The Vineyard: A Novel by María DueñasIn this sweeping saga by the author of The Time In Between, financial ruin prompts entrepreneur Mauro Larrea to risk what little remains of his hard-won fortune on an Andalusian vineyard. Set in Mexico, Cuba, and Spain during the 1860s, The Vineyard is a good bet for readers who enjoy the atmospheric, romantic historical novels of Isabel Allende and Chantel Acevedo.
The Good People by Hannah KentMisfortune seems to stalk Nóra Leahy, who becomes the guardian of her severely disabled four-year-old grandson, Micheál, after the sudden deaths of her daughter and husband. Soon, rumors begin to spread that Micheál is one of the "good people" (the fair folk). An atmospheric novel that explores the darkness of the human heart, The Good People blends bleakness and lyricism in a way that should captivate fans of Emma Donoghue's The Wonder, which also features an isolated rural community in 19th-century Ireland gripped by superstition.
The World of Tomorrow by Brendan MathewsIn a madcap adventure that should please fans of Roddy Doyle's The Last Roundup trilogy, three Irish brothers -- a convict, a jazz musician, and a seminarian -- escape to the United States after running afoul of the IRA. Set against the backdrop of the 1939 New York World's Fair, this lively debut boasts a cast of appealing characters and the "wit of a 30s screwball comedy" (Publishers Weekly).
Under a Pole Star: A Novel by Stef PenneyWhaler's daughter Flora Mackie is 12 years old in 1883 when she first crosses the Arctic Circle, igniting a lifelong passion for polar exploration. However, her desire to attend university and dedicate her life to scientific discovery places her at odds with Victorian society. This haunting, character-driven novel by the author of The Tenderness of Wolves, may appeal to fans of the independent and unconventional heroines of Eowyn Ivey's To the Bright Edge of the World and Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things.
Focus on: Queens of England
The Winter Crown: A Novel of Eleanor of Aquitaine by Elizabeth ChadwickAt the heart of this novel is the tumultuous marriage of Alienor (Eleanor) of Aquitaine and King Henry II of England, whose once-passionate union has devolved into acrimony. After 14 years of marriage and eight children, Henry casts aside Alienor in favor of his long-time mistress, prompting a rebellion on Alienor's part that will have devastating consequences for the entire family. The Winter Crown is the 2nd book in a trilogy that follows the life of this formidable queen, after The Summer Queen, which focuses on her first marriage to Louis VII of France.
The Lady of Misrule: A Novel by Suzannah DunnWhen 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey is dethroned (following her nine-day reign) and sent to the Tower of London in 1553, she's accompanied by Elizabeth Tilney, a "good Catholic girl" who has her own private reasons for serving as chaperone. Both women view their time in the Tower as a temporary interruption of their lives; neither expects that one of them won't survive it. Other novels about England's shortest reigning monarch include Philippa Gregory's The Last Tudor, Alison Weir's Innocent Traitor, and Ella March Chase's Three Maids for a Crown.
Elizabeth I by Margaret GeorgeWell-known for her biographical novels about powerful, much-mythologized female rulers (including Cleopatra and Mary, Queen of Scots), author Margaret George attempts to unknot the tangled relationship between Queen Elizabeth I of England and Lettice Knollys, her cousin and rival, whose marriage to Elizabeth's favorite courtier, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, incurs the monarch's wrath. This "meticulously envisioned" (Booklist) dual portrait compares and contrasts the self-sacrificing Virgin Queen, wedded to her beloved England, and the thrice-married, self-serving Lettice, who, as it turns out, may not be that different from her royal relative.
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa GregoryAs girls, Katherine of Aragon and her sisters-in-law, Margaret and Mary Tudor, form a strong, if complicated, bond. As adults, they are destined to become bitter rivals as the demands of marriage and politics lead to betrayal. Unfolding primarily from Margaret's (acerbic) point of view, this dramatic novel is a must for Tudor aficionados who enjoy gossip, scandal, and intrigue.
Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen: A Novel by Alison WeirThis opening installment of novelist and historian Alison Weir's Six Tudor Queens series begins as the 16-year-old Catalina de Aragon arrives in England to marry Arthur, Prince of Wales, who dies shortly after their wedding. She then weds his brother, Henry VIII, and theirs is a happy union -- at least initially, until their inability to produce an heir causes Henry's eye to wander. Can't get enough Tudor drama? Next up is Anne Boleyn: A King's Obsession.
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