Book Reviews

Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction

Historical Fiction is a genre I have a like/dislike relationship with. Ones that stick with me are about events in history I have very little knowledge about or approach a well-known event with new breath. If you’re not a fan of Historical Fiction, maybe one of these will be a new challenge or great as a gift for that fan of history in your life. I tend to enjoy this genre in audio format where the narrator has an accent and sweeps me away to another time. These were all new-to-me authors and ones I’ll be revisiting in the future.


I Will Send Rain – Rae Meadows (Aug. 9/ 272 p./ Henry Holt & Co.) The fractured Bell family aren’t the only characters that are well developed in this 1930s novel about the The Dust Bowl. It felt like a separate character altogether. I didn’t know much about it and yet Meadows’ atmospheric writing had me feeling the grit of the storms and gasping for air. The story is bleak and instead of banding together through tough times, the Bell family starts falling apart. After reading it, I was searching photos and came across this documentary. Riveting. A favorite this year.

“Maybe next year. Everything was maybe next year.”

The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead (Aug. 2/ 306 p./ Doubleday Books). I don’t like books about slavery. I put off reading this one for some time and ended up with the audio version. It truly deserves all the accolades, the style of writing is different than I have read and having an actual underground railroad was genius. But I just didn’t love it as most have. Still, I will never forget the story or the characters and Cora forever lives on in my mind.

“Cora didn’t know what optimistic meant. She asked the other girls that night if they were familiar with the word. None of them had heard it before. She decided that it meant trying.”

The Wonder – Emma Donoghue (Sept. 20/ 304 p./ Little, Brown and Company). Another audio I recently finished and could be a great book group discussion. Lib is a nurse hired to watch over 11-year-old Anna who claims she is solely living off manna from heaven. I love the series “Call the Midwife” and this story reminded me of it a bit. I wasn’t sold on the ending, but the story as a whole was interesting and captivating.
“A fast didn’t go fast; it was the slowest thing there was.Fast meant a door shut fast, firmly. A fastness, a fortress. To fast was to hold fast to emptiness, to say no and no and no again.”
 A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles (Sept. 6/ 462 p./ Viking). What can I say about this book that hasn’t already been said? Another book that I listened to via audio and then when I was out of the car I rushed to get back to it on paper. It’s a quiet story. Nothing much happens but so much at the same time. The writing is gorgeous, contemplative and quote worthy.
“He had said that our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of lucidity—a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of the life we had been meant to lead all along.”

Did you enjoy any Historical Fiction books this year?

3 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction

  1. I Will Send Rain and Gentleman are both on my shelf waiting to be read, so I’m happy to hear you’ve enjoyed them. I think Gentleman might be the most positively reviewed book I can recall from this year. I don’t think I’ve read anything less than a rave. I tried Underground Railroad on audio and couldn’t do it. It gave me the feeling it was something I might have to read in tree/e format. Did you have trouble starting out? Maybe I should give the audio another go. It wasn’t the story at all, just something about the audio format that I had a hard time keeping my mind on.

    • I started and stopped Gentleman so many times due to life distractions. It really needs focus but I liked it in the end. I didn’t love Railroad as many have. I don’t like reading about that time in history but wanted to see what the fuss was about. I found audio very tough with that one as well. The style is different and again it was probably just me.

      • That’s good to know, I will try and start Gentleman when I have my wits about me. So sometime in 2020 perhaps. I’m not happy you had a hard time with the UR audio, but at least it wasn’t just me. 🙂

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