Historical Fiction – If You Liked “The Help”, Try…

IF YOU LIKED THE HELP, TRY… GRIPPING HISTORICAL FICTION

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty FIC MORIARTY
A novel about the friendship between an adolescent, pre-movie-star Louise Brooks, and the 36-year-old woman who chaperones her to New York City for a summer, in 1922, and how it changes both their lives.

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker FIC SENDKER
A poignant and inspirational love story set in Burma, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats spans the decades between the 1950s and the present. When a successful New York lawyer suddenly disappears without a trace, neither his wife nor his daughter Julia has any idea where he might be…until they find a love letter he wrote many years ago, to a Burmese woman they have never heard of.

Paris Wife by Paula McLain FIC MCLAIN
Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash “beautiful boy” Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband’s career.

Euphoria by Lily King FIC KING
Inspired by an event in the life of Margaret Mead, this novel tells the story of three young anthropologists in 1930s New Guinea. Professional superstar Nell Stone and her Australian husband, Fen, flee one tribe, and, with the help of English anthropologist Andrew Bankson, settle with the Tam, an unusual, female-dominated tribe. A love triangle soon develops among the three.

Orphan Train by Cristina Baker Kline FIC KLINE
Between 1854 and 1929, orphaned or abandoned children from the East Coast were often placed on so-called orphan trains and sent west, possibly for adoption and possibly for a hellish life of virtual servitude. Irish immigrant Vivian Daly was one such child. Now 91, she bonds with welfare teen Molly, who’s helping clean out her house. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be.

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford FIC FORD
When artifacts from Japanese families sent to internment camps during World War II are uncovered during renovations at a Seattle hotel, Henry Lee embarks on a quest that leads to memories of growing up Chinese in a city rife with anti-Japanese sentiment.

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd FIC KIDD
The story follows Hetty “Handful” Grimke, a Charleston slave, and Sarah, the daughter of the wealthy Grimke family. The novel begins on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership over Handful, who is to be her handmaid. The invention of wings follows the next thirty-five years of their lives. Inspired in part by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke (a feminist, suffragist and, importantly, an abolitionist)

Triangle by Katherine Weber FIC WEBER
By the time she dies at age 106, Esther Gottesfeld, the last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, has told the story of that day many times. But her own role remains mysterious: How did she survive? Are the gaps in her story just common mistakes, or has she concealed a secret over the years? As her granddaughter seeks the real story in the present day, a zealous feminist historian bears down on her with her own set of conclusions, and Esther’s voice vies with theirs to reveal the full meaning of the tragedy.

Someone by Alice McDermott FIC MCDERMOTT
The story of a Brooklyn-born woman’s life – her family, her neighborhood, her daily trials and triumphs – from childhood to old age. Through World War II and beyond, from Marie’s marriage to her parents’ death and her brother the priest’s loss of faith, McDermott tracks one emblematic life.

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom FIC GRISSOM
In this gripping New York Times bestseller, Kathleen Grissom brings to life a thriving plantation in Virginia in the decades before the Civil War, where a dark secret threatens to expose the best and worst in everyone tied to the estate.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro FIC TESSARO
Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor. Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes,

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan FIC HORAN
The novel charts their relationship of Fanny Osbourne and Robert Louis Stevenson. from their first meeting in France, where Fanny takes her two daughters after leaving her irresponsible, cheating husband, Sam. At first, it’s Louis’s cousin Bob who teases Fanny out of her grief, but ultimately Louis, 10 years younger than Fanny, is the one who wins her heart. The novel goes on to describe their return to America, Fanny’s marriage to Louis, and their years spent in the South Pacific traveling from one island to another.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini FIC HOSSEINI
The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert FIC GILBERT
Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker–a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann FIC MCCANN
A rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. Weaving together seemingly disparate lives, McCann’s allegory comes alive in the voices of the city’s people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope and beauty.

The Secret LIfe of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd PB FIC K
After her “stand-in mother,” a bold black woman named Rosaleen, insults the three biggest racists in town, Lily Owens joins Rosaleen on a journey to Tiburon, South Carolina, where they are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen FIC GRUEN
The novel, told in flashback by nonagenarian Jacob Jankowski, recounts the wild and wonderful period he spent with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth, a traveling circus he joined during the Great Depression.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden FIC GOLDEN
The “memoirs” of one of Japan’s most celebrated geishas describes how, in 1929, as a little girl, she is sold into slavery; her efforts to learn the arts of the geisha; the impact of World War II; and her struggle to reinvent herself to win the man she loves.

Molokai by Alan Brennert FIC BRENNERT
Seven-year-old Rachel is forcibly removed from her family’s 1890s Honolulu home when she contracts leprosy and is placed in a settlement, where she loses a series of new friends before new medical discoveries enable her to reenter the world.

All Other Nights by Dara Horn FIC HORN
Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army, struggles with difficult moral questions when he is ordered to murder his own uncle, who has been plotting an assassination attempt against President Lincoln, a situation that becomes more challenging when Jacob is subsequently directed to marry a suspected spy.

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
Forced to leave England and struggling with illness in the wake of a family tragedy, Quaker Honor Bright is forced to rely on strangers in the harsh landscape of 1850 Ohio and is joins the Underground Railroad network to help runaway slaves escape to freedom.

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
An evocative tale based on the life of a controversial Victorian New York City midwife. Plucky orphan Axie Muldoon recounts her apprenticeship and establishment of a thriving practice that is threatened by a censorious zealot.

List Created 11/23/14 – Laurie Adler

Posted in Adult Staff Picks, Reading Lists and tagged , .