From 1500s Strasbourg to 1950s Hollywood: Historical Fiction Previews, Mar. 2023, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Fictional pasts illuminate the present. 

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Hargrave, Kiran Millwood. The Dance Tree. HarperVia. Mar. 2023. 256p. ISBN 9780063274778. $27.99. CD. HISTORICAL

Heng, Rachel. The Great Reclamation. Riverhead. Mar. 2023. 464p. ISBN 9780593420119. $27. lrg. prnt. HISTORICAL

Johnson, Sadeqa. The House of Eve. S. & S. Mar. 2023. 352p. ISBN 9781982197360. $27.99. HISTORICAL

Loesch, Kristen. The Last Russian Doll. Berkley. Mar. 2023. 416p. ISBN 9780593547984. $27. HISTORICAL

Otoo, Sharon Dodua. Ada’s Room. Riverhead. Mar. 2023. 320p. tr. from German by Jon Cho-Polizzi. ISBN 9780593539798. $27. HISTORICAL

Rosner, Jennifer. Once We Were Home. Flatiron: Macmillan. Mar. 2023. 288p. ISBN 9781250855541. $27.99. HISTORICAL

Spence-Ash, Laura. Beyond That, the Sea. Celadon: Macmillan. Mar. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781250854377. $28. HISTORICAL

Walls, Jeannette. Hang the Moon. Scribner. Mar. 2023. 368p. ISBN 9781501117299. $28. CD. HISTORICAL

Webb, Heather. Strangers in the Night: A Novel of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner. Morrow. Mar. 2023. 432p. ISBN 9780063297111. $28.99; Morrow Paperbacks. ISBN 9780063004184. $17.99. CD. HISTORICAL

Willig, Lauren. Two Wars and a Wedding. Morrow. Mar. 2023. 448p. ISBN 9780062986184. $27.99. lrg. prnt. CD. HISTORICAL

Following Hargrave’s adult debut, the Betty Trask honoree The Mercies, The Dance Tree spins off from real-life events as it visits 1518 Strasbourg, France, where women have begun dancing wildly in the town square and provoked a state of emergency (40,000-copy first printing). Opening in a fishing village in British colonial–ruled Singapore, Suicide Club author Heng’s The Great Reclamation features a sweet boy with an extraordinary gift—he sees shifting islands no one else can—who comes of age during the Japanese occupation and, with a neighborhood girl, ends up remapping the future (75,000-copy first printing). Following the multi-best-booked Yellow Wind, Johnson’s The House of Eve intertwines the stories of two young Black women—15-year-old Ruby, whose college ambitions are threatened by an ill-advised affair, and Howard University student Eleanor, looking for acceptance from her boyfriend’s elite Black family. In Loesch’s debut, The Last Russian Doll, a Russian émigré studying at Oxford returns to Moscow after her mother’s death and uncovers a family tragedy stretching back to the 1917 Revolution. A prize winner in Germany and a publishing phenomenon there and in the UK, where Berlin-based British-Ghanian Otoo is a Cambridge writer in residence, Ada’s Room features four Adas: a 15th-century West African woman who confronts a Portuguese slave trader, Victorian England’s Ada Lovelace, a Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp inmate, and a contemporary resident of Berlin, connected to them all in spirit. Following The Yellow Bird Sings, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, Rosner’s Once We Were Home builds real-life events to tell the stories of Jewish children wrenched from their families during World War II—like Ana, who remembers the mother who smuggled her out of a Polish ghetto, and Ana’s brother, who knows only the family who raised him. In Spence-Ash’s Beyond That, the Sea, Bea Thompson is sent from bomb-blasted World War II London to live in safety with a family in Boston, MA, and becomes so contented with her new life that she is reluctant to return home (150,000-copy first printing). From the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Walls, Hang the Moon follows the life of feisty young Sallie Kincaid, daughter of the big man about town in Prohibition-era Virginia, who’s back home to reclaim her place nine years after being ejected from the family. TheUSA Today best-selling Webb’s Strangers in the Night replays the romance between Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner (100,000-copy paperback and 30,000-copy hardcover first printing). In Two Wars and a Wedding, the New York Times best-selling Willig follows aspiring archaeologist Betsy Hayes from 1896 Greece, where she ends up tending the wounded as fighting breaks out with Turkey, and 1898 Cuba, where she serves with the Red Cross during the Spanish American War, hoping to find a lost friend (75,000-copy first printing).

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; winner of ALA's Louis Shores Award for reviewing; and past president, awards chair, and treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle, which awarded her its inaugural Service Award in 2023.

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