Welcome to the latest round up of historical fiction. It’s been a favourable month for our genre, with 52 reviews returned on 33 books by 31 authors.

Our most reviewed titles were:
7 reviews for The Lace Weaver by Lauren Chater
4 reviews for The Secrets at Ocean’s Edge by Kali Napier
3 reviews for The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester
3 reviews for The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
3 review for Stella Prize shortlisted novella The Fish Girl by Mirandi Riwoe

The Lace Weaver is the debut novel by Lauren Chater. I read this myself during the last month and it’s a haunting story that will stay with me.

The loss of life, the brutality, the sheer bloody mindedness of war; I was overcome quite often. The capacity for survival, the bravery and belief in freedom—I find it hard to imagine having to fight for every minute of your existence, to gain one step forward only to face death once again, over and over. Rarely have I been so impacted by a story.

Likewise, Rebecca Bowyer was equally as moved.

At its heart, The Lace Weaver is a story about preserving the culture of women in the midst of war. Set in World War II, there’s a whole war going on across Europe but we experience the war only through the eyes of a dozen women – part of a lace knitting circle – in Tartu, a small town in Estonia. I feel like women’s history – particularly of their war experience – is being brought to life more and more through wonderful novels like this.

The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester is proving just as popular, if not more so, than her previous novels. While there are only 3 reviews listed for this period, readers have been logging their reviews for some time into the database due to early copies. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, as did Rebecca Bowyer (I’m sensing a kinship with Rebecca based on our reading tastes!) and Ashleigh from The Book Muse.

I found this to be a delectable book, where the history of the war, and a family of secrets and mysteries were the forefront against a backdrop of fashion, and a world where grandmother and granddaughter found solace. It crosses three continents: Europe, America and Australia, and encompasses the love of a mother and daughter, the love of friends, family, a sister, and sacrifices made to keep secrets. An excellent historical fiction that takes female voices, in a time and place where their lives are dictated by those around them and expectations of society, and where in a male dominated world, Stella Designs made a mark in the fashion world of Natasha’s novel, and where these strong women didn’t allow their lives to be dictated by convention.

This week, Kim Kelly’s latest historical is set to gallop onto the scene. A few of us have been fortunate to read early copies. Brenda from Goodreads has nothing but praise for Lady Bird and The Fox.

Lady Bird & the Fox by Aussie author Kim Kelly is a delightful tale of Australia during the gold rush days. Of sadness and hope; of shocking racism and pure kindness. And also, of a young woman finding her way – growing up quickly if she’s to survive in the world away from all she’s known. I’ve read and loved every book this author has written, and once again, her evocative writing means Lady Bird & the Fox didn’t disappoint. Highly recommended.

Moving onto a novel that is quietly garnering acclaim. The Last Garden by Eva Hornung, which has won both the Premier’s Award and the Fiction Award at the recently announced 2018 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Anne Jenner has written an excellent review for this title, I encourage you to visit her blog to read it in full.

‘The Last Garden” is a tour de force of visionary story telling and while at times its relentless intensity is challenging, it’s a reminder that the role of story telling isn’t just to entertain, it’s to challenge and stimulate and to chart alternative ways of searching for meaning.

I would like to finish up with a novel of more recent history, that is, the 1960s and 70s. It’s my pick of the month, for many reasons, including a unique storyline and its sympathetic handling of certain social issues within Australia that are still relevant today. You’ll see from my review that I don’t give much away about this novel, it really is best read with no idea on what’s coming.

The social history woven into this story is terrific, the small town atmosphere is authentic, and the characters are all 100% genuine. You really should read this novel, especially if you are in a bookclub. This is one read that comes guaranteed with endless pathways of discussion. It’s so good, and I’m fairly certain you won’t have read anything at all like it before.

A mere snapshot of the last month. If you’d like to investigate any of the other reviews from this month, and beyond, you can search for all genres right back to the beginning of AWW challenge time at our books reviewed page.

Until next month, enjoy your reading and keep those fabulous reviews coming in. Thank you!


Theresa Smith Historical Fiction Roundup EditorAbout Theresa: Writer, avid reader, keen reviewer, book collector, drinker of all tea blends originating from Earl Grey, and modern history enthusiast. I enjoy reading many genres but have a particular interest in historical fiction. You can find me and all of my book related news and reviews at Theresa Smith Writes, Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter.

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