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My Most Anticipated 2021 Historical Fiction Releases

These are the 10 books you are going to want to pre-order now so you don't miss out on the new 2021 historical fiction books that are being released.

1. Sunflower Sisters by Martha Hall Kelly (Pub Date: March 30, 2021)

You don't need to wait long for this book! I love that Kelly started with Lilac Girls and Lost Roses and continues to write prequels to her books. The 1800's is my favourite time period for historical fiction so you can bet I've had this preordered for a while now.

Synopsis: Georgeanna “Georgey” Woolsey isn’t meant for the world of lavish parties and the demure attitudes of women of her stature. So when war ignites the nation, Georgey follows her passion for nursing during a time when doctors considered women on the battlefront a bother. In proving them wrong, she and her sister Eliza venture from New York to Washington, D.C., to Gettysburg and witness the unparalleled horrors of slavery as they become involved in the war effort. In the South, Jemma is enslaved on the Peeler Plantation in Maryland, where she lives with her mother and father. Her sister, Patience, is enslaved on the plantation next door, and both live in fear of LeBaron, an abusive overseer who tracks their every move. When Jemma is sold by the cruel plantation mistress Anne-May at the same time the Union army comes through, she sees a chance to finally escape—but only by abandoning the family she loves. Anne-May is left behind to run Peeler Plantation when her husband joins the Union army and her cherished brother enlists with the Confederates. In charge of the household, she uses the opportunity to follow her own ambitions and is drawn into a secret Southern network of spies, finally exposing herself to the fate she deserves.

2. The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams (Pub Date: April 6, 2021)

Reading this synopsis this book has everything that makes a book a page turner for me. Set during the women's suffrage movement, searching for words that wouldn't make up a man's dictionary, and lyrical language. I think this one will definitely be a contender for a future Read-Well Book Club book.

Synopsis: Esme is born into a world of words. Motherless and irrepressibly curious, she spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of dedicated lexicographers are collecting words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary. Young Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day a slip of paper containing the word bondmaid flutters beneath the table. She rescues the slip, and when she learns that the word means “slave girl,” she begins to collect other words that have been discarded or neglected by the dictionary men. As she grows up, Esme realizes that words and meanings relating to women’s and common folks’ experiences often go unrecorded. And so she begins in earnest to search out words for her own dictionary: the Dictionary of Lost Words. To do so she must leave the sheltered world of the university and venture out to meet the people whose words will fill those pages.

3. The Forest of Stolen Girls by June Hur (Pub Date: April 20, 2021)

The genres of the book seem like the perfect mix: historical fiction, mystery, and YA. I'm really looking forward to the 1490's setting and reading about an independent women detective at a time when women had no status.

Synopsis: 1426, Joseon (Korea) Hwani's family has never been the same since she and her younger sister went missing and were later found unconscious in the forest near a gruesome crime scene. Years later, Detective Min—Hwani's father—learns that thirteen girls have recently disappeared from the same forest that nearly stole his daughters. He travels to their hometown on the island of Jeju to investigate… only to vanish as well. Determined to find her father and solve the case that tore their family apart, Hwani returns home to pick up the trail. As she digs into the secrets of the small village—and collides with her now estranged sister, Maewol—Hwani comes to realize that the answer could lie within her own buried memories of what happened in the forest all those years ago

4. Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian (Pub Date: May 4, 2021)

I have been introduced to more historical suspense books in the last 6 months that have been the perfect mix between mystery and historical fiction. This one peaked my attention for just that reason, I also don't normally find new historical fictions set int he 1600s.

Synopsis: Boston, 1662. Mary Deerfield is twenty-four-years-old. Her skin is porcelain, her eyes delft blue, and in England she might have had many suitors. But here in the New World, amid this community of saints, Mary is the second wife of Thomas Deerfield, a man as cruel as he is powerful. When Thomas, prone to drunken rage, drives a three-tined fork into the back of Mary’s hand, she resolves that she must divorce him to save her life. But in a world where every neighbor is watching for signs of the devil, a woman like Mary–a woman who harbors secret desires and finds it difficult to tolerate the brazen hypocrisy of so many men in the colony–soon becomes herself the object of suspicion and rumor. When tainted objects are discovered buried in Mary’s garden, when a boy she has treated with herbs and simples dies, and when their servant girl runs screaming in fright from her home, Mary must fight to not only escape her marriage, but also the gallows. A twisting, tightly plotted novel of historical suspense from one of our greatest storytellers, Hour of the Witch is a timely and terrifying story of socially sanctioned brutality and the original American witch hunt.

5. The Secret Keeper of Jaipur by Alka Joshi (Pub Date: June 22, 2021)

When Harper Collins told me this one was coming, it made me so excited. If you loved The Henna Artist then you have probably been waiting for Joshi to release another novel too.

Synopsis: It’s the spring of 1969, and Lakshmi, now married to Dr. Jay Kumar, directs the Healing Garden in Shimla. Malik has finished his private school education. At twenty, he has just met a young woman named Nimmi when he leaveS to apprentice at the Facilities Office of the Jaipur Royal Palace. Their latest project: a state-of-the-art cinema.

Malik soon finds that not much has changed as he navigates the Pink City of his childhood. Power and money still move seamlessly among the wealthy class, and favors flow from Jaipur’s Royal Palace, but only if certain secrets remain buried. When the cinema’s balcony tragically collapses on opening night, blame is placed where it is convenient. But Malik suspects something far darker and sets out to uncover the truth. As a former street child, he always knew to keep his own counsel; it’s a lesson that will serve him as he untangles a web of lies.

6. The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict (Pub Date: June 1, 2021)

I am instantly always drawn to books about books. On the surface I thought it was a historical fiction based on a library, but reading further in the synopsis I learned it is book about colorism and a light skinned women whose father is the first Black Harvard school graduate. Reading The Vanishing Half I learned more about how Black women must preserve their crafted white identity to maintain their current lifestyles. I'm looking forward to learning more about this issue through this book.

Synopsis: In her twenties, Belle da Costa Greene is hired by J. P. Morgan to curate a collection of rare manuscripts, books, and artwork for his newly built Pierpont Morgan Library. Belle becomes a fixture on the New York society scene and one of the most powerful people in the art and book world, known for her impeccable taste and shrewd negotiating for critical works as she helps build a world-class collection. But Belle has a secret, one she must protect at all costs. She was born not Belle da Costa Greene but Belle Marion Greener. She is the daughter of Richard Greener, the first Black graduate of Harvard and a well-known advocate for equality. Belle's complexion isn't dark because of her alleged Portuguese heritage that lets her pass as white--her complexion is dark because she is African American.

7. The Forest of Vanishing Stars by Kristin Harmel (Pub Date: July 6, 2021)

Two of my most recommend books of 2020 were The Winemaker's Wife and The Book of Lost Names. So when I heard this one was coming out, it quickly became my most anticipated read.

Synopsis: After being stolen from her wealthy German parents and raised in the unforgiving wilderness of eastern Europe, a young woman finds herself alone in 1941 after her kidnapper dies. Her solitary existence is interrupted, however, when she happens upon a group of Jews fleeing the Nazi terror. Stunned to learn what’s happening in the outside world, she vows to teach the group all she can about surviving in the forest—and in turn, they teach her some surprising lessons about opening her heart after years of isolation. But when she is betrayed and escapes into a German-occupied village, her past and present come together in a shocking collision that could change everything.

8. Island Queen by Vanessa Riley (Pub Date: July 6, 2021)

This caught my attention right away because it is based on a true story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas who grew from slavery and became one of the wealthiest landowners in the West Indies. I can't wait to read about how she built her business, also the cover is stunning.

Synopsis: A remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies.

Born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, Doll bought her freedom—and that of her sister and her mother—from her Irish planter father and built a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter that extended from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a glittering luxury hotel in Demerara on the South American continent.

9. A Women of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe (Pub Date: July 20, 2021)

I haven't read a book by this author before, but the cover drew me in. Once I read the synopsis I knew this had to be added to must read list of 2021.

Synopsis: A Fifth Avenue address, parties at the Plaza, two healthy sons, and the ideal husband: what looks like a perfect life for Katharina Edgeworth is anything but. It’s 1954, and the post-war American dream has become a nightmare. A born and bred New Yorker, Katharina is the daughter of immigrants, Ivy-League-educated, and speaks four languages. As a single girl in 1940s Manhattan, she is a translator at the newly formed United Nations, devoting her days to her work and the promise of world peace—and her nights to cocktails and the promise of a good time. Now the wife of a beloved pediatric surgeon and heir to a shipping fortune, Katharina is trapped in a gilded cage, desperate to escape the constraints of domesticity. So when she is approached by the FBI and asked to join their ranks as an informant, Katharina seizes the opportunity. A man from her past has become a high-level Soviet spy, but no one has been able to infiltrate his circle. Enter Katharina, the perfect woman for the job.

10. The Women's March: A Novel of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession by Jennifer Chiaverini (July 27, 2021)

Even if you aren't a huge historical fiction buff - the topic alone would draw you in. This is also a new-to-me author, but if you read the Goodreads reviews this doesn't sound like a book you'll want to miss.

Synopsis: Twenty-five-year-old Alice Paul returns to her native New Jersey after several years on the front lines of the suffrage movement in Great Britain. Weakened from imprisonment and hunger strikes, she is nevertheless determined to invigorate the stagnant suffrage movement in her homeland. Nine states have already granted women voting rights, but only a constitutional amendment will secure the vote for all.

To inspire support for the campaign, Alice organizes a magnificent procession down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC, the day before the inauguration of President-elect Woodrow Wilson, a firm anti-suffragist. Joining the march is thirty-nine-year-old New Yorker Maud Malone, librarian and advocate for women’s and workers’ rights. The daughter of Irish immigrants, Maud has acquired a reputation—and a criminal record—for interrupting politicians’ speeches with pointed questions they’d rather ignore.

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