One of my favourite types of book to read for enjoyment is a good historical novel. Does anyone have some recommendations for a bit of lockdown reading and escapism? 😊 📚
Book mentions in this thread
The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas JonassonTHE GLOBAL BESTSELLER Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not . . . Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving criminals, several murders, a suitcase full of cash, and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed. A life in which - remarkably - he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century. Translated by Roy Bradbury.
The Witches of New York
by Ami McKayThose averse to magic need not apply... 1880 Witches Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St Clair have opened a tea shop in Manhattan specialising in cures, palmistry and potions. When an enchanting woman called Beatrice joins the witches as an apprentice, she soon proves indispensable, but her new life is marred by strange occurrences. She sees things no one else can see. She hears voices no one else can hear. Has she been touched by magic or is she simply losing her mind? Amidst the witches' tug-of-war over how best to nurture her gifts, Beatrice disappears. But was it by choice or by force? In a time when women were corseted, confined and committed for merely speaking their minds, is anyone really safe?
by Kristin HannahSometimes when you open the door to your mother's past, you find your own future . . . Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard; the other followed a dream and travelled the world to become a famous photo journalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, these two estranged women will find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. On his deathbed, their father extracts one last promise from the women in his life. It begins with a story that is unlike anything the sisters have heard before – a captivating, mysterious love story that spans sixty-five years and moves from frozen, war torn Leningrad to modern-day Alaska. The vividly imagined tale brings these three women together in a way that none could have expected. Meredith and Nina will finally learn the secret of their mother's past and uncover a truth so terrible it will shake the foundation of their family and change who they think they are. Every once in a while a writer comes along who navigates the complex and layered landscape of the human heart. For this generation, it's Kristin Hannah. Mesmerizing from the first page to the last, Winter Garden is an evocative, lyrically written novel that will long be remembered.
The Secret Language of Women
by Nina RomanoSet in China in the late 1800's, The Secret Language of Women tells the story of star-crossed lovers, Zhou Bin Lian, a Eurasian healer, and Giacomo Scimenti, an Italian sailor, driven apart by the Boxer Rebellion. When Lian is seventeen years old, she accompanies her Swiss father, Dr. Gianluca Brasolin, fluent in Italian, to tend the Italian ambassador, at the Summer Palace of the Empress Dowager, where she meets and falls in love with Giacomo. Through voyage and adventure, their love intensifies, but soon is severed by Lian's dutiful promise as the wife to another. Forbidden from pursuing her chosen profession as a healer, and despised because she does not have bound feet, she is forced to work in a cloisonné factory while her in-laws raise her daughter, Ya Chen. It is in Nushu, the women's secret writing, that she chronicles her life life and her hopes for the future. Rebelling against the life forced upon her, she empowers herself to act out against the injustice and becomes the master of her own destiny. But her quest freedom comes at a costly price: The life of someone close to her, lost in a raging typhoon, a grueling journey to the Yun-kang Caves, and a desperate search for beauty and love in the midst of brutality.
The Clockmaker's Daughter
by Kate MortonINSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “An ambitious, compelling historical mystery with a fabulous cast of characters…Kate Morton at her very best.” —Kristin Hannah “An elaborate tapestry…Morton doesn’t disappoint.” —The Washington Post "Classic English country-house Goth at its finest." —New York Post In the depths of a 19th-century winter, a little girl is abandoned on the streets of Victorian London. She grows up to become in turn a thief, an artist’s muse, and a lover. In the summer of 1862, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, she travels with a group of artists to a beautiful house on a bend of the Upper Thames. Tensions simmer and one hot afternoon a gunshot rings out. A woman is killed, another disappears, and the truth of what happened slips through the cracks of time. It is not until over a century later, when another young woman is drawn to Birchwood Manor, that its secrets are finally revealed. Told by multiple voices across time, this is an intricately layered, richly atmospheric novel about art and passion, forgiveness and loss, that shows us that sometimes the way forward is through the past.
Alone in Berlin
by Hans FalladaInspired by a true story, Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin is the gripping tale of an ordinary man's determination to defy the tyranny of Nazi rule. Berlin, 1940, and the city is filled with fear. At the house on 55 Jablonski Strasse, its various occupants try to live under Nazi rule in their different ways: the bullying Hitler loyalists the Persickes, the retired judge Fromm and the unassuming couple Otto and Anna Quangel. Then the Quangels receive the news that their beloved son has been killed fighting in France. Shocked out of their quiet existence, they begin a silent campaign of defiance, and a deadly game of cat and mouse develops between the Quangels and the ambitious Gestapo inspector Escherich. When petty criminals Kluge and Borkhausen also become involved, deception, betrayal and murder ensue, tightening the noose around the Quangels' necks ... This Penguin Classics edition contains an afterword by Geoff Wilkes, as well as facsimiles of the original Gestapo file which inspired the novel. 'One of the most extraordinary and compelling novels written about World War II. Ever' Alan Furst 'Terrific ... a fast-moving, important and astutely deadpan thriller' Irish Times 'An unrivalled and vivid portrait of life in wartime Berlin' Philip Kerr 'To read Fallada's testament to the darkest years of the 20th century is to be accompanied by a wise, somber ghost who grips your shoulder and whispers into your ear: "This is how it was. This is what happened"' The New York Times
by Linda Kay KleinIn Pure, Linda Kay Klein uses a potent combination of journalism, cultural commentary, and memoir to take us “inside religious purity culture as only one who grew up in it can” (Gloria Steinem) and reveals the devastating effects evangelical Christianity’s views on female sexuality has had on a generation of young women. In the 1990s, a “purity industry” emerged out of the white evangelical Christian culture. Purity rings, purity pledges, and purity balls came with a dangerous message: girls are potential sexual “stumbling blocks” for boys and men, and any expression of a girl’s sexuality could reflect the corruption of her character. This message traumatized many girls—resulting in anxiety, fear, and experiences that mimicked the symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—and trapped them in a cycle of shame. This is the sex education Linda Kay Klein grew up with. Fearing being marked a Jezebel, Klein broke up with her high school boyfriend because she thought God told her to and took pregnancy tests despite being a virgin, terrified that any sexual activity would be punished with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy. When the youth pastor of her church was convicted of sexual enticement of a twelve-year-old girl, Klein began to question purity-based sexual ethics. She contacted young women she knew, asking if they were coping with the same shame-induced issues she was. These intimate conversations developed into a twelve-year quest that took her across the country and into the lives of women raised in similar religious communities—a journey that facilitated her own healing and led her to churches that are seeking a new way to reconcile sexuality and spirituality. Pure is “a revelation... Part memoir and part journalism, Pure is a horrendous, granular, relentless, emotionally true account" (The Cut) of society’s larger subjugation of women and the role the purity industry played in maintaining it. Offering a prevailing message of resounding hope and encouragement, “Pure emboldens us to escape toxic misogyny and experience a fresh breath of freedom” (Glennon Doyle, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Love Warrior and founder of Together Rising).
The Wars of the Roses
by Dan JonesThe author of the New York Times bestseller The Plantagenets chronicles the next chapter in British history—the historical backdrop for Game of Thrones The crown of England changed hands five times over the course of the fifteenth century, as two branches of the Plantagenet dynasty fought to the death for the right to rule. In this riveting follow-up to The Plantagenets, celebrated historian Dan Jones describes how the longest-reigning British royal family tore itself apart until it was finally replaced by the Tudors. Some of the greatest heroes and villains of history were thrown together in these turbulent times, from Joan of Arc to Henry V, whose victory at Agincourt marked the high point of the medieval monarchy, and Richard III, who murdered his own nephews in a desperate bid to secure his stolen crown. This was a period when headstrong queens and consorts seized power and bent men to their will. With vivid descriptions of the battles of Towton and Bosworth, where the last Plantagenet king was slain, this dramatic narrative history revels in bedlam and intrigue. It also offers a long-overdue corrective to Tudor propaganda, dismantling their self-serving account of what they called the Wars of the Roses.
The Devil and the Dark Water
by Stuart Turton'If you read one book this year, make sure it's this one' Daily Mail SELECTED FOR THE BBC TWO BOOK CLUB BETWEEN THE COVERS AND THE RADIO 2 JO WHILEY BOOK CLUB SHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKS ARE MY BAG FICTION AWARD An impossible murder A remarkable detective duo A demon who may or may not exist It's 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world's greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia. But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes? With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board... 'A glorious mash-up of William Golding and Arthur Conan Doyle' Val McDermid 'A superb historical mystery: inventive, twisty, addictive and utterly beguiling ... A TRIUMPH' Will Dean From the author of the dazzling The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, winner of the Costa Best First Novel Award, comes an audacious and original new high concept murder mystery.
No Bed for Bacon
by Caryl BrahmsFirst published in 1941, No Bed for Bacon is a comic classic. Out of print since 1985, but much-discussed in the press following the release of the Oscar-showered film Shakespeare in Love, the novel fizzes with wit, warmth and the occasional custard pie. It is a festive celebration of 'The Great Bard' par excellence. Five o'clock and all's well in Merrie England. But not for long. Good Queen Bess is stirring in her four-poster and is feeling neither happy nor glorious. Down at the Globe, Will Shakespeare is chewing the end of his quill- something's amiss with Love's Labours Wunne. And Walter Raleigh, boiling his new potato in the depths of the regal kitchens, is getting very hot under the collar of his latest cloak - will his spud achieve the perfect fluffiness for The Royal Tasting? Heads are sure to roll before the day is out.
The Woman in Red
by Diana GiovinazzoExperience the "epic tale of one woman's fight . . . to create the life of her dreams" in this sweeping novel of Anita Garibaldi, a 19th century Brazilian revolutionary who loved as fiercely as she fought for freedom (Adriana Trigiani). Destiny toys with us all, but Anita Garibaldi is a force to be reckoned with. Forced into marriage at a young age, Anita feels trapped in a union she does not want. But when she meets the leader of the Brazilian resistance, Giuseppe Garibaldi, in 1839, everything changes. Swept into a passionate affair with the idolized mercenary, Anita's life is suddenly consumed by the plight to liberate Southern Brazil from Portugal -- a struggle that would cost thousands of lives and span almost ten bloody years. Little did she know that this first taste of revolution would lead her to cross oceans, traverse continents, and alter the course of her entire life -- and the world. At once an exhilarating adventure and an unforgettable love story, The Woman in Red is a sweeping, illuminating tale of the feminist icon who became one of the most revered historical figures of South America and Italy.
The First Man
by Albert CamusThe unfinished manuscript of The First Man was discovered in the wreckage of car accident in which Camus died in 1960. Although it was not published for over thirty years, it was an instant bestseller when it finally appeared in 1994. The 'first man' is Jacques Cormery, whose poverty-stricken childhood in Algiers is made bearable by his love for his silent and illiterate mother, and by the teacher who transforms his view of the world. The most autobiographical of Camus's novels, it gives profound insights into his life and the powerful themes underlying his work.
by Dan Simmons'A brilliant, massive combination of history and supernatural horror' STEPHEN KING It was the most advanced scientific enterprise ever mounted and Sir John Franklin's 1845 expedition in search of the fabled North-West Passage had every expectation of triumph. But for almost two years his ships HMS Terror and Erebus have been trapped in the Arctic ice. Supplies of fuel and food are running low. Scurvy, starvation and even madness begin to take their toll. And yet the real threat isn't from the constantly shifting, alien landscape, the flesh-numbing temperatures or being crushed by the unyielding, frozen ocean. No, the real threat is far more terrifying. Because there is something out there in the frigid darkness. It stalks the ships and snatches men. It is a nameless thing and it has become the expedition's nemesis . . . Based on actual events, this is the astonishing novel that inspired the chilling AMC Original TV series.
The Shadow King
by Maaza MengisteSHORTLISTED FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE 2020 A BOOK OF THE YEAR IN THE NEW YORK TIMES, GUARDIAN, ELLE, TIME, SPECTATOR ‘DEVASTATING’ Marlon James, ‘BRILLIANT’ Salman Rushdie, ‘MAGNIFICENT’ Aminatta Forna, ‘WONDERFUL’ Laila Lalami, ‘UNFORGETTABLE’ The Times, ‘REMARKABLE’ New York Times Ethiopia, 1935. With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid. Her new employer, Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilise his strongest men before the Italians invade. Hirut and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms. But how could she have predicted her own personal war, still to come, as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers? The Shadow King is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, and what it means to be a woman at war.
The Convalescent Corpse (The Fyttleton Mysteries Book 1)
by Nicola SladeA story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters. Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late