Happy Tuesday 🙂 I hope you are all having a wonderful day!
This weekend was just a long weekend for me (Labour Day) and I can say that I feel I need a few more days… or maybe weeks? Lol I am just so over working and want to relax and have no worries.
BUT the good news is, I am going on a little mini vaca next week! Me and my BF are jumping on the ferry and heading to Vancouver Island for a couple days. We are so excited to just be away from home and have some time off work!!!! Literally so excited!
Anyways, that’s my little life update but lets get to why you are here which is HISTORICAL FICTION!
If you are like me, you love some historical fiction. I find that I always talk about this genre and have a million books on my tbr but when it actually comes to reading them I don’t get to them as much as Id like to!
So I figured if I could narrow it down to a smaller list then I could actually work towards reading them. Crazy idea right?? Lets see if it actually helps me lol if nothing else here is a list of some historical fictions I really want to read!
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
A group of people from very different walks of life come together to save Jane Austen’s legacy. It is supposed to be a very heartwarming story and is set just after WW2!
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
A female spy is recruited to the real life Alice Network in France during WW1. An American socialite is searching for her cousin in 1947. These two women are brought together to go on a mission to truth finding, both for their own reasons and will do whatever it takes to get it.
The Atomic City Girls by Janet Beard
A story about everyday women who worked on the Manhattan Project during WW2. The project is never explained to the women and they don’t know exactly what they are working on. When the bombing of Hiroshima brings the truth of the project, the women have to confront their ideals about loyalty, patriotism, and war.
All the Flowers in Paris by Sarah Jio
Two women connected across time by the city of Paris, a journal, and a lot of secrets. Caroline wakes up in a Paris hospital with no memories. Slowly she regains pieces of her life and comes across a mystery from decades prior. Celine lives in Nazi-occupied Paris and ends up being a mistress for a German officer in order to keep her family safe. These stories intersect when Caroline finds Celine’s diary tucked away in her apartment.
These are just 4 from a list of many! Maybe I will do another post like this once I actually read some of the historical fictions I have listed here!! Keep myself accountable!
Ill leave a couple historical fictions I have read and enjoyed as well, just in case you need some more to read!
This novel is the fictionalised story of the American divorcée who captured Prince Edward’s heart before he abdicated his throne for Wallis Simpson.
Title: The Woman Before Wallis
Author: Bryn Turnbull
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: eARC from Netgalley
Pub date:July 21, 2020
In the summer of 1926, when Thelma Morgan marries Viscount Duke Furness after a whirlwind romance, she’s immersed in a gilded world of extraordinary wealth and privilege. For Thelma, the daughter of an American diplomat, her new life as a member of the British aristocracy is like a fairy tale—even more so when her husband introduces her to Edward, Prince of Wales.
In a twist of fate, her marriage to Duke leads her to fall headlong into a love affair with Edward. But happiness is fleeting, and their love is threatened when Thelma’s sister, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt, becomes embroiled in a scandal with far-reaching implications. As Thelma sails to New York to support Gloria, she leaves Edward in the hands of her trusted friend Wallis, never imagining the consequences that will follow.
The Woman Before Wallis was a beautiful story about life, love, and heartbreak. I will start this by saying I enjoy a good historical fiction. I really respect the author for writing such a fantastic story and for making such a grand effort to have all the details from the actual story correct.
Thelma, is the main character of this story. She is a wonderful woman. Truly special. For her time she is independent, motivated, and just wanted something different for herself than what was the expectation. Her character took me on this whirlwind of an adventure that at times filled me with happiness and at other times filled me with sorrow. I would say I am a sucker for a love story and if you think this is going to be a love story – you are mistaken. There are relationships and yes, some love, but this is far from a love story. It is rather heartbreaking actually, but in a beautiful way.
Thelma is a divorcee, which during this time, is not well received. She then gets lucky and marries a new man (Duke Furness) and becomes part of the “high society” in England. Lucky lady, indeed. Throughout the rest of the story, Thelma is constantly fighting for happiness. While she marries a lovely man, she cannot stay happy. The instability of marriages during this time was unbelievable. Having affairs was more accepted than getting divorced. This part especially hurts Thelma. This leads to her meeting and ultimately, to her relationship with the Prince of Wales. Again, lucky lady! Again, she struggles with this relationship and many events occur throughout the rest of the book that are full of love and happiness and as well, full of sadness.
To be honest, I didn’t know whether or not I was even enjoying this book until I got about half way through. I was getting confused trying to keep up with the characters and the names. I had a hard time remembering the family names and keeping track of this “social map” of people. I can only imagine how stressful this would be in real life. It was exhausting keeping up. I found at the half way point it became easier and I started to feel very attached to some of the characters.
I was so drawn into the story. I read this book in 2 days. It sucked me in. I loved the fancy life of English royalty and upper class. It made me want that life. However, as scandals came up throughout, it made me realize that is NOT the life I want. I really did enjoy that part though. It was so fun to read about the fancy parties and events that these people had on a regular basis. I loved reading about the extravagant dresses and outfits as well. It was so dream like.
When it came to the end of the book I felt so mixed! I truly loved this story. Thelma has a special place in a heart. She was so strong and while at times did not make the best decisions, she sure stuck to her heart and that is very respectable. I wish it would have ended differently for her. It was a sad ending in my opinion, but not everyone gets a fairy tale ending. The only reason I did not rate this as 5 stars was simply because the ending left me asking questions and wanting to know exactly what happened. Of course, I understand that filling in the gaps would probably be an entire other book, but I felt almost cheated not know exactly the events that led to Wallis and David. I’m actually not too sure my heart could take it now that I’m thinking more about it!!
Overall, this was a fabulous book. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction in its truest form. It was a beautifully written story.
Based on the true World War II story of the American Library in Paris, an unforgettable novel about the power of books and the bonds of friendship—and the ordinary heroes who can be found in the most perilous times and the quietest places. – Simon & Schuster
Title: The Paris Library
Author: Janet Skeslien Charles
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Historical fiction
Format: eARC from Netgalley
Pub date: February 2, 2021
Paris, 1939. Odile Souchet is obsessed with books and the Dewey Decimal System, which makes order out of chaos. She soon has it all – a handsome police officer beau, an English best friend, a beloved twin, and a job at the American Library in Paris, a thriving community of students, writers, diplomats, and book lovers. Yet when war is declared, there’s also a war on words.
Montana, 1983. Widowed and alone, Odile suffers the solitary confinement of small-town life. Though most adults are cowed by her, the neighbor girl will not let her be. Lily, a lonely teenager yearning to break free of Froid is obsessed by the older French woman who lives next door and wants to know her secrets.
As the two become friends, Odile sees herself in Lily – the same love of language, the same longings, the same lethal jealousy. The Paris Library’s dual narratives explore the relationships that make us who we are – family and friends, first loves and favorite authors – in the fairy tale setting of the City of Light. It also explores the geography of resentment, the consequences of unspeakable betrayal, and what happens when the people we count on for understanding and protection fail us.
The Paris Library was an outstanding book. I fell in love with every piece of it! I loved the characters, the setting, the drama, and all the love.
First off, the book is interesting because it not only shifts between characters but it also shifts between time. Some chapters are in WWII Paris and some are in 1980’s Montana. I loved it! The story was serious and kind of sad at times but there was sprinkled in humor too!
Odile is the main character. She is a strong young woman who works in the American Library in Paris. I enjoyed her absolute love for books and the library. Lily, is a young girl living in Montana next door to Odile as an old woman. Lily experiences loss and Odile ends up being the person that helps her through it. I really enjoyed the characters and how different but similar they were. I liked how the author flipped back and forth and intertwined the stories so it all fit together like a beautiful masterpiece.
When I put the book down I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life. It opened my eyes to things I’ve done and things I’ve overlooked because of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. I feel that if a story makes you reflect so deeply it must be an amazing book written by an outstanding author. That is what this book was. It was amazing, heartfelt, full of despair and hope, eye opening, and thoughtful. I loved this book with all my heart as I knew I would when I read the synopsis originally. Odile and her friends are the type of people I wish I knew and aspire to be. This story reminded me that not everyone is as they seem and that people change and grow throughout their lives.
The setting of the American Library is the best. It felt like home and it was a home to the characters in the book. I loved that part. Every time the library is mentioned or Odile was working there it just felt so whimsical and full of wonder. It’s a place I would love to see. Something from a dream.
I have always been interested in history which is a reason I was excited for this book! I found the writing to be so good that when the first bombs were dropped and I was reading about the peoples fear and uncertainty, I too felt that way. My heart rate increased, I was holding onto every word, I could not stop reading. This story opened my eyes to the struggles of war. How people had to do things they didn’t want to or thought were wrong just so they could survive. How people turned on each other. How there was so much hidden racism and discrimination! Odile is such a hero throughout the book. Living during that time is unfathomable. Unreal.
Finally, this story is full of love and loss. Odile suffered much loss throughout her life and Lily is lucky to have such a role model. Lily suffered loss as well and in the end it was very heartwarming that they were able to help each other and have such a great relationship! I sure enjoyed the romance and true love expressed in this book. It filled my heart many times. This story is worth the read. It is really something special that I thoroughly enjoyed!
** Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!
Do you like historical fiction? Chat with me in the comments!
I have recently read a few historical fictions, which I LOVE! I find that every time I read one I put the book down feeling this sense of awe and wonder. I think it has a little to do with my love for history but also because there is something really special about the stories from the past. I tend to read WW2 historical fictions but have ventured to other time periods. I just love the war times. Those seem to be the stories that draw me in the most!! I don’t know if that is weird? I know a lot of people feel the same way though.
I often find I am pushing all these historical fiction books on my IG and most people seem to like them and add them to their reading lists but some people just are not on board with the historical fiction train and THAT IS OKAY! However, I am going to share with you why I love these books so much and I will share some books I’ve recently read that you NEED to read if you enjoy these books like I do!
Sooooo, lets get this list going!
What I mean by this is that, I find SO much of my empathy for others has come from books. This is a general point I suppose since you can gain feelings of empathy from any story – however, I find my empathy grows so significantly when I read historical fiction.
I am taken to a time of fear and hatred. It allows me to be in someone else’s shoes and see life from their point of view. Sometimes its from the “good guys” side, but sometimes its from the “bad guys” side and you know what? Every single time I see the good in people whether they are “bad” or “good” because there is much more to peoples stories than what we see in the history books.
I especially love reading about all the characters and their connections to others. It is SO different than what I am used to. First off, there is always so much urgency in historical fiction. Characters have to be so strong but also leave nothing unsaid because there is a chance tomorrow will not come. I find this very touching and it always reminds me to be more present in my day to day life!
Relationships between family is always big in these stories. Many times families are torn apart or are away from each other for a very long time. This of course still happens to many people who have family in the military or people who are living through wars right now. It is eye opening to say the least, which is why I enjoy that aspect of these stories so much! Each relationship means so much and is not taken for granted (at least not very often).
So, it goes without saying that war brings a lot of tension. I like this part. I like feeling tense and on my toes. I like to feel like I am IN the book and experiencing war with the characters in the book. If the author does it right then you are taken into the book and feel every bomb drop, you feel the fear of being seen by the wrong person, or feel the anger between soldiers. I just feel that tension makes the story feel real.
I feel like suspense and tension go hand in hand. The reason I separated them was because there is a difference between the tense atmosphere and the fear of death or the fear of uncertainty. I find that even though I know what happened in the war (since, duh, its over and everyone knows who “won” and who “lost”), I still am on the edge of the seat because I DON’T know what happened to the particular characters in the story. Even better is that a lot of historical fictions are based on a true story or on real people. I find it makes me so much more nervous during the story because I just want everyone to be okay.
Something I’ve realized in life and especially by reading a lot of historical fiction is that, not everyone ends up okay. A lot of people don’t get a happy ending. As much as it hurts my heart reading about people not getting the ending they should, it sure makes for a good, gripping story.
I like the fact that sometimes I feel uncomfortable reading some of the events that occur in historical fiction books. It shows that I am learning and growing. It also points out that maybe I feel a certain way about something and that I need to be more open minded. This ties back to empathy. By feeling these weird, unfamiliar feelings, I actually grow and change my perspectives on people and the world. It makes me feel things I haven’t felt before.
Another aspect of unfamiliar feelings is the feeling of total despair and loss. I have never lived through a war. I really haven’t had too many truly negative things happen to me. By reading some of these tragic stories it makes me feel things I haven’t had to deal with before. Sometimes it makes me angry that certain events happened to people. Sometimes I cry while reading the stories because it is SO UNFAIR and the hatred seeps off the pages into me. I have to say I am quite emotional already so maybe this isn’t normal, but it is the truth for me.
This also comes off as kind of a negative…. you are probably thinking “why do you want to read something that hurts your heart and makes you angry?” Simple. I think that it makes me a better person knowing the horrible things that have happened whether the story is 100% true or not. Somewhere and sometime, something like the story or way worse has happened and I think the stories need to be told so people like me, living a privileged life, can connect to people who were not so lucky. I personally think, that is a huge reason to read historical fiction.
I LOVE Europe and foreign places that are not Canada and the US. Don’t get me wrong, I still love stories that are set in the Western world and I obviously connect to those stories and characters well. However, I have been to Europe and have seen some historical spots that really made my love for history grow. So, its pretty simple – I just like stories set in Europe and that just happens to be where a lot of historical fiction books are set!
HopeFor The Future
When I read historical fiction, especially ones that have a large emphasis on the wars and the hatred people have for the “other side” like say WW2 and the hatred for the Germans – when the story ends and the war is over, I feel like I have hope for the world. I know there are so many negative things happening in the world today, but when you read these stories and see one of the biggest wars resolved and people coming back together and life going back to normal, it feels hopeful to me. I love that feeling when you put the book down and things feel resolved and since the stories are usually so profound and meaningful, it just feels so much more hopeful!
Maybe I have just been lucky with the books I have read lately, but I find the writing of historical fictions to be amazing. The authors seem to do such a great job of telling a crazy story and also using the language of the time and facts from the time/place. Obviously I know this is what “makes” the book for any story but I just find that the writing in these books to be so flowy and easy to read. Again, this is not ALL historical fictions, just the ones I have read.
I don’t know why but romantic relationships during the war times always feel like EXTRA romantic to me. You know the story – two people fall in love but they are from different “sides” and cannot be together. Then, the boy has to go to war and doesn’t see the girl for a few years. The girl waits for him and then one day, he comes back to her and they get married and everything is fab. THIS is what keeps me going 😂 Not all stories have this type of romance. Some end really sad with the boy dying in the war and the girl finding out many years later. Or the couple gets separated, never to see each other again. Obviously, there is more sad than happy BUT when the romance does work out, it is so unlike anything else. Its the love against all odds type stuff and I just am all for that.
Past to Present
Something I really like is when a historical fiction has the character living their life in the past (like telling their story in say 1940) but then flips to the present day where they are older. I just really like this style. It gives me some reassurance that the character made it out of the war which calms me down during the crazy parts. It also sometimes adds a depth to the character, especially when the character reflects on their past and how it molded their life and when they talk about their regrets and whatnot. I just love that in a historical fiction!!
That was long!! So, if you made it this far… thanks for reading 😊 Here are some books I totally recommend if you enjoy historical fiction:
The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doeer
The Woman Before Wallis by Bryn Turnbull
The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel
The German Heiress by Anika Scott
The Agency series by Y.S Lee (these are a little more mystery historical fiction)
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (this is a MUST for anyone who really like history and war themed books… heartbreaking but such a good read).
As usual, thanks for stopping by! Leave some historical fiction recs in the comments, I always love to find some new ones to read!!