If you love historical fiction, as I do, you are always looking for reading recommendations. Booklist magazine, a publication of the American Library Association, has published its annual list of the best historical fiction of the previous year. Here are their selections:
The Buddha in the Attic, by Julie Otsuka. A group of young Japanese women travel to San Francisco in the early 1900’s as “picture brides.”
The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje. In 1953, an 11-year old boy boards a ship in Ceylon, bound for England to live with his mother. On the voyage he meets a colorful variety of people and participates in many adventures, both of which echo through his adult life.
Chango’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, by William Kennedy. Young journalist Daniel Quinn becomes involved in two turbulent, revolutionary times: Castro’s take-over in Havana in 1957 and the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. in 1968.
Conquistadora, by Esmeralda Santiago. In this saga, an aristocratic young Spanish woman travels to Puerto Rico during the colonial period where she and her new husband run a sugar plantation.
Partitions, by Amit Majmudar. Two teen-age Hindu boys who are separated from their mother in a mob, a young Sikh girl, and an aging Muslim doctor are swept up in the turmoil of the violent partition of India in 1947.
The Quality of Mercy, by Barry Unsworth. The aftermath of a slave ship mutiny plays out in London in 1767, with a vivid cast of characters in a society of conflict and contrasts.
River of Smoke, by Amitav Ghosh. Three ships run into a cyclone in the Bay of Bengal; the varied passengers are washed up in Canton, China, where the 19th century opium trade flourishes.
The Secret History of Costaguana, by Juan Gabriel Vasquez. In exile in London in 1924, Jose Altamirano tells us the story of his native Colombia and its endless civil wars, which destroyed his family.
The Time In Between, by Maria Dueñas. Abandoned by her lover in Morocco, a young Spanish woman develops herself into a successful couturier and then becomes an undercover agent during World War II.
The Winter Palace, by Eva Stachniak. A Polish servant girl in the18th century Russian Imperial Court tells the story of the young Prussian Princess Sophie, who becomes Catherine the Great.