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April 15, 2018 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 Historical Fiction
The lives of provocative historical figures inspired many of the best works of historical fiction reviewed in Booklist from April 15, 2017, to April 1, 2018, including outstanding yet underappreciated women.
American Histories. By John Edgar Wideman. 2018. Scribner, $26 (9781501178344).
In his stellar 50-year literary career, Wideman has tackled race, family, and art with great originality, and his new lyrical, shape-shifting historical short stories, featuring such figures as Frederick Douglass and Nat Turner, offer intriguing perspectives.
Gateway to the Moon. By Mary Morris. 2018. Doubleday/Nan A. Talese, $27.95 (9780385542906).
Morris’ enthralling saga of the Sephardic diaspora focuses on the crypto-Jews of the American Southwest and their European ancestors, reaching back to Luis de Torres, a converso interpreter on Columbus’ first voyage, and featuring several courageous women.
The Half-Drowned King. By Linnea Hartsuyker. 2017. Harper, $27.99 (9780062563699).
Posing thoughtful questions about honor and heroism, and devoting significant attention to women’s lives, Hartsuyker’s terrific historical epic, the first in a projected trilogy, takes a fresh approach to the Viking-adventure genre.
Like a Fading Shadow. By Antonio Muñoz Molina. Tr. by Camilo A. Ramirez.
2017. Farrar, $27 (9780374126902).
Award-winning Spanish author Molina tells the story of James Earl Ray’s attempt to escape after killing Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 and mixes it with autobiographical elements to ask: How does our experience of history, or our collective memory, affect our future?
Love and Ruin. By Paula McLain. 2018. Ballantine, $28 (9781101967386).
In her latest insightful and compelling biographical novel, McLain pays exhilarating homage to the heroic and gifted war correspondent and writer Martha Gellhorn as she struggles to remain true to herself and her calling as she becomes Hemingway’s third wife.
Manhattan Beach. By Jennifer Egan.
2017. Scribner, $28 (9781476716732).
With New York gangsters, a struggling family, a spirited young woman with a passion for the sea, the Brooklyn Naval Yard during WWII, and a dramatic shipwreck, Egan’s propulsive and profound page-turner is the winner of the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.
Miss Burma. By Charmaine Craig. 2017. Grove, $26 (9780802126450).
Craig’s historical family tale offers insights into the political turmoil in Burma between 1926 and 1965 and challenges our assumptions about everything from beauty queens to rebels while reminding us that history is often determined by the fallibility of individuals.
The Prague Sonata. By Bradford Morrow. 2017. Atlantic Monthly, $27 (9780802127150).
Morrow’s complicated, parallel-time, intrinsically musical tale details Prague’s suffering during two world wars, followed by Communist rule and the Velvet Revolution, as a present-day pianist searches for the lost sections of a sonata.
Savage Country. By Robert Olmstead. 2017. Algonquin, $26.95 (9781616204129).
Olmstead’s brutal but beautiful tale of the last buffalo hunt revolves around widowed rancher Elizabeth Coughlin, who gathers a Magnificent Seven–like band of misfits to undertake a suicidal plan on a landscape of unrelenting danger.
White Houses. By Amy Bloom. 2018. Random, $27 (9780812995664).
In this historical novel of exceptional sensitivity, mordant wit, and simmering outrage over sexual discrimination, Bloom illuminates the long-camouflaged relationship between First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and trailblazing journalist Lorena Hickok.
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