Historical Fiction – World War II

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer FIC MAWER
Czech newlyweds Victor and Liesel Landauer embrace the future and engage a daring German architect to plan their new home. But the Nazi storm troopers are on their inexorable march through Europe, and Victor is Jewish. The rest of the story follows the fate of their house as it changes hands through the shifting political tides of Nazism, communism, and a return to democracy.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr FIC DOERR
Two children, a book-loving blind girl from Paris and a gifted orphan boy from Germany, move in alternate chapters through the 1930s into World War II.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay FIC ROSNAY
Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tzac. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand’s family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported to Auschwitz 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants, and uncovers truths about Bertrand’s family, France during World War II, and, finally, herself.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak FIC ZUSAK YA ZUSAK
Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family- and her Jewish neighbors.

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald Balson FIC BALSON
The gripping tale about two boys, once as close as brothers, who find themselves on opposite sides of the Holocaust. Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, “the butcher of Zamosc.” But has he accused the right man?

The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy FIC MCCOY
After an interview with an elderly baker leaves her feeling like she is the one who revealed too much–especially about her Border Patrol husband, Riki–El Paso journalist reba Adams, as well as her interview subject and Riki, must confront the ghosts of the second world war.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Schaffer FIC SCHAFFER
As London is emerging from the shadow of World War II, writer Juliet Ashton discovers her next subject in a book club on Guernsey–a club born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island.

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman FIC RICHMAN
Josef and Lenka meet as students in Prague in 1936 and fall instantly in love. Three years later, with Nazis crossing the border, they rush to marry, but circumstances then force them apart. Lenka remains in Europe, and Josef flees to America. For 61 years, each believes the other dead until they meet by chance at the wedding of their grandchildren, leading them to reflect on the past and the separate lives they’ve led:

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure FIC BELFOURE
When a rich businessman persuades architect Lucien Bernard to adapt an apartment to create a hiding place for a wealthy Jew, he takes it as a challenge. Despite the dangers, Lucien likes fooling the occupying Germans, the money is excellent, and it comes with a lucrative opportunity to design a new factory for the Reich. Tensions rise as he gets drawn deeply into the plans of both the occupiers and the Resistance. After one careless mistake results in tragedy, however, he begins reevaluating his life.

A History of Love by Nicole Krauss FIC KRAUSS
Leo Gursky taps his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he’s still alive. But it wasn’t always like this: in the Polish village of his youth, he fell in love and wrote a book. . . . Sixty years later and half a world away, fourteen-year-old Alma, who was named after a character in that book, undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family.

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult FIC PICOULT
Sage Singer becomes friends with an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community after they strike up a conversation at the bakery where she works. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses, but then he tells her he deserves to die. Once he reveals his secret, Sage wonders if he’s right. What do you do when evil lives next door?

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian FIC BOHJALIAN
During the final months of World War II, a small group of people–including teenager Anna Emmerich, daughter of Prussian aristocrats; Callum Finnela, a twenty-year-old POW; and a young Wehrmacht corporal hiding his true Jewish identity–make their way westward across a ravaged Europe in a desperate attempt to reach British and American lines.

The Plum Tree by Ellen Marie Wiseman FIC WISEMAN
In 1938 Germany, seventeen-year-old Christine Bolz, a domestic forbidden to return to the wealthy Jewish family she works for, and to her employer’s son Isaac, confronts the Gestapo and the horrors of Dachau to be with the man she loves.

Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum FIC BLUM
A professor of German history begins a long journey back into a past she has pushed aside, returning to Germany to reopen the wounds of her own life–as well as that of her mother–as a child living in Nazi Germany.

The Time In Between by Maria Duenas FIC DUENAS
Poor seamstress Sira Quiroga forges a new identity during the Spanish Civil War and rises to the most sought-after couture designer in North Africa, where she is enlisted to pass coded information to the British Secret Service.

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean FIC DEAN
In a novel that moves back and forth between the Soviet Union during World War II and modern-day America, Marina, an elderly Russian woman, recalls vivid images of her youth during the height of the siege of Leningrad when, as a tour guide at the Hermitage, she and other staff members removed the museum’s priceless artworks for safekeeping.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan FIC FLANAGAN
Haunted by the death of his wife while attending brutally sick and injured soldiers at a World War II Japanese POW camp, surgeon Dorrigo Evans receives a letter that irrevocably shapes the subsequent decades of his life in Australia.

The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer FIC ORRINGER
A historical novel set in 1937 Europe tells the story of three Hungarian Jewish brothers bound by history and love, of a marriage tested by disaster, of a Jewish family’s struggle against annihilation by the Nazis and of the dangerous power of art in the time of war.

Jacob’s Oath by Martin Fletcher FIC FLETCHER
As World War II winds to a close, Europe’s roads are clogged with twenty million exhausted refugees walking home. Among them are Jacob and Sarah, lonely Holocaust survivors who meet in Heidelberg. But Jacob is consumed with hatred and cannot rest until he has killed his brother’s murderer, a concentration camp guard nicknamed the Rat, also from Heidelberg

Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford FIC FORD
Set in the ethnic neighborhoods of Seattle during World War II and Japanese American internment camps of the era, this debut novel tells the heartwarming story of widower Henry Lee, his father, and his first love Keiko Okabe.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake FIC BLAKE
In London covering the Blitz with Edward R. Murrow, Frankie Bard meets a Cape Cod doctor in a shelter and promises that she’ll deliver a letter for him when she finally returns to the United States. Filled with stunning parallels to today’s world, “The Postmistress” is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women–and of two countries torn apart by war.


List created 11/23/14 – Laurie Adler

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