness the changing tide of a nation and the plight of multitudes caught in the wake of revolution. But with the loss of their home and the life they’ve known also comes new freedom—to take hold of their fate, to shake free of the bonds of their gender, and to claim their own story.

Told in assured, evocative prose, with impeccably drawn characters, Daughters of Shandong is a hopeful, powerful story about the resilience of women in war; the enduring love between mothers, daughters, and sisters; and the sacrifices made to lift up future generations.


The Briar Club by Kate Quinn

Set in : 1950

In 1950s Washington, D.C., Grace March’s arrival at Briarwood House sparks unlikely friendships among its residents—Fliss, Nora, Bea, and Arlene—each hiding secrets. Grace’s own mysterious past threatens their newfound camaraderie when violence disrupts their lives.

Washington, D.C., 1950. Everyone keeps to themselves at Briarwood House, a down-at-the-heels all-female boardinghouse in the heart of the nation’s capital, where secrets hide behind white picket fences. But when the lovely, mysterious widow Grace March moves into the attic, she draws her oddball collection of neighbors into unlikely friendship: poised English beauty Fliss whose facade of perfect wife and mother covers gaping inner wounds; police officer’s daughter Nora, who is entangled with a shadowy gangster; frustrated baseball star Bea, whose career has ended along with the women’s baseball league of WWII; and poisonous, gung-ho Arlene, who has thrown herself into McCarthy’s Red Scare.

Grace’s weekly attic-room dinner parties and window-brewed sun tea become a healing balm on all their lives, but she hides a terrible secret of her own. When a shocking act of violence tears apart the house, the Briar Club women must decide once and for all: Who is the true enemy in their midst?


The Things We Didn’t Know by Elba Iris Pérez

Set in : 1950s

Andrea Rodríguez navigates between 1950s Puerto Rico and Massachusetts, discovering cultural clashes and personal growth. Her journey highlights the challenges of identity and belonging in a changing world.

The inaugural winner of Simon & Schuster’s Books Like Us contest, Elba Iris Pérez’s lyrical, cross-cultural coming-of-age debut novel explores a young girl’s childhood between 1950s Puerto Rico and a small Massachusetts factory town.

Andrea Rodríguez is nine years old when her mother whisks her and her brother, Pablo, away from Woronoco, the tiny Massachusetts factory town that is the only home they’ve known. With no plan and no money, she leaves them with family in the mountainside villages of Puerto Rico and promises to return.

Months later, when Andrea and Pablo are brought back to Massachusetts, they find their hometown significantly changed. As they navigate the rifts between their family’s values and all-American culture and face the harsh realities of growing up, they must embrace both the triumphs and heartache that mark the journey to adulthood.

A heartfelt, evocative portrait of another side of life in 1950s America, The Things We Didn’t Know establishes Elba Iris Pérez as a sensational new literary voice.


Malas by Marcela Fuentes

Set in : 1951

Lulu Muñoz confronts family curses and secrets in a Texas-Mexico border town in 1951. Through her journey, she unravels the mysteries of her grandmother’s past and her own future, set against the vibrant backdrop of Tejano culture.

A story full of passion and revenge, following one family living on the Texas Mexico border and a curse that reverberates across generations–“Fuentes has achieved something rare and indelible with this story of complex women.” (Erika L. Sánchez)

In 1951, a mysterious old woman confronts Pilar Aguierre in the small border town of La Cienega, Texas. The old woman is sure Pilar stole her husband and, in a heated outburst, lays a curse on Pilar and her family.

More than forty years later, Lulu Muñoz is dodging chaos at every turn: her troubled father’s moods, his rules, her secret life as singer in a punk band, but most of all her upcoming quinceañera. When her beloved grandmother passes away, Lulu finds herself drawn to the glamorous stranger who crashed the funeral and who lives on the alone and shunned on the edge of town.

Their unexpected kinship picks at the secrets of Lulu’s family’s past. As the quinceañera looms—and we move between these two strong, irascible female voices—one woman must make peace with the past, and one girl pushes to embrace her future.

Rich with cinematic details—from dusty rodeos to the excitement of a Selena concert and the comfort of conjunto ballads played at family gatherings—this memorable debut is a love letter to the Tejano culture and community that sustain both of these women as they discover what family means.


Husbands & Lovers by Beatriz Williams

Set in : 1951 & 2022

Mallory Dunne’s search for a kidney donor for her son uncovers family secrets spanning from 1950s Cairo to contemporary New England. Hannah Ainsworth’s affair with a hotel manager in Egypt during revolutionary times intertwines with Mallory’s quest, revealing profound connections across generations.

Two women—separated by decades and continents, and united by a mysterious family heirloom—reclaim family secrets and lost loves in this sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives.

New England, 2022. Three years ago, single mother Mallory Dunne received the telephone call every parent dreads—her ten-year-old son Sam had been airlifted from summer camp with acute poisoning from a toxic death cap mushroom, leaving him fighting for his life. Now, in a search for the donor kidney that will give her son a chance for a normal life, Mallory’s forced to confront two harrowing secrets from her past: her mother’s adoption from an infamous Irish orphanage in 1952, and her own all-consuming summer romance fourteen years earlier with her childhood best friend Monk Adams—now one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters—a fairytale cut short by an agonizing betrayal.

Cairo, 1951. After suffering tragedy beyond comprehension in the war, Hungarian refugee Hannah Ainsworth has forged a respectable new life for herself—marriage to a wealthy British diplomat, a coveted posting in glamorous Cairo. But a fateful encounter with the enigmatic manager of a hotel bristling with spies leads to a passionate affair that will reawaken Hannah’s longing for everything she once lost. As revolution simmers in the Egyptian streets, a pregnant Hannah finds herself snared into a game of intrigue between two men…and an act of sacrifice that will echo down the generations.

Timeless and bittersweet, Husbands And Lovers draws readers on an unforgettable journey of heartbreak and redemption, from the revolutionary fires of midcentury Egypt to the moneyed beaches of contemporary New England. Acclaimed author Beatriz Williams has written a poignant and beautifully voiced novel of deeply human characters entangled by morally complex issues—of privilege, class, and the female experience—inside worlds brought shimmeringly to life.


Can’t We Be Friends by Denny S. Bryce

Set in : 1952

Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe’s unexpected friendship in 1952 challenges societal norms and personal ambitions. Despite their differences, they navigate the complexities of fame and independence, forging a bond that defies their turbulent times.

Award-winning author Denny S. Bryce and USA Today bestselling author Eliza Knight collaborate on a brilliant novel that uncovers the boundary-breaking, genuine friendship between Ella Fitzgerald, the Queen of Jazz, and iconic movie star Marilyn Monroe.  One woman was recognized as the premiere singer of her era with perfect pitch and tireless ambition.

One woman was the most glamorous star in Hollywood, a sex symbol who took the world by storm. And their friendship was fast and firm… 1952: Ella Fitzgerald is a renowned jazz singer whose only roadblock to longevity is society’s attitude toward women and race. Marilyn Monroe’s star is rising despite ongoing battles with movie studio bigwigs and boyfriends. When she needs help with her singing, she wants only the best—and the best is the brilliant Ella Fitzgerald. But Ella isn’t a singing teacher and declines—then the two women meet, and to everyone’s surprise but their own, they become fast friends.

On the surface, what could they have in common? Yet each was underestimated by the men in their lives—husbands, managers, hangers-on. And both were determined to gain.

Each fought for professional independence and personal agency in a time when women were expected to surrender control to those same men. This novel reveals and celebrates their surprising bond over a decade and serves as a poignant reminder of how true friendship can cross differences to bolster and sustain us through haunting heartbreak and wild success.


Last House by Jessica Shattuck

Set in : 1953

Set in 1953 Vermont, Nick and Bet Taylor enjoy a tranquil life until societal upheavals of the 1960s disrupt their family dynamics. Their children, Katherine and Harry, face the consequences of their parents’ choices, reflecting broader changes in America’s history

It’s 1953, and for Nick Taylor, WWII veteran turned company lawyer, oil is the key to the future. He takes the train into the city for work and returns to the peaceful streets of the suburbs and to his wife, Bet, former codebreaker now housewife, and their two children, Katherine and Harry. Nick comes from humble origins but thanks to his work for American Oil, he can provide every comfort for his family, including Last House, a secluded country escape. Deep in the Vermont mountains, the Taylors are free from the stresses of modern life. Bet doesn’t have to worry about the Russian H-bombs that haunt her dreams, and the children roam free in the woods. Last House is a place that could survive the end of the world.

It’s 1968, and America is on the brink of change. Protestors fill the streets to challenge everything from the Vietnam War to racism in the wake of MLK’s shooting—to the country’s reliance on Big Oil. As Katherine makes her first forays into adult life, she’s caught up in the current of the time and struggles to reconcile her ideals with the stable and privileged childhood her Greatest Generation parents worked so hard to provide. But when the Movement shifts in a more radical direction, each member of the Taylor family will be forced to reckon with the consequences of the choices they’ve made for the causes they believed in.

Spanning multiple generations and nearly eighty years, Last House tells the story of one American family during an age of grand ideals and even greater downfalls. Set against the backdrop of our nation’s history, this is an emotional tour de force that digs deeply into questions of inheritance and what we owe each other—and captures to stunning effect the gravity of time, the double edge of progress, and the hubris of empire.


The Secret Keeper of Main Street by Trisha R. Thomas

Set in : 1954

Bailey Dowery, a gifted dressmaker with second sight in 1950s Oklahoma, becomes embroiled in scandal when her intuitive abilities reveal dark truths. Amidst societal tensions, Bailey navigates racial divides and personal risks to protect those she loves.

Acclaimed author Trisha R. Thomas delivers a masterful new tale of scandal and intuition. In 1950s oil-rich Oklahoma, Bailey Dowery, a dressmaker with the gift of “second sight,” reluctantly reveals the true loves and intentions of her socialite clients, making her a silent witness to a shocking crime. 1954: In the quaint town of Mendol, Oklahoma, Bailey Dowery is a Black dressmaker for the wives and daughters of local oil barons.

She earns a good living fitting designer gowns and creating custom wedding dresses for the town’s elite. But beyond her needle and thread lies a deeper talent, one passed down from her the gift of insight. With just a fleeting touch or brush against the skin, Bailey has sudden flashes of intuition— witnessing the other person’s hopes, dreams, and nightmares, as well glimpses of their past and future. To protect herself, she wears gloves to keep from grazing the skin of her clients as she pins them into their gowns. Brides have whispered that Bailey can see if their true love is faithful, or if their marriage will be a success. Her aunt Charlene has always warned her, “It’s safer to stay out of White folks’ business.” But Bailey will reluctantly provide a reading during a fitting, as long as the bride promises to be discreet. Now Elsa Grimes, daughter of one of the richest oil men in Oklahoma, has come to the Regal Gown as the least joyful bride Bailey has ever seen.

Elsa’s big society wedding is imminent and her gown is gorgeous, but what Bailey’s intuition uncovers when she touches Elsa’s hand horrifies her. Against her better judgment, she’s determined to help Elsa in whatever way she can. But when the son of a prominent family turns up dead on the eve of Elsa’s wedding, and the bride-to-be is arrested for his murder, Bailey is suddenly at the center of a firestorm that threatens to overtake her and everyone she loves.


The Sons of El Rey by Alex Espinoza

Set in : 1960s & 1 980s-present

Spanning generations from 1960s Mexico City to contemporary Los Angeles, the Vega family’s legacy in lucha libre wrestling intertwines with personal struggles for identity and acceptance. Ernesto, Freddy, and Julian Vega navigate family secrets and societal expectations, challenging cultural stereotypes and embracing their passions.

From the American Book Award­–winning author comes a multi-generational epic spanning 1960s Mexico City to contemporary Los Angeles, following a family of Luchadores as they contend with forbidden love and family secrets.

Ernesto and Elena Vega arrive in Mexico City where Ernesto works on a construction site until he is discovered by a local lucha libre trainer. At a time when luchadores—Mexican wrestlers donning flamboyant masks and capes—were treated as daredevils or rockstars, Ernesto finds fame as El Rey Coyote, rapidly gaining name recognition across Mexico.

Years later, in East Los Angeles Freddy Vega is struggling to save his father’s gym while Freddy’s own son Julian is searching for professional and romantic fulfillment as a Mexican American gay man refusing to be defined by stereotypes. The once larger-than-life Ernesto Vega is now dying, leading Freddy and Julian to find their own passions and discover what really happened back in Mexico.

Told from alternating perspectives, Ernesto takes you from the ranches of Michoacán to the makeshift colonias and crowded sports arenas of Mexico City. Freddy describes life in the suburban streets of 1980s Los Angeles and the community their family built as Julian descends deep into the culture of hook-up apps, lucha burlesque shows, and the dark underbelly of West Hollywood, The Sons of El Rey is an intimate portrait of a family wading against time and legacy, yet always choosing the fight.


The Women by Kristin Hannah

Set in : 1965

In 1965, Frances McGrath joins the Army Nurse Corps amidst the chaos of Vietnam War, challenging her sheltered upbringing in California. Through loss, betrayal, and courage, she discovers the complexities of war and returns to a divided America, where her sacrifices and those of women like her are often overlooked.

Women can be heroes. When twenty-year-old nursing student Frances “Frankie” McGrath hears these words, it is a revelation. Raised in the sun-drenched, idyllic world of Southern California and sheltered by her conservative parents, she has always prided herself on doing the right thing. But in 1965, the world is changing, and she suddenly dares to imagine a different future for herself. When her brother ships out to serve in Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps and follows his path.

As green and inexperienced as the men sent to Vietnam to fight, Frankie is over- whelmed by the chaos and destruction of war. Each day is a gamble of life and death, hope and betrayal; friendships run deep and can be shattered in an instant. In war, she meets—and becomes one of—the lucky, the brave, the broken, and the lost.

But war is just the beginning for Frankie and her veteran friends. The real battle lies in coming home to a changed and divided America, to angry protesters, and to a country that wants to forget Vietnam.

The Women is the story of one woman gone to war, but it shines a light on all women who put themselves in harm’s way and whose sacrifice and commitment to their country has too often been forgotten. A novel about deep friendships and bold patriotism, The Women is a richly drawn story with a memorable heroine whose idealism and courage under fire will come to define an era.


The Road to the Country by Chigozie Obioma

Set in : the late 1960s

Set in Nigeria during the late 1960s civil war, Kunle, driven by guilt and love for his missing brother, navigates a harrowing journey into the heart of conflict. Conscripted into the Biafran army, he grapples with prophecy, brotherhood, and the brutal realities of war.

Set in Nigeria in the late 1960s, The Road to the Country is the epic story of a shy, bookish student haunted by long-held guilt who must go to war to free himself. When his younger brother disappears as the country explodes in civil war, Kunle must set out on an impossible rescue mission. Kunle’s search for his brother becomes a journey of atonement that will see him conscripted into the breakaway Biafran army and forced to fight a war he hardly understands, all while navigating the prophecies of a local Seer, he who marks Kunle as an abami eda—one who will die and return to life.

The story of a young man seeking redemption in a country on fire, Chigozie Obioma’s novel is an odyssey of brotherhood, love, and unimaginable courage set during one of the most devastating conflicts in the history of Africa. Intertwining myth and realism into a thrilling, inspired, and emotionally powerful novel, The Road to the Country is the masterpiece of Chigozie Obioma, a writer Salman Rushdie calls “a major voice” in literature.


Tiananmen Square by Lai Wen

Set in : 1970s & 1989

Lai Wen’s coming-of-age book follows Lai, a Beijing girl, navigating tumultuous decades marked by cultural revolution and student protests leading to Tiananmen Square. Through literature and friendships, Lai discovers personal growth amidst political upheaval, challenging state conformity for individuality.

An epic, deeply moving coming-of-age novel about young love and lasting friendships forged in the years leading up to the Tiananmen Square student protests, for readers of The Beekeeper of Aleppo and The Night Tiger.

As a child in Beijing in the 1970s, Lai lives with her family in a lively, working-class neighborhood near the heart of the city. Thoughtful yet unassuming, she spends her days with her friends beyond the attention of her Her father is a reclusive figure who lingers in the background, while her mother, an aging beauty and fervent patriot, is quick-tempered and preoccupied with neighborhood gossip. Only Lai’s grandmother, a formidable and colorful maverick, seems to really see Lai and believe that she can blossom beyond their circumstances.

But Lai is quickly awakened to the harsh realities of the Chinese state. A childish prank results in a terrifying altercation with police that haunts her for years; she also learns that her father, like many others, was broken during the Cultural Revolution. As she enters adolescence, Lai meets a mysterious and wise bookseller who introduces her to great works-Hemingway, Camus, and Orwell, among others-that open her heart to the emotional power of literature and her mind to thrillingly different perspectives. Along the way, she experiences the ebbs and flows of friendship, the agony of grief, and the first steps and missteps in love.

A gifted student, Lai wins a scholarship to study at the prestigious Peking University where she soon falls in with a theatrical band of individualists and misfits dedicated to becoming their authentic selves, despite the Communist Party’s insistence on conformity-and a new world opens before her. When student resistance hardens under the increasingly restrictive policies of the state, the group gets swept up in the fervor, determined to be heard, joining the masses of demonstrators and dreamers who display remarkable courage and loyalty in the face of danger. As 1989 unfolds, the spirit of change is in the air…

Drawn from her own life, Lai Wen’s novel is mesmerizing and haunting-a universal yet intimate story of youth and self-discovery that plays out against the backdrop of a watershed historic event. Tiananmen Square captures the hope and idealism of a new generation and the lasting price they were willing to pay in the name of freedom.


The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim

Set in : 1980s

In 1980s South Korea, Eunju and her mother endure a brutal reformatory center, while brothers Sangchul and Youngchul face grim choices, revealing dark national history. Crystal Hana Kim’s narrative unfolds through poignant perspectives, exploring family bonds, survival, and the enduring impact of violence in a lyrical, emotional journey through Korea’s troubled past.

A hauntingly poetic family drama and coming-of-age story that reveals a dark corner of South Korean history through the eyes of a small community living in a reformatory center—a stunning work of great emotional power from the critically acclaimed author of If You Leave Me.

In 2011, Eunju Oh opens her door to greet a stranger: a young Korean American woman holding a familiar-looking knife—a knife Eunju hasn’t seen in more than thirty years, and that connects her to a place she’d desperately hoped to leave behind forever.

In South Korea in the 1980s, young Eunju and her mother are homeless on the street. After being captured by the police, they’re sent to live within the walls of a state-sanctioned reformatory center that claims to rehabilitate the nation’s citizens but hides a darker, more violent reality. While Eunju and her mother form a tight-knit community with the other women in the kitchen, two teenage brothers, Sangchul and Youngchul, are compelled to labor in the workshops and make increasingly desperate decisions—and all are forced down a path of survival, the repercussions of which will echo for decades to come.

Inspired by real events, told through alternating timelines and two intimate perspectives, The Stone Home is a deeply affecting story of a mother and daughter’s love and a pair of brothers whose bond is put to an unfathomably difficult test. Capturing a shameful period of history with breathtaking restraint and tenderness, Crystal Hana Kim weaves a lyrical exploration of the legacy of violence and the complicated psychology of power, while showcasing the extraordinary acts of devotion and friendship that can arise in the darkness.


My Friends by Hisham Matar

Set in : 1984

Khaled, from Benghazi, finds solace in literature amidst Libyan turmoil. Studying in England, he forges a deep bond with author Hosam Zowa amid Arab Spring tensions, confronting exile, revolution, and personal identity. Hisham Matar’s novel delves into friendship, family, and the turmoil of a nation, resonating with poignant reflections on loss and loyalty.

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Return , a luminous novel of friendship, family, and the unthinkable realities of exile

The trick time plays is to lull us into the belief that everything lasts forever, and although nothing does, we continue, inside our dream.

One evening, as a young boy growing up in Benghazi, Khaled hears a bizarre short story read aloud on the radio, about a man being eaten alive by a cat. Obsessed by the power of those words—and by their enigmatic author, Hosam Zowa—Khaled eventually embarks on a journey that will take him far from home, to pursue a life of the mind at the University of Edinburgh.

There, thrust into an open society that is light years away from the world he knew in Libya, Khaled begins to change. He attends a protest against the Qaddafi regime in London, only to watch it explode in tragedy. In a flash, Khaled finds himself injured, clinging to life, an exile, unable to leave England, much less return to the country of his birth. To even tell his mother and father back home what he has done, on tapped phone lines, would jeopardize their safety.

When a chance encounter in a hotel brings Khaled face to face with Hosam Zowa, the author of the fateful short story, he is subsumed into the deepest friendship of his life. It is a friendship that not only sustains him, but eventually forces him, as the Arab Spring erupts, to confront agonizing tensions between revolution and safety, family and exile, and how to define his own sense of self against those closest to him.

A devastating meditation on friendship and family, and the ways in which time tests—and frays—those bonds, My Friends is an achingly beautiful work of literature by an author at the peak of his powers.


Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xóchitl González

Set in : 1985 & 1998

Raquel, a student in 1998, uncovers forgotten artist Anita de Monte’s story, paralleling her own struggles in New York’s art world. This book explores power dynamics and memory through Anita’s enigmatic life, intertwining past and present in a provocative narrative of ambition and identity.

1985. Anita de Monte, a rising star in the art world, is found dead in New York City; her tragic death is the talk of the town. Until it isn’t. By 1998 Anita’s name has been all but forgotten—certainly by the time Raquel, a third-year art history student is preparing her final thesis. On College Hill, surrounded by privileged students whose futures are already paved out for them, Raquel feels like an outsider. Students of color, like her, are the minority there, and the pressure to work twice as hard for the same opportunities is no secret.

But when Raquel becomes romantically involved with a well-connected older art student, she finds herself unexpectedly rising up the social ranks. As she attempts to straddle both worlds, she stumbles upon Anita’s story, raising questions about the dynamics of her own relationship, which eerily mirrors that of the forgotten artist.

Moving back and forth through time and told from the perspectives of both women, Anita de Monte Laughs Last is a propulsive, witty examination of power, love, and art, daring to ask who gets to be remembered and who is left behind in the rarefied world of the elite.


River East, River West by Aube Rey Lescure

Set in : 1985 & 2007

In 1985 Qingdao, Lu Fang meets an American woman amidst China’s political changes, while their daughter, Alva, navigates identity in Shanghai 2007. This coming-of-age novel examines family, race, and belonging across generations, contrasting China’s rise with personal histories shaped by east-west encounters.

Set against the backdrop of developing modern China, this mesmerizing literary debut is part coming-of-age tale, part family and social drama, as it follows two generations searching for belonging and opportunity in a rapidly changing world.

Shanghai, 2007: Fourteen-year-old Alva has always longed for more. Raised by her American expat mother, she’s never known her Chinese father, and she is certain a better life awaits them in America. But when her mother announces her engagement to their wealthy Chinese landlord, Lu Fang, Alva’s hopes are dashed. She plots for the next best thing: the American School in Shanghai. Upon admission, though, Alva is surprised to discover an institution run by an exclusive community of expats and the ever-wilder thrills of a city where foreigners can ostensibly act as they please.

1985: In the seaside city of Qingdao, Lu Fang is a young married man and a lowly clerk in a shipping yard. Although he once dreamed of a bright future, he is now one of many casualties in his country’s harsh political reforms. So when China opens its doors to the first wave of foreigners in decades, Lu Fang’s world is split wide open after he meets an American woman who makes him confront difficult questions about his current status in life and how much will ever be enough.

In a stunning reversal of the east-to-west immigrant narrative and set against China’s political history and economic rise, River East, River West is an intimate family drama and a sharp social novel. Alternating between Alva and Lu Fang’s points of view, this is a profoundly moving exploration of race and class, cultural identity and belonging, and the often-false promise of the American Dream.


Swift River by Essie J. Chambers

Set in : 1987

In Swift River 1987, Diamond Newberry uncovers family secrets through her Pop’s legacy, connecting with generations of African American women.

It’s the summer of 1987 in Swift River, and Diamond Newberry is learning how to drive. Ever since her Pop disappeared seven years ago, she and her mother hitchhike everywhere they go. But that’s not the only reason Diamond stands out: she’s teased relentlessly about her weight, and since Pop’s been gone, she is the only Black person in all of Swift River. This summer, Ma is determined to declare Pop legally dead so that they can collect his life insurance money, get their house back from the bank, and finally move on.

But when Diamond receives a letter from a relative she’s never met, key elements of Pop’s life are uncovered, and she is introduced to two generations of African American Newberry women, whose lives span the 20th century and reveal a much larger picture of prejudice and abandonment, of love and devotion. As pieces of their shared past become clearer, Diamond gains a sense of her place in the world and in her family. But how will what she’s learned of the past change her future?

A story of first friendships, family secrets, and finding the courage to let go, Swift River is a sensational debut about how history shapes us and heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent.


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Stephy George
Stephy George

Hi I am Stephy ! I became a bookworm in my late twenties. So I created this little corner of books online to share my love of reading with YOU! I want to help you find the best books to read so you won’t ever have to worry about your next read!

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