Unfortunately, your access has now expired. But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 180,000 reviews.
Your access to Booklist Online has expired. If you still subscribe to the print magazine, please proceed to your profile page and check your subscriber number against a current magazine mailing label. (If your print subscription has lapsed, you will need to renew.)
You must be logged in to read full text of reviews.
> Logged-in users can make lists, save searches, e-mail, and more!
> Click My Profile to create a username & password
> Try a free trial or subscribe today
March 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Historical Novels
Can it be true that the wave of outstanding historical novels, which began swelling a few years ago, has yet to crest? Read these 10 remarkable novels set in the past (and reviewed over the past year in Booklist) and discover for yourself that the historical fiction “renaissance” has not peaked.
Allende, Isabel. Zorro. HarperCollins, $25.95 (0-06-077897-0).The author imaginatively creates, in the words of this exciting novel’s narrator, “the origins of the legend” — the legend being none other than Zorro, the famous Robin Hood of eighteenth-century colonial California.
Bell, Madison Smartt. The Stone That the Builder Refused. Pantheon, $29.95 (0-375-42282-X).The final novel in Bell’s magnificent trilogy about Toussaint Louverture and the slave revolt he led against French rule in Haiti in the early nineteenth century.
Clarke, Susanna. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Bloomsbury, $27.95 (1-58234-416-7).This brilliantly creative first novel sees England in the early nineteenth century as a place where magic has fallen moribund, but its resurrection, which goes far beyond being simply a topic of conversation for magicians, proves problematic.
De Bernières, Louis. Birds without Wings. Knopf, $25.95 (1-4000-4341-7). Using a village in southwest Turkey as a microcosm, the author of Corelli’s Mandolin (1995) offers an impressive view of this region during the early twentieth century, a tumultuous period marking the end of the old regime and the beginning of the new one.
Ephron, Amy. One Sunday Morning. Morrow, $21.95 (0-06-058552-8). In New York and Paris in the 1920s, four well-heeled, socially connected women friends personally experience the interwar period’s conflict between old social mores and new ones as scandal threatens to ruin the reputation of one of the women.
Goldman, Francisco. The Divine Husband. Grove/Atlantic, $24 (0-87113-915-4). A love match between a young woman and José Martí, the nineteenth-century writer and martyred leader of the Cuban struggle for independence, is the catalyst for a multifaceted, brilliantly satirical tale dramatizing the fate of one Central American country.
Just, Ward. An Unfinished Season. Houghton, $24 (0-618-03669-5). In the era of the Korean War, a teenage boy’s summer awakens him to real life and the real injustices of life as his sphere of knowledge expands beyond his suburban home to a sleazy downtown newspaper office. An elegant, atmospheric, yet piercing work.
Ozick, Cynthia. Heir to the Glimmering World. Houghton, $25 (0-618-47049-2). In this scintillating, intelligent novel set in 1933, the author unleashes a kaleidoscopic array of complex entanglements, all centered on members of a German Jewish family who have escaped the Nazis and settled in New York City.
Robinson, Marilynne. Gilead. Farrar, $23 (0-374-15389-2).Robinson’s immaculate novel, her first since Housekeeping (1981), sees elderly Reverend John Ames recount the life, times, and legacy of his abolitionist grandfather; in the process, a century of American history is refracted through the prism of the author’s exquisite vision and prose.
Roth, Philip. The Plot against America. Houghton, $26 (0-618-50928-3).Stepping boldly into the realm of alternate history, Roth has aviation hero Charles Lindbergh winning the 1940 presidential election over FDR, and the results are viewed through the eyes of the American Jewish community.
> Try a free trial or subscribe today