If you need to escape for a few hours into a different time period, these historical fiction titles are just the ticket. Whether it’s war time or Greek Gods, you can’t go wrong with any of these four books.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
I INHALED this book on a plane flight earlier this year and not only was it perfectly plotted and terrifically written, but it was also on a topic I knew virtually nothing about. Jo is fired from her job as a hatmaker at the very beginning of the book and she knows that finding another job in 1890s Atlanta, especially because she is Chinese, is going to be extraordinarily difficult. And it’s not just herself she needs to care for. She also feels responsible for Old Gin, the elderly man who has raised her and is now getting more and more ill. The two of them live secreted in a former Underground Railroad hiding spot under the house of one of the newspaper publishers. So Jo decides she’ll start writing an anonymous advice column. What could possibly go wrong?
Lovely War by Julie Berry
I mean, if you haven’t read this book already, I’m probably falling down on my job here, but truly. THIS is the time to pick up a copy. The story takes place during World War I and follows four main characters. Even more fun? The story is framed by several Greek gods who are in a tiff of their own during World War II. I know it sounds weird, but trust me, it works. It’s in the top 10 books I’ve ever read. And while I read a paper copy, I’ve heard the audio version is STUNNING.
Ten Cents a Dance by Christine Fletcher
Ignore the truly terrible cover that looks like I’m recommending a shady romance novel, but this historical fiction book is TERRIFIC. It takes place just before WWII in Chicago where Ruby is a fifteen year old working at a packing house. Since her dad’s death, things have been hard for Ruby and her mother and Ruby lives for the weekends when she can go out dancing with her friends. And then she meets Paulie, a handsome boy from her neighborhood with quite a reputation for trouble who tells her she’s a good enough dancer to get a job as a taxi dancer. The idea of making $50 a week instead of $12 a week and not having to deal with brining pigs feet? Well, how can she resist? Naturally, she’s suddenly in much deeper than she ever meant to be.
The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
I’ve read several of Kate Morton’s books and this is by far my favorite. When Laurel is sixteen, a stranger arrives at a family birthday party, calling Laurel’s mother by name and her mother stabs and kills him. The family never mentions it again and the story splits into two parts – Laurel, fifty years in the future, now an extremely successful actress, knows her mother is close to death, and finds herself desperate to understand, before it’s too late, what exactly happened with her mother and this mysterious man she murdered. The other story takes place in the early 40s, during WWII, in London where two young women become friends in the days of the London Blitz. Somehow these stories intersect and Laurel is determined to figure out how.