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Recent Historical Fiction – American Subjects

BookTalkBooklist

Recent Historical Fiction — American Subjects
Bethany BooksTalks, November 5, 2021
Chery B. (Anderson and Bethany Branch Libraries)

Surviving Savannah (2021)
by Patti Callahan Henry (Henry)

In 1838, the steam ship Pulaski exploded and sank 30 miles off the coast of Savannah, GA. 170+ years later, the wreckage is found, and Dr. Everly Winthrop, college instructor and historian, has been asked to comb through the artifacts. With the help of Oliver, a friend and former fiancee of Everly’s best friend, the life and survival of Lilly Forsyth is pieced together, along with the post-shipwreck lives of other survivors.

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Carnegie’s Maid (2018)
by Marie Benedict (Benedict)

Set in 1868, the main character travels from Galway to with plans to find work in the Pittsburgh textile mills. Her plans change when she answers to her name, only to find that a different “Clara Kelley” was to be the personal maid of a Andrew Carnegie’s mother. Clara uses her wits and skills to succeed in her assumed identity, and she turns Andrew’s head. The romance is fictitious, but the glimpses into higher society and the industrial progress after the Civil War are true.

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The Women’s March (2021)
by Jennifer Chiaverini (Chiaverini)

Three real women–Alice Paul, Maud Malone, and Ida B. Well-Barnett–pursue the women’s right to vote, 1912 – 1913. They come from vastly different backgrounds, all marked with brutality, the need to survive, and the twists and turns of finding common ground among women activists. The Presidential election of 1912, resulting in Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, is the social backdrop for this book.

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Daughter of Moloka’i (2019)
by Alan Brennert (Brennert)

This story picks up the story of Ruth, Rachel’s daughter in Moloka’i (2004). Ruth was taken from the leper colony to ensure that she would not contract the disease. She is adopted in 1921 by the Watanabe family, who then moves to California to farm. With their 3 sons, they raise her as Japanese. She marries and has 2 children, but all are moved to the Manzanar internment camp during WWII, only to be released in 1943. The revelation of a family connection adds strength and excitement to the plot.

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The Bohemians (2021)
by Jasmin Darznik (Darznik)

Dorothea Lange, the photographer eventually known for her picture”Migrant Mother (1936),” arrives in 1917 San Fransisco. Lange interacts with several other historical figures of art and culture during her young adulthood. One is Caroline Lee, a mixed-race Chinese woman who befriends Lange when she needs it most, and helps her sett-up a successful portrait studio. With the backdrop of anti-Chinese racism, events that shape the story are the Spanish Flue pandemic of 1918 and the influence of California politicians that lead to the National Origins Act of 1924.

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The Wicked Redhead (2019)
by Beatriz Williams (Williams)

Ginger “Gin” Kelly has just escaped her step-father and a gunfight in New York at the end of The Wicked City. Continuing in 1924, she and her man drive to Cocoa Beach, FL. They learn more about rum-running, only to find that it now includes a new kind of pirate. Set during Prohibition, this is the second book in a trilogy where Gin’s story is uncovered by Ella, a New Yorker in 1998. Book three will be The Wicked Widow, just out 10/26/2021. Expect excitement laced with booze, some violence, and Gin’s Appalachian-style language. Experience the changes in legal and social history that made this era of American History so unique.

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Clark and Division (2021)
by Naomi Hirahara (Hirahara)

Rose Ito is the oldest daughter of a family of “loyal Nisei” in Manzanar. They are granted early relocation in 1943, she is sent ahead to Chicago and the Japanese settlement centered on Clark and Division streets. Rose is successful in finding work, but she is killed in a train accident the day before they arrive. Her sister, Aki, suspects foul play and pursues the personal clues Rose left behind. Through smokey pool-halls and grimy police stations, Aki and her father search for truth. This journey includes many real locations in downtown Chicago in the 1940s.

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  • Though Naomi Hirahara has written several other novels, including those in three recurring mystery series, they have all been set in contemporary times.


A Woman of Intelligence (2021)
by Karin Tanabe (Tanabe)

At 32, Katherina Edgeworth has married a wonderful doctor, leaving her post-college job as an interpreter at the United Nations. In New York’s privileged society in 1954, she feels stifled by the isolation of married life and motherhood. Enter FBI agent Lee Caldwell, who wants Rina to obtain info from Communist organizations in the McCarthy-era US. He and Turner Wells, a well-spoken black agent, want Rina to “run into” her old college boyfriend, Jacob Gornev, who has spent time in Moscow. It’s all here: high society, fashion, success, and international intrigue.

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