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Reviews tagged historical fiction

Lily of the Nile: A Novel of Cleopatra's Daughter

Lily of the Nile is a treat for lovers of colorful historical fiction. An intriguing reconstruction of the ancient cult of the goddess Isis, the book is set in the last years of the first century B.C. in Alexandria and imperial Rome. The novel is told from the viewpoint of Cleopatra Selene, one of the children of Mark Antony and the most famous Cleopatra of all, the celebrated Queen of Egypt. Princess Selene is only ten years old when her parents commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of a victorious Octavian. Taken captive by the Romans, Selene must use all her intelligence and diplomatic skills to survive.

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

While the dramatic story of Anne Boleyn is familiar to many, very few actual facts are present in the typical retelling. In The Lady in the Tower, historian Alison Weir takes a day by day look at the life of Anne Boleyn and the social and political culture which influenced her fate. In her time, Anne Boleyn was one of the most recognized women in the world.

The Way It Is

Donalda Reid is gutsy to take on heavy racial undertones in her first novel They Way It Is. The story is historical fiction; although, aside from the creation of the main characters, this young adult book is more history than fiction.

The Mistaken Wife

Take a trip back to England and France—An American In Paris this is not; rather, this book explores the spying world through eyes similar to Jane Austen—but add the charming characteristics of James Bond, and you arrive at a sweet, adventurous female named Mary Finch. This third book of the Mary Finch trilogy by Rose Melikan captures the depth of espionage and loyalty as well as romance and intrigue in the post-war era.

Juliet: A Novel

We all know Shakespeare's story of two star crossed lovers; it’s heartbreakingly romantic and tragic at the same time. It’s also a storyline that has lasted since its debut and has inspired many a story since. One of these stories—Juliet—is the authorial debut of Anne Fortier. We've all read, one way or another, some twist of the Bard’s original play. And if you’re a writer you may have written one yourself (I know I have).

The Red Queen

Philippa Gregory’s most recent work of historical fiction, The Red Queen, describes the bloody War of the Roses from the perspective of Margaret Beaufort, a member of the house of Lancaster and, perhaps most famously, grandmother to Henry VIII. Gregory’s second book in the Cousins’ War series, The Red Queen serves as a foil to The White Queen, which presented the war from the perspective of the York Queen Elizabeth Woodville.

Band of Angels

It might be said that at heart, Band of Angels is a love story. But the course of love between Catherine Carreg and her childhood friend Deio is a convoluted, meandering one. Catherine and Deio grew up riding horses together in Wales in the 1850s. But when Catherine matures, her family puts a stop to her adventures with Deio, seeing it as improper for a young lady. After her mother dies in childbirth, Catherine feels lost and isolated.

The King’s Mistress

I’ve always had a special affinity for historical fiction, more specifically, historical fiction about the English courts of medieval times. As someone who has never excelled in the complex maneuverings of office politics, I find the level of intrigue and skulduggery that existed then alternately fascinating and mind boggling.

Sacred Hearts

Sarah Dunant's first historical novel, The Birth of Venus, captured my attention right away with one of the best openings I've ever read. I picked up Sacred Hearts hoping for something equally brilliant. While I enjoyed the book, it is not one that will make your heart race; instead, you should immerse yourself in it, let it surround you so you are living with the nuns, at their pace. Enjoy the opportunity to sink into another life and time.

Captive Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Alison Weir is first a historian, and it shows in Captive Queen. She studied Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 1970s and 1990s and realized one day that “the nature of medieval biography, particularly of women, is the piecing together of fragments of information and making sense of them.

The Time of Terror

In The Time of Terror, Seth Hunter introduces us to a new naval hero in the style of C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower. Nathan Peake is a commander in the British Navy who spends his days chasing smugglers along the English coastline. This is not really Nathan’s idea of fun and he longs to have some real adventures.

Lady of the Butterflies

One reason I gravitate towards historical fiction is that I enjoy discovering individuals in history whom I normally wouldn’t learn about on my own. Eleanor Glanville was a seventeenth century English entomologist from Somerset. Her specialty was butterflies and some of her collections still live in the Natural History Museum today.

Eleanor the Queen: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine

I have to say... I feel a little duped. There is nothing in the book's presentation to suggest that Eleanor the Queen is a reprint of a 1950s novel by Norah Lofts. Apparently Lofts was a prolific and best-selling author known for her "authentic use of period detail." I hadn’t heard of her, but I don’t follow the historical novel market, I just read them. I did not, however, finish reading this.

I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

This fascinating novel, which won France's Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme, offers readers a vivid re-imagining of the life of a historical figure mentioned only briefly in the transcripts of the seventeenth-century Salem witch trials: a slave woman of Caribbean origins, accused of practicing voodoo.


Captivity is a historical novel based on the true story of the Fox sisters, who claimed they could communicate with the dead. Able to convince a group of people of their abilities, they garnered a following that would grow to become a religious movement known as American Spiritualism, or simply Spiritualism.

Impatient with Desire

Impatient with Desire is the story of Tamsen Donner, now-legendary westward pioneer. Tamsen was forty-five when she set out on the California-Oregon Trail with her husband and five children in the spring of 1846. Stranded by early snows, Tamsen and the other Donner Party pioneers spent a harrowing four months in the Sierra Nevadas without supplies.

The Lute Player: A Novel of Richard the Lionhearted

Like an exquisite medieval tapestry, The Lute Player, a novel of Richard the Lionhearted, has a bit of historical truth and a good measure of romantic fiction. There is historical evidence of the existence of Richard, Berengaria, Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and the leading power figures of the day. However, the lute player, Blondel, is mentioned only in legends.

The Widow of the South

Though it’s based in reality, Robert Hicks’ work of historical fiction The Widow of the South is an incredibly long, often meandering novel that failed to rouse me in any real way. And that’s something I’m truly sorry to report. A few years ago, I became interested in all things Southern.

Girl Mary: A Novel

The Mary in _Girl Mary__ is known by many names and revered by many people. Type “Mary” into Google and the first match is a Wikipedia entry for “Mary (mother of Jesus),” her best known role. She is a major player in the spirituality of millions, yet much of her life remains a mystery.

The White Queen

Philippa Gregory’s latest novel, The White Queen, opens her series on the War of the Roses with a tale of blood and lust shrouded in historic mythology.

American Adulterer

I’ll admit I am neither a friend of celebrity culture or the particular brand of it that centers on the Kennedys. I am, however, interested in sexual politics and thus in the normative institutions of marriage and monogamy and the hardly less institutionalized behaviors of male bonding.

Been Here a Thousand Years

Been Here a Thousand Years, Mariolina Venezia’s novel that sweeps across Italy’s history from 1861 to 1989, with certain ideas and images already floating in the periphery: Berlusconi’s wife explaining the reasons for their divorce, my own memories of whistles and blatant gazes from men during a visit to Florence, high fashion seemingly making women into glorified clothes hangers.

Emily's Ghost: A Novel of the Brontë Sisters

Denise Giardiana creates a gentle and yet realistically harsh world with her newest novel, Emily's Ghost. In the same tradition as Jane Austen, George Elliot, and the Brontë sisters, Giardiana weaves a revealing story of Emily Brontë, author of Wuthering Heights. Emily is portrayed as both intelligent and independent.


Upon reading Ruins, I was struck by the urgency of the content. Set in post-revolutionary Cuba the characters exist in a state of stagnant ideologies and hopes. Throughout the narrative Achy Obejas exposes a world that is startlingly familiar, one in which political values change according to the realities in which they exist.

Doctor Olaf Van Schuler’s Brain

A thriller that spans five centuries, Doctor Olaf Van Schuler’s Brain is entertaining and thought provoking. Thirteen generations of eccentric New York City doctors navigate genius, madness and morality. This book is eerie, smart, unique, and very delicately crafted, telling many stories in every layer of time. The Van Schulers and Steenwycks are a family of eccentric, genius, medical people, mostly doctors, some more on the fringe than others, some mad.