Historical fiction is by far my favorite genre. So, it’s no surprise that I’ve had my eye on a few upcoming releases that will surely be on my reading list in 2023. I’ve rounded up a few of my most anticipated historical fiction in 2023 to share with the masses. Be sure to bookmark this page (or save it to Pinterest), as I’ll be updating this post throughout the year. As always, I’ll be sharing reviews throughout the year here on the blog and on social media as I read as many of these great new books as possible. Feel free to follow along on my reading journey by signing up for email updates or following me on Bookstagram or Booktok.
*Note: All book blurbs are copyright of the publishers.
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Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: January
The Three Lives of Alix St Pierre
A compelling and lavish novel from the NYT bestselling author about a young woman striving to forget her part in the war by building life anew as the publicist at the just-launching House of Dior in Paris.
1943. After spearheading several successful advertising campaigns in New York, PR wizard Alix St Pierre comes to the attention of the US government and finds herself recruited into a fledgling intelligence organization.
Enlisted as a spy, Alix is sent to Europe where she is tasked with getting close to a Nazi who might be willing to help the Allied forces – but there’s also the chance he might be a double agent.
1946. Following the war, Alix moves to Paris to run the Service de la Presse for the yet-to-be-launched House of Christian Dior. But when a figure from the war reappears and threatens to destroy her future, Alix realizes that only she can right the wrongs of the past and bring him to justice.
The Three Lives of Alix St Pierre is a thrilling, sumptuous work of historical fiction told in three timelines: before, during, and after WWII. This completely immersive story takes readers from the dangerous, intrigue-filled rooms in Switzerland where elites of both sides mingled and schemed during the war, to the glamorous halls of the House of Dior in the golden age of French fashion and journalism.
The Mitford Affair
Between the World Wars, the six Mitford sisters dominate the English political, literary, and social scenes. Though they’ve weathered scandals before, the family falls into disarray when Diana divorces her husband to marry a fascist leader and Unity follows her sister’s lead, inciting rumors that she’s become Hitler’s own mistress.
Novelist Nancy Mitford is the only member of her family to keep in touch with Diana and Unity after their desertion, so it falls to her to act when her sisters become spies for the Nazi party.
Probing the torrid political climate of World War II and the ways that sensible people can be sucked into radical action, The Mitford Affair follows Nancy’s valiant efforts to end the war and the cost of placing loyalty to her country above loyalty to her family.
Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: February
Looking for Jane
A debut about three women whose lives are bound together by a long-lost letter, a mother’s love, and a secret network of women fighting for the right to choose—inspired by true stories.
2017: When Angela Creighton discovers a mysterious letter containing a life-shattering confession, she is determined to find the intended recipient. Her search takes her back to the 1970s when a group of daring women operated an illegal underground abortion network in Toronto known only by its whispered code name: Jane.
1971: As a teenager, Dr. Evelyn Taylor was sent to a home for “fallen” women where she was forced to give up her baby for adoption—a trauma she has never recovered from. Despite harrowing police raids and the constant threat of arrest, she joins the Jane Network as an abortion provider, determined to give other women the choice she never had.
1980: After discovering a shocking secret about her family, twenty-year-old Nancy Mitchell begins to question everything she has ever known. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, she feels like she has no one to turn to for help. Grappling with her decision, she locates “Jane” and finds a place of her own alongside Dr. Taylor within the network’s ranks, but she can never escape the lies that haunt her.
Code Name Sapphire
A woman must rescue her cousin’s family from a train bound for Auschwitz in this riveting tale of bravery and resistance, from the bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris
1942. Hannah Martel narrowly escaped Nazi Germany after her fiancé was killed in a pogrom. When her ship bound for America is turned away at the port, she has nowhere to go but to her cousin Lily, who lives with her family in Brussels. Fearful for her life, Hannah is desperate to get out of occupied Europe. But with no safe way to leave, she must return to the dangerous underground work she thought she had left behind.
Seeking help, Hannah joins the Sapphire Line, a secret resistance network led by a mysterious woman named Micheline and her enigmatic brother Mateo. But when a grave mistake causes Lily’s family to be arrested and slated for deportation to Auschwitz, Hannah finds herself torn between her loyalties. How much is Hannah willing to sacrifice to save the people she loves? Inspired by incredible true stories of courage and sacrifice, Code Name Sapphire is a powerful novel about love, family and the unshakable resilience of women in even the hardest of times.
The House of Eve
From the award-winning author of Yellow Wife, is a daring, beautiful, and redemptive novel that explores what it means to be a woman and a mother, and how much one is willing to sacrifice to achieve her greatest goal.
1950s Philadelphia: fifteen-year-old Ruby Pearsall is on track to becoming the first in her family to attend college, in spite of having a mother more interested in keeping a man than raising a daughter. But a taboo love affair threatens to pull her back down into the poverty and desperation that has been passed on to her like a birthright
Eleanor Quarles arrives in Washington, DC, with ambition and secrets. When she meets the handsome William Pride at Howard University, they fall madly in love. But William hails from one of DC’s elite wealthy Black families, and his parents don’t let just anyone into their fold. Eleanor hopes that a baby will make her finally feel at home in William’s family and grant her the life she’s been searching for. But having a baby—and fitting in—is easier said than done.
With their stories colliding in the most unexpected of ways, Ruby and Eleanor will both make decisions that shape the trajectory of their lives.
Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: March
The Last Carolina Girl
A searing book club novel for fans of Where the Crawdads Sing and The Girls in the Stilt House following one girl fighting for her family, her body, and her right to create a future all her own
Some folks will do anything to control the wild spirit of a Carolina girl…
For fourteen-year-old Leah Payne, life in her beloved coastal Carolina town is as simple as it is free. Devoted to her lumberjack father and running through the wilds where the forest meets the shore, Leah’s country life is as natural as the Loblolly pines that rise to greet the Southern sky.
When an accident takes her father’s life, Leah is wrenched from her small community and cast into a family of strangers with a terrible secret. Separated from her only home, Leah is kept apart from the family and forced to act as a helpmate for the well-to-do household. When a moment of violence and prejudice thrusts Leah into the center of the state’s shameful darkness, she must fight for her own future against a world that doesn’t always value the wild spirit of a Carolina girl.
Set in 1935 against the very real backdrop of a recently formed state eugenics board, The Last Carolina Girl is a powerful and heart-wrenching story of fierce strength, forgotten history, autonomy, and the places and people we ultimately call home.
Two Wars and a Wedding
From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Willig: a dramatic coming-of-age story with a dual timeline and a single heroine—a bold and adventuring young woman who finds herself caught up in two very different wars on both sides of the Atlantic.
September 1896: As an aspiring archaeologist, Smith College graduate Betsy Hayes travels to Athens, desperate to break into a very male-dominated field and find work at some of the world’s most famous excavation sites. In the midst of the heat and dust of Greece, she finds an unlikely ally in philanthropist Charles, Baron de Robecourt, one of the few men who take her academic passion seriously. But when a simmering conflict between Greece and Turkey erupts into open warfare, Betsy’s archaeological sites become battlefields and she falls into the grim and heroic task of nursing the wounded. As the world around her is irrevocably changed, Betsy finds her heart pulled in multiple directions.
June 1898: As the Spanish-American war begins, an older and wiser Betsy Hayes is searching for her former best friend Ava, who she last saw in Greece during the Greco-Turkish War. She believes that Ava might be with the Red Cross headed to Cuba, so Betsy herself joins the Red Cross and follows Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders straight to the heart of the fighting. As she enters the war zone, dark memories of her last war resurface and her need to protect old and new friends intensify.
With an unforgettable cast of characters set against two often overlooked but dramatic periods of history, Lauren Willig spins a compelling and heartwarming story about friendship, falling in love at the most inopportune moments, and fighting for what is right.
Franco Fiorvante is a handsome lemon grower who has toiled for years on the estate of boss Baron Zito. Franco dreams of owning his own lemon grove, but the rigid class system of Sicily thwarts his ambitions. Determined to secure a prosperous future, Franco will do anything to prove his loyalty to the Baron. But when Baron Zito asks him to arrange the kidnapping of a little boy, Franco crosses the point of no return, setting in motion the making of the world’s first Mafia family.
Gaetano Catalano is an idealistic young lawyer, whose devotion to justice is a calling. Gaetano is a member of the Beati Paoli, a real-life secret society of aristocrats who investigate crime, since corruption riddles Palermo. Gaetano and the Beati Paoli set out to find the boy and bring him home, but for Gaetano, the mission turns to obsession. He risks everything to right the wrong and brings justice to his beloved city.
The kidnapped boy, Dante, grows up in a madhouse without even knowing his last name. He doubts his own sanity until he meets Lucia, a girl with a tragic past of her own. They fall in love, then set out to find Dante’s kidnapper and learn his true identity.
London Seance Society
From the author of the sensational bestseller, The Lost Apothecary comes a spellbinding tale about truth, illusion and the grave risks women will take to avenge the ones they love.
May mercy be upon the man who finds himself the enemy of a vengeful medium…
1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.
Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…
Strangers in the Night
It was the tumultuous romance that scandalized the world: Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner fought, loved, and lived life to the hilt. Now their unbridled story is brought vividly to life by Heather Webb, the bestselling author of Meet Me in Monaco and The Next Ship Home.
In the golden age of Hollywood, two of the brightest stars would define–and defy–an era…
She was the small-town southern beauty transformed into a Hollywood love goddess. He was the legendary crooner whose voice transfixed the world. They were Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra. Separately they were irresistible; together they were an explosive combination.
Ava’s star is rising just as Frank’s career–and public image as a family man–is taking a hit. Gone are the days of the screaming bobbysoxers and chart-topping hits. Ava, however, finds herself gracing the front page of every tabloid in America. Jealousy and cheating abound, and when the two succumb to their temperaments and their vices, their happiness is threatened at every turn.
As the pair ride the rollercoaster of success and failure, passion and anger, they both wonder if the next turn will be the end of their careers, and most devastating of all–the end of all they’ve shared.
A captivating novel with a star-studded cast spanning continents and decades, Strangers in the Night brings to life the most riveting love story of the twentieth century.
Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: April
The Cuban Heiress
In 1934, a luxury cruise becomes a fight for survival as two women’s pasts collide on a round-trip voyage from New York to Havana in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton’s page-turning new novel inspired by the true story of the SS Morro Castle.
New York heiress Catherine Dohan seemingly has it all. There’s only one problem. It’s a lie. As soon as the Morro Castle leaves port, Catherine’s past returns with a vengeance and threatens her life. Joining forces with a charismatic jewel thief, Catherine must discover who wants her dead—and why.
Elena Palacio is a dead woman. Or so everyone thinks. After a devastating betrayal left her penniless and on the run, Elena’s journey to the Morro Castle is her last hope. Steeped in secrecy and a burning desire for revenge, her return to Havana is a chance to right the wrong that has been done to her—and her prey is on the ship.
As danger swirls aboard the Morro Castle and their fates intertwine, Elena and Catherine must risk everything to see justice served once and for all.
Only the Beautiful
A heartrending story about a young mother’s fight to keep her daughter, and the winds of fortune that tear them apart by the New York Times bestselling author of The Nature of Fragile Things and The Last Year of the War.
California, 1938—When she loses her parents in an accident, sixteen-year-old Rosanne is taken in by the owners of the vineyard where she has lived her whole life as the vinedresser’s daughter. She moves into Celine and Truman Calvert’s spacious house with a secret, however—Rosie sees colors when she hears a sound. She promised her mother she’d never reveal her little-understood ability to anyone, but the weight of her isolation and grief prove too much for her. Driven by her loneliness she not only breaks the vow to her mother but in a desperate moment lets down her guard and ends up pregnant. Banished by the Calverts, Rosanne believes she is bound for a home for unwed mothers, and having lost her family she treasures her pregnancy as the chance for a future one. But she soon finds out she is not going to a home of any kind, but to a place far worse than anything she could have imagined.
Austria, 1947—After witnessing firsthand Adolf Hitler’s brutal pursuit of hereditary purity—especially with regard to “different children”—Helen Calvert, Truman’s sister, is ready to return to America for good. But when she arrives at her brother’s peaceful vineyard after decades working abroad, she is shocked to learn what really happened nine years earlier to the vinedresser’s daughter, a girl whom Helen had long ago befriended. In her determination to find Rosanne, Helen discovers that while the war had been won in Europe, there are still terrifying battles to be fought at home.
Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl
It’s 1938, and a young woman selling face cream out of a New York City beauty parlor is determined to prove she can have it all. Her name is Estée Lauder, and she’s about to take the world by storm, in this dazzling new novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces and Park Avenue Summer.
In New York City, you can disappear into the crowd. At least that’s what Gloria Downing desperately hopes as she tries to reinvent herself after a devastating family scandal. She’s ready for a total life makeover and a friend she can lean on—and into her path walks a young, idealistic woman named Estée. Their chance encounter will change Gloria’s life forever.
Estée dreams of success and becoming a household name like Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Revlon. Before Gloria knows it, she is swept up in her new friend’s mission and while Estée rolls up her sleeves, Gloria begins to discover her own talents. After landing a job at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York’s finest luxury department store, Gloria finds her voice, which proves instrumental in opening doors for Estée’s insatiable ambitions.
But in a world unaccustomed to women with power, they’ll each have to pay the price that comes with daring to live life on their own terms and refusing to back down.
The USA Today bestselling author of The Gown returns with another enthralling and royal-adjacent historical novel—as the lives of three very different residents of London’s historic Blue Lion hotel converge in a potentially explosive climax on the day of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation.
It is Coronation Year, 1953, and a new queen is about to be crowned. The people of London are in a mood to celebrate, none more so than the residents of the Blue Lion hotel.
Edie Howard, owner and operator of the floundering Blue Lion, has found the miracle she needs: on Coronation Day, Queen Elizabeth in her gold coach will pass by the hotel’s front door, allowing Edie to charge a fortune for rooms and, barring disaster, save her beloved home from financial ruin. Edie’s luck might just be turning, all thanks to a young queen about her own age.
Stella Donati, a young Italian photographer, and Holocaust survivor has come to live at the Blue Lion while she takes up a coveted position at Picture Weekly magazine. London in celebration mode feels like a different world to her. As she learns the ins and outs of her new profession, Stella discovers a purpose and direction that honor her past and bring hope for her future.
James Geddes, a war hero, and gifted artist has struggled to make his mark in a world that disdains his Indian ancestry. At the Blue Lion, though, he is made to feel welcome and worthy. Yet even as his friendship with Edie deepens, he begins to suspect that something is badly amiss at his new home.
When anonymous threats focused on Coronation Day, the Blue Lion, and even the queen herself disrupt their mood of happy optimism, Edie and her friends must race to uncover the truth, save their home, and expose those who seek to erase the joy and promise of Coronation Year.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Cold Mountain and Varina, a stunning new novel that paints a vivid portrait of life in the Great Depression
Hurtling past the downtrodden communities of Depression-era America, painter Val Welch travels westward to the rural town of Dawes, Wyoming. Through a stroke of luck, he’s landed a New Deal assignment to create a mural representing the region for their new Post Office.
A wealthy art lover named John Long and his wife Eve has agreed to host Val at their sprawling ranch. Rumors and intrigue surround the couple: Eve left behind an itinerant life riding the rails and singing in a western swing band. Long holds shady political aspirations, but was once a WWI sniper–and his right hand is a mysterious elder cowboy, a vestige of the violent old west. Val quickly finds himself entranced by their lives.
One day, Eve flees home with a valuable painting in tow, and Long recruits Val to hit the road with a mission of tracking her down. Journeying from ramshackle Hoovervilles to San Francisco nightclubs to the swamps of Florida, Val’s search for Eve narrows, and he soon turns up secrets that could spark formidable changes for all of them.
In The Trackers, singular American writer Charles Frazier conjures up the lives of everyday people during an extraordinary period of history that bears an uncanny resemblance to our own. With the keen perceptions of humanity and transcendent storytelling that have made him beloved for decades, Frazier has created a powerful and timeless new classic.
The Last Heir to Blackwood Library
In post–World War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious library and must untangle its powerful secrets…
With the stroke of a pen, twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe becomes Lady Hayworth, owner of a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. Ivy has never heard of Blackwood Abbey, or of the ancient bloodline from which she’s descended. With nothing to keep her in London since losing her brother in the Great War, she warily makes her way to her new home.
The abbey is foreboding, the servants reserved and suspicious. But there is a treasure waiting behind locked doors—a magnificent library. Despite cryptic warnings from the staff, Ivy feels irresistibly drawn to its dusty shelves, where familiar works mingle with strange, esoteric texts. And she senses something else in the library too, a presence that seems to have a will of its own.
Rumors swirl in the village about the abbey’s previous owners, about ghosts and curses, and an enigmatic manuscript at the center of it all. And as events grow more sinister, it will be up to Ivy to uncover the library’s mysteries in order to reclaim her own story—before it vanishes forever.
Lush, atmospheric and transporting, The Last Heir to Blackwood Library is a skillful reflection on memory and female agency, and a love letter to books from a writer at the height of her power.
Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959: At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek on the grounds of the grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tambilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia.
Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital.
Nora has always been a vibrant and strong presence: decisive, encouraging, and young despite her years. When Jess visits her in the hospital, she is alarmed to find her grandmother frail and confused. It’s even more alarming to hear from Nora’s housekeeper that Nora had been distracted in the weeks before her accident and had fallen on the steps to the attic—the one place Jess was forbidden from playing in when she was small.
At loose ends in Nora’s house, Jess does some digging of her own. In Nora’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime—a crime that has never been resolved satisfactorily. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find…
An epic novel that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, and how we protect the lies we tell. It explores the power of motherhood, the corrosive effects of tightly held secrets, and the healing nature of truth. Above all, it is a beguiling and immensely satisfying novel from one of the finest writers working today.
Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: May
The Secret Book of Flora Lea
When a woman stumbles across a mysterious children’s book, long-held secrets about her missing sister and their childhood spent in the English countryside during World War II are revealed in this “transporting, heartfelt, and atmospheric” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author) novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Surviving Savannah and Becoming Mrs. Lewis.
1939: Fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora evacuate their London home for a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. Living with the Aberdeen family in a charming stone cottage, Hazel distracts her young sister with a fairy tale about a magical land, a secret place they can escape to that is all their own: Whisperwood.
But the unthinkable happens when Flora suddenly vanishes after playing near the banks of the River Thames. Shattered, Hazel blames herself for her sister’s disappearance, carrying the guilt into adulthood.
Twenty years later, Hazel is back in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore for a career at Sotheby’s. With a cherished boyfriend and an upcoming Paris getaway, Hazel’s future seems set. But her tidy life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing a picture book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars. Hazel never told a soul about the storybook world she created just for Flora. Could this book hold the secrets to Flora’s disappearance? Could it be a sign that her beloved sister is still alive after all these years? Or is something sinister at play?
For fans of Kate Morton, Janet Skeslien Charles, and Kristin Hannah, this is a “fantastical” (Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author) celebration of sisterhood and the magic of storytelling wrapped up in a “heartrending, captivating tale of family, first love, and fate” (Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author).
Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: June
A Shadow in Moscow
A betrayal at the highest level risks the lives of two courageous female spies: MI6‘s best Soviet spy and the CIA‘s newest Moscow recruit. As the KGB closes in, a compromise must be struck if either woman hopes to survive.
After losing everyone she loves in the final days of World War II, Ingrid Bauer agrees to a hasty marriage with a gentle Soviet embassy worker and follows him home to Moscow. But nothing deep within the Soviet Union’s totalitarian regime is what it seems, including her new husband, whom Ingrid suspects works for the KGB. Upon her daughter’s birth, Ingrid risks everything and reaches out in hope to the one country she understands and trusts–Britain, the country of her mother’s birth–and starts passing along the intelligence to MI6, navigating a world of secrets and lies, light and shadow.
Washington, DC, 1980
Part of the Foreign Studies Initiative, Anya Kadinova finishes her degree at Georgetown University and boards her flight home to Moscow, leaving behind the man she loves and a country she’s grown to respect. Though raised by dedicated and loyal Soviet parents, Anya soon questions an increasingly oppressive and paranoid Soviet regime at the height of the Cold War. When the KGB murders her best friend, Anya picks sides and contacts the CIA. Working in a military research lab, Anya passes along Soviet military plans and schematics in an effort to end the 1980s arms race.
Alternating points of view keep readers on their toes as the past catches up to the present when an unprecedented act of treachery in 1985 threatens all undercover agents operating within the Soviet Union, and both Ingrid and Anya find themselves in a race for their lives against time and the KGB.
The exciting story of two brave female spies in Cold War Moscow
Perfect for fans of Our Woman in Moscow and Code Name Helene
The Paris Daughter
From the bestselling author of the “heart-stopping tale of survival and heroism” (People) The Book of Lost Names comes a gripping historical novel about two mothers who must make unthinkable choices in the face of the Nazi occupation.
Paris, 1939: Young mothers Elise and Juliette become fast friends the day they meet in the beautiful Bois de Boulogne. Though there is a shadow of war creeping across Europe, neither woman suspects that their lives are about to irrevocably change.
When Elise becomes a target of the German occupation, she entrusts Juliette with the most precious thing in her life—her young daughter, playmate to Juliette’s own little girl. But nowhere is safe in war, not even a quiet little bookshop like Juliette’s Librairie des Rêves, and, when a bomb falls on their neighborhood, Juliette’s world is destroyed along with it.
More than a year later, with the war finally ending, Elise returns to reunite with her daughter, only to find her friend’s bookstore reduced to rubble—and Juliette nowhere to be found. What happened to her daughter in those last, terrible moments? Juliette has seemingly vanished without a trace, taking all the answers with her. Elise’s desperate search leads her to New York—and to Juliette—one final, fateful time.
An “exquisite and gut-wrenching novel” (Lisa Barr, New York Times bestselling author) you won’t soon forget, The Paris Daughter is also a sweeping celebration of resilience, motherhood, and love.
The Beach at Summerly
New York Times bestseller Beatriz Williams returns with a ravishing summer read, taking readers back to a mid-century New England rich with secrets and Cold War intrigue.
June 1946. As the residents of Winthrop Island prepare for the first summer season after the sacrifice of war, a glamorous new figure moves into the guest cottage at Summerly, the idyllic seaside estate of the wealthy Peabody family. To Emilia Winthrop, daughter of Summerly’s year-round caretaker and a descendant of the island’s settlers, Olive Rainsford opens a window into a world of shining possibility. While Emilia spent the war years caring for her incapacitated mother, Olive traveled the world, married fascinating men, and involved herself in political causes. She’s also the beloved aunt of the two surviving Peabody sons, Amory and Shep, with whom Emilia has a tangled romantic history.
As the summer wears on, Emilia develops a deep rapport with Olive, who urges her to leave the island for a life of adventure, while romance blossoms with the sturdy and honorable Shep. But the heady promise of Peabody patronage is blown apart by the arrival of Sumner Fox, an FBI agent who demands Emilia’s help to capture a Soviet agent who’s transmitting vital intelligence on the West’s atomic weapon program from somewhere inside the Summerly estate.
April 1954. Eight years later, Summerly is boarded up and Emilia has rebuilt her shattered life as a professor at Wellesley College when shocking news arrives from Washington—the traitor she helped convict is about to be swapped for an American spy imprisoned in the Soviet Union, but with a mysterious condition, only Emilia can fulfill. A reluctant Emilia is summoned to CIA headquarters, where she’s forced to confront the harrowing consequences of her actions that fateful summer, and a choice that could destroy the Peabody family—and Emilia’s chance for redemption—all over again.
New York Times bestselling author Fiona Davis transports us back to 1950s Manhattan and the glamorous Radio City Music Hall. . . .
New York City, 1956: Nineteen-year-old Marion is over the moon to have been selected to be one of the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall’s glamorous precision-dancing troupe. It’s an honor to perform in the world’s most spectacular theater, an art deco masterpiece. But with four shows a day as well as grueling rehearsals, not to mention exacting standards of perfection to live up to, Marion quickly realizes that the life of a Rockette has both extraordinary highs and devastating lows.
Then one night a bomb explodes in the theater. It’s only the latest in a string of explosions around the city orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed the “Big Apple Bomber.” They have been terrorizing the citizens of New York for sixteen years by planting bombs in popular, crowded spaces. With the public in an uproar over the lack of any real leads after a yearslong manhunt, the police, at Marion’s urging, turns in desperation to a radical new technique: psychological profiling.
As Marion finds herself pulled deeper into the investigation, she realizes that as much as she’s been training herself to blend in—performing in perfect unison with all the other identical Rockettes—if she hopes to catch the bomber, she’ll need to stand out and take a terrifying risk. But she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s worked for, as well as the people she loves the most.
In 1942, Hazel Francis left Wichita, Kansas for California, determined to do her part for the war effort. At Douglas Aircraft, she became one of many “Rosie the Riveters,” helping construct bombers for the U. S. military. But now the war is over, men have returned to their factory jobs, and women like Hazel have been dismissed, expected to return home to become wives and mothers.
Unwilling to be forced into a traditional woman’s role in the Midwest, Hazel remains on the west coast and finds herself in the bohemian town of Laguna Beach. Desperate for work, she accepts a job as an assistant to famous artist Hanson Radcliff. Beloved by the locals for his contributions to the art scene and respected by the critics, Radcliff lives under the shadow of a decades-old scandal that haunts him.
Working hard to stay on her cantankerous employer’s good side, Hazel becomes a valued member of the community. She never expected to fall in love with the rhythms of life in Laguna, nor did she expect to find a kindred spirit in Jimmy, the hotel bartender whose friendship promises something more. But Hazel still wants to work with airplanes—maybe even learn to fly one someday. Torn between pursuing her dream and the dream life she has been granted, she is unsure if giving herself over to Laguna is what her heart truly wants.
Most Anticipated Historical Fiction: July
Rosie the Riveter meets A League of Their Own in New York Times bestselling novelist Jennifer Chiaverini’s lively and illuminating novel about the “munitionettes” who built bombs in Britain’s arsenals during World War I, risking their lives for the war effort and discovering camaraderie and courage on the soccer pitch.
Early in the Great War, men left Britain’s factories in droves to enlist. Struggling to keep up production, arsenals hired women to build the weapons the military urgently needed. “Be the Girl Behind the Man Behind the Gun,” the recruitment posters beckoned.
Thousands of women—cooks, maids, shopgirls, and housewives—answered their nation’s call. These “munitionettes” worked grueling shifts often seven days a week, handling TNT and other explosives with little protective gear.
Among them is nineteen-year-old former housemaid April Tipton. Impressed by her friend Marjorie’s descriptions of higher wages, plentiful meals, and comfortable lodgings, she takes a job at Thornshire Arsenal near London, filling shells in the Danger Building—difficult, dangerous, and absolutely essential work.
Joining them is Lucy Dempsey, wife of Daniel Dempsey, Olympic gold medalist and star forward of Tottenham Hotspur. With Daniel away serving in the Footballers’ Battalion, Lucy resolves to do her bit to hasten the end of the war. When her coworkers learn she is a footballer’s wife, they invite her to join the arsenal ladies’ football club, the Thornshire Canaries.
The Canaries soon acquire an unexpected fan in the boss’s wife, Helen Purcell, who is deeply troubled by reports that Danger Building workers suffer from serious, unexplained illnesses. One common symptom, the lurid yellow hue of their skin, earns them the nickname “canary girls.” Suspecting a connection between the canary girls’ maladies and the chemicals they handle, Helen joins the arsenal administration as their staunchest, though often unappreciated, advocate.
The football pitch is the one place where class distinctions and fears for their men fall away. As the war grinds on and tragedy takes its toll, the Canary Girls persist despite the dangers, proud to serve, determined to outlive the war and rejoice in victory and peace.
To Die Beautiful
A gripping and timely debut novel by award-winning writer Buzzy Jackson, based on the true story of Hannie Schaft: a heroic young Dutch woman who joined the Resistance in Holland during World War II and became one of the Nazis’ most wanted women
Hannie Schaft, a shy law student living in Nazi-occupied Holland, never dreamed of being a fighter. But when the lives of Hannie’s two Jewish best friends are threatened in new and terrifying ways, she realizes she can no longer ignore the insidious rise of fascism in her country. Driven by moral outrage, Hannie becomes an armed member of the Dutch Resistance movement.
Hannie discovers her own untapped ferocity–wearing lipstick and heels to lure powerful Nazis close and assassinate them at point-blank range, bombing munitions factories, and becoming such a threat that Adolf Hitler himself dubs her the Girl with Red Hair. While humanity collapses around her, Hannie finds a chosen family of friends within the Resistance and falls in love with a dashing fellow resistor at a tremendous cost. Her greatest weapon is her determination to stay human (blijf altijd menselijk) . . . a promise increasingly difficult to keep.
To Die Beautiful is an unputdownable novel of love, loyalty, and the limits we confront when our deepest values are tested, told with the emotional resonance of meticulously researched history.
Such Good Friends
Reveling in the star-studded parties, fashionable restaurants, and gilt-edged inner circles of its most exclusive events, Truman Capote and his flock of glamorous socialite “swans” rule the highest echelons of the 1960s and 70s high society in New York. Stephen Greco brings this scandalous world to life in a fascinating recreation of the tumultuous friendship between Capote and his most elegant yet unconventional swan: princess and sister of Jackie Kennedy, Her Serene Highness Lee Radziwill.
On a Thursday morning in May 1961, a well-mannered twenty-one-year-old named Marlene enters the Fifth Avenue apartment of Lee Radziwill to interview for the position of housekeeper and cook. The stylish wife of London-based Prince Stanislaw Radziwill, Princess Lee is intelligent and creative, with ambitions beyond simply jet-setting. But to the public, she is always First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s little sister.
As Marlene becomes a trusted presence in the Radziwill household, she observes the dazzling array of famous figures who flit in and out of Lee’s intimate circle, including Gloria Vanderbilt, Rudolf Nureyev, Jackie and the President, Ari Onassis, Gore Vidal, Andy Warhol, and, most regularly, celebrated author Truman Capote. At the height of his fame following the success of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman has granted Lee place of honor in his flock of glamorous socialite “swans.”
Their closeness stems from an unexpected kinship. Both know too well the feeling of being second-best. Seeing his shadow in the woman he refers to as his most unconventional swan, Truman uses his influence and talent to try and make Lee a star.
Their bond deepens through the decade’s extraordinary events, from JFK’s assassination to the era-defining Black and White Ball. But Marlene, who Truman has taken under his wing as an aspiring writer, can see Truman’s darker side–especially his penchant for mining his friends’ private lives for material. And there are betrayals on either side that may signal the end not just of a friendship, but of the shared expectation that wealth and fame can shield against every heartbreak.
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