For many historical fiction fans, one of the draws of the genre is watching
woman of past confront challenges and restrictions to open up new opportunities
for themselves. In honor of the recent birthdays of some extraordinary women—my
mother-in-law, my stepmother and my daughter—this month I showcase a group of
enterprising women who dare to dream of doing something more than filling a
woman’s conventional place in society.
We begin chronologically with THE DARING LADIES OF LOWELL
by Kate Alcott. Searching
for independence and a better future, in 1832 farm girl Alice Barrow moves to
Lowell to become one of the “mill girls.” Though the hours are long and the
work grueling, she finds a new best friend in outspoken, feisty Lovey Cornell,
camaraderie with the other mill girls, and intellectual stimulation in attending
lectures at the Lyceum and working on the mill’s literary magazine—where she
catches the attention of mill owner’s son Samuel Fiske. As working conditions
become more dangerous and the workers protest, Samuel invites Alice to represent
the other mill girls at a meeting with his family. But when her friend Lovey is
found strangled and she suspects the Fiske family of withholding information
about the crime, she is pulled by conflicting loyalties to her friends and to
her budding relationship with Samuel. Based on an actual murder of a mill girl
and the sensational 1833 trial that followed, Alcott’s book paints a vivid
picture of industrial revolution America and the women set on carving out a
place within it.
From the New York Times bestselling author of THE DRESSMAKER comes a moving
historical novel about a bold young woman drawn to the looms of Lowell,
Massachusetts--and to the one man with whom she has no business falling in love.
Eager to escape life on her family’s farm, Alice Barrow moves to Lowell in
1832 and throws herself into the hard work demanded of “the mill girls.” In
spite of the long hours, she discovers a vibrant new life and a true friend—a
saucy, strong-willed girl name Lovey Cornell.
But conditions at the factory become increasingly dangerous, and Alice finds
the courage to represent the workers and their grievances. Although mill owner,
Hiram Fiske, pays no heed, Alice attracts the attention of his eldest son, the
handsome and reserved Samuel Fiske. Their mutual attraction is intense, tempting
Alice to dream of a different future for herself.
This dream is shattered when Lovey is found strangled to death. A sensational
trial follows, bringing all the unrest that’s brewing to the surface. Alice
finds herself torn between her commitment to the girls in the mill and her
blossoming relationship with Samuel. Based on the actual murder of a mill girl
and the subsequent trial in 1833, THE DARING LADIES OF LOWELL brilliantly
captures a transitional moment in America’s history while also exploring the
complex nature of love, loyalty, and the enduring power of friendship.
Mystery Historical |
[Anchor, On Sale: October 28, 2014, Trade Size /
e-Book, ISBN: 9780345802569 / eISBN: 9780385536509]
Also defying conventional expectations to pursue their careers in Sara Donati’s THE GILDED HOUR are Anna
Savard and her cousin Sophie, pioneer women doctors in an 1883 New York that
contains both fabulous wealth and grinding poverty. In their efforts to help
the poorest and most vulnerable, they treat patients facing desperate choices
and attempt to care for orphans who have lost everything. But their
unconventional profession and their commitment to their patients’ welfare brings
them the unwelcome attention of anti-vice crusader Anthony Comstock, a powerful
man determined to eliminate everything he considers “indecent”—and anyone who
stands in his way.
The international bestselling author of Into the Wilderness makes
her highly anticipated return with a remarkable epic about two female
doctors in nineteenth-century New York and the transcendent power of courage and
The year is 1883, and in New York City, it’s a time of dizzying
splendor, crushing poverty, and tremendous change. With the gravity-defying
Brooklyn Bridge nearly complete and New York in the grips of anti-vice crusader
Anthony Comstock, Anna Savard and her cousin Sophie—both graduates of the
Woman’s Medical School—treat the city’s most vulnerable, even if doing so may
put everything they’ve strived for in jeopardy.
Anna's work has
placed her in the path of four children who have lost everything, just as she
herself once had. Faced with their helplessness, Anna must make an unexpected
choice between holding on to the pain of her past and letting love into her
For Sophie, an obstetrician and the orphaned daughter of free
people of color, helping a desperate young mother forces her to grapple with the
oath she took as a doctor—and thrusts her and Anna into the orbit of Anthony
Comstock, a dangerous man who considers himself the enemy of everything indecent
and of anyone who dares to defy him.
With its vivid depictions of old New
York and its enormously appealing characters, The Gilded Hour is a
captivating, emotionally gripping novel that proves Sara Donati is an author at
the height of her powers.
Historical [Berkley, On Sale: September 1, 2015, Hardcover / e-Book,
ISBN: 9780425271810 / eISBN: 9780698140677]
Moving into the twentieth century, we have THE TUMBLING TURNER SISTERS
by Juliette Fay. With the
Turner family struggling in 1919 after their father loses his job, their
ambitious mother decides the key to a better life lies on the road—in
Vaudeville. Turned by their stage mother into a sister act, the four girls and
their mother join a company of diverse entertainers who travel from town to
town, often skirting the law as they encounter Prohibition, Jim Crow, and the
dangers facing women living on their own. Told mainly through the eyes of
teenagers Winnie and Gert, Fay’s novel vividly recreates a lost world as the
girls come of age, deal with heartache and loss, and experience the ultimate
triumph of a family’s love.
For fans of Orphan Train and Water for Elephants, a compelling
historical novel from “one of the best authors of women’s fiction” (Library
Journal). Set against the turbulent backdrop of American Vaudeville, four
sisters embark on an unexpected adventure—and a last-ditch effort to save their
It’s 1919, and the Turners are barely scraping by. When their father loses
his job, their irrepressible mother decides that vaudeville is their best chance
to make the rent—and create a more exciting life for herself in the process.
Traveling by train from town to town, teenagers Gert, Winnie, and Kit, and
recent widow Nell soon find a new kind of freedom in the company of performers
who are as diverse as their acts. There is a seamier side to the business,
however, and the young women face dangers and turns of fate they never could
have anticipated. Heartwarming and surprising, The Tumbling Turner
Sisters is ultimately a story of awakening—to unexpected possibilities, to
love and heartbreak, and to the dawn of a new American era.
Historical [Gallery Books, On Sale: January 3, 2017, Trade Size /
e-Book (reprint), ISBN: 9781501145346 / eISBN: 9781501134487]
The rollicking era of the Roaring Twenties is also featured in DOLLFACE by Renee Rosen. Determined
to trade her dull life for one of excitement and glamour, Vera Abramowitz bobs
her hair, raises her hemline and colors her lips. Although she works as a
humble typist by day, at night she’s a beautiful flapper, earning the name
“Dollface” as she dances the Charleston at nightclubs and speakeasies. Her
beauty and vivacity ultimately attract the attention of two rival men—booklegger
Shep Green, who rescues her during a raid one night and introduces her to the
high-stakes world of gin, jazz and untold wealth, and Tony Liolli, one of Al
Capone’s henchmen. Not realizing at first that the two men are mobsters from
rival gangs whose Beer Wars are about to explode in violence, Vera falls for
Tony, even though she knows he’s not the staying kind. Finding herself
pregnant, she marries the “safer” Shep…and is drawn into a world of crime and
retribution she could never have imagined, a world hurtling toward the climatic
St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, a world that will demand all the determination and
perseverance she can muster to survive and escape.
A Novel of the Roaring Twenties
America in the 1920s was a country alive with the wild fun of jazz,
speakeasies and a new kind of woman—the flapper.
Vera Abramowitz is
determined to leave her gritty childhood behind, and live a more exciting life,
one that her mother never dreamed of. Bobbing her hair and showing her knees,
the lipsticked beauty dazzles, doing the Charleston in nightclubs and earning
the nickname "Dollface."
As the ultimate flapper, Vera captures the attention of two high rollers, a
handsome nightclub owner and a sexy gambler. On their arms, she gains entree
into a world filled with bootlegged bourbon, wailing jazz and money to burn. She
thinks her biggest problem is choosing between them, until the truth comes out.
Her two lovers are really mobsters from rival gangs during Chicago's infamous
Beer Wars, a battle Al Capone refuses to lose.
The heady life she's
living is an illusion resting on a bedrock of crime and violence unlike anything
the country has ever seen before. When the good times come to an end, Vera
becomes entangled in everything from bootlegging to murder. And as men from both
gangs fall around her, Vera must put together the pieces of her shattered life,
as Chicago hurtles towards one of the most infamous days in its history, the St.
Valentine's Day Massacre.
Historical | Suspense | Thriller Historical
[Berkley, On Sale: November 5, 2013, Paperback /
e-Book, ISBN: 9780451419200 / eISBN: 9781101617717]
Curious now to follow these pioneering ladies as they take on the world? Grab a
book (or an e-reader) and dive in!
Real, intense, passionate historical romance
After twelve years as a vagabond Navy wife, an adventure that took her from
Virginia Beach, VA, to Monterrey, CA, to Tunis, Tunisia to Oslo, Norway and
back, Julia Justiss followed her husband to his family's East Texas
homeland. On a hill above a pond with a view of pasture land, they built an
English Georgian-style home. Sitting at her desk there, if she ignores the
summer heat, she can almost imagine herself in Jane Austen's Regency
In between teaching high school French and making jaunts to visit
her three children (a Seabee in Gulfport, MS, a clothing buyer in Houston and a
mechanical engineer in Austin, TX) she pursues her first love—writing
Series: Regency Silk & Scandal | Hadley’s Hellions | Ransleigh Rogues
"Duty can also be pleasure, Lady Alyssa…"
When politician Benedict Tawny set out to save Lady Alyssa from a nefarious
plot, he never expected to find himself trapped in a compromising situation with
the alluring lady! Now duty demands he propose…and claim her as his bride!
Tainted by his illegitimacy, Ben knows he can't give Alyssa the life of
luxury she deserves. But if he can convince her to succumb to the undeniable
heat between them, their convenient marriage might just lead to the love of a
[Harlequin Historical Romance, On Sale: February
21, 2017, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9780373299218 / eISBN: 9781488021190]
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