Book List, Holiday, Seasonal Picks

Jólabókaflóð: Historical Fiction

The last few holiday seasons at the store, we’ve really embraced the idea of celebrating Jólabókaflóð, an Icelandic tradition of giving your loved ones a book and hot chocolate on Christmas Eve. It just feels like a tradition that fits an indie bookstore so perfectly. This morning we’re sharing the historical fiction novels we have on display!

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

I absolutely loved The Jane Austen Society. As I read, I felt I was walking around Chawton, immersing myself in the world of her colorful inhabitants, surprised by how they handled certain situations, while simultaneously feeling like they were behaving exactly as they should. The plot is intricate and beautifully woven, written by the hand of the master storyteller, it’s a great book for Austen lovers and historical fiction lovers alike!

Sarah

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.
One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.
A powerful and moving novel that explores the tragedies and triumphs of life, both large and small, and the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I highly recommend this book for those who enjoy listening to classic rock or fans of Fleetwood Mac. This is the story, told in transcript, about a fictional rock bands rise to stardom during the late 1960’s through the early 1970’s.

Pam

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.
Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.
Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.
Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.
The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

Want something a little more challenging than the average read? How about a sweeping historical adventure, set in the otherworldly landscape of medieval Scotland, featuring knights and rogues and swordfights and derring-do? With a mysterious, charismatic, erudite and endlessly surprising protagonist? Full of nuanced politics, treachery, duplicity and one-upmanship in spades? Written in four languages and a plethora of obscure literary references from the 14th century? Then this is the book for you!

Charlie

Combining all the political intrigue of Game of Thrones with the sweeping romanticism of Outlander, Dorothy Dunnett’s legendary Lymond Chronicles have enthralled readers for decades and amassed legions of devoted fans. The first book in the series introduces Dunnett’s unforgettable antihero as he returns to Scotland with a wild plan to redeem his reputation and save his home. 
The year is 1547. Scotland is clinging to independence after a humiliating English invasion. Paradoxically, the country’s freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason. He is Francis Crawford of Lymond, a scapegrace nobleman of crooked felicities and murderous talents, with a scholar’s erudition and a wicked tongue. Clawing his way back into a country that has outlawed him, and to a family that has turned its back on him, Lymond will prove that he has both the will and the cunning to clear his name and defend his people—no matter the cost.

Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk

Nottingham, an exciting fresh take on the Robin Hood myth/legend, takes off with a shot with familiar faces with new missions. While retellings/revampings of old stories and can start to feel a bit strained and familiar, Nottingham maintains it’s feeling of fresh, new exciting plot lines that makes the reader feel like they’re checking up on old friends after a few years apart and out of touch. A great novel to sink ones reading teeth into as the days get shorter and the nights get colder.

Sarah

Nathan Makaryk’s epic and daring debut rewrites the Robin Hood legend, giving voice to those history never mentioned and challenging who’s really a hero and a villain.
England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.
As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people—Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief—become intertwined.
And a strange story begins to spread . . .

The Flight Girls by Noelle Salazar

My sister wrote her master’s thesis at King’s College London about the women who flew military planes for the USA and UK during WWII, all because I introduced her to my aviation obsession and love of Code Name Verity. So when I handed her this book, she was simultaneously shocked and delighted that the WASP program would now be introduced to many more people as the women she learned about deserved so much more recognition for their actions during the war.

Sarah

Shining a light on a little-known piece of history The Flight Girls is a sweeping portrayal of women’s fearlessness, love, and the power of friendship to make us soar.
1941. Audrey Coltrane has always wanted to fly. It’s why she implored her father to teach her at the little airfield back home in Texas. It’s why she signed up to train military pilots in Hawaii when the war in Europe began. And it’s why she insists she is not interested in any dream-derailing romantic involvements, even with the disarming Lieutenant James Hart, who fast becomes a friend as treasured as the women she flies with. Then one fateful day, she gets caught in the air over Pearl Harbor just as the bombs begin to fall, and suddenly, nowhere feels safe.
To make everything she’s lost count for something, Audrey joins the Women Airforce Service Pilots program. The bonds she forms with her fellow pilots reignite a spark of hope in the face war, and–when James goes missing in action–give Audrey the strength to cross the front lines and fight not only for her country, but for the love she holds so dear.

The Kennedy Debutante by Kerri Maher

As a lover of all the Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy who has read just about every biography in print about her, I was very intrigued to read about what parts of her life Maher would focus on. And while I was mildly disappointed that she choose to focus almost exclusively on the love story that dominated Kick’s early twenties with an English aristocrat, the backdrop of WWII London served as a vivid reminder of how different the times were and how brave Kick was to go against the Kennedy grain and follow her heart. I’ve already started recommending it to customers I think will enjoy it!

Sarah

The captivating novel following the exploits of Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy, the forgotten and rebellious daughter of one of America’s greatest political dynasties.
London, 1938. The effervescent “It girl” of London society since her father was named the ambassador, Kathleen “Kick” Kennedy moves in rarefied circles, rubbing satin-covered elbows with some of the twentieth century’s most powerful figures. Eager to escape the watchful eye of her strict mother, Rose; the antics of her older brothers, Jack and Joe; and the erratic behavior of her sister Rosemary, Kick is ready to strike out on her own and is soon swept off her feet by Billy Hartington, the future Duke of Devonshire.
But their love is forbidden, as Kick’s devout Catholic family and Billy’s staunchly Protestant one would never approve their match. And when war breaks like a tidal wave across her world, Billy is ripped from her arms as the Kennedys are forced to return to the States. Kick finds work as a journalist and joins the Red Cross to get back to England, where she will have to decide where her true loyalties liewith family or with love….

The Mercies by Kirin Millwood Hargrave

Feminist 17th century Scandinavian fiction? Yes please! I want more! This is one of my favorite settings and set ups for a work of historical fiction in a long time. The characters are complex and engaging and the prose is absolutely enthralling.

Sarah

After the men in an Arctic Norwegian town are wiped out, the women must survive a sinister threat in this “perfectly told” 1600s parable of “a world gone mad” (Adriana Trigiani). 
Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Magnusdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Arctic town of Vardø must fend for themselves. 
Three years later, a stranger arrives on their shore. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God, and flooded with a mighty evil. As Maren and Ursa are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them, with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence. 
Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, The Mercies is a story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

The Ventriloquists by E. R. Ramzipoor

The Ventriloquists is something wholly unique – a NEW type of WWII novel. I was starting to think it’d all been done, but here we have an ode to the brave journalists who thought it worth risking their lives to expose the faults and lies of the dictators through humor. When we live in an era where a political cartoon can still get someone killed, it gives even more gravitas to those who risked their lives during the war to expose the oppressors.

Sarah

In this triumphant debut inspired by true events, a ragtag gang of journalists and resistance fighters risk everything for an elaborate scheme to undermine the Reich.
The Nazis stole their voices. But they would not be silenced. Brussels, 1943.
Twelve-year-old street orphan Helene survives by living as a boy and selling copies of the country’s most popular newspaper, Le Soir, now turned into Nazi propaganda. Helene’s world changes when she befriends a rogue journalist, Marc Aubrion, who draws her into a secret network that publishes dissident underground newspapers.
The Nazis track down Aubrion’s team and give them an impossible choice: turn the resistance newspapers into a Nazi propaganda bomb that will sway public opinion against the Allies, or be killed. Faced with no decision at all, Aubrion has a brilliant idea. While pretending to do the Nazis’ bidding, they will instead publish a fake edition of Le Soir that pokes fun at Hitler and Stalin–daring to laugh in the face of their oppressors.
The ventriloquists have agreed to die for a joke, and they have only eighteen days to tell it.
Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters and stunning historical detail, E.R. Ramzipoor’s dazzling debut novel illuminates the extraordinary acts of courage by ordinary people forgotten by time. It is a moving and powerful ode to the importance of the written word and to the unlikely heroes who went to extreme lengths to orchestrate the most stunning feat of journalism in modern history.

1 thought on “Jólabókaflóð: Historical Fiction”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s