Thursday , December 7 2023
Historical Fiction for the Fall

Smashing Historical-Fiction Novels Swoop In This Fall

As the scorching hot summer months morph into the crisp and cooler temperatures of fall (for us Floridians this means an ease of the stifling humidity but days that continue to edge on the upper 80’s), a new batch of fiction releases make their way into bookstores. Historical fiction novels in particular, seem to be occupying much of the slots of new fall/winter books, which is surely to be welcome news for readers who have a preference for history.

Here are the ones that are sure to make their way into your To Be Read list:

The Glass Ocean by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig and Karen White (Sept. 4, William Morrow): Two stories that intertwine between 2013 and 1915, link a struggling best-selling author, an unhappy socialite and a con-man’s daughter to the tragedy of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

Melmoth by Sarah Perry (Oct. 16, Custom House): The author of The Essex Serpent returns with a story about a dark legend surrounding a mysterious dark-robed figure that will soon convince a skeptical translator that certain fables have very real origins.

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler (St. Martin’s Press, Oct. 16): Alva Smith, in a state of destitution after the Civil War, marries into one of America’s great Gilded Age dynasties: the Vanderbilts, a family of new money but little social acceptance among the traditional New York upper class wealthy circle. Alva is determined to not only win respect for her new family, but also to defy society and patriarchal conventions in unexpected ways.

The Collector’s Apprentice by B.A. Shapiro (Algonquin Books, Oct. 16): The summer of 1922 finds nineteen-year-old Paulien Mertens in Paris alone and without a penny to her name. The victim of a cruel setup by a former fiancé, Pauline creates a new identity for herself and sets about clearing her name and take revenge  on the man who wronged her.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson (Little Brown & Co., Sept.25): A young woman finds herself an unwilling spy for MI5 during WWII tasked with keeping an eye on the movements of British Fascist sympathizers. Ten years  later, and now a radio producer for the BBC, a past that she deemed forgotten, comes back to haunt her.

The Passion According to Carmela by Marcos Aguinis and translated by Carolina De Robertis (Amazon Crossing, Oct. 9): Carmela Vasconcelos, a wealthy divorcee becomes caught in the idealism of the Cuban Revolution, and persuaded by her brother joins Fidel Castro’s rebellion in the jungle of the Sierra Maestra. There she meets Ignacio, a man who will become both her greatest love and her biggest peril.

The Latecomers by  Helen Klein Ross (Little Brown & Co., Nov. 6): It is 1908 and sixteen year old Bridey, a young Irish immigrant sets sail for America along with the man she loves in search of a better love. When he abruptly dies during the journey, Bridey is forced to take a job as a maid with the wealthy Hollingworth family at their lavish ancestral home. But soon a mysterious death changes everything for both Bridey and the family.

After the Party by Cressida Connolly (Viking, Sept. 25): Rumors of a new war accompany Phyllis Forrester on her journey back to England after a long absence abroad. Days after arriving at her sister’s house, Phyllis attends a party that will have dire consequences for decades to come.

November Road by Lou Berney (William Morrow, Oct. 9): The shocking assassination of JFK is the backdrop to this  a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on this moving story that surrounds a daring chase across 1960s America where two people find themselves not only altering their lives, but also history forever.

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher (Berkley, Oct. 2): Popular London socialite since her father was named ambassador, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy rubs elbows with some of the century’s most illustrious names. But Kick wants nothing more than to live life the way she wants, and that includes eluding the strict vigilance of her mother, Rose, her older brothers, Jack and Joe, and her sister Rosemary. She soon falls for Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire, but soon finds that the differences between their families,  might push them apart for good.

Ultraviolet by Suzanne Matson (Catapult, Sept. 4): The story of a mother and daughter that begins in 1930s India and extends to the American Midwest, Ultraviolet is an anthology of the relationships between mothers and daughters, marriage, ambition and life itself.

Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit- A Kopps Sisters Novel by Amy Stewart (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Sept. 11): The fourth installment of her Kopps Sisters series, Stewart’s new novel depicts the brave and defiant actincts of Constance Kopp, New Jersey’s first female deputy sheriff. But an escaped convict and the contentious election year of 1916, will put Constance’s hard-earned position and her career in danger.

The Royal Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson (William Morrow, Dec. 31): 1947 London brings more than a perilously harsh winter in the midst of a brutal postwar shortage. It is also the year in which Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell, are chosen to take part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. More than a century later, a woman seeks to discover her late grandmother’s connection to a priceless set of embroidered flowers and the gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding.

Not Our Kind by Kitty Zeldis (Harper, Sept. 4): One June morning, two years after the end of World War II, a small traffic accident crosses the paths of Eleanor Moskowitz and Patricia Bellamy. Eleanor, a teacher and recent Vassar graduate, needs a job and Patricia’s rebellious thirteen-year-old daughter Margaux, needs a private tutor while she recovers from a debilitating illness. The two women begin to cement a friendship despite their very different worlds. Until one sweltering summer night, when everything falls apart.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Harper, Sept. 4): In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is transported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners with tattoos. For over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific deaths and brutal crimes against humanity. One day Lale finds himself comforting a young woman waiting in line to have a number tattooed onto her arm. Lale makes a promise to himself to find a way to survive the horrors of the camp and marry her.

In Your Hands by Ines Pedrosa and translated by Andrea Rosenberg (Amazon Crossing, Oct. 16): A story told from three different points of view, Pedrosa’s family saga begins in 1935 Portugal, in the grip of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s authoritarian movement. Jenny, an upper-class young girl, enters an unconventional marriage with the charming António with the purpose of keeping up appearances. Thirty years later, their daughter, Camila and after her, Camila’s daughter Natalia,begin to uncover the mysteries and memories of Portugal’s past and the secrets that hold them together.

About Adriana Delgado

Adriana Delgado is a freelance journalist, with published reviews on independent and foreign films in publications such as Cineaction magazine and on She also works as an Editorial News Assistant for the Palm Beach Daily News (A.K.A. The Shiny Sheet) and contributes with book reviews for the well-known publication, Library Journal.

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