Historical fiction

A-
The Island of Sea Women

Lisa See – novelist of well-researched and sometimes amazing, sometimes infuriating novels like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, China Girls, Dreams of Joy and Shanghai Girls – returns with The Island of Sea Women, a beautiful and heartbreaking tale about two lifelong friends who become part of t ...

B+
Across the Blue

Carrie Turansky is a new-to-me author, and I was pleasantly surprised by her clear storytelling and smooth writing. In Across the Blue, she brings us a story of the ingenious and daring men and women who plumbed the mysteries of flight in the early 1900s.  Being from North Carolina - where the stor ...

A
Once Upon a River

Diane Setterfield follows up The Thirteenth Tale with Once Upon a River, a story of mysticism and religion colliding during the time when Darwinian theory was first taking hold. On the bank of the Thames at Redcot, there once sat a magical inn called the Swan at Radcot, which becomes known for be ...

A
The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy

“I have just taken an overly large bite of iced bun when Callum slices his finger off” – Opening line, The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. Mackenzi Lee introduced her readers to the wily and amusing Montague siblings in her bestselling The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue.  I ...

B
The Sapphire Widow

Growing up, the novels of M.M. Kaye and Mary Stewart were heavy favorites of mine. Their books were all about the British Colonial period and took place in exotic locales, extolling the mannerisms and lifestyle of an era long gone by.  In The Sapphire Widow, Dinah Jeffries recaptures the elegant pr ...

C-
The Concubine's Child

I was drawn to The Concubine’s Child by the unique premise and even more unique location. Set primarily in 1930s Malaya (known today as Malaysia) it is the story of a group of women and how they handle the limited choices life gives them. Madame Chan is praying to – although it’s more like ...

B-
The Broken Girls

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James: A Roundtable Discussion Simone St. James is well-loved by the staff here at AAR, so we have been eagerly anticipating her new book. The Broken Girls is a dual-timeline story centered around a boarding school for the teenaged girls society has turned its back ...

A
The Black Madonna

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Stella Riley’s work, so anyone reading this review could be forgiven for thinking that the DIK rating was a foregone conclusion.  And perhaps it was – I’ve always found her writing, characterisation and storytelling to be of consistently high quality, ...

C-
Crown of Stars

Crown of Stars is the second installment in Sophie Jaff's Nightsong trilogy. I started reading it without prior knowledge of the series – and discovered that was a very bad idea because I didn't understand the story at all. So I picked up the previous book, Love Is Red, read it, and then returned ...

B+
Goodnight from London

Ruby Sutton thought the call into her editor’s office would result in the termination of her employment; instead, she is offered the opportunity of a lifetime. She is to go to London and report from there on the European war. In the summer of 1940 there could be no sweeter assignment for an ambiti ...