I have always loved history! I enjoy learning about events of the past and historical fiction transports the reader back in time giving one a front row seat to the past. Authors spend countless hours researching documents, written text and sources from the time to paint as complete a picture as possible of the events of the day. The authors give voice to the characters of the past as they bring history to life in a way that non-fiction is unable to do. By giving dialogue to the characters of the past, the reader feels like they are witnessing the private life of Abe Lincoln as he struggles to govern a nation torn by Civil War, or the Lindberghs as they grapple with the kidnapping of their only child, or what life was like in a concentration camp in The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Here are some of my favorite historical fiction novels.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain is about Ernest Hemingway’s relationship with his first wife Hadley, during the Jazz Age in Paris as he begins to write The Sun Also Rises. McLain also wrote Circling the Sun about female aviator Beryl Markham and her relationship with a safari hunter, Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who wrote Out of Africa.
The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin about Ann Morrow, the wife of Charles Lindbergh, is a moving tale about the adventures and tragedies the Lindberghs endured.
Fellow Wisconsinite, Jennifer Chiaverini, has written several historical fiction novels about Mary Todd Lincoln, her first book, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, is a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the Lincolns during this volatile time in our nation’s history.
I have recently enjoyed Martha Hall Kelly’s books which include Lilac Girls and Lost Roses about the Ferriday women. Her first book, Lilac Girls, real-life heroine Caroline Ferriday finds herself compelled to help Polish girls held in German WWII concentration camps where cruel experiments are taking place. Through her courageous efforts the plight of these “Rabbit girls” was brought to the attention of the American public. In her second novel, Lost Roses, Hall follows the story of Eliza Ferriday, Caroline’s mother, during the events leading up to WWI. Eliza helped the Russian aristocrats who were forced to leave their homeland when the aristocracy was overthrown. She sold linens and lace to bring the Russian women over to America and gave them safe lodging in her home. Coming next from Martha Hall Kelly is Sunflower Sisters, due out April 2021, tells the story of Caroline’s grandmother, Georgeanne Woolsey and her involvement in helping a young slave girl during the Civil War. These books are fascinating glimpses into our nation’s history and how these three women from the same family helped generation after generation of people in need.
I hope I have inspired you to read some historical fiction! The great thing about historical fiction is that once you finish reading the novel you can research the characters or events and learn even more about these interesting times in our history!
Back to blogs