Conjure Women by Afia AtakoraWhat it's about: The pre-and-post-slavery life of Rue, a midwife and healer who learned everything she knows from her late mother May Belle, a "conjure woman" whose skill set also included laying curses on their cruel master.
After the war...the recently emancipated people stay on the grounds of the old plantation, building a new community in the shadow of their former master's burned-out house. When the birth of strange-looking baby precedes an epidemic that Rue can't stop, a traveling preacher condemns her as a witch.
The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế MaiWhat it is: the sweeping and lyrical multigenerational saga of one family in Vietnam, from the height of the French colonial era to the late 1970s.
Narrated by: Diệu Lan, who lost her life of privilege in the 1930s, weathered the Japanese occupation in the 1940s, and made difficult choices during the famine of the 1950s; Diệu Lan's granddaughter Huong, who develops her survival skills amidst the tumultuous and traumatic years of the American War.
The Everlasting by Katy Simpson SmithWhat it's about: the multilayered history of life in Rome, told through four complex characters -- a precocious 2nd-century Christian girl (the future Saint Prisca), a penitent 9th-century monk nearing the end of his life, an illegitimate Medici "princess" in an unhappy marriage, and a modern-day biologist having an affair during a research trip to the city.
The hook...is an actual fishing hook that appears across the centuries, whether as a simple tool, a child's treasured possession, or a revered religious relic.
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam ZhangWhat it is: a dramatic and compelling debut novel that follows two immigrant siblings as they search for a home in a Wild West where Chinese and American mythology meet.
All that glitters: Twelve-year-old Lucy and 11-year-old Sam are orphaned after the death of their miner father. Forced to leave the racist mining town they grew up in, the children set off into the hills with a stolen horse to find a way in the world.
The Balcony by Jane DeluryWhat it is: an engaging and richly detailed collection of interconnected stories that becomes something closer to a novel of place along the way, set around a Belle Époque manor house in a French village (and future Paris suburb), from the 1890s to 2009.
Featuring: a suicidal French courtesan, an American nanny, an academic fighting his personal demons, the village schoolmaster and his mentally ill son, mother and daughter concentration camp survivors, and other memorable characters whose lives intersect across the decades.
Miss Emily by Nuala O'ConnorWhat it's about: the unexpectedly close friendship that develops between young housemaid Ada Concannon and "Miss Emily," none other than celebrated American poet Emily Dickinson, with insight into each woman's mind as they alternate narrating each chapter.
Fresh off the boat: Irish immigrant Ada quickly lands a job in Amherst after arriving in America, where her irreverent personality and love of nature endear her to Miss Emily. Emily soon begins to confide in Ada and their bond deepens, but will be tested when tragedy strikes their quiet world.
The Latecomers by Helen Klein RossThe setup: This nonlinear story begins in 1908, when Irish sweethearts Bridey and Thom set off for America where they intend to get married and build a better life for themselves than they ever could have in Dublin.
What goes wrong: Thom dies before they can wed and Bridey is later forced to leave a respectable job for a "home for wayward girls" after discovering she's pregnant. There Bridey meets a charity worker whose high-society connections offer a future for her and her child, an arrangement with unanticipated consequences for everyone involved.
The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr by Susan Holloway ScottBased on: oral histories that claim Aaron Burr fathered illegitimate children with an enslaved woman named Mary Emmons who worked in his home.
Starring: Calcutta-born Mary, a sympathetic young woman who fights to maintain her sense of self as she tends to Burr's dying wife Theodosia and navigates the power imbalance surrounding her relationship with the notorious statesman.
You might also like: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, which also delves into the sexual power dynamics of enslaved women and their masters.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Plymouth Public Library
201 N. Center St.
Plymouth, Indiana 46563