Historical Fiction Stars: 2009

A list of some of the historical fiction titles receiving starred reviews.

Annotated lists of books receiving at least one starred review from one of four major review sources: Booklist, Kirkus, LJ and PW. The review source assigns the star.

Annotations are from Advance, the Ingram Book Magazine, unless otherwise noted.

Historical fiction is loosely defined on this page - a book set 25 years ago may qualify for inclusion.

Categories on this page include general (period setting), romance, and also worthy of note (time slip, alternate history, generational sagas, etc.)


  • Nothing But a Smile
    Author: Amick, Steve
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780307377364 Date: 2009
    starPW starBooklist
    From the author of the widely praised novel The Lake, the River & the Other Lake comes this love story of a man and a woman who choose an unconventional way to redefine themselves during and after World War II.
    Updated 2.27.09
  • The King's Rifle
    Author: Bandele, Biyi
    $ 13.99 ISBN: 9780061582660 Date: 2009
    starKirkus
    The King's Rifle depicts the experiences of black African soldiers in the Second World War. This vividly realized account details the madness, sacrifice, and the dark humor of that war's most vicious battlegrounds.
    Updated 1.27.09
  • The Women
    Author: Boyle, T. Coraghessan
    $ 27.95 ISBN: 9780670020416 Date: 2009
    starPW star Booklist
    Having brought to life eccentric cereal king John Harvey Kellogg in The Road to Wellville and sex researcher Alfred Kinsey in The Inner Circle, Boyle now turns his fictional sights on an even more colorful and outlandish character: Frank Lloyd Wright.
    Updated 1.27.09
  • Honolulu
    Author: Brennert, Alan
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780312360405 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    From the bestselling author of the dazzling historical saga ("Washington Post") Moloka'i comes the irresistible story of a young immigrant bride in a ramshackle town that becomes a great modern city.
    Updated 1.30.09
  • Four Freedoms
    Author: Crowley, John
    $ 24.99 ISBN: 9780061231506 Date: 2009
    starBooklist
    From the critically acclaimed author of Lord Byron's Novel and The Translator comes an imaginative account of war and peace, innocence and wisdom, set in 1940's America.
    Updated 4.22.09
  • Persona Non Grata
    Author: Downie, Ruth
    $ 24 ISBN: 9781596916098 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    Engrossing, intricate, and wonderfully comic, Persona Non Grata the third novel in the "New York Times"-bestselling Gaius Petreius Ruso series.
    Updated 5.21.09
  • Sacred Hearts
    Author: Dunant, Sarah
    $ 25 ISBN: 9781400063826 Date: 2009
    star PW star LJ
    The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God's protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina's new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core. Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant-young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl's cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have. As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena-with her history of visions and ecstasies-locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess's job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression. Sarah Dunant, the bestselling author of The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan, brings this intricate Renaissance world compellingly to life. Amid Sacred Hearts is a rich, engrossing, multifaceted love story, encompassing the passions of the flesh, the exultation of the spirit, and the deep, enduring power of friendship. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 7.20.09
  • Gifts of War
    Author: Ford, Mackenzie
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780385528955 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    A vivid tale of romance, adventure, and intrigue, Gifts of War is a remarkable narrative that explores what had made War World I so tragic, so revolutionary, and so exciting.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • Spy Game
    Author: Harding, Georgina
    $24 ISBN: 9781596915893 Date: 2009
    star Kirkus
    On a freezing January morning in 1961, eight-year-old Anna's mother disappears into the fog. The same day, a spy case breaks in the news. Anna's brother begins to construct a theory that their mother was a spy, in this beautifully wrought story about history and memory.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • All Other Nights
    Author: Horn, Dara
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780393064926 Date: 2009
    starPW star Booklist
    On Passover in 1862, Jacob Rappaport, a Jewish soldier in the Union army, is ordered to murder his own uncle, who is plotting to assassinate President Lincoln. After that night, will Jacob ever speak for himself?
    Updated 4.22.09
  • The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
    Author: Howe, Katherine
    $ 26 ISBN: 9781401340902 Date: 2009
    starBooklist
    Written by an author completing a Ph.D. in New England Studies, and whose ancestors had been accused witches in Salem, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane travels seamlessly between the trials in the 1690s and a modern woman's story of mystery and discovery.
    Updated 5.21.09
  • Ghengis: Bones of the Hills
    Author: Iggulden, Conn
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780385339537 Date: 2009
    star PW
    Iggulden's novels are grand historical tales of conquest and vengeance, cruelty and greatness. Now the acclaimed author of Genghis: Birth of an Empire delivers a masterful new novel of the mighty Mongol conqueror--as Genghis Khan sets out to unify an entire continent.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • The Color of Lightening
    Author: Jiles, Paulette
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780061690440 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    From the author of the "New York Times" bestsellers Enemy Women and Stormy Weather comes this stirring work of fiction set on the dangerous Texas frontier in the aftermath of the Civil War.
    Updated 5.21.09
  • The Piano Teacher
    Author: Lee, Janice Y.K.
    $ 25.95 ISBN: 9780670020485 Date: 2009
    star PW star LJ
    In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient comes this gripping tale set in war-torn Hong Kong. Rich with intrigue, romance, and betrayal, this wonderfully written, utterly captivating novel dazzles . . .--Chang-rae Lee.
    Updated 11.3.08
  • Let the Great World Spin
    Author: McCann, Colum
    $ 25 ISBN: 9781400063734Date: 2009
    starBooklist
    McCann's most ambitious work to date offers a dazzling and hauntingly rich vision of the loveliness, pain, and mystery of life in New York City in the 1970s.
    Updated 5.21.09
  • American Adulterer
    Author: Mercurio, Jed
    $ 25 ISBN: 9781439115633 Date: 2009
    star PW
    Mercurio presents an explosive, provocative fictional work about the life and times--and sexual dalliances--of John F. Kennedy during his administration.
    Updated 5.15.09
  • Far Bright Star
    Author: Olmstead, Robert
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9781565125926 Date: 2009
    star PW star Kirkus
    Set in 1916, Far Bright Star follows Napoleon Childs, an aging cavalryman, as he leads an expedition of inexperienced soldiers into the mountains of Mexico to hunt down Pancho Villa and bring him to justice.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • Pythagoras' Revenge
    Author: Sangalli, Arturo
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780691049557 Date: 2009
    starBooklist
    "A fascinating thriller that weaves together historical fiction, mathematical intrigue, and mighty philosophical clashes, all with Pythagoras' teachings as a backdrop. It will keep you riveted from the first page to the last."--Eli Maor, author of The Pythagorean Theorem
    Updated 6.17.09
  • Shanghai Girls
    Author: See, Lisa
    $ 25 ISBN: 9781400067114 Date: 2009
    star LJ
    From the author of the bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love comes a stunning new novel about two sisters who leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930's Los Angeles.
    Updated 5.21.09
  • The Help
    Author: Stockett, Kathryn
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780399155345 Date: 2009
    starLJ
    In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women--black and white, mothers and daughters--view one another.
    Updated 1.27.09
  • Mind at Peace
    Author: Tanpinar, Ahmet Hamdi
    $ 25 ISBN: 9780979333057 Date: 2009
    star PW
    Set on the eve of World War II, A Mind at Peace captures the anxieties of a Turkish family facing the difficult reality entrenched in the early republic, founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923. Poetically drawing on the effects of cultural upheaval on the individual, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar illuminates the precarious balance between tradition and modernity, East and West. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 11.3.08
  • Brooklyn
    Author: Toibin, Colm
    $ 25 ISBN: 9781439138311 Date: 2009
    star Kirkus star LJ
    From the award-winning author of The Master comes a moving historical novel set in Brooklyn and Ireland in the early 1950s, concerning a young woman torn between her family and her past in Ireland and the American who wins her heart.
    Updated 3.31.09
  • The Collector of Worlds
    Author: Troyanov, Iliya
    $ 24.95 ISBN: 9780061351938 Date: 2009
    starPW
    This fictionalized account imagines the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton--a 19th-century British colonial officer and translator with a rare ability to assimilate into indigenous cultures.
    Updated 1.27.09
  • Land of Marvels
    Author: Unsworth, Barry
    $ 26 ISBN: 9780385520072 Date: 2009
    star Kirkus star Lj
    Unsworth, a writer with an "almost magical capacity for literary time travel" ("New York Times Book Review") has written a thriller set in 1914, in which he brings to life the schemes and double-dealings of Western nations grappling for a foothold in Mesopotamia in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire.
    Updated 12.30.08
  • The Republic of Vengeance
    Author: Waters, Paul
    $ 25.95 ISBN: 9781590201428 Date: 2009
    starLJ
    An exceptional debut in the tradition of Mary Renault and Steven Pressfield.
    A consuming story of love, loss, and redemption set in the classical world of Rome and Greece, The Republic of Vengeance is the story of a young man's pursuit of his father's murderer and of the values and qualities he develops that will make him a man-a man capable of a deep, noble, and enduring love. - Publisher Marketing
    Updated 1.27.09
  • The Disastrous Voyage of the Santa Margarita
    Author: Woodman, Richard
    $ 28.95 ISBN: 9780727867230 Date: 2009
    starBooklist
    Among the coral outcrops of the island of Rota, lies the wreck of a Spanish galleon, the Santa Margarita - Spring 1601. This is a reconstruction of the Santa Margaritas disastrous last voyage, beset by an extraordinary sequence of typhoons and storms. Based on what little is known of the ships journey overloaded cargo, bad-blood amongst the crew and a curse we are told a story of greed, horror, deprivation and unimaginable hardship by the handful of survivors rescued from the wreck.
    Updated 2.26.09

 

Starred Review Lists

Books that received at least one starred review from Booklist, Kirkus, LJ, and PW.

2013 Crime Fiction: Jan-June | Fiction: Jan-June | Speculative Fiction

2012 Crime Fiction: July-Dec | Fiction: July-Dec | Speculative Fiction

Hotlists@ Google Docs

Crime Fiction... 2013 | 2012 | 2011

Fiction... 2013 | 2012 | 2011

(lists of new and notable books - lists are sortable and can be downloaded)

more stars lists...

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