Bachelor Girl by Kim van AlkemadeWhat happens: In 1939, Colonel Jacob Ruppert, the millionaire owner of the New York Yankees, dies and leaves a substantial bequest to an obscure actress. But why?
Read it for: long-buried secrets revealed through alternating first-person accounts; a vivid evocation of 1920s and '30s New York City.
Author alert: Kim van Alkemade, author of the bestselling Orphan Number 8, returns with another moving and richly detailed novel that shifts between time periods and perspectives.
White Houses by Amy BloomStarring: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and journalist Lorena "Hick" Hickok, whose decades-long love affair profoundly influences their lives and careers.
Further reading: Susan Quinn's Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady, an engaging dual biography of the couple; Kelly O'Connor McNees' Undiscovered Country, another biographical novel that examines their relationship.
The Cloister by James CarrollWhat it's about: In 12th-century France, philosopher Peter Abelard embarks on a forbidden (and ultimately doomed) affair with his brilliant pupil, Héloïse. Centuries later, a priest and a Holocaust survivor bond over shared intellectual interests.
Read it for: a thought-provoking meditation on love, faith, and forgiveness.
You might also like: Iain Pears' The Dream of Scipio, another novel of love and philosophy that links characters across time periods.
The Sparsholt Affair by Alan HollinghurstWhat it's about: a scandal involving four Oxford chums, whose repercussions will still be felt decades later.
Introducing: narrator Freddie Green; aspiring artist Peter Coyle; dilettante Evert Dax; and David Sparsholt, the engineering student who becomes the object of the trio's mutual obsession.
About the author: Alan Hollinghurst wrote the 2004 Man Booker Prize-winning novel The Line of Beauty.
I Was Anastasia by Ariel LawhonStarring: Two women -- Anna Anderson and Anastasia Romanov -- who may or may not be the same person.
Want a taste? "Am I truly Anastasia Romanov? A beloved daughter. A revered icon. A Russian grand duchess. Or am I an impostor? A fraud. A liar. The thief of another woman's legacy."
You might also like: John Boyne's The House of Special Purpose, which also imagines Anastasia's fate.
The Pagan Lord by Bernard CornwellStarring: Uhtred of Bebbanburg, whose efforts to reclaim his ancestral Northumbrian estate places him in the path of invading Norsemen.
Why you might like it: This fast-paced, action-packed novel also offers a richly detailed depiction of a 10th-century Britain riven by conflict between Saxons and Danes, pagans and Christians.
Media buzz: Bernard Cornwell's popular Saxon Stories books are the basis of the television series The Last Kingdom.
The Broken Land: A People of the Longhouse Novel by W. Michael and Kathleen O'Neal GearFeaturing: Odion, known as Sky Messenger, and Wrass, now War Chief Hiyawento, who must unite warring peoples to fight their common enemy.
Read it for: a well-researched look at the northern Iroquois civilization of pre-colonial North America.
Can you start here? Although this 3rd book in the People of the Longhouse series stands on its own, The Broken Land's protagonists were introduced as children in previous installments.
Troy: Lord of the Silver Bow by David GemmellWhat it's about: As Agamemnon of Mykene leads the Greeks in a war against the city of Troy, archer Helikaon (a.k.a. Aeneas) prepares to defend his beloved city and the woman he loves.
Is it for you? Loosely based on Homer's Iliad, this opening volume of David Gemmell's Troy trilogy takes considerable liberties with the original story.
For fans of: the gritty historical sagas of Steven Pressfield and Ben Kane, which focus on the military conflicts of classical antiquity.
Child of Vengeance by David KirkWhat it is: a dramatic coming-of-age story that follows orphan Bennosuke's transformation into the famed samurai warrior Musashi Miyamoto.
You might also like: James Clavell's Shogun, another dramatic historical novel set in feudal Japan that recreates, in vivid detail, the life of a samurai.
Sequel alert: Bennosuke's story continues in Sword of Honor.
Hawk Quest by Robert LyndonWhat it's about: In 1072 England, Frankish mercenary Vallon embarks on an unusual quest: obtaining four white gyrfalcons in order to ransom a nobleman's son from an Anatolian prison.
What sets it apart: Hawk Quest takes its characters far beyond the boundaries of their homelands, revealing the geographical and political complexity of medieval European civilization.
For fans of: the well-researched yet exciting historical adventure stories of Bernard Cornwell or Conn Iggulden.
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