Seattle Picks: Historical Fiction--16th-19th Century
Annotation:Set in 18th-century Haiti and New Orleans, this epic novel follows the life of a young slave woman as she tries – amidst oppression and violence – to take control of her own future.
Annotation:This novel, rich with visual details, follows the plight of a young female carpet maker in 17th-century Persia who is pressured into an undesirable marriage due to her low social status.
Annotation:A young widow narrates this moving tale of the harrowing events of 1665-1666, as village residents in Derbyshire follow their pastor’s lead and quarantine themselves when the plague appears in their midst.
Annotation:Young Jem Kellaway struggles to find his way through the richness and squalor of Georgian London, and the upheavals of love and politics, helped along by his neighbor, poet William Blake.
Annotation:A female painter in Renaissance Italy accepts an invitation to become art instructor and lady-in-waiting to the young Queen of Spain, and becomes entangled in intrigue and romantic rivalry at the Spanish court.
Annotation:Near the end of the U.S. Civil War, General Sherman marches 60,000 Union soldiers across Georgia and the Carolinas, leaving a path of destruction that comes to life through the eyes of real and fictional characters.
Annotation:In 16th-century Italy, a strong-willed young woman is sent to a convent after having an illicit affair with her music teacher. Dunant includes richly detailed descriptions of convent life.
Annotation:When Jane Clarke refuses to marry the man chosen by her father, she is sent to live with her aunt in Revolutionary War-era Boston, where she becomes caught up in the growing political turbulence.
Annotation:Two women – a southerner and a northerner – exchange letters during the U.S. Civil War, finding solace in their friendship as they both face suffering, hardship and torn loyalties.
Annotation:Shakespeare’s mistress and muse recounts her tempestuous relationship with the famous bard, bringing to life London’s bustling streets and the backstage world of the Globe Theatre. Lines from Shakespeare’s poetry thread through this literary novel.
Annotation:The daughter of accused witch Martha Carrier narrates this stark tale of the Salem Witch trials. Though mother and daughter were often at odds, the terrible ordeal of accusations and imprisonment brings them closer.
Annotation:An engrossing tale based on real events. A mother and daughter in the 1890s try to save their family farm by walking from Spokane to New York; afterwards, the daughter decides to continue walking solo.
Annotation:In this complex thriller set in 18th-century London, a Jewish ex-boxer tries to uncover conspiracies and spies amidst rival corporate factions of the East India Company.
Annotation:This character-driven novel focuses on Thomas Cromwell, who as a youth fled his abusive blacksmith father to make his way in the world, first as a mercenary soldier and eventually as King Henry VIII’s chief minister.
Annotation:Rosa, an adventurous young Englishwoman, travels to the Crimean battlefield in 1854 to work with Florence Nightingale’s nursing corps. When Rosa is reported missing, her less adventurous cousin searches for her, uncovering disturbing secrets.
Annotation:At the close of the 18th century in Japan, a young Dutch East Indies official falls in love with a disfigured midwife. This long, lyrical novel is filled with many well-developed characters and plot twists.
Annotation:Madame Tussaud, of wax museum fame, narrates this riveting account of the French Revolution, providing a first-person view of a disintegrating society during the Reign of Terror.
Annotation:A talented, ambitious midwife from Albany, NY volunteers as a nurse during the U.S. Civil War; from the exhausting work, she learns a great deal about medicine, suffering and love.
Annotation:A poor widow and her feisty granddaughter, both skilled in herbal healing, find themselves caught up in the hysteria of a witch hunt in rural 17th-century England.
Annotation:Princesses of the Mughal Empire jostle for power as their father builds the Taj Mahal in tribute to his beloved wife. Lush with details of life in the royal court of 17th-century India.
Annotation:Based on the true story of Queen Elizabeth I, whose life was filled with danger and drama before ascending to the throne, this novel focuses on psychological character as well as descriptions of daily life.