Mara Bandy

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The Godmothers

Keeping track of the large multigenerational cast of characters can be confusing at times, but readers who enjoy immersing themselves in family drama and watching women’s friendships grow and change over time will be pleased. Recommended for readers who like feminist family sagas with a criminal twist.

Katharine Parr, the Sixth Wife

Weir creates a believable portrait of a savvy woman able to hold her own despite often having her life shaped by forces outside her control. A solid choice for Tudor enthusiasts looking for a well-researched, entertaining novel.

Sunflower Sisters

Some of the characters in Sunflower Sisters seem rather two-dimensional (particularly the arrogant male doctors Georgey encounters), and the three–protagonist formula that worked so well in Lilac Girls falters a bit here as the urgency and suspense of Jemma’s narrative completely outstrips those of the other two women. Overall, however, this emotionally satisfying novel will please Kelly’s many fans and will be a strong addition to historical fiction collections.

A Splendid Ruin

A thoroughly enjoyable read highly recommended for fans of Suzanne Rindell, Melanie Benjamin, and Greer MacAllister.

Midnight Train to Prague

In her second novel (following 1998’s Breathing Underwater and two story collections), Canadian writer Windley delivers well-researched descriptions of daily life in 1920s–40s Eastern Europe that will appeal to readers who enjoy immersive scene setting. The number of characters and the frequent jumps between them give the book a slightly crowded feel that is particularly noticeable in the first half, but the second half is more consistently engaging. Recommended for those readers who can’t get enough of World War II historical fiction, particularly for those interested in civilians’ experiences in Eastern Europe.

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown

Some readers may be disappointed that the Chinese characters in the novel are not nearly as well developed as Dolly is and that the mission’s insistence that they give up their own culture to convert to Christianity is not questioned. However, many readers will find Dolly’s bravery and commitment to her faith inspirational, and Moore’s impressively detailed research makes this a good introduction to this often neglected chapter in American history.

The Last Train to Key West

Cleeton should add to her growing fan base with this title, which is well suited for book clubs and for historical fiction fans of authors such as Renée Rosen and Susan Meissner.

The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt

Parts of the plot feel a little rushed and more time might have been spent exploring some of Bernhardt’s choices, but overall Gortner has created a compelling portrait that will certainly whet readers’ appetites to learn more about this charismatic figure. Recommended for fans of Melanie Benjamin and Allison Pataki.

The Land Beyond the Sea

Recommended for Penman’s many fans, and readers seeking out fascinating lesser-known figures not often covered in historical fiction.

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