New Historical Fiction for Your Book Club

Historical fiction has remained a pretty popular genre and one excellent for book clubs and their discussions. The genre has a special place in my heart since reading it as a kid made me more interested in history as a subject than classes did, and I owe it for my knowledge of certain times in history.

Our fascination with the past can be good and even necessary, but it can also be…kinda weird. Take, for instance, the current Trad Wife movement. It’s a trend that basically espouses living as a “traditional” wife. The movement, and its influencers, take traditional to mean that very narrow view of how they think women were living as wives in, like, the ’50s or something. Listen, it’s goofy (and highly idealized and therefore inaccurate), but it’s also none of my business how other people live, and I support women’s right to make goofy decisions.

But then there are the trad wife influencers, who all seem to make the same softly narrated videos that show them spending all day making things like PB&J’s and frolicking in dainty sundresses in the field with their young children. Again, no shade, but it is funny that they all seem to follow the same script, more or less, which leads me to why I’m describing all of this in the first place. If you’re familiar with the trad wife influencers and their whole deal, this hag wife day-in-the-life video will give you a good cackle.

Now for club things! The books below will take you back in time to the height of the Aztec empire, 1900s Manchuria, and the U.S. in the ’60s. There’s also a Meiji-era Japanese story of the sisterhood of courtesans that is based on real events.

But first, some nibbles.

Nibbles and Sips: Strawberry Brownies

strawberry cake squaresstrawberry cake squares

I’d never heard of strawberry brownies before they popped up on my Instagram feed, but I have to say that I’m not mad. There are recipes for the puree (fresh strawberries), the batter (butter, white chocolate, sugar, puree, egg, yolks, flours, and salt), and a ganache (puree, heavy cream, white chocolate).

For the full list of ingredients, amounts, and instructions, visit the Pies&Tacos site or the Insta.

cover of The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choocover of The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo

The Fox Wife by Yangsze Choo

Choo’s latest is a glorious blend of historical, mystery, and folklore. In 1908 Manchuria, a young woman is found frozen in the snow, her death thought to be caused by fox spirits. Detective Bao is assigned her case, and, as a result, may finally be brought closer to the beautiful fox gods he’s always been intrigued by. Elsewhere in the narrative is a cursed family that runs a Chinese medicine shop. Their sons have all died before their 24th birthdays, and their grandson is now 23. When a woman shows up, it seems their curse is finally broken, but is this woman as modest as she presents to be, or a fox spirit?

cover of You Dreamed of Empires by Álvaro Enrigue, translated by Natasha Wimmercover of You Dreamed of Empires by Álvaro Enrigue, translated by Natasha Wimmer

You Dreamed of Empires by Álvaro Enrigue, translated by Natasha Wimmer

In 1519, conquistador Hernán Cortés entered Tenochtitlan (what is now Mexico City) with his cadre of captains, troops, and enslaved people and is ceremonially welcomed by Atotoxli, emperor Moctezuma’s sister. The Spaniards have conquering on their minds, but they can’t help but feel intimidated by the grandeur of the city and people. Here, that fateful meeting — and the fate of Tenochtitlan — is reimagined, breathing fresh life into the splendor of the city at the height of the Aztec empire.

cover of Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvilicover of Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili

Hard by a Great Forest by Leo Vardiashvili

Years ago, Saba and his brother fled the conflict of the former Soviet Republic of Georgia with their father while their mother stayed behind, ensuring their escape. Now that they’re adults, their mother is dead, and their father has returned to a changed Georgia. And disappeared. When Saba’s brother tries to find him, he disappears, too. So, Saba returns to a land he’d been pushed out of by violence and follows a string of clues through a path filled with new faces and reminders of traumas he thought he’d left behind.

The Women CoverThe Women Cover

The Women by Kristin Hannah

In the ’60s, a young nursing student, Frankie, comes of age. When her brother is deployed to Vietnam, she joins the Army Nurse Corps, thinking of herself as serving her country. But the reality of war sets in, and she finds her friends and herself broken. What’s more, her return to the U.S. and normalcy is anything but — the country is divided on its involvement in Vietnam, making her and other women’s sacrifices that much easier to forget.

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