That Churchill Woman by Stephanie BarronPresenting: Lady Randolph Churchill -- née Jennie Jerome, the American heiress who snags a titled husband and scandalizes Victorian England's high society with her political ambition and affaires de coeur.
Why you might like it: This biographical novel offers a sympathetic portrait of an intelligent woman who rebels against the restrictive social mores of the late 19th century.
You might also like: Karen Harper's American Duchess or Therese Anne Fowler's A Well-Behaved Woman, about Gilded Age heiresses who seek personal fulfillment within socially advantageous yet emotionally impoverished marriages.
The Only Woman in the Room by Marie BenedictStarring: Hedwig Kiesler, the Austrian Jewish trophy wife who flees 1930s Vienna and reinvents herself as Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr -- while secretly pursuing her dream of becoming an inventor.
About the author: Marie Benedict wrote The Other Einstein, which similarly illuminates the overlooked scientific contributions of women.
Further reading: Margaret Porter's forthcoming novel Beautiful Invention, or the biography Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes.
The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King: A Novel of Teddy Roosevelt and His Times by Jerome CharynWhat it is: a biographical novel about Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States.
Want a taste? "I was glad, glad that I had been born, despite the frozen fist in my lungs, despite the wolf-man at the foot of the bed, and the sudden bouts of diarrhea that we called the Roosevelt colic."
About the author: Jerome Charyn is known for his iconoclastic character studies of prominent Americans such as The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson and I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War.
Prague Spring by Simon MawerWhat happens: A coin flip sends two Oxford students on an impulsive trip to Czechoslovakia in the summer of 1968, a period of political optimism known as the "Prague Spring." Meanwhile, a British diplomat gathers intelligence in the lead up to the Warsaw Pact invasion.
Why you might like it: Full of well-researched historical detail, this character-driven novel by the author of the Walter Scott Prize-winning Tightrope "limns the Cold War to affecting and ultimately chilling effect" (Kirkus Reviews).
You might also like: Paul Vidich's atmospheric George Mueller novels, which offer a similar blend of historical fiction and spy novel.
The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine BannerWhat it's about: the Esposito family and their experiences on the Mediterranean island of Castellamare from World War I to the Great Recession.
Read it for: an atmospheric and leisurely paced tale of island life, full of colorful characters and spiced with magical realism.
For fans of: Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières.
Gateway to the Moon by Mary MorrisStarring: New Mexico teen Miguel Torres, an aspiring astronomer, and his 15th-century converso ancestor, Luis de Torres.
What happens: In parallel narratives separated by 500 years, Miguel discovers his Jewish heritage as Luis, fleeing the Inquisition, sails to the New World with Columbus.
Reviewers say: "With prose as clear as the star-strewn sky, Morris’ novel explores people’s hidden connections" (Booklist).
Barkskins by Annie ProulxWhat it's about: In the deep, dark forests of 17th-century New France (now Canada), indentured censitaires work as "barkskins," or woodcutters bound to their seigneur as they toil in the "evil wilderness."
Meet: René Sel and Charles Duquet, censitaires whose paths diverge dramatically: one marries a Mi’kmaw woman and becomes the patriarch of a large, mixed-race family, while the other escapes servitude to become a wealthy trader.
You might also like: Joseph Boyden's The Orenda, which shares Barkskins' setting but focuses on the region's indigenous inhabitants.
Some Sing, Some Cry by Ntozake Shange and Ifa BayezaIntroducing: the formerly enslaved Betty Mayfield and her musically gifted descendants, whose lives intersect with pivotal moments in African American history from Reconstruction to the present day.
About the authors: sister playwrights Ifa Bayeza and the late Ntozake Shange are best known for The Ballad of Emmet Till (Bayeza) and for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf (Shange).
For fans of: Lalita Tademy's Cane River; Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807