Lady Clementine by Marie BenedictStarring: Clementine Churchill, the formidable wife of English statesman Winston Churchill and a political force in her own right.
Behind every great man: This biographical novel explores Clementine's own ambitions, abilities, beliefs, and political influence on her obstinate, better-known husband.
For fans of: Melanie Benjamin's Alice I Have Been and The Aviator's Wife; Nancy Horan's Loving Frank.
Africaville by Jeffrey ColvinWhat it is: A sweeping family saga, set in the real-life Nova Scotia community founded in the 18th century by black people displaced by British imperial ambitions. The story follows two families through a century of racism, identity struggles, deprivation, and resilience.
Read it for: the unsparing portrayal of the British (and later Canadian) government's neglect and ultimate destruction of this unique historical community; the residents' determination to make lives for themselves under bleak, harrowing circumstances.
The Clergyman's Wife by Molly GreeleyWhat it is: a moving and atmospheric adaptation of Pride and Prejudice told from the perspective of Elizabeth Bennet's practical and frank friend Charlotte Lucas.
A sensible match: In the three years since Charlotte married Mr. Collins, she has settled into her life as a wife and mother well enough. But when she is introduced to a man whose friendship makes her feel seen and valued, she starts to re-examine her practical outlook on questions of life and love and possibility.
Mary Toft; Or, the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Clarence PalmerWhat it's about: medical fraud and societal upheaval; an 18th-century woman who captured the British public's attention when she convinced doctors that she had given birth to rabbits.
Why you might like it: Zooming out from the now-infamous main players involved in the real-life hoax, this novel is told from the perspective of a young surgeon's apprentice whose youth and relative innocence about the world provide an interesting interpretation of the events.
The Dream Lover by Elizabeth BergWhat it's about: the audacious life and many loves of French Romantic writer Aurore Dupin -- better known by her pen name George Sand.
Read it for: the engaging, witty, and unapologetic voice in which Aurore tells her story; her passion and independent spirit; some appearances from other notable figures.
Famous friends: Frederic Chopin, Victor Hugo, Honore de Balzac, and Franz Liszt.
The Tenth Muse by Catherine ChungPicture it: M.I.T. in the early 1960's, which isn't the easiest place for half-Chinese female graduate student Katherine to be. To prove herself as a mathematician, she chooses to focus on the Riemann Hypothesis, a problem so difficult that it has remained unsolved since 1859.
The sum of her parts: When she learns a secret about her parents and their activities during World War II, Katherine's understanding of her already complex identity is upended, forcing her to rebuild her sense of self from scratch.
The Gilded Hour by Sara DonatiWhat it is: a genre-blending mix of mystery, love story, and domestic fiction, built around questions of class, family ties, and ethnic tension in 1880's New York.
The doctor will see you: Cousins Sophie and Anna Savard may have their differences, but both women share a dedication to their respective medical careers. When those careers are threatened and their patients put at risk, both they will have to ask themselves some tough questions about their relationships with each other and with society.
Old Baggage by Lissa EvansEngland, 1928: Middle-aged Mattie Simpkin (briefly introduced in Crooked Heart) once lived an exciting and fulfilling life as a suffragette, but these days she feels unmoored and concerned about younger women's apathy about the fight for emancipation.
Old friends, new problems: After running into a fellow suffragette who has taken up advocating for fascism, Mattie realizes her new cause is to fight against it. But starting down this road brings Mattie into contact with another woman from her past, forcing Mattie to re-examine her sense of self, both as an activist and as a person.
City of Girls by Elizabeth GilbertStarring: Vivian Morris, a spirited but naïve young woman whose parents send her to live with her Aunt Peg in Manhattan after she flunks out of Vassar in 1940.
Bright lights, big city: Aunt Peg manages a struggling theater, which thrusts Vivian into a world full of glamour and shady characters. Vivian dives head-first into all the hedonism, but as the war in Europe approaches she'll soon be forced learn some sobering lessons about life and growing up.
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen RooneyWhat it's about: Inspired by the life and career of advertising pioneer Margaret Fishback, this sweeping and introspective tale follows octogenarian Lillian Boxfish, alternating between past and present as she walks the streets of Manhattan on New Year's Eve, 1984.
Read it for: the poignant observations Lillian makes about how the city is changing in large and small ways; the ease with which she is able to connect with the wide variety of people she encounters on her stroll through the city.
Contact your librarian for more great books!
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