Reviews

Top Hist Fic Picks for April 2022

This article first appeared on paperlanternwriters.com

April is a busy time in my family. We have five birthdays, including my sons and my father-in-law (who’s turning 92 this year), Easter, and, of course, tax day. Even so, I always make time for reading. Good thing, because a lot of historical fiction debuts this month! Interesting that there are several books being released on just a few specific days. Interesting, too, how many titles are alliterative.

DUAL TIMELINE 

A Hundred Crickets Singing by Cathy Gohlke (April 5)

“In wars eighty years apart, two young women living on the same Appalachian estate determine to aid soldiers dear to them and fight for justice, no matter the cost.” ~book description

This book has the most beautiful cover. It made me gasp and want to pick it up immediately. I enjoy reading compelling dual timeline novels, and this one is interesting because both timelines are historical. One war is World War II, and the other is the Civil War. Set in North Carolina, the story contains long forgotten family secrets that will affect the lives of the current resident and her friend, whose family were once slaves on the property.

The Admiral’s Wife by M. K. Tod (April 30)

“Instantly gripping and heartbreaking, The Admiral’s Wife is a lush dual-timeline novel set in kaleidoscopic Hong Kong. Tod deftly unrolls the parallel stories with the flair of a master storyteller.” ~~ Alice Poon, author of Tales of Ming Courtesans

Another promising novel from an author I truly enjoy! This one is also dual timeline, 2016 and 1912 in Hong Kong. Both plot lines feature women being pressured by men. In 2016, Patricia moves to Hong Kong only to feel depressed and isolated, especially when her father insists she produce an heir. In 1912, Isabel is the admiral’s wife, also moving to Hong Kong and feeling displaced. Both women must examine their ideas of love and family.

BIOGRAPHICAL

Last Dance on the Starlight Pier by Sarah Bird (April 12)

“Set during the Great Depression, Sarah Bird’s Last Dance on the Starlight Pier is a novel about one woman—and a nation—struggling to be reborn from the ashes.” ~book description

Great title on this one, and I love biographical fiction about women I’ve never heard of. Set in Galveston during the Great Depression, this is a story about dance marathons and a family-run empire of vice. Evie Grace Devlin escapes the world of vaudeville when she wins a scholarship to nursing school. Those plans go awry, however, and Evie is forced back into the spotlight, where her resilient spirit is tested.

A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice by Rebecca Connolly (April 5)

“Reading A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice made me realize that the full story of the tragedy of the unsinkable Titanic hasn’t been shared yet. Captain Rostron’s decisive and heroic actions as he prepared his crew for what they were about to encounter was inspirational and heartrending. I’ve found a new hero in a man who never hesitated in doing the right thing.” –―Heather B. Moore, author of The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

This story intrigues me not only because it is a Titanic story, but because it’s told in dual points of view, one from a woman on the Titanic, and one from the captain of the Carpathia. The story of how the Carpathia received the distress call and what it took to respond is inspiring.

ANCIENT HISTORY

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (April 26)

“Patel’s mesmerizing debut shines a brilliant light on the vilified queen from the Ramayana….This easily earns its place on shelves alongside Madeline Miller’s Circe.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

I really enjoy great first lines. This one starts with “I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.” This novel is a mythic retelling of the Indian epic from the wicked side. The idea reminds me of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire, which retells the story of Cinderella.

ROMANCE

Never a Duke by Grace Burrows (April 26)

To Marry and To Meddle by Martha Waters (April 5)

Allegiance to Alsace by Marta Ann (April 26)

CULTURAL

In the Face of the Sun by Denny Bryce (April 26)

An Unlasting Home by Mai Al-Nakib (April 12)

The Forbidden City by Vanessa Hua (April 26)

Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins Valdez (April 12)

Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow (April 5)

MYSTERY

The Lives of Diamond Bessie by Jody Hadlock (April 5)

A Perilous Perspective by Anna Lee Huber (April 19)

The Mad Girls of New York by Maya Rodale (April 26)

Cleopatra’s Dagger by Carole Lawrence (April 1)

Hot Time by W. H. Flint (April 5)

WESTERN/RURAL FICTION

Little Souls by Sandra Dallas (April 26)

The End of Nowhere by Patrick Dearen (April 20)

Wingwalkers by Taylor Brown (April 19)

WORLD WAR II

The School for German Brides by Aimee Runyon (April 26)

The Fervor by Alma Katsu (April 26)

The Good Left Undone by Adriana Trigiani (April 26)

The Lost Book of Eleanor Dare by Kimberly Brock (April 12)

The Silent Unseen by Amanda McCrina (April 5)

Girls of Flight City by Lorraine Heath (April 5)

BIOGRAPHICAL

Sister Stardust by Jane Green (April 5)

The Mayfair Bookshop by Eliza Knight (April 12)

Need more books on your TBR? See more new release titles at Historical Novel Society.

Linda Ulleseit is the award-winning author of The Aloha Spirit and Under the Almond Trees. To interact with her and other historical fiction authors and readers, join PLW’s Facebook group SHINE.

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